283 Pension Images from a Mexican War Pension

There were 283 digital images that I received from the Mexican War Pension file of Gardner Ramsey. I’m never going to transcribe the entire set of documents. However, taking notes is an excellent idea. As I take those notes, I don’t need to complete a complete citation for every document. The images are numbered sequentially, so I have decided to include that in the partial citation I’ve created for each item as I take notes from it.

The records concentrated on the end-of-life expenses for Gardner and his financial state during the last few years of his life.

A few details:

  • Mary A. Ramsey died 23 May 1912 and her maiden name was Mary A. Whittaker.  Luquence McCoy was daughter of pensioner Gardner Ramsey who died on 20 March 1912 in a hospital in San Bernardino, California. (“Application for Reimbursement,” Luquence McCoy, of Long Beach, California, 29 March 1915, image pg001)
  • Gardner Ramsey was married “her name was Mary Ann Moore.” They were married by a “Preacher Avard inn Ill inn March 1850.” Gardner only married once and had two children Alice and Lou. (response to survey, Gardner Ramsey, 2 December 1898, image pg005)
  • Gardner Ramsey and Miss Mary Ann Whitson were issued a marriage license on 22 March 1850 in Madison County, Illinois, and there was “no return of marriage made to this office.” (“Marriage Certificate,” 26 April 1912, Harry J. Mackinaw, Clerk of the County Court, Madison County, image pg147)
  • Mary Ann Ramsey, aged 82 years of age, resident of North Cucamonga, San Bernardino County, California, stated that her maiden name was Mary Ann Whitson and that she was married to Gardner Ramsey in Highland, Madison County, Illinois, on 25 March 1850 by Dr. [Wood?, Hood?] Baptist minister. Mary Ann had no certificate and is unable to obtain public record as “she has been informed that the Court House of said Madison Co., has been destroyed by first with all records…” (statement, 23 April 1912, Mary Ann Ramsey, pp151).
  • Mary Ann Ramsey was born on 11 February 1830 in Cookville, Putman County, Tennessee, and married by Dr. Hood, Baptist Minister on 25 March 1850. Her late husband Gardner Ramsey died on 20 March 1912 in San Bernardino, California, and served in Captain Wheeler’s Company, 2nd Regiment of Illinois Foot Volunteers in the Mexican War, having enlisted in 1846 in Edwardsville, Illinois.

Making extractions or abstracts of the images seems the most prudent approach to utilizing this set of records.

It’s worth noting that apparently Mary Ann was incorrect in her belief that there was no record of her marriage. There may be other occasional discrepancies in the file. That’s to be expected and why it is important to indicate which document made which statement. That will help in my analysis and in determining which statements to which I will give the most credence.

There’s more–including pages of testimony about the Ramseys financial status during the final years of their lives and information about their movement through Illinois and the southwestern part of the United States.


A 50 cM Match and Not of My Mother

One of my closest matches on GedMatch that I could not figure out.

Excitement about discoveries should never cause us to forget what we know and to put aside reasoning and analysis.

One of my closest matches on GedMatch is one with whom I share 50 centimorgans of DNA. That’s a significant amount for me as most of my matches there are more distantly removed than that. In fact, this match is my fourth highest match:

  • 588.4 cM shared with a descendant of my great-grandparents Fred and Tena Ufkes
  • 99.9 cM shared with a descendant of my 3rd great-grandparents (Sartorius) and my 4th great-grandparents (Tjark Fecht).
  • 70.1 cM shared with a descendant of my 4th great-grandparents Thomas and Christianna Rampley.

DNAPainter suggested that this person matched matches in my maternal group assigned to my great-grandparents.

GedMatch allowed me to perform an autosomal comparison and see where this match and I shared DNA. It was on the 8th chromosome–all 50 cM of it. Even though I didn’t know how I was related to this person I decided to paste the shared data into DNAPainter (using the shared chromosomal information as obtained from GedMatch) to see if it was in any of the groups to which I’ve already assigned sections of my DNA on DNAPainter. The 50 cM had some overlap with members of the group that I had assigned to my great-grandparents, Fred and Tena Ufkes.

