Friday, January 11, 2019

#52Ancestors - CHALLENGE - Focusing my Research


This week I am sharing another research tool that helps me determine where to focus my research.  It’s called a Fan Chart because it resembles a fan. And it quickly destroyed my belief that all my family’s research was done!

A Fan Chart is a simple and colorful way of looking at our family tree. Most of us are used to trees that start with one person at the bottom (or on the left side) and have branches growing up (or to the right). First there are two branches, then four, then eight, etc as we go back through the generations. These types of trees - called portrait or landscape - can show only direct lines. But they usually get more complicated as children are included through the generations. 

Here is a portrait view of my family tree (a screen shot from

You can see how the screen quickly fills up as each individual takes up space. I can only choose to see one branch of my tree at a time for any generation past my great-grandparents.  I also get a false sense of completion as this is all filled in. 

But when I use a fan chart version of my tree, I can easily see back to my 4th great-grandparents and all at the same time. Here’s what that looks like, also taken as a screen shot from

Do you see what I see?!?  People are missing! I have a hole in the great-great-great-grandparent generations. And I have plenty of wasteland in the great-great-great-greats!

This truly surprised me because I knew my father had spent years researching my family. He’s even published a book on his mother’s ancestry.  It does, however, give me direction And on how to focus my research. 

So what is my CHALLENGE?  To identify the maternal grandparents of Rebecca Melinda Cooper, who was fondly called “Da” by her grandchildren. Her mother, Christina Shoffner, is from North or South Carolina and lived from about 1812-1860. And that’s where the trail ends. 

Rebecca Melinda Cooper (Brooks)

Saturday, January 5, 2019

#52 Ancestors - A New Year, A New Start - FIRST


Hmmm, so my last blog post is from January 2018 and is marked START.  And that was also the END.  I didn't accomplish ANY of my genealogy goals and honestly didn't do much research during the year.  I made some initial contact with the Mayflower Society and continued enjoying my membership in the Marco Island DAR.  And that's where it ends.

So it's January again - same goals, and a fresh start.  I'm no longer going to number these posts - as there really is no sequence to follow.  But I will continue to use the prompts from Amy Johnson Crow.  And this week the prompt is FIRST.

I've always told my children that ALL their ancestors were in this country before the Revolutionary War.  And I honestly thought that was true.  Imagine my surprise when I found a whole line that arrived in the 1840s!

Several genealogy accounts that I follow recommended doing a spreadsheet of ancestry by birthplace.  It looks something like this:

This is from Kathryn Creeden's blog called Kathryn's Quest.

I made a similar chart for my family going back 6 generations.  It was amazing to see where everyone was from.  And for the most part it was true that our family was in this country by the early 1700s.  But it turns out that all of my mother's mother's grandparents were born in England between 1835 and 1850.  All 8 of these great-great-grandparents of mine migrated with their parents after 1840.   Thus I have maternal great-great-great-grandparents who were the FIRST to arrive in the United States of America.

Let me tell you about two of them: Richard Slater and Ann Corbridge from Lancashire, England.

Richard Slater

Richard was born in Little Bowland, Lancashire, England on 26 September 1811, the youngest of 9 children of Thomas Slater and Margaret Cutler.  His family had farmed there since approximately 1720.   Little Bowland is about 7 miles from Chipping, England.

Richard married Ann Corbridge on 29 September 1834 at a little church in Chipping.  It's looks like a lovely place.

                            Slater, Richard and Ann Corbridge - Chipping Church

Ann was born in Thornley, Lancashire, England on 16 November 1812, the 7th of 11 children born to William Corbridge and Ellen Bolton who had also married in Chipping.

Ann Corbridge

Ann & Richard sailed to the United States in 1841 with 4 of their children, including my great-great-grandfather, Thomas (presumably named after his grandfather).  They came to join members of their new faith, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saint, and initially settled in Nauvoo, IL.  

In 1846, after having another child, they were driven from their home.  Most members of the church relocated to Iowa.   They had another 5 children while trying to survive in Council Bluff Iowa.  In the 6 years they were in Iowa, Richard served with the Mormon Battalion and was away from home for at least a year.

The family traveled across the plains in 1852 and settled in Utah, though Richard also worked in Wyoming and Idaho.  They named the town Slaterville, which still exists west of Ogden, Utah. Two further children were born in Utah.

I wish their pictures were more happy - but such was the way things were then.  Amazingly only two of their twelve children died in childhood.  Both Richard and Ann are buried in Ogden, Utah.  I found it interesting that Ann's funeral was conducted by a minister of the local Episcopalian church.  I would love to know the story behind that!!

