For a variety of reasons, 2018 was not a typical year for me!
I did not travel as much as I usually do, so I didn’t attend any national conferences or educational institutes. I did, however, take advantage of online opportunities to learn from webinars and conference livestreams (National Genealogical Society, Southern California Genealogical Society DNA Day, and Irish Virtual Conference), as well as the Board for Certification of Genealogists’ Reisinger Memorial Lectures and even a cruise livestream (Unlock the Past in Seattle).
Topics included DNA, Irish research, World War II research, methodology, standards, and railroad research.
Although there was less travel than in most years, there were some great visits!
In the spring, my husband and I traveled to Philadelphia for the National Society of the Colonial Dames of America‘s regional conference. It was a great opportunity to connect with Dames from across the country and to return to history-rich Philadelphia.
After Philadelphia we spent some time at a family home in northeastern Pennsylvania. While we were there I was able to visit the Lynn-Heidelberg Historical Society in New Tripoli, Pennsylvania. The society has collections of books and documents in their museum in New Tripoli, sponsors events, and maintains a restored 1740s log cabin and 1750s log fort at nearby Ontelaunee Park. Although I wasn’t there on a normal opening day, one of their officers opened the museum specially so that I could do research and gave me a private tour of the log cabin and fort.
The Lynn-Heidelberg area was home to my Weaver, Peter, Hunsicker, Moser, and other ancestors. After visiting the historical society and Ontelaunee Park we stopped at the Ebenezer Church in New Tripoli to visit Weaver graves, and then drove to the Heidelberg Church in Heidelberg township, where I had never been before.
On the same trip I connected with a cousin who is descended from the sister of my Lithuanian great-grandfather William Abromaitis. We visited him at his home in Quakake, Pennsylvania, where my Neifert ancestors settled. In addition to viewing his amazing collection of Abromitis photos, documents, and memories–he and his mother had actually visited the Abromaitis’ ancestral parish and village–we took a mini-tour of the area where he lives, passing schools erected by Neiferts and Fausts and visiting the church where many of my Neifert ancestors are buried.
A quick fall trip back to Pennsylvania included a stop at Steamtown National Historic Site in Scranton. Steamtown is a fantastic indoor and outdoor museum/railyard complete with an operating roundhouse, locomotive shops, and educational exhibits. Since both my grandfathers worked for the railroads (one was a railway clerk and the other was a tunnel inspector) this was really fun for me. Naturally, our stop included a train ride. We also took a longer train ride on the Stourbridge Line, based in Honesdale.
Research, writing, and DNA
I was inspired by our visit to New Tripoli and by DNA connections with new cousins to add to my research on the Weaver and allied families, exploring probate, land, tax, and military records. I also prepared and submitted supplemental DAR applications for Revolutionary War patriots Jacob Frantz, Henry Lutz, and Jacob Neifert. (I started supplementals for Joseph and Johannes Hunsicker, Michael Ohl Sr., and Jacob Peter but haven’t submitted them yet.)
Several researchers have suggested that the Weavers from whom I descend originated from a Palatine immigrant couple, Jacob and Anna Elisabethe Weber, who came first to New York in 1709 and then to Pennsylvania in the 1720s.[1. See Barbara (Boring) Bauer, “The Immigrants: Jacob and Anna Elisabethe Weber of Ulster County, NY and Berks County, PA,” c2003, Minerd.com, Stories of Forgotten Pennsylvania German Families and Their Impact on Americana (http://www.minerd.com/memoir-bauerbarbara2.htm : accessed 12 January 2019).]
This thesis appears supportable–records of the Webers and allied families end in New York and pick up in Berks County at the same time. However, connecting the Weaver families of Heidelberg and Lynn townships with the Weavers who came to Berks County from New York is a little more challenging because the Lynn/Heidelberg area was a frontier and there were very few records. As a result, distinguishing the identities of men with the same name is challenging.
As a result of my trip I decided that I would write up some of my research for the Weaver and Neifert families in a series of generational vignettes, illustrated with photos and documents and supported by endnotes, aimed at my children. I finished 30- to 50-page trial drafts of both series, starting with my grandmother Emerson C. Neifert and my grandmother M. Irene Weaver and continuing to the immigrant ancestor in both families, by the end of the year. I just had them coil-bound and am about to circulate them for reactions.
On my husband’s side, I was able to identify the parents of his ancestor John Clark’s mother Nancy Emery.[2. I wrote about this in an earlier blog post–“A New Irish Family!“.] This gives us another link to Ireland and another opportunity to identify an Irish place of origin.
On the DNA front, the number of testers representing my husband’s and my families keeps expanding. We made new contacts with Mackin, Galt, Sakusky, and Abromitis descendants and continued to work with Mazeika descendants. At the end of the year, I got several matches with the Spargo surname in their ancestry. I’m hoping that these might lead to a breakthrough on that longstanding brick wall.
My husband has a set of great-grandparents with three unknown parents; we have some DNA matches who appear to be connected to the unknowns. To help sharpen the DNA research, we recruited a second cousin descended from this couple to test with Ancestry and 23andMe, and we’re using the matches she shares with my husband and his two tested siblings. We’ve identified four clusters (the known one and three unknowns) and are researching intersections between matches’ trees (or the trees we’ve built for them) within the clusters.
The third and last big development on the DNA front is that we took the plunge and upgraded my husband’s Y-DNA test to Big Y-500. The Mackin family seems to have some interesting mutations in their Y-DNA. So far he has no matches.
Teaching and publishing
I gave a number of talks for Minnesota and Wisconsin libraries, the Minnesota Genealogical Society DNA Interest Group, local and state historical societies, and several DAR chapters, although I did not speak at any conferences.
I also continued to write for The Septs, the journal of the Irish Genealogical Society International, publishing articles on using special collections, church records, Internet book collections, and books and articles about the Irish in various localities.
I continue to serve as Registrar for the National Society of the Colonial Dames of America in the State of Minnesota. I also assist our Historian in maintaining the Dames website. In 2018 we embarked on an inventory of our archives, including an inventory of the over-600 lineage papers prepared by our members since our founding in 1896.
I am also serving as part of the planning team for the Celtic Connections Conference 2020, planned for July 30-August 1, 2019 in the Chicago area and co-sponsored by the Irish Genealogical Society International and The Irish Ancestral Research Association.
I continue to be part of the leadership group and admin the Facebook page for the Minnesota Genealogical Society DNA Interest Group.
Lastly, I’ve been part of the group tasked with creating a website for the Yankee Genealogical Society, a branch of the Minnesota Genealogical Society.