Sunday, March 24, 2013

The Genealogical Journey of a 30-Something

A few weeks ago, James Tanner of Genealogy's Star posted about the Genealogy Age Gap. His post asked what the genealogy community could do to include more young people. It had a slightly negative slant to it about his hope for the younger generation and their ability to be competent genealogists. It caused a lively discussion in the Comments section, and Elyse (a 20-something genealogist) wrote a rebuttal post titled "Young People Aren't Interested in Genealogy?" This topic has always interested me, as I've always considered myself one of the younger genealogists and quite frankly, I had no idea there were any others until I discovered the blogging community about four years ago.

I began my journey when I was about 12 years old. I was somewhat rebellious, and my paternal grandmother thought I needed a hobby. She was interested in genealogy, and I was always asking her questions about her family, so she suggested we visit the local genealogy library in Lake Charles, Louisiana. This was around 1993-94, before the Internet really became popular with the general public. When we got to the library, we quickly realized most of their sources were for Louisiana, and only my paternal grandfather's family was from Louisiana. But, hey, it was a start. The librarians were so excited that a young person was interested in genealogy. They and other library patrons told me about citing my sources, but of course, I did not listen. Who had time for that? I just wanted to know who my ancestors were. I was able to go back several generations on my paternal grandfather's line and over the next four years or so, my grandmother and I made several trips to the library to explore my paternal grandfather's extended and collateral lines. My main sources for research were several books of Southwest Louisiana Catholic church sacramental record abstracts and a few books on Acadian family lines. It never even occurred to me at the time to order copies of the church records. I didn't even know the difference between primary and secondary sources. Being so young, I was obviously unable to travel to research any other sides of my family, considering they were from Oklahoma and Michigan.

I discovered the Internet for genealogy research when I was about 16 years old around 1997. My main discoveries were WorldConnect family trees and Family Tree Maker trees published online. This is how I first started researching my maternal lines and my paternal grandmother's family. I also used the online trees to discover more information on my paternal grandfather's line without having to visit the library. At this point, I started using Family Tree Maker and started copying and pasting all the unsourced info into the software. Aside from family trees, I discovered and started to dabble in ordering vital records from Michigan. This was probably my first experience with primary sources found outside the family (I had a few vital records that my grandmothers had, such as my great-grandfather's death certificate). I also visited a courthouse in Michigan while I was in college. From the time I was 16 until I was about 23, my research was very sporadic, as high school and college took precedence in my life.

Right before my 24th birthday (c. 2005) is when I REALLY started to become more serious about genealogy. Of course, it depends how you define "serious." I guess you could say I started spending  more time on it. I updated Family Tree Maker and started to actually cite my sources (it only took 12 years). I subscribed to that year and discovered census records. I also started ordering more vital records for my Michigan ancestors. My research slowed down a little in 2006 while I was in grad school.

After grad school, I switched over to Legacy Family Tree in 2007. Instead of importing my FTM file, I started over because of all the unsourced info I had in FTM. However, I was still copying and pasting those unsourced family trees in Legacy. The only difference was that I was actually citing those unsourced family trees as sources. Silly me.

I discovered genealogy blogs in January 2009 and quickly started my own. This is when I really started to feel part of a genealogy community. I also learned to stop citing those trees as sources. Instead, I started copying and pasting the info into Notes for further research, along with a reference to the website. I started trying to follow Elizabeth Shown Mills' citation examples in Evidence Explained. Since fall 2009, I've been cleaning up sources that I finally started to cite back in 2005. My original citations were fairly elementary and when I switched to RootsMagic in fall 2009, some of them got jumbled. I've also been moving the info from unsourced trees to the Notes section for individuals.

Currently, I probably spend about 2 hours a day during the week on genealogy research. A lot of  my research is done online at FamilySearch and, as well as a few other sites. On the weekends, I spend about 4 hours a day (or more). I don't do a lot of traveling, though I occasionally go to the Louisiana State Archives or the local genealogy library here in Baton Rouge. I also visit the local Family History Center from time to time. I try to fit in research at the library and courthouse when I visit cousins in Michigan, but the living take priority so I don't always get as much done as I'd like. My dream is to buy a summer house in Michigan when I retire and do my research. I can't wait to retire so I can spend more time on genealogy research.

