Friday, April 10, 2009

25 Random Things About My Family Tree

I was just reading my cousin's "25 Random Things About Me" posting on his Facebook page and thought I would do the same here, except about my family tree instead of myself. Of course, I took his random 25 things and pasted it into his notes section in my Legacy Family Tree database because I thought it was a really great introduction to who he was as a person. Anyhow, here are my 25 random things about my family tree and my genealogy research:

1) Four of my five grandparents were born and raised at least 600 miles from where I was born and raised and currently live. This has made it difficult to do research until the last five years or so, when so many records have gone up online.

2) I have five grandparents because I consider my "step-grandfather" as a real grandfather and really do not like to distinguish hm as a step-grandfather.

3) I did not cite sources for the first 10 years or so of my research.

4) My great-great-grandmother, Nellie May Reynolds, was born illegitimately in Oct 1890 in Sanilac County, Michigan. Her mom, Cora King, was 15 years old. Oddly, her father was actually named on the birth record as Douglas Reynolds, who seems to have died from tuberculosis in Aug 1890, just two months before she was born. He was 24 years old. Nellie was living with her mom's first cousin, William King, and his wife, Nancy Keys, at the time of the 1900 U.S. census. I wonder if they had legal custody of her. As far as I can tell, they did not have any children of their own.

5) My paternal grandfather was an only child, and so were both of his parents.

6) All three of my grandfathers served in the U.S. armed forces. One of them also served in the Canadian armed forces. None of my great-grandfathers served in the military.

7) My great-grandfather's name was Bienvenue. I think that's one of the strangest names I have in my tree.

8) My great-grandmother, Mabel Ellen Crysler, was possibly 5th cousins with Walter P. Chrysler, who founded the Chrysler corporation. I need to confirm the sources.

9) I found out that my good friend from high school is actually my 10th cousin twice removed. I was doing research on my mom's side and found one of my maternal 4th great-grandmothers was named Priscilla Demaray. Apparently, Demaray was previously Demarest. I then traced the Demarests back to Hackensack, New Jersey and New York. I knew my friend Stephanie's Demarest family was from Connecticut/New York. I found a book by the Demarest Family Association, which contained Stephanie's great-grandparents and my line as well. The funny thing is that both Stephanie and I grew up in Louisiana. Her dad grew up in New York or Connecticut, and my mom grew up in Michigan. My line was apparently the Loyalist branch of the family during the American Revolution who migrated to Canada and then to Michigan.

10) The families the Demarest's married into are my only Dutch ancestors that I've found. The Demarests were French Hugenots.

11) My family still owns the house my great-great-grandfather, Maurice Boneaux, built in Lafayette Parish, Louisiana. My third-great-grandfather, Dominique Boneaux, was the first one to own the land in our family. He was a French immigrant. Unfortunately, our family no longer lives on the land or in the house. It is leased and sub-leased out.

12) My 5th great-grandmother, Marie Marthe Mouton, was the sister of Alexandre Mouton, the 12th governor of Louisiana and U.S. Senator. He was the godfather of her daughter, my 4th-great-grandmother, Cidalise Elizabeth Dugas.

13) My most recently arrived immigrant ancestor to the U.S. is my great-grandmother, Jennie Grace Christina Plaine. She immigrated from Canada around 1924.

14) I used to think my third great-grandmother, Edmonia Domingue, was Cajun French like the rest of my Louisiana ancestors. After doing more research, I found that her family's name was originally Dominguez and that they were of Spanish ancestry from the Canary Islands.

15) My great-great-grandmother, Marie Alice Sonnier, only spoke French, although she was a fourth-generation American.

16) My most recently arrived immigrant ancestor to North America is my third great-grandfather, George Plaine, and his wife, Mary Ann Trumpass. They married in Norfolk County, England in 1850 and immigrated to Canada around 1857.

17) My 2nd great-grandaunt, Myrtle Lavina Pemberton, married her first cousin, Hayes Wheeler Finkle, twice and divorced him twice (or maybe he divorced her).

18) My third-great-grandfather, John Pemberton, fought in the Civil War alongside his younger brother, Stephen, who died from sickness during the War. John brought him all the way from Virginia to Ohio trying to get him to their mother before he died.