I cancelled out of the upload into DNAPainter as I only assign shared DNA to groups in DNAPainter when I know the genealogical connection to the DNA match. Since I didn’t know how I connected to this person with whom I shared 50 cM of DNA I did not assign it to any group.

Chromosomes come in pairs and shared match segments as given in GedMatch (and other sites)  do not indicate whether they are the individual strand in the pair that comes from the mother or the father.  Determining that is up to the researcher and requires analysis–sometimes more than others. The 50 shared cM of DNA that I share with this person could come from my maternal strand or my paternal strand of that 8th chromosome. At this point I don’t know, but I suspect.

According to the “Shared Centimorgan Project,” sharing 50 cM of DNA probably puts me in relationship cluster 7 or 8 with this person. That would suggest that we are, roughly speaking, probably between second and third cousins. I remembered having emailed the person a while back and we could not establish any potential connection. That’s really strange for someone who is one of my maternal relatives as they were all 18th century immigrants from the same little area of Ostfriesland to Hancock and Adams Counties in Illinois.

The submitter had posted a GEDCOM file on GedMatch and in reviewing that pedigree chart for the submitter, it became clear she was not a maternal match to me–or at least not very likely. The tree contained at least five generations of ancestors from the state of Maine. I’m not certain any Ostfriesen immigrants ever settled in Maine. While that’s not evidence by any stretch of the definition, it was very suggestive that this match was not on my maternal side.


I then decided to look on GedMatch at the shared matches I have with this person with whom I have 50 shared cM of DNA. A grandson of Fred and Tena Ufkes has also tested and he was not a shared match with this person.  None of the shared matches were for other Ostfriesen relatives I have identified as GedMatch matches.


Based on this I concluded that this person is a paternal match and not a maternal one. The shared matches part of my argument is stronger than the “tree” argument, but the two lines of thought reach a consistent conclusion. In my notes on this match, I should indicate why I concluded that it was a paternal match.

The shared DNA is likely through my great-grandmother Ida (Sargent) Trautvetter (1874-1939). That’s because my other three great-grandparents are less likely to be the matches based upon their known heritage:

  • Charles Neill–born in the 1870s in Hancock County, Illinois, son of Irish immigrants.
  • Fannie Rampley–born in the 1880s with known ancestry in Virginia, Maryland, and Kentucky–and probably no further north. It’s possible Fannie’s family is the connection.
  • George Trautvetter–grandson of German immigrants to the US in the 1840s/1850s. Likely not the connection.

Ida’s family is essentially from New York State and most of New England when traced back to approximately 1800. It seems most likely that she’s the one who connects to someone in the state of Maine.

Further comparison of matches needs to be done. But my reasoning needs to be written down and tracked somewhere. Leaving my analysis only in my head is just asking to forget it.

Join me for my webinar on problem-solving with GedMatch and DNAPainter.


Lucinda (Sargent) Fairman: A Picture of a Shaker

This is the first time I have ever found a relative’s photograph in an archival collection in any library. And a wonderful picture it is. It can be very easy to overlook special collections at regional, college, and university libraries in our ancestral search. Any archival collection has the potential to contain material on a relative, but the chance is increased when our relative was a member of a unique group–in this case a Shaker.

The original copy of this photograph is in the Shaker Collection at Hamilton College in Clinton, New York. Lucinda joined the Shaker community in Enfield, New Hampshire in the 1840s and remained their until her death.

The name on the back of the photograph is “Lucinda Furnum.” Based upon the reasonableness of the variation and census records, I’m fairly certain this picture is the Lucinda (Sargent) Fairman who was born in Leicester, Vermont, the daughter of Samuel and Sarah (Gibson) Sargent.

What I am not certain of is when the picture was taken. I also need to find out of there is any significance to a Shaker to what she is wearing.

The image posted as a part of this blog post has been created from the front and back of the actual image by using a digital version of the photograph obtained on the Hamilton College Library website. It is a great little find.

Samuel and Sarah (Gibson) Sargent are my 4th great-grandparents.


