Episode 366 - Two of “Fisher’s Favorite 50” Interviews Of All Time: The Driveway Sisters / Tracing A 19th Century Kidnap VictimMar 11, 2021
Host Scott Fisher opens the show with David Allen Lambert, Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. The guys begin by talking about the remarkable, free new tool being offered by MyHeritage.com that animates your ancestral pictures! David then talks about a cousin discovery he made at RootTech Connect that’s opened a whole new line of research for him. And speaking of RootsTech Connect, FamilySearch.org has a new computer assisted indexing system for your handwritten documents. You’ll want to hear about this. Next, there’s been another awesome archaeological find… this time in Pompeii. Then, David relays an amazingly funny 19th century probate record. (It seems somebody’s priorities were just a bit off!)
In segment two, hear the first of two of “Fisher’s Favorite 50” interviews. Fisher visits with two Wisconsin women who have come to call themselves “The Driveway Sisters.” One moved in a year the interview and shares a driveway with the other. But they didn’t know they were sisters! Hear the odd way they learned the truth about their close relationship.
Then, Terri O’Connell of Chicago tells the story of the kidnapping of an infant relative in the 1890s. It’s a tale that’s been told in the family for well over a century. But now, thanks to DNA, she and her family know what became of the kidnapped baby!
David then returns for another round of Ask Us Anything, answering your listener questions.
That’s all this week on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show!
Transcript of Episode 366
Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert
Segment 1 Episode 366
Fisher: And welcome America, to America’s Family History Show Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth on the program where we shake your family tree and watch the nuts fall out. Well, it is great to have you along today. It’s the first show since RootsTech. And I’ve got to tell you, what a conference it was! We’re going to talk to David Lambert about that coming up here in just a few moments. I’m going to share with you a couple of my favorite 50 interviews of all time on Extreme Genes this week. One of them is a pair of ladies who called themselves the Driveway Sisters. And you’ll hear why and you’ll hear their incredible story coming up in about ten minutes. And then later in the show, we’re going to talk to a woman who learned about a kidnapped relative. A relative that was kidnapped as a child in the 1890s and how she was able to trace that kidnapped victim forward to that person’s descendants today. It’s an amazing story. You’re going to want to catch all of that. Hey, if you haven’t signed up for our Weekly Genie Newsletter yet, this is your weekly reminder you’ve got to get this done, just go to ExtremeGenes.com or our Facebook page it’s absolutely free. You get a blog from me each week, plus links to past and present shows, and links to stories you’ll be fascinated by as a genealogist. Now, out to Boston David Allen Lambert is standing by, the Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. And David, I know what you want to talk about first. [Laughs]
David: You know, I almost didn’t pick up the call because I still have thousands of more photographs to run through Deep Nostalgia from MyHeritage.
Fisher: Yes. And if you’re not familiar with this, this Deep Nostalgia thing is a way to animate your old photographs on MyHeritage. And all you have to do is upload one of your ancient photos, maybe a carte de visite, or a cabinet card, or a daguerreotype and you can actually see your ancestors moving around, looking at things, looking up and down smiling, blinking, I mean it’s unbelievable.
David: It is. And you can upload it to social media like Facebook or Twitter and you can actually save it as an MP4. So, you can send it to a family member, but give them a warning before you tell them you just animated their great grandparents.
David: Because I fell off the couch with my laptop when my dead great grandfather winked at me on my computer screen. [Laughs]
Fisher: It’s unbelievable. And these are MP4s so you can download them to your computer. They’re yours to keep and share around. And thank you to MyHeritage for a phenomenal thing to bring to the world. in fact, I’m sure they’re having trouble keeping the site up sometimes, there’s so many people having fun with this.
David: Exactly. Well, you know, MyHeritage has of course been very popular for genealogists. They have over 62 million subscribers and they are now going to be sold for a price tag close to 600 million dollars. They will be purchased by Francisco Partners according to the news from techcrunch.com.
David: Yeah. So, big news for this Israeli company that’s really become a global company and helped so many and now it’s animating my dead ancestors every hour on the hour.
Fisher: Yes. [Laughs]
David: Well you know, it’s great stuff that’s out there in technology but RootsTech blew my mind. Over half a million people and I had over 42 thousand people at RootsTech that were my cousins.
Fisher: Isn’t that crazy?
David: It is. But, the best part was that some of them were like way distant from the 1600s. That happens a lot.
Fisher: Most of them.
David: Yeah. So, I get like a second cousin and I know who she was. And a third cousin, yeah, I know who they were. But I had a fourth cousin from the west coast and their connection was in Canada. My great, great grandfather Moses Taylor died back in 1887. I have no photograph of him, but now I have a photograph of his kid brother who was born in 1850, who lived for 87 years and died in California in 1937. And I have a whole new branch of the family tree to track down and investigate. So, I’m really excited about that. Thank you RootsTech! One of the things from RootsTech which is amazing is a new technology that FamilySearch talked about and if you look at the section called “computer assisted indexing” you can even go to a link and upload a handwritten document, Fish, and it reads it.
David: It’s amazing. It pulls out the names. It pulls out the dates, and I’m not talking optical character recognition that you get from a scanned document like Adobe or something like that. This is from a handwritten document and it’s finding the names, the places, the dates, and it’s reading parts of the text. Now, some is harder to read than others. So, it’s something that’s going to be improved upon. But wow, and thank you FamilySearch!
Fisher: I think wow is the operative word for RootsTech Connect this year, incredible some of the technology here.
David: Well, you know, our Family Histoire News isn’t always in RootsTech as it isn’t always in America. And this time we’re going to Rome, Italy. We talked about Pompeii a bunch of times and of course Pompeii from Mount Vesuvius and all the city that was buried by ash. They’ve now found a pretty well preserved four wheeled bronzed and tinned chariot.
Fisher: [Laughs] Wow! Let’s see. We found the Egyptian brewery, and then they found in Scotland the Viking beer hall, and now we’ve got the Pompeii ceremonial chariot. That’s a pretty good few weeks!
David: I think that could be your ancestor’s Edsel!
David: You know, you hear about these people out in a little part of the country that go out and open up a barn and go, oh look, there’s a 1