Overall, I think I've matured a lot in my research since my early days. I am curious whether or not most researchers go through these phases. I probably stayed in the earlier phases longer than those who start out older. With the advent of the Internet, I also think the beginning stage has probably been revamped. People are no longer limited to their local resources. I seem to have matured faster since my involvement in blogging.

Violet #1 and Violet #2

This is a photo of my maternal grandmother, Violet Mae Currie. She is the little girl on the left. It was taken about 1935 outside her parents' home in Flynn, Sanilac, Michigan.

This is my niece, Violet, who came to visit me from Arkansas this weekend. Isn't she a cutie? She is Violet #2, named after her great-grandmother.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Eva Finkle (1870-????)


Burton Finkle (1868-1909)
William Finkle (1866-1948)
David Finkle (1844-1915)
Eliza Jane (Pemberton) Finkle (1844-1927)
Sarah Maria (Pemberton) Morrison Jones (1851-1941)

To continue my series of posts on the subjects of my RootsMagic database cleanup, this post will focus on Eva Finkle. Eva was the third child and oldest daughter of David Finkle and Eliza Jane Pemberton. Eliza was the younger sister of my third great-grandfather, John Pemberton. As I clean up the source citations and events for individuals in my database, I am posting about them here (actually, I've cleaned up several people since Eva, but I'm way behind on blog posting about them). I've been toying with the different formats for these blog posts, so this one may be slightly different from ones in the past. 


  • Eva was probably born Mar 1870 in Algonac, St. Clair, Michigan. My source for this is the 1870 census, which lists her age as 2 months and her month of birth as March. Her age of 10 in the 1880 census supports this birth date.
  • The 1900 census gives her age as 28 and her birth date as Nov 1871. The 1910, 1920, and 1940 censuses support the Nov 1871 birth date, as they give her age as 38, 48, and 68 respectively. The 1894 State of Michigan census also supports a Nov 1871 birth date. It gives her age as 22 (official census date was 01 Jun 1894). However, all this being said, we know she could not have been born in 1871, as she appeared in the 1870 census.
  • The 1930 census gives her age as 57, suggesting a birth date between Apr 1872 and Mar 1873. Her marriage record gives her age as 29, which suggests a birth date of c. 1872.
  • The 1884 State of Michigan census gives her age as 13, suggesting a birth date between Jun 1870 and Jun 1871.
  • All census records agree on a birthplace of Michigan, and her marriage record specifically states that she was born in Algonac. This is where her family was enumerated in 1870, when she was listed as a 2-month-old infant.
  • The 1899 St. Clair County directory lists Eva as a dressmaker who lived on Plank Rd. in Marine City with her parents.
  • Eva Finkle married Thomas P. Leslie on 18 Dec 1901 in Port Huron, St. Clair, Michigan. She was a 29-year-old dressmaker born in Algonac who lived in Port Huron. He was a 30-year-old marine engineer born in Canada who also lived in Port Huron. He was the son of John Leslie and Susan McLeod. They were married by E. Rushbrooke, Pastor. According to the 1902 Port Huron city directory, Emanuel Rushbrook was the pastor at Nancy Howard Mission (Baptist) located at 1929 11th St.
  • The 1902 city directory lists her as Mrs. Eva Leslie who rooms at 913 Elmwood. No mention of Thomas Leslie is made.

