No Expert, But I Did It Anyway!

I just gave my first genealogy presentation on the benefits of blogging your family history! Even though I have only been writing this blog for about 5 months now and definitely no expert, but just a newby, I hoped I could inspire others to give it a try. If I can write a blog, I think anyone can do it.

Leslie Reyes of the Jefferson County Genealogy Society (JCGS) asked me if I would be willing to give a presentation about blogging and I accepted. Leslie is the person who worked on my Brick Wall Ancestor last year and she has seen the posts I have done related to that family line. I told her I only knew the basics about blogging, but I was willing to share what I did know.

I started thinking about what I could tell others about blogging and why did I say I would do it when I don’t really know much about it. I realized then that there are so many cool things that have happened because of my blog, even if it is basic and I’m not much of a writer. I thought that the benefits of blogging your family history is worth sharing with others.

Before long I was asked what the title of my presentation would be and a little about it so it could be included in the newsletter. The outline began forming in my mind and I started making notes. Fortunately, when my techie daughter, Amanda, was here for Christmas and I told her about the presentation, she showed me how to use PowerPoint to make the presentation slides and I was on my way!

Then my husband, Mike set up a Zoom meeting for us so I could practice sharing the PowerPoint slides on my laptop screen. I continued making notes about what I would say, so I was all ready to go when the JCGS ‘Resource Corner’ meeting started this morning.

Although sharing my screen did not go as smoothly as during my practice, I think everything else went better than I could expect. The people attending the on-line Zoom meeting were very nice and welcoming. I am very happy with the positive responses and grateful for the opportunity to become more involved with the local genealogical society.

Namesake: Week 3 #52Ancestors

David Junior Taylor and David Neal Ritchie, photograph, abt 1978, Longview, Washington, privately held by Elaine Raymond, Port Ludlow, Washington.

My brother, David Ritchie, was not only named after his uncle, David Taylor, but they shared the same birthdate, too. I believe the photo above was taken on the only birthday they celebrated together.

David Taylor was my mother’s oldest brother, who she idolized. He was 9 years older than her and had joined the Navy while she was still a young girl. He traveled the world and had a very successful military career, before retiring to southern California.

David Ellis Taylor, photograph, abt 1945, privately held by Elaine Raymond, Port Ludlow, Washington.

David Ellis Taylor, my mother’s father, was called by his middle name Ellis, his whole life. When his first son was born, Ellis and his wife, Littie wanted to name him David. But to make sure their son was called David, they decided to name him David Junior Taylor.

So that is how there became 3 generations of Davids in my family. My grandfather, David Ellis Taylor, named his firstborn son, David Junior Taylor. Then my parents named their firstborn son, David Neal Ritchie. Neal being my father’s middle name. David Junior Taylor and his wife, Zoe did not have children or I’m sure they would have named their firstborn son David, also.

First Writing Assignment Results

My first writing assignment for the NGS Beyond the Basics course I am current taking, finally was graded and returned to me. I was happy to see that I scored 94 out of 100 points. The assignment was to select one document from my home sources and write a report on it. I chose the Report of Separation and Record of Service, NGB form 22, for my father, Dannie N. Ritchie.

Dannie N Ritchie, photograph, abt 1960, privately held by Elaine Raymond, Port Ludlow, Washington.
Dannie N. Ritchie, NGB form 22, 1 April 1960, privately held by Elaine
Raymond, Port Ludlow, Washington.

My objective of the report was to find evidence for the time frame of my father’s military service and what position he held during that time. My conclusion was that, NGB form 22, Report of Separation and Record of Service from 1 April 1960 for Dannie N. Ritchie is an original source that has direct evidence that provides proof that my father, Dannie N. Ritchie served in the military from 6 December 1951 to 1 April 1960 and was a Company Clerk for the first six years and a Tank Commander for the remainder of time.

If you are interested in reading my entire report, you can find it here:

Family Legend: Week 2 #52Ancestors

The only legend passed down in my family was from my mother’s side claiming to be of Cherokee heritage, which I have written about before and discovered it was not true. My husband Mike’s family also has a legend that their grandmother, Alice Matilda (Doree) Lowell was a descendant of a Potawatomi “Indian princess”. Could this be true?

As with my DNA testing which showed no Native American DNA, Mike does not have any Native American DNA either. All of his biological relatives that have had DNA testing done with Ancestry also lack any evidence of Native American DNA. However, we do know that DNA, especially from just one ancestor, is diluted out with each generation and can easily totally disappear. So, I investigated his grandmother’s ancestors to see if I could find a Potawatomi “Indian princess”.