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Start - #52Ancestors

I am starting AGAIN!  But this time it's more of a word association than an actual ancestor.  I hope that will keep me on track.

So let's


First, my genealogy goals for 2018. 

1. Join the Mayflower Society
2.  Help my husband's aunt join the DAR
3. Start a supplemental for myself with the DAR
4. Attend a research weekend with the NEHGS in Boston (ok, that may be a pipe dream...)

To accomplish goal 1, I went to Relative Finder.  When linked to your Family Search account, this can show you some famous relatives - from actors (like Gene Autry for me) to Presidents (hello, Abraham Lincoln).  But I chose Mayflower ancestry.  I had many cousins, but I was looking for direct lines.  Two men popped up: Edward Fuller at my 10th Great Grandfather and William Brewster IV as my 11th Great Grandfather.

Here are the charts:

Yep, it looks like a lot of work...I will have to prove this but to speed things up I will try to link to someone who has already used some of this lineage.  Wish me luck as I 


Sunday, November 9, 2014

52 Ancestors #21: Selah Stedman, military man (and a picture of our Veteran's Day baby!)

Changing focus this week in preparation for Veteran's Day, I am impressed by how many members of our family have served in the United States armed services.  Both my parents, Jean Hammon and Robert Brooks, and Phil's father, Clint Norton, served during the 1940s and 50s.  But our family fought for this country before it was even a country!

It seems that for Phil he has Revolutionary War ancestors on both his mother's and father's side.  I haven't even had the time to comb through my family for this kind of information though I know my cousin, Virginia, joined the DAR through one of my mother's ancestors.  In this post, I will focus on the man I have the most Revolutionary information about:

Selah Stedman

Selah is Phil's 4th great-grandfather.  His son, Eli Stedman, had a daughter named Sarah or Sally. She married the first Asahel Norton sometime before 1828.  It is through the 9th of their 12 children, Asahel Wellington, that we are descended.

Selah was born in Connecticut in 1762. He served in the war for 3 years from 1777 to 1780. There are many pages of muster rolls containing his service record and I haven't had a chance to go through them all.  Here's a copy of one from August 1777, where he is listed as "Zealous" Stedman.  His enlistment is for 3 years and it began in May of that year.  He is a Private in Captain Samuel Barker's Company of the Connecticut Regiment of Foot. Remember he is only about 15 years old at this time!

By 1779 he was still a Private but was now serving in Major Eli Levenworth's Company in the 6th Battalion Connecticut Forces.  His pay is meager, approximately 2 pounds per month.  There is also a subsistence amount of 3 pounds.  I'm not sure what that means.  There are many of these cards in Fold3, a website devoted to military records.  I followed them month by month and he was a very regular soldier. Amazing dedication for a young man, now only 17 years old.

There is an extensive pension file from 1832, available on  For reasons I can't quite figure out, his original application for a pension was returned and he had to offer additional testimony.  Here is a copy of the affidavit sworn on 27 September 1832 which I will try to transcribe.


State of New York
County of Livingston.  On this twenty seventh day of September 1832 personally appeared before the county courts of Livingston County aforesaid Selah Stedman a resident of the town of Livonia in the county of Livingston.  Aforesaid aged seventy years who first being duly sown according to Law doth on his oath make the following declaration in order to obtain the benefit of the provision made by the act of Congress passed at the 7th June 1832 - That he enlisted in the army of the United States on the 7th day of May in the year 1777 and served in the Regiment commanded by Lieutenant Jonathan Meigs in a Brigade commanded by General Person after Connecticut ___?___ in a company commanded by Captain Samuel Backer - Enlisted for three years and served until the 27th day of April 1780 on which day he was discharged - That he resided at the time he enlisted as aforesaid in the town of Wolingsford, County of New Haven and State of Connecticut - was born in the year 1762 - - That in the year 1777 was at Peckskill in the state of new York and in an alarm marched with his regiment into New Jersey as far as Quibble Town and joined the army with General Washington at the time of the Battle of Scotch Plains.  After the battle marched back to Peckskill and from there to White Plains to watch the enemy and convoy(?) the refugees and cow boys(?). Went into Winter Quarters at Fishkill and had the small pox - had a furlough and went home and in the month of March 1778 joined the army at Robinson ____?___ two miles below West Point on the east side of the North River where the Brigade remained the forefront of the summer then marched to White Plains and there stayed (p 1 ends)
until time to go into Winter Quarters and for that purpose marched into the state of Connecticut and then continued until the spring of 1779 - and marched back to the  Robinson Fords(?) near the North River at which place the regiment continued during the summer of 1779 until time to repair to Winter Quarters and for that purpose marched to Morristown in New Jersey and there continued until the spring of 1780 and from there marched to a town called West??? in New Jersey and was discharged by Col. Meigs on the day above named (to wit) the 27 day of April 1780, discharge lost.
I hereby relinquish every claim whatever to a pension or an annuity except the present and declare that my name is not on the Pension Roll of any agency in any state.
                                           (Signed by Selah  Stedman)
Sworn and subscribed the day and year aforesaid.
And the said court do hereby declare their opinion that the aforenamed applicant was a revolutionary soldier and served as he states.