DNA Matches That Don’t Match My Ancestor’s Brother’s Family Don’t Have to Be Related to his Wife

I’ve been working on DNA matches at AncestryDNA in an attempt to make discoveries and validate connections on the family of my Irish immigrant ancestors, Samuel and Anne (Murphy) Neill. The natives of Ireland are believed to have been from different parts of Ireland who married in New Brunswick, Canada, in 1864. Samuel had one brother, Joseph, who immigrated with him, but that brother (who had several children) has no living descendants. I’ve been fortunate that my AncestryDNA results caused me to confirm another brother (Alexander) of Samuel and Joseph who remained in Ireland. The Neill brothers were children of a John Neill who lived in and around NewtownLimavady in Northern Ireland.

My hope is to locate DNA connections who are probably from the family of Anne (Murphy) Neill. So far that has not happened. Now that I’ve located descendants of John Neill who are not descendants of Samuel, I’m hoping to use those shared matches (and unshared matches) to ferret out some matches who may be related to me via Anne (Murphy) Neill.

My plan of attack was to compare the DNA matches I share with other descendants of Samuel Neill with the shared matches I share with other descendants of Samuel’s brother, Alexander. This method of comparison is not perfect and is not fullproof. Matches that I share with Samuel and Anne’s descendants and with Alexander’s descendants are very likely descendants of their father John. Matches that I share with Samuel and Anne’s descendants that I do not share with Alexander’s descendants are potentially connected via DNA to Anne (Murphy) Neill.

Potentially is the key word.

At the risk of oversimplifying there could be “Neill DNA” from John Neill (and his wife) that got passed down through Samuel to me (and other and some of Samuel’s descendants) that did not get passed down to Alexander’s descendants. So those matches that I share with other of Samuel and Anne’s descendants but don’t share with Alexander’s descendants could be Neill descendants. They don’t have to be connected via DNA to Anne (Murphy) Neill.

And in my case, there’s another problem. Samuel’s son Charlie Neill is my great-grandfather. He married Fannie Rampley. Two of Charlie’s siblings also married into the Rampley family (one of Charlie’s sisters married Fannie’s brother and another sister of Charlie’s married Fannie’s first cousin). So if I’m working with shared matches of one of those descendants, the shared matches we have that are not shared with Alexander Neill’s descendants could also be connected via the Rampley family.

And when I do all this sorting and hypothesizing, I don’t forget the most important task of all:

Writing down my process–what shared matches I used and how I sorted those matches. Tracking my process is essential.



A Suggestion About Suggested Records at Ancestry.com

Sometimes I use the “Suggested Records” at Ancestry.com because sometimes some of them are helpful.

And then there are times like this when the “Suggested Records” are virtually impossible to navigate–like this result for James Neill who was living in Ireland in 1911. There is not enough detail so that I can tell which ones I have looked at–and there are more on the page for this item than shown in the illustration. I have to hope that they sort in the same way on every page where they are shown. I wish I could mark the ones that I had looked at.

I can link records to specific individuals in my tree.

Why can’t I indicate which records I have already seen so that a little mark shows up on the “Suggested Records” list?

Just a little suggestion that would improve my customer experience.


My DNA Is In the Boot

I can’t decide if I like the Ancestry.com ads for AncestryDNA with Kelly Ripa or not. My DNA results don’t pinpoint my origins with the precision that Ripa’s apparently did–that’s not a big surprise. That doesn’t really bother me either–advertising is what it is and there are ways to avoid Facebook and television advertisements. I didn’t take my DNA test for the ethnicity results–but that’s how Ancestry.com is marketing the test.

On the plus side, the more people who test at AncestryDNAthe higher the chance I get some match that’s a new revelation to me. That’s probably what excites me more about the advertisements than anything else: the hope that in a few months I may have some unexpected and closer matches.

Of course, I’ll probably have to determine by myself who they are and how they connect.

And in all the fun facts about DNA testing at Ancestry.com , it’s rare to see them warn people that they may find close kin they had no idea existed and that there may be a family squabble as a result.

There’s always a chance that someone may use that boot to kick themselves in the rear when they see their test results <grin>.