Alice Matilda (Doree) Lowell and 3 children John, Bertha and Elton, digital image , abt 1933 location unknown, privately held by Michael Raymond, Port Ludlow, Washington.

Alice Matilda Doree is Mike’s maternal grandmother. The picture of her above includes his biological mother, Bertha and her two brothers, John and Elton. Alice was born 1898 in Cuyahoga County, Ohio to Joseph and Delima (Seguin) Doree(1). Both of her parents, Joseph Dore and Delima Seguin were born in Ontario, Canada (2).

Delima Seguin, prayer card, digital image, shared on Ancestry.com 27 March 2011 by BarbaraMcAllister59.

The Wikipedia article on the Potawatomi Native American people states that the Potawatomi did live in the Great Lakes area which includes Ontario, Canada until the Indian Removal in the 1830’s when some were moved to Nebraska, Kansas and later, Oklahoma. Some found ways to stay in Michigan and others moved north to Ontario, Canada. So, Alice Matilda Doree’s parents, Joseph Dore’ and Delima Seguim, were both born in the same location as where the Potawatomi lived. Could one of their parents, Alice Matilda Doree’s grandparents, be the source of the family legend?

Alice Matilda Doree’s father, Joseph Dore’ was born in 1864 to Jeremie Dore’ and Domithilda Lariviere Bernard who were both Catholics born in Quebec(3). Her mother, Delima Seguin was born in 1862 to Pierre Seguin and Mathilde Desmarais, who were also Catholics born in Quebec (4). Since all four of Alice Matilda Doree’s grandparents were Catholics born in Quebec, they could not have been Potawatomi or Native American.

So, this family legend turns out to be just that, a legend and not fact. I don’t know if claiming Native American heritage is a common family legend in the United States, or if it just a coincidence that both Mike and myself had family legends of Native American heritage that turned out not to be true.

(1)1900 U.S. Census, Newburgh, Cuyahoga, Ohio, population schedule, District 0255, digital image, Ancestry, (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 12 January 2021); FHL microfilm: 1241261, citing NARA microfilm publication T623.

(2) Ontario, Canada, Marriages, 1826-1938, Carleton, 1886 for Joseph Doré, digital database with images, Ancestry, (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 11 January 2021); Archives of Ontario; Toronto, Ontario, Canada; Registrations of Marriages, 1869-1928; Reel: 52.

(3) 1851 Census of Canada East, Canada West, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia, database, Ancestry, (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 12 January 2021); 1851; Census Place: Deux Montagnes, Canada East (Quebec); Schedule: A; Roll: C-1146; Page: 53; Line: 23.

(4) 1871 Census of Canada, database, Ancestry, (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 12 January 2021);  Library and Archives Canada, Census of Canada, 1871. Ottawa, Ontario, Canada; Census Place: Russell, Russell, Ontario; Roll: C-10012, Page: 7.

Beginnings: Week 1 #52Ancestors

As the new year begins, I have decided to participate in Amy Johnson Crow’s 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge. Amy Johnson Crow is a Certified Genealogist, author, speaker, podcaster and blogger. Each week she sends out a different writing prompt to encourage bloggers like me to write more about their ancestors. I was introduced to this challenge by Paul Chiddicks who writes The Chiddicks Family Tree blog. Paul Chiddicks successfully completed this challenge in 2020 without missing a week and I hope to do the same in 2021.

When I was a child growing up in Longview, Washington, my family celebrated the beginning of the new year by staying up late on December 31st and at the stroke of midnight we would go outside on our patio in the backyard and beat on pots and pans with wooden spoons or other kitchen utensils and yell Happy New Year! I’m not really sure why we did this, but like most holiday traditions, we did this because that is what our parents did.

Doing a quick Google search, I discovered making noise as the new year begins is a common tradition through out many cultures in the world that has been practiced for thousands of years. The general idea behind this practice is to make enough noise to drive away any lingering, old evil spirits from the past year in order to begin the new year fresh.

Although during the early 1960’s, I remember setting off fireworks only on the 4th of July, fireworks is a common way to bring in the new year with a lot of noise, both now and in the past. Party favors that make noise are also very common at New Year’s holiday celebrations and we may have had a few of those in addition to the banging of pots and pans.

It only makes sense that my parents must have learned to bang on pots and pans to bring in the new year because that is what they did with their parents, who had done it with their parents. Both of my parents came from humble beginnings, my father from Damascus, Virginia in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, and my mother from McAlester, Oklahoma. I can’t help but wonder if this tradition came about because their families had to make due with what they had. I’m sure they could not afford fireworks or fancy noise-making party favors. So, what better way to drive away the evil spirits of the past year than by banging pots and pans.

