Thursday, October 6, 2016

Those Places Thursday

Home of my grandparents, Benford and Merlene (Mertena) Trahan, located at 1306 Fancher St. in Vinton, Louisiana, May 1968

I was so excited when my dad texted this picture to me last week. My uncle found it on Facebook. Why was I excited? Because it is the only known picture of the home my dad and his brothers grew up in from c. 1960 to 1973. The home was moved from the property sometime in the 1970s or 80s.

It was actually the home of my great-grandparents, Bienvenue and Beatrice (Boneaux) Trahan, before my grandparents lived in it. During World War II, Bienvenue and Beatrice moved to Vinton, Louisiana, from Scott, Louisiana, when Bienvenue got a job with the railroad. The railroad provided this home for the family to live in. The home I am referring to is the house on the right with the screened in porch. According to my dad, the smaller structure on the left was used as a garage by my great-grandparents when they lived there.

On 16 Jan 1960, Bienvenue and Beatrice purchased a piece of land at 1218 Nelson St. in Vinton from Clodet and Lizzie (Trahan) Landry. (Lizzie was most likely a distant cousin of Bienvenue's, but there was no known close relationship). Sometime soon after, they built a new house there (see below).

At the time that Bienvenue and Beatrice purchased the new property on Nelson St., their only child, Benford Maurice Trahan, was a young man of 24 years who had just been discharged from the U.S. Navy two years earlier. He was married and had 3 young boys, including my 4 year-old dad. He was working as a rubber inspector at the Firestone plant in nearby Sulphur, Louisiana. Benford and his bride, the former Merlene Mertena, lived in a rental home located at 27 Eucalyptus St. in Sulphur with their three boys in 1960. (I would put a photo up from Google Maps, but I don't believe the current house there today was the same one that was there in 1960). Merlene's parents lived nearby in Sulphur.

I'm not quite sure why Benford and Merlene moved to Vinton, except that I recall my grandmother telling me that Beatrice wanted them back there. Benford was her only child, after all. And my dad and his brothers were her only grandchildren. So off Benford and Merlene moved to Vinton into the old railroad house that my great-grandparents had purchased from the railroad. I heard many times as a teenager and young adult how much my grandmother hated that old railroad house. Apparently, Beatrice had moved the kitchen from the old railroad house over to the new house to be used in the mother-in-law quarters behind the new house. Merlene couldn't believe that she was expected to live in a house without a kitchen.

In fact, after hearing so many horrible stories about the old railroad house, I was quite surprised when I saw the picture last week. Doesn't look so bad to me with a nice big-screened porch. How I wish my grandmother were still alive so I could ask questions about the old railroad house. I have a feeling that she resented her mother-in-law for persuading my grandfather to move them there and away from her parents.

A fourth boy came along in the fall of 1960 (my uncle who found the picture), and about 1961 Benford transferred into the Safety Dept at Firestone. Once all the boys were in school, Merlene found a job as a travel counselor in 1966 with the Louisiana State Tourist Bureau located in Vinton, just a few blocks from their home located in what is now the Vinton Public Library.

According to my grandmother, she inherited money from her grandmother, Blanche (Welden) Mertena, when she died in 1970. (Note to self: Need to research probate records for Blanche). On 6 Jan 1973, she used this money to purchase a piece of land at 1702 Horridge St. in Vinton. My dad was a junior in high school. Not too long after, Benford and Merlene built a new house there with all the modern amenities of 1973 (and it had a kitchen).

Eventually, Benford became the Personnel Manager of Firestone before he retired in the early 1990s.
Merlene retired from the tourist bureau around that time as well. They lived in the "new" house until Benford died in 2009 and Merlene went to a nursing home around three years ago (sadly, she passed away last summer at the age of 80).

Below is a picture of their "new" house on Google Maps (that is actually my dad's truck at the end of the driveway). The white siding on the left side of the house is where the garage was. After Benford died, Merlene remodeled the house so that her wheelchair could fit better in the kitchen. They expanded the kitchen/dining area by closing in the garage and then extended the driveway around the left side of the house all the way to the backyard.
My grandmother was always so proud of "her" house. She said if my grandfather had had his way, they would have never left the old railroad house. She always remarked how she wanted to visit it one more time after she went to the nursing home. I think she would be happy to know that there is a young couple living in it now and taking care of it. I'm sure she doesn't give a hoot what happened to the old railroad house.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Pemberton DNA Research

So I was finally bitten by the DNA bug last year when all the Black Friday sales were going on. had their autosomal DNA test for $69, and I just couldn't resist. I got my test results not too long after Christmas. Since then, I have tested my mom and dad (as well as my husband and his parents). I have been slowly sifting through the results since then.

One of my first discoveries was that a Pemberton cousin, D.C. (initials only to protect privacy of living relatives), had already tested. D.C.'s mother was the sister of my great-grandfather, John Vital Pemberton.

Another discovery soon after that occurred when I uploaded my results to FamilyTreeDNA. There I found a cousin match in the 2nd-4th cousin range named S.L. Interestingly, his great-grandmother is Samantha Pemberton, b. 1861 in Marmora Township, Hastings, Ontario, Canada. Samantha's father was William Pemberton, b. 1811 in Albany, New York. William Pemberton's father is Adam Pemberton (b. 1775) and Adam's father is Jeremiah Pemberton (b. 1742). I found all of this very interesting because my Pemberton's were also from the same region of Ontario and I had always suspected them to be descended from the Jeremiah Pemberton family from Albany. The Jeremiah Pemberton family from Albany were Loyalists during the American Revolution who later settled in Ontario.