This must have worked because Selah and then his widow did receive a pension.  It will be fun to re-read Revolutionary War history and look for these places. I'm not sure I got all the town's correct but they should be identifiable in the records of his regiment.

The good news is we know that Selah survived the war, even surviving smallpox!  By 1783, Selah - now only 21 - was married to Mary Hall.  At some point, following a common migration route, they moved to upstate New York,  The History of Livingston County shows that in 1813 he and Mary were founding members of the First Presbyterian Church of Livonia, New York church.  And that is where he lived until his death on 30 August 1844 at the age of 71.

I love that Selah lived near New Haven Ct where both Jessi and I went to school.  Also that his name comes from the biblical term - Selah  - used 71 times in the book of Psalms.  The meaning is uncertain but it appears to be a direction to musicians to "strike up".  And what a musical family Selah helped found!

I will let Selah - a man who served as a young boy and saw General Washington -sign this record for himself -

On a much lighter note, I want to close with happy birthday greetings to our own Eve G Norton Hanna, born on 11/11 and who did her (sometimes militant) service with the Veteran's Administration.  When you're with Eve, it's always a party!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

52 Ancestors #20: Dianne Kay Palmer Wetjen

Happy Birthday Dianne!

Dianne Kay Palmer was born to Gladys Hackett and Nelson Palmer on the 21st of October 1940.  The story is that they expected a boy and were going to name him Paul (after Nelson's brother-in-law, Paul Mohney).  But judging from the adorable baby book that Gladys compiled they were more than happy with their bright eyed baby girl.  Dianne was also greeted by sibling, Doris, who had waited 11 years to be a big sister.

Dianne grew up in Butler Pennsylvania where her father taught school.  He also had the best camera around, taking pictures for the school and many at home.  He frequently captured her with her mother:

Nelson also took stunning pictures of Silver Lake and the Mohney's vacation home in Barnegat Bay, New Jersey.

Dianne graduated from Butler High School in 1958 and began her studies at the State University of Pennsylvania, Indiana where her mother had also been a student.  She remembers that she had wanted to be a doctor but that was not an option for women in those days. Choosing between secretary, nurse and teacher, she started in education.  But she was really looking for her MRS degree.  And she found just the man for it!  Theta Chi fraternity was going caroling in the snowy town. Dianne didn't want to go but she accompanied her roommate.  The group was led by Alan Wetjen.  She remembers he had a red wool jacket with frat pin made with rubies and pearls and gold.  Dianne has always loved jewelry!!  They were walking and singing when things got slippery and he held her hand to keep her from falling.  When she got home, she told her roommate she was going to marry him.  She was the first girl in her class pinned at the Coronation Ball ceremony in January.1959.  Al came down over Christmas and met her family.  They married at the end of her sophomore year in 1960 on her parent's anniversary of August 21.  From the looks of her high school graduation photo it's no surprise that Al was glad to lend a helping hand!

Dianne finished her education at Alleghany College in Meadville, PA where Alan was teaching. They also spend their first 4 summers in Tallahassee where both completed Master's degrees.  Alan's degrees are in Math and Dianne's are in Reading.  After building a lovely home, Alan decided he didn't like where he was teaching and they moved to Long Island New York where both found teaching positions.  This was their home base for many years.

After 10 years of marriage, they were ready to add to their family.  Son Eric was born in 1969.  Dianne said he was "fun enough for her" and enjoyed watching him grow as she continued her work as a reading specialist.

Dianne and Alan retired in 1994 to Marco Island Florida.  Of course, being retired didn't keep her from being busy!  Dianne has helped found two charter schools, ran two large clubs, and worked to add a wing to the local library!  She was recognized for all she does in the local paper and, of course, it included a pictures of one of her lovely cats.