I would be interested to know how you and your ancestors celebrated the New Year holiday. Did anyone else bang pots and pans? Do you know how this tradition got started?

Correction: Bennett Family Siddur

In November 2020 I wrote about the Marks Family Siddur and I have just discovered I made a big mistake. This siddur was not found in the apartment of my son-in-law’s grandfather, Barnett Marks, but in the apartment of his grandfather, Leonard S Bennett, who died in Vermont in 1988. So it is actually the Bennett family siddur.

I have continued to post sections from the siddur to the Facebook group, Genealogical Translations with great success. My thanks go to Leah Cohen for translating a section and to Geraldine Tsiporah Trom who has been such a great help with translating most of the sections so far. I cannot thank them enough!

After having almost 2 full pages translated, I decided I had enough information to try and construct a family tree to see if I could figure out how the people in the siddur connected to the Marks family in the United States. As I was compiling the information, I looked at the original string of texts from my son-in-law, Matthew Marks, that had pictures of the pages from the siddur and discovered that although he originally thought it came from his father’s side of the family, he had sent me an update saying he had confirmed with both of his parent’s that the siddur came from his mother’s father, Leonard S Bennett.

So, I went to my family tree in Ancestry.com and found Leonard Bennett’s parents were Benjamin Bennett, born 1866 in Lithuania and Mary Jaffe, born 1866 in Russia. They were married in 1886 and arrived in the U.S. shortly after. I noticed this information closely matched the section that Geraldine had just translated:

My son Binyamin travelled with his wife Miriam with Mazel tov (good fortune) to Memel (?) Miriam daughter of Baruch Mopek (?) on 24 June 1886.

In my family tree, Mary Jaffe is the daughter of Boruch Jaffe. Although all of the information from the translation was not exactly the same as in my tree, I thought it was close enough that it had to be the same people. Then before I had time to try and match up more of the names and dates, Geraldine posted the translation of the next section that included:

Baruch Yafe left for America with mazel tov on Thursday 16 Elul 5651.

The Hebrew date 16 Elul 5651 converts to 19 September 1891 in the Gregorian calendar and the Boruch Jaffe in my tree sailed to New York from Hamburg, Germany, departing 25 September 1891(1) and arriving 17 October 1891(2). I knew then that I had identified the correct people!

(1) “Hamburg Passenger Lists, 1850-1934”, digital image, image 328 of 395, Ancestry.com, (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 4 January 2021); Staatsarchiv Hamburg; Hamburg, Deutschland; Hamburger Passagierlisten; Volume: 373-7 I, VIII B 1 Band 093; Page: 2435; Microfilm No.: S_13163.

(2) “Russians to America Passenger Data File” , database, Ancestry.com, (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 4 January 2021), Passenger record 6404564, Baruch Jaffe, 1846, Russia, arriving New York, 17 October 1891.

Exciting Find!

Okay, I’ll admit that most of you will not find this as exciting as I did, but for those of you who are hooked on genealogy like I am, you will understand my excitement.

DNA results can be super helpful in breaking through brick walls, but finding records is still so important to corelate with the DNA results and learn more about the lives of our ancestors. Ancestry.com and other websites, like FamilySearch.org, make finding records so easy that typically a few simple searches will find the records that we need to discover who our ancestors are and tell us some information about their lives. But sometimes it is not that easy and that is how we run into brick walls.

There are so many reasons why we cannot find records for our ancestors. Sometimes they lived lives that did not create many records, sometimes the records that were created have been destroyed. Not all records have been digitized or put on-line and those that have may have spelling errors or other errors in the indexing. Old handwritten documents can be very hard to read and many of our ancestors were illiterate.

One of the things I love the most about genealogy is solving the mysteries of our ancestors. It is very similar to solving logic problems, which I also like to do. Each piece of information found is a clue. The clues may be pretty obvious or they may just lead us to other clues. When all of the clues are put together correctly, the mystery may be solved. Sometimes the clues can be found in very interesting ways or are hidden very well and require a lot of searching and creativity to find them, but that is why it is so exciting to find them.

While working on the relationship between Milas Leonard Ritchie and my 2nd great-grandmother, Elizabeth Ritchie, I began to think about who could possibly be their father and other siblings. Based on DNA results, which I will write about in another post, the most likely father for Milas and Elizabeth is Dempsey Ritchie. Dempsey Ritchie had another daughter, Mary Ann, who was born the year after Elizabeth. So I thought perhaps if Mary Ann and Elizabeth were close sisters, finding out more about Mary Ann just might lead to some clues about Elizabeth.