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  • Thomas and Eva appear in the 1910 census in the home of Eva's parents on River Road in Port Huron Township. Thomas was a 37-year-old born in Canada and an engineer on a lumber boat. His immigrated in 1888 and was naturalized. Eva was a 38-year-old born in Michigan.
  • There is a Thomas P. and Eva Leslie living at 619 E. 1st St. in Grays Harbor, Washington, in the 1913 city directory. Thomas was an engineer for Independent Sand & Gravel Co. I don't know for certain if this is my Thomas and Eva Leslie. I don't have any other evidence that they ever left the Michigan. More research needs to be done.
  • In 1920, Thomas and Eva are found in Sandusky, Sanilac, Michigan, which is about 50 miles northwest of Port Huron. Both were 48 years old. Thomas was a farmer born in Canada. His immigration date is given as 1886 and his naturalization date as 1896.
  • In the 1926 Port Huron city directory, Thomas and Eva are listed at 1824 10th Ave. Thomas was a sailor. Judging from it's location in the street directory, it appears to be near the site of a present-day bank (or maybe the liquor store next door).

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  • In Eva's mother's obituary from April 1927, their residence is given as Sandusky.
  • In the 1930 Port Huron city directory, Thomas and Eva are found at 633 11th St. His occupation was marine engineer.

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  • For the 1930 census, Thomas and Eva were enumerated at 2109 Willow St. in Port Huron. He was 58 and she was 57. He was a stationary engineer for the water works.

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  • The next few years of city directories puts them at several different addresses

  • Thomas's occupation as a stationary engineer for the water works remained the same, however.
  • In 1940, Thomas and Eva were enumerated at 827 Sedgwick in Port Huron. Thomas was 70 years old, and Eva was 68. He was still listed as a stationary engineer for the water works. The house would have been where the trees and private gate are to the left in this pic below. I believe they have knocked the house down to build condominiums that are behind the gate.

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  • In the 1946 Port Huron city directory, Thomas is listed alone with no occupation at 709 Fort St., where the empty lot is today. The householder listed in the street directory for 1946 is William H. Hurd. In the 1940 census, Wm H. Hurd is listed as a 76-year-old born in Ohio. His wife, Sarah, age 77 , was born in Canada. They had a lodger named Daniel H. Wood, age 68, born in Michigan. No occupation is given for any of them. I do not know if they have any connection, or they simply liked to take in boarders, since they had one in 1940 as well.

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  • I do not have any death information for either Thomas or Eva. I've looked at an online transcription of the St. Clair County Death Index from 1940 onward, and I can't seem to find them. The 1946 city directory, a recent discovery, helps me to narrow down a possible death date for Eva (c. 1940-1946). 
  • Thomas does not appear in the 1950 Port Huron city directory, so that helps narrow down a possible death date for him as well (c. 1946-1950).
  • It's also possible that Eva and Thomas divorced between 1940 and 1946, though unlikely, considering their age.
  • It's possible that Thomas did not die between 1946 and 1950, but simply left the area. However, considering his age, it's likely that he died.
  • I need to do more research in the city directories to fill in the gaps on missing years. They seemed to move around a lot.I have only done my research in online directories. I need to check out the ones on FHL microfilm and at the St. Clair Co. Library in Port Huron.
  • I also need to check Sanilac County death records as well. They seemed to spend at least a few years in Sandusky and may have died there as well.
  • In all the records I have found and searched, I have never come across any records for children of Thomas and Eva. It appears that they did not have any children.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

SNGF: Female Ancestors And Religion

Time for Saturday Night Genealogy Fun! From Randy over at GeneaMusings:

Here is your assignment if you choose to play along (cue the Mission Impossible music, please!): 

1)  Read Lisa Alzo's blog post Back for a Fourth Year: Fearless Females: 31 Blogging Prompts to Celebrate Women's History Month on her blogThe Accidental Genealogist.

2)  Choose one of her daily blog prompts from the list (this is March 9th, do that one if you don't want to choose another), and write about it.

3)  Tell us about it in a blog post of your own, in a comment to this blog post, in a Facebook post or a Google+ post.