She is still a force in the community.  Dianne also has a flair for fashion and I love looking through her photos to see what the popular hairstyles were throughout the decades!!  Of course, I can't leave you without a sneak peak at the lovely man she married!

Alan Wetjen with his trademark smile!

52 Ancestors #19: Doris Drake and James Hackett

It seems likely that I will never have 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks as I had hoped for this year.  But I always believe that something is better than nothing so here's another post!

James Sends Greetings to Doris

Doris and James on their wedding day

I wrote about James Nelson Hackett previously here.  I even included a copy of the newspaper wedding announcement to Doris Laura Drake.  So I was thrilled when our aunt Dianne Palmer Wetjen showed me a postcard she had from James to Doris written in 1899, less than 2 years before their wedding.

Here is the address side:

One cent for a postcard that traveled from Westline Pennsylvania to East Sharon (see the handwritten note far left referencing McKean which is the likely final destination) Pennsylvania that must have passed through Wellsville, New York.  Though the card is dated 21 December, it is postmarked 22 December and was in Wellsville December 23.  I wonder when it reached Doris?  No street address needed at least!

This is my transcription of the note:

                                                                                                   Dec. 21 1899

Miss Doris L Drake
                                                           Dear Friend:-
I will write you a few lines to let you know that I am still among the land of living & won't be to Smethport before Xmas or rather Saturday. So you can't look for me as soon as you did expect but I will be there in time to have a fine sleighride providing that the weather is suitable for us.
I send my regards to all.  I am the same as ever.

I find it so sweet that he would reassure her that he was coming and even give her something to look forward to.  It appears that he attempted to cross out the word Xmas to tell her it wouldn't be until Saturday.  Christmas was on a Monday that year so I'm wondering if he was coming later in the holiday week.  He was only about 30 miles away from his hometown of Smethport. I wonder what he was doing in Westline at the time.

Here is a map of the locations including Olean where they were married in August of 1901.

Thanks Dianne for keeping this amazing artifact from 115 years ago!  It makes me think there was a love story here that I wish we knew more about.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

52 Ancestors #18: Luther Norton, the missing link

I have continued my climb up the Norton side of the family tree.  I thought this would lead to a long trail of Asahels as I mentioned in my post about Asahel Wellington Norton.  So I was excited to prepare for my trip to the Allen County Public Library last month.  In doing so, I reviewed some research I had done last summer in Livingston County.  There were letters at the historian's office from a David Kendall Martin written in 1979.  He seemed to have an interest in and knowledge of the Norton family.  But could I find him after 35 years?

Amazingly enough a Google search turned up his name on a genealogy website with an email address.  There was no date but it was worth a try.  I sent an email on Friday and had an answer the next day!  He sent me information adding 5 generations to the family and introducing me to

Luther Norton

Rosemary Norton at the grave of her 4th great-grandfather
Luther Norton
Luther was a name that was familiar to me from census records and I had assumed it was an uncle of Asahel, father of Asahel Wellington.  But instead it is his father.  In essence, Luther is the father, brother and son of an Asahel Norton!  No wonder I was confused.

So here is how it looks:
Asahel Norton
Luther Norton
Asahel Norton
Asahel Wellington Norton
William Wellington Norton

I was able to trace the first Asahel back to John Norton, born 1634 in Bedfordshire, England.  This John emigrated to the colonies and died in Connecticut in 1704.  It was exciting to finally "cross the pond".

Luther was born in Saratoga, New York where his family (including uncles) had moved from Connecticut sometimes between 1770 and 1776, as the Revolutionary War was starting.  When the English came to  Saratoga under General  Burgoyne, his uncle fought and died serving the crown.  But Luther's father, Asahel, seemed to have stayed out of the combat.  This Asahel died in New York around 1790.

Luther can then be traced to Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania, where he settled on land that was being "colonized" by a group from Connecticut.  This group was originally formed with his grandfather, Samuel, as a founding member.  But the Pennsylvanians were not too happy to think that Connecticut was encroaching on its territory.  When the war ended, the Norton family was driven off its land and moved to Livingston County, New York.  There they remained until Asahel Wellington left the state for work in the 1890s.

Luther is buried in Livonia, Livingston, New York and I was recently able to visit.  It is a tiny cemetery right off county road 15.  Unfortunately, his gravestone is completely worn off - only a quote remains on the top, and even that was mostly illegible.  Buried next to him is his wife and a son, Luther A.  It was exciting to find the site but sad to realize that time had eroded so much history.