Mary Ann Ritchie married Harmon Jacob Crumley on 6 September 1843 in Carter County, Tennessee.(1) In the past, it was fairly common that families intermarried, so I wondered if it was possible that Elizabeth was also being courted by one of Harmon Jacob Crumley’s brothers? To find out if Harmon had brothers, I found the record for his father, John Crumley, in the 1840 US Census and there were other males around Harmon’s age in the household.

While looking at the page of the 1840 US Census with John Crumley listed, my eye caught site of another name listed higher up on the page. The name had a smudge, but it looked like Milas L Richie to me! It had been digitally indexed as Miles L Richard, just enough difference to make it not appear on the searches for Milas L Ritchie.

1840 U.S. Census, Carter County Tennessee, population schedule, digital image, image 29 of 66, Ancestry, (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 29 December 2020); citing NARA microfilm publication M704, roll 518.

Why is this such an exciting find to me? This is the first record that puts Milas Leonard Ritchie in the same location at the same time as Dempsey Ritchie’s other children, who are the only other Ritchie’s in the area, and it had not previously been identified or connected to Milas Leonard Ritchie. This record is an important piece of evidence when combined with DNA results and other clues found, to build a case that Dempsey Ritchie is the father of Milas Leonard Ritchie and Elizabeth Ritchie, making Dempsey Ritchie my 3rd great-grandfather.

(1) “Tennessee, U.S., Marriage Records, 1780-2002”, Carter County for H J Crumley, database with images, image 1436 of 3272, Ancestry, (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 29 December 2020); Tennessee State Marriages, 1780-2002, Nashville, TN, USA: Tennessee State Library and Archives, Microfilm.

Who is Milas Leonard Ritchie?

Milas Leonard Ritchie, digital image, shared by
Kellie Crnkovich 26 May 2017 on Ancestry.com,
accessed and cropped 28 December 2020.

Milas Leonard Ritchie was born 20 March 1819 in Tennessee.(1) In 1840 at the age of 21, he lived by himself in Carter County, Tennessee.(2) Sometime in the early 1840’s he married Rebecca Marriott and moved to Missouri with her family.(3) After Rebecca died in 1861, Milas married her cousin, Susan Marriott.(4) Milas died in Missouri 12 August 1868.(5)

There is clearly a close genetic connection between the descendants of my 2nd great-grandmother, Elizabeth Ritchie and Milas Leonard Ritchie, as illustrated in the post Ritchie Pedigree Triangulation. They are also close in age, Milas being born in 1819 in Tennessee and Elizabeth in 1821 in Tennessee. So, is it possible that Elizabeth was Milas Leonard Ritchie’s first wife? and Milas left her when he moved to Missouri? Elizabeth’s first son, James Lafayette Ritchie was born 10 July 1841, which fits perfectly into this scenario.

At first, it seems a likely possibility that Milas Leonard Ritchie was Elizabeth’s husband and father of James Lafayette Ritchie, but genetically this doesn’t work. Why? Because going back to the post Ritchie or Not? we know that Elizabeth’s first son James Lafayette Ritchie and her other son, Madison Monroe Ritchie my great-grandfather, had different fathers. That means if Milas was James Lafayette’s father and not the father of Madison Monroe, only of the descendants of James Lafayette would have DNA match cousins that are descendants of Milas. Madison Monroe’s descendants would not carry DNA from Milas, yet both my uncle and I have many DNA match cousins that are descendants of Milas Leonard Ritchie.

Since Milas Leonard Ritchie is not a husband of Elizabeth, what is their relationship that explains how descendants of both James Lafayette and Madison Monroe genetically match the descendants of Milas? The most likely relationship is that Milas Leonard Ritchie and Elizabeth Ritchie are brother and sister born a little over 1 year apart in Tennessee. Also, I do not think it is just a coincidence that the parents of Milas Leonard Ritchie are just as much a mystery as the parents of Elizabeth Ritchie.

I’ll write more about the search for their parents and how DNA testing results may help in identifying them in future blog posts.

(1) Wen F member 47980990, Find a Grave, database and images, 30 July 2016, memorial 167604887 for Milas L Ritchie, born 20 Mar 1819, citing Ritchie Cemetery, Versailles, Morgan County, Missouri, USA; ( https://www.findagrave.com : accessed 28 December 2020).