A Trade and a Loom and Entertaining Cattle

I don’t think Joseph Sargeant entertained his cattle in the 21st century sense, but that is the word John Sargent uses in his will to describe his son’s use of John’s property to raise his cattle. At least I really doubt the Sargeant family provided fun and games for their cattle in the early 18th century.
The will of John Sargeant from Middlesex County, Massachusetts in 1716 provides significant detail about his bequests to his children, along with his reasons for giving them what he did. The clause discussing his son Joseph is representative.

Will of John Sargeant[part], Middlesex County, Massachusetts, file 19883; digital image from AmericanAncestors.org, obtained 13 October 2014.

—–[begin transcription]——–
ItemI Give to my Son Joseph Sargeant forty Shillings in currant pay to be paid him by my Executors within twelve months after my decease–The reson why I give him no more now is because I have Given him a good Trade and a loome to work in he also had his share or more than his share in my Son Jabiz his estate which was considerable and the Gratest part of my children had not any part of it Also when he lived with me He Raised up Severall Cattle and I Entertained them:
—–[end transcription]———–

It would appear that the [Trade?] reference is indicating that John Sargeant either taught his son a trade himself or paid someone to do it. Wills frequently indicate that a parent has already given a child money, but John Sargeant’s will is a little more specific than most. There is also no mention as to why Joseph received the bulk of Jabez’s estate.

The use of the word “entertaining” in reference to the cattle is also a little unusual, but the reference here likely is to John’s providing son Joseph a free place on which to raise his cattle. I’m not entirely certain what the letters or symbol after the word “free” in this part of item refer to.

The mention of Jabez’s estate does mean that I need to see if there are any probate records for him in Middlesex County as well.

John mentions all his children in his will and provides for them but the clauses devoted to his sons are more detailed than those devoted to his daughters.

John is one of my New England ancestors whose been written up in several genealogies, but I’ve made the best discoveries about him and several of them by looking for them in actual records. Wills, probate records, and land deeds often provide clues that compilers of large genealogies simply don’t have the time to include. And it is those details that often provide the best glimpse into our ancestors’ lives.


Deriving Information from a Certified Copy of a Certificate

It’s a derivative copy of a derivative copy of Gardner Ramsey’s death certificate.

Classification of sources as being either original or derivative sometimes seems like a pedantic activity that takes time away from more immediately gratifying activities. It may be correct to not even refer to “classification of sources” as being gratifying in any sense. But whether one enjoys it or not and whether one tracks the designation in their database, it’s still worth thinking about.

That’s the case with the 1912 “death certificate” of Gardner Ramsey from San Bernardino, California. The copy used in this illustration did not come from San Bernardino County. It did not come from the State of California. Instead it came from the Mexican War pension file for Gardner at the United States National Archives.

It was one of the few blue pieces of paper in his pension file. Given the unusual color of the item compared to the other papers in the file, I was tempted for a brief moment to think I was looking at an image of the real thing and that I had a digital image of his actual death certificate.

I didn’t.

Looking at the next image (the reverse side of the item) caused me to discover that I was looking at a certified copy of  Gardner’s death certificate. The Registrar makes that clear in his statement written on the reverse side of the document.

It looks like the real thing because it was likely easier for the clerk to copy the information onto a blank death certificate form than to copy all the information by hand and complete an actual transcription of the entire record. A handwritten copy was the only reasonable option in 1912.

It appears that the registrar who made the copy is the same person who filled out the original. This increases the chance that he was able to read the handwriting on the original when making this transcription. Legibility of the original is always a concern when looking at a document that is a transcription of the original document–even if the legibility of the original is not mentioned in the transcription.

What was in the pension file was a certified copy of the actual death certificate of Gardner Ramsey. That makes it a derivative copy. That’s not bad–it’s just describing precisely what I have. Knowing what I have helps me to determine if there is something else that I need to obtain in order to view it. In this case I’m not certain that I will go to the expense of getting a copy of the original death certificate.

In my notes on this document, I will indicate that this image is of a certified copy of Gardner’s death certificate that appeared in his Mexican War pension file (and include his specific unit and other information that will allow someone else to access his pension record). I will not indicate it is a copy of his actual death certificate because it is not.

It is an image of a certified copy of his death certificate and that’s what I should call it.

A few reminders:

  • probate files can be great places to get copies of death certificates
  • always look at the front and back of everything