19) My third-great-granduncle, Charles Pemberton, had 4 daughters. Susanna was possibly in an industrial school for girls in 1900, married at least 5 times, and was hit by a car when she was 86 years old while crossing the street. Mary died from tuberculosis at age 30. Martha ended up in a mental hospital. Nellie married at least 6 times. Two of Charles' sons died in WWI, and another son died of tuberculosis at age 28.

20) My great-great-grandfather, William Harmon Proffitt, was a a circuit-riding preacher for the Methodist Episcopal Church in Oklahoma from 1900-1944. He lived in at least 6 different counties.

21) Going back to #19, Charles died at the age of 82 when his own dog, who had rabies, bit him and infected him with rabies.

22) Going back to #4 above, my great-great-grandmother, Nellie May Reynolds, who was born illegitimate, married at age 14 in 1904 to Ernest Crysler in Sanilac County, Michigan. She gave birth to 5 children and died at the age of 26 from ptomaine poisoning. I've looked this up and found that it was food poisoning. This was only 7 days after her last child was born. I'm wondering if her death was related to childbirth rather than food poisoning. My sister said that if the baby's blood was a different type than her mother's, it may have contaminated Nellie's bloodstream during the childbirth process. They may have just said food poisoning because of excessive vomiting, which the bloodstream poison would have also caused. Something I will have to investigate more.

23) My mother has a twin brother, and my future father-in-law has a twin sister. My first cousin, Jeff (on my mother's side), who gave me this idea on Facebook, has a fraternal twin brother, Joe. I have a set of fraternal twins who are second cousins, Brandy and Brenda, also on my mother's side. My great-great-grandmother, Florence Minnie Hillman, who was born 23 Jul 1867 in Alvinston, Lambton, Ontario, Canada, had a twin brother, Peter Hillman. My great-great-grandmother, Alvina Lesperance, had red-headed twin boys, James and Joseph, born in 1921, who died within 2 years of their birth.

24) It looks like my 3rd great-grandfather, Joseph "Numa" Sonnier, and my 3rd great-grandmother, Anna Wise, were living in the household of Eugene Richard in 1880 in St. Landry Parish, Louisiana. Numa was working as a farm laborer and Anna as a servant. Their grandchildren, Bienvenue Trahan and Beatrice Marie Boneaux, married in 1929 in Lafayette Parish, Louisiana.

25) Anna Wise is also one of the few non-Cajun French ancestors I have from Louisiana. Her father, Andrew Wise, immigrated from Germany to New York City and then to Louisiana. He fought for the Confederacy during the Civil War. He married Anna Grey of Ireland in a Catholic church in Mobile, Alabama, in 1862 while he was stationed there during the War. Anna Grey followed him to Chattanooga, Tennessee for the Battle of Lookout Mountain. Their son, Adam Wise, was born near Chattanooga in Feb 1863. I need to verify the sources on this, however, because the Battle of Lookout Mountain did not occur until Nov 1863.


  1. What an interesting family background! You must have had a lot of fun learning about all this in your research. This is a great idea and when I get caught up on some of my posting I'd like to use it (with attribution, of course).

  2. Thanks, Greta! That would be awesome if you used my idea!

  3. I like the idea of the #25 things, but I do not know if I have 25 to write about. Well, maybe I have to think on that.

    Ptomanine was caused a lot by improper canning preparation. Just after childbirth, I would suspect that it could have been caused by contamination during the delivery. Improper hand washing, most of the births happened at home.
    A lot of information about bacteria and sterilization weren't known then. If the infant would have died after being born I would check out tetanus (lockjaw), the umbilical cord could have been cut with unclean scissors.

  4. Claudia,

    Thanks for the info about ptomaine poisoning. This gives me new possibilities to explore. I'm pretty sure the birth did happen at home b/c they lived in a rural part of Michigan. The baby survived the birth. Only the mother died. The strange thing about the baby is that some online family histories say her name was Edith May, but when she died in 1986, her name was Mary Margaret in her obit. In my great-grandmother's obit, her name is given as Mary as well. I guess I will have to seek out her birth record.

    I first only wrote about 20 things b/c it was getting late at night and I couldn't think of 5 more things. But since the original idea on Facebook had 25, I decided to write about 5 more the next day.