My furthest back Pemberton ancestor that I have been able to document is my 4x-great-grandfather, Jeremiah Pemberton, b. abt 1812 in New York. Jeremiah married my 4x-great-garndmother, Susanna Jermyn, in 1836 in Toronto, not terribly far from Hastings County, Ontario, where S.L.'s Pemberton ancestors were living. Jeremiah and Susanna had several children in Ontario before settling in Michigan around 1856.

After getting in touch with S.L.'s kit administrator, P.L., who is a 5th cousin match, I decided to see if D.C.'s kit administrator at Ancestry would give me his raw data results to upload to GedMatch, since P.L. and S.L. had their results uploaded there as well. D.C.'s kit administrator was his wife, whom I had been in contact with several years earlier regarding our family tree, and she agreed to give me the results to upload.

Lo and behold, D.C. was a match to P.L. and S.L., so I then knew that our shared match had to be either on the Pemberton side or the Lesperance side. The most recent common ancestors of myself and D.C. are my 2x-great-grandparents, Lovell Hugh Pemberton and Alvina Mary Lesperance. The Lesperance line is French Canadian, and interestingly enough, S.L. and P.L. do have a French Canadian line on their paternal side, so I could not totally rule that out.

In the meantime, I finally had my mom's DNA tested at  She had a 3rd-4th cousin match with someone called bigdaddyhunter81. He had no tree attached to his results, and their shared matches were D.C. and a person called A.W., also without a tree. I then looked at my mom's shared matches with A.W., and found one called N.T. N.T. did have a tree attached, so I decided to go out on a limb and see if I could find a common ancestor.

Again, I hit gold on the Pemberton DNA research. N.T.'s great-grandmother was Hannah Elizabeth Pemberton, daughter of Samuel Pemberton and Emeline Meyers. Hannah was born abt 1864-1866 in Ontario and married James Pharoah 15 Nov 1888 in Dundas County, Ontario. Her father, Samuel Pemberton, was born abt 1818-1821 in Albany, New York. Some online trees have Samuel as the son of the same Adam Pemberton (b. 1775) as William's father in S.L. and P.L.'s tree. Samuel and William are potentially brothers, but I'm not too sure because the source documentation for Samuel's ancestry seems to be lacking.

In any event, I feel like I am at least getting a step closer to figuring out the origins of my Jeremiah Pemberton. Could he also be a brother of William and Samuel? He is in the right age range. William was born abt 1811, Jeremiah was born abt 1812, and Samuel was born abt 1818-21 If so, perhaps my Jeremiah is named after their grandfather, Jeremiah Pemberton (b. 1742). Interestingly enough, my Jeremiah had a daughter named Lydia, which is the name of Adam's (b. 1775) wife, the potential mother of the three boys. Could his daughter be named after his mother? My Jeremiah also had sons named Samuel and William. Could they be named after his brothers? Samuel had a son named Jeremiah as well.

Unfortunately, S.L. and P.L. are in Canada and do not have results at I have tried reaching out to N.T. to see if he has results at GedMatch or FamilyTreeDNA. I have also tried reaching out to bigdaddyhunter81 and the administrator of A.W.'s kit to see what they know about their ancestry. I also found a second descendant of Samuel Pemberton and Emeline Meyers who my mom matches at

Stay tuned as I delve more into my Pemberton DNA matches....

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Marteeny Graves

I did have some great success at the Williamson County Historical Society in Marion, Illinois, last week. I last posted that I was going there to see what I could find out about the siblings of my 2x-great-grandfather, John Henry Marteeny (1884-1956). I had found photos of their graves online at Find A Grave, which stated they were buried at the Masonic-Lithuanian Cemetery in Shakerag, Williamson, Illinois. My goal was to see if I could find any more info on their deaths and to fulfill a long-time family wish to visit their graves.

I was greeted by very friendly people at the Williamson County Historical Society Museum in Marion. They immediately led me to their research library and to a copy of the book Masonic and Lithuanian Cemeteries, Shakerag, IL by Helen Sutt Lind. I browsed through the book and found out that my 4x step-great-grandfather, John Brown, owned the last-standing grocery store in Shakerag before all the settlers moved one mile away to Lake Creek in the mid-1890s. The best little nugget of info in Helen's book was that the three Marteeny siblings died of diptheria and croup. It even said that the oldest son, Nesbeth Marteeny, had been very close with his father and the father had been terribly heartbroken when he died. The family story was that they died from an epidemic, but no one knew the exact cause. The source is cited as Obits and Tidbits, 1850-1884, Franklin County, Illinois by Carla Pulliam. Guess that is another book I will have to go after.

They were even able to call Helen and she was kind enough to bring me a copy of the book to purchase. She drew me a map to the cemetery, which is at the end of 9th St. in Johnston City.  I am glad that the inscriptions were placed on Find A Grave because the stones were not in that great of a condition. Below are some pics I took while there. I also placed flowers on some of the graves.

Nesbeth F.
Son of J.H. and C.C. Merteney
Born Aug. 8, 1877
Died Jan. 4, 1883

Daisy C.
Dau. of J.H. and C.C. Merteney
Born Oct. 2, 1879
Died Feb. 17, 1882

Marvie J.
Son of J.H. and C.C. Merteney
Born Feb. 6, 1882
Died Dec. 31, 1882

I still have a lot of research to do on my Marteeny ancestors, including finding the grave of my 3x-great-grandfather, John Henry Marteeny (c. 1854-1884). But I am very happy knowing that we have laid to rest a long-time family wish to visit the graves of the three siblings who left this earth too soon.