(2)1840 U.S. Census, Carter County Tennessee, population schedule, digital image, image 29 of 66, Ancestry, (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 28 December 2020); citing NARA microfilm publication M704, roll 518.

(3)1850 U.S. Census, Richland, Morgan, Missouri, population schedule, family 369, digital image, image 16 of 21, Ancestry, (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 28 December 2020); citing NARA microfilm publication M432, roll 408.

(4)Wen F member 47980990, Find a Grave, database and images, 30 July 2016, memorial 167604887 for Milas L Ritchie, marriage information; ( https://www.findagrave.com : accessed 28 December 2020).

(5)Wen F member 47980990, Find a Grave, database and images, 30 July 2016, memorial 167604887 for Milas L Ritchie, died 12 August 1868, citing Ritchie Cemetery, Versailles, Morgan County, Missouri, USA; ( https://www.findagrave.com : accessed 28 December 2020).

Ritchie Pedigree Triangulation

The basic Pedigree Triangulation technique I used for discovering clues about Elizabeth Ritchie’s parents and family is illustrated below:

From my list of DNA match cousins provided by Ancestry.com, I identified 11 of my DNA match cousins who are descendants of James Lafayette Ritchie and 3 more DNA match cousins to my uncle on the Ritchie side. The process of using Pedigree Triangulation is to go to my list of DNA matches in Ancestry.com and select the first one that is a descendant of James L. Then by clicking Shared Matches, I get a list of my DNA match cousins who match me and the James L DNA match cousin. All three points on the triangle, me or my uncle, a James L DNA match cousin and a person on the Shared Match list, have the same DNA from Elizabeth Ritchie. (See Ritchie or Not? for why this is true.)

By looking for similar surnames in the Shared Match’s family trees, and identifying their most recent common ancestor (MRCA) with the other Shared Matches on my list, I can determine the names of ancestors that all three of us in the triangle have in common. By repeating the process for each James L DNA match cousin for both my Ritchie uncle and me, a pattern of common surnames and ancestors appeared. All of these people, my uncle and me, the James L DNA match cousins and all of the shared matches are called a DNA cluster or genetic network.

I made a table that lists all of the people in this DNA cluster and the common ancestor or surname associated with them. To give you an idea of what it looked like, here is just a portion of the table:

As you can see, Milas Leonard Ritchie and Dempsey Ritchie were the most recent common ancestors that appeared for the majority of the shared matches in the DNA cluster for my uncle and me. Therefore, my 2nd great-grandmother, Elizabeth, is closely related to Milas Leonard Ritchie and Dempsey Ritchie, indicating that she is a Ritchie and Ritchie is her maiden name.

Now it is time for traditional research to determine who is Milas Leonard Ritchie? and who is Dempsey Ritchie? and how are they related to Elizabeth? You can be sure I’ll be writing more about them in a future post.

Ritchie or Not?

Who are the parents my 2nd great-grandmother, Elizabeth Ritchie? Is Ritchie her married name or her maiden name? Lacking documentation about her parentage, I have been focusing on DNA results to provide the answer.

First, there are 3 main types of DNA testing easily available, Y-DNA, maternal DNA and autosomal DNA. Y-DNA is passed from father to son and is used to determine the direct male bloodline. Maternal DNA (mtDNA) is passed along from mother to daughter and is used to determine the direct female bloodline. Autosomal DNA is more generic and is the type of DNA testing that is the most common provided by companies, such as Ancestry, to find DNA match cousins from all family lines.

Several years ago, three of the male descendants of Elizabeth Ritchie had Y-DNA testing performed. The results showed that at least two of her sons, James Lafayette Ritchie and Madison Monroe Ritchie had different fathers.

As the chart above illustrates, because James L and Madison M had different fathers, the only DNA that the two of them have in common is DNA from their mother, Elizabeth. Therefore, the only DNA that the descendants of James L have in common with the descendants of Madison M is the DNA from Elizabeth. Since Madison M is my great-grandfather, the only DNA I have in common with the descendants of James L comes from Elizabeth. By focusing on the descendants of James L that I have common DNA with, known as DNA match cousins, I should be able to find some clues to Elizabeth’s parents and siblings.

After testing with Ancestry.com, a list of DNA match cousins is provided, so with some additional research I was able to identify 14 DNA match cousins who are descendants of James Lafayette Ritchie. Then using a technique known as Pedigree Triangulation, I can hopefully determine if Ritchie is Elizabeth’s married name or maiden name and perhaps discover other clues about her family. I will tell you more about Pedigree Triangulation and the results I got using this technique in a future blog post.

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