I am going to skip ahead one day to the blogging prompt for March 10:

What role did religion play in your family? How did your female ancestors practice their faith? If they did not, why didn’t they? Did you have any female ancestors who served their churches in some capacity?
I suppose I'm attracted to this one because I just returned from Mass. Or, it could be that I've always enjoyed studying religion and would have been a religious studies major if I wasn't so practical. I just find it fascinating. I was raised Catholic, which is the religion of my father's paternal side. However, when I was about 12 years old, I started going regularly to a Baptist church with a friend. By the time I was 14 years old, I started going to a Methodist church with my paternal grandmother. I went to a Methodist college and was very involved in religious life on campus. Then I came full circle in my early twenties and became a confirmed Catholic. I ended up marrying a Catholic too. 

Since this is about female ancestors, I'll start with my mother. She was not raised in any particular Christian denomination. My parents married in the First Church of the Nazarene in Port Huron, Michigan, in 1977. Three of her sisters also married in this church in 1970, 1975, and 1978. When I asked her if that's where she went to church as a child, she said no. She said that it was the church of her paternal uncle, Frank Pemberton, but that he switched churches frequently. The only time she and her siblings went to church as a child was with Uncle Frank and they went to several different churches with him over the years. After my mom married my dad and they moved to Louisiana, she converted to Catholicism.

My paternal grandmother was raised in the Methodist church. Her maternal grandfather, William Harmon Proffitt, was a Methodist preacher in Oklahoma from c. 1900 until his death in 1944. During my grandmother's childhood, it was called the Methodist Episcopal Church. She was baptized at the age of two by her grandfather in 1937. Interestingly, she said her father always tended toward agnosticism, but I think he went to church to please her mother, at least in the early years of their marriage. When my grandma got married to a Catholic, she agreed to raise my dad and his brothers Catholic. She considered converting to Catholicism, but it was the 1950s, and the priest she talked to told her that she would have to be re-baptized. She refused because her grandfather had baptized her and that was special to her. She dabbled in the Methodist church after marriage, but pretty much more or less got out of the habit of practicing her faith until I was a teenager and told her that I was interested in going with her. We became very involved at Welsh Memorial United Methodist Church in Vinton, Louisiana, for several years from about 1995-2003. My grandma became very active in the United Methodist Women chapter at the church. I miss that church very much. Although I've embraced the Catholic faith, I will never forget my Methodist roots. In fact, if anyone out there reading this is in the Vinton area and looking for a non-Catholic church, I highly recommend this one. Anyhow, I digress. About six years ago, after I was confirmed Catholic, my grandma decided to convert as well. I'm sure her deceased mother-in-law, my great-grandma, was rolling over in her grave (she was never too happy that her son married a non-Catholic who refused to convert). 

My maternal grandmother, Violet Mae Currie, said that before her mother, Jennie Grace Christina (Plaine) Currie, died in 1937 (she was 7 years old when her mom died), the family attended a Presbyterian church on a regular basis. In my great-grandmother's obituary, it states that she was a member of the Presbyterian Church where A.G. Howat was minister, and her funeral services were held at Elk Presbyterian Church in Elk, Sanilac, Michigan, but I'm not 100% sure if they are the same two Presbyterian churches. They probably are, but I hate to assume. I need to do some more research on the Elk church and A.G. Howat. After her mother died, my grandma said she and her father went to Omard Methodist Church, but not on a regular basis. She married my grandfather, John Peter Pemberton, on 9 Sep 1949 at First Methodist Church in Port Huron, Michigan. However, as stated earlier, they did not raise their children Methodist (or any other particular denomination). Prior to the mid-to-late 1990s, I do not remember my maternal grandmother going to church regularly. She started going to the Methodist church with my paternal grandmother and me in the late 1990s/early 2000s. Those years are still very special to me because I felt so honored to attend church with both of my grandmothers every Sunday. She ended up being a member of the church until she died in 2008. She baked the bread for Communion, held the first Sunday of every month, in the years before her death.

As stated earlier, my paternal grandmother's mother-in-law, my great-grandmother, Beatrice Marie (Boneaux) Trahan, was a STAUNCH Catholic. Of all my great-grandparents, I probably knew her the best. She died when I was 12 years old. She went to Mass everyday and wore her head covering up until the time she died in 1993 (well past the rule changes of Vatican II in 1960s). She was an old fashioned Cajun French Catholic, very common in South Louisiana. She wanted so bad for my grandpa to become a priest. She even sent him to an all-boys seminary for his high school years. She was very disappointed when he married a non-Cajun Methodist girl from Oklahoma. My grandma and her mother (the daughter of the Methodist preacher) were very angry at my great-grandmother when my dad was born. My great-grandmother, Beatrice, wanted to have him baptized right away because he was premature and she was so concerned about his soul if he should die before being baptized. My grandma said her mother got so mad about it because it was upsetting my grandma at the thought that her firstborn child may die. I guess she was already concerned about it, and Beatrice was making it worse. Nevertheless, he did get baptized two days after birth by a priest at the hospital. I think Beatrice played an instrumental part in my mother's conversion to Catholicism. I guess she figured if she couldn't get the daughter-in-law to convert, why not get the granddaughter-in-law?

Like my mother, my maternal grandpa's mother, Mabel Ellen (Crysler) Pemberton Beedon, seemed to belong to no particular denomination. However, I'm not certain because I grew up in Louisiana, she lived in Michigan, and she died when I was only 8 years old. I only met her a handful of times. I need to ask more questions of my great-aunts and uncles who are still alive. The following is what I know from various marriage records and obituaries of Mabel and her children. Mabel married John "Jack" Vital Pemberton on 7 Aug 1927 in Port Huron, St. Clair, Michigan. They were married by F.W. Jewell, who according to city directories, was pastor at Pentecostal Convention Tabernacle at 1624 Stone St. in Port Huron. In 1932, the pastor of the First Congregational Church in Port Huron officiated at their son's funeral. Her two oldest children, my grandfather, John Peter Pemberton, and her daughter, Eva Mae Pemberton, were both married in 1949 and 1947, respectively, at First Methodist Church in Port Huron. In 1948, Mabel's daughter's funeral was held at the Free Methodist Church in Port Huron. Between 1958 and 1964, three more children, including Uncle Frank, were married by the minister at Free Methodist Church. In 1954, Mabel was married to her second husband, Daniel Robert Beedon, by J. Alton Cressman, the minister at First Presbyterian Church in Port Huron. Another daughter was also married by this pastor in 1969. Maybe it was a coincidence, but both Mabel's second husband and her daughter were divorced. Was the Presbyterian minister one of the few in town who would marry a divorced person? The pastor of Griswold Street Baptist Church in Port Huron officiated at her daughter Maggie's funeral in 1969. At her own funeral in 1989, the pastor of Bethesda Bible Church officiated.

Apparently, Mabel's mother-in-law, my great-great-grandma, Alvina Lesperance, was a Catholic of French Canadian descent. She and Lovell Hugh Pemberton married at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Anchorville, St. Clair, Michigan, on 10 Nov 1902. This may explain why my grandfather, according to his military records, went to St. Stephen's Catholic School in Port Huron. When I first saw this, I was baffled. I didn't know my mom's family had any Catholic roots. Then my grandma mentioned that Grandma Beedon (who was my grandma's mother-in-law) didn't like her mother-in-law (Alvina) and her mother-in-law didn't like her because she was not Catholic. Seems like a recurring theme here. So although my great-grandfather was married by a Pentecostal minister and did not raise my grandfather Catholic (other than sending him to a Catholic school), all of Alvina's other children married in one Catholic church or another and appear to have raised their children Catholic. 

So, that is all I know about the religion of my female ancestors. Now that I've written it down, it makes me want to dig deeper into some of the beliefs and church records of the various churches in Port Huron and surrounding areas where my ancestors had connections. I would also like to find out all the churches where my great-great-grandfather served as a Methodist Episcopal minister in Oklahoma. For others with Methodist ancestors, particularly ministers, here is a link to Researching Your United Methodist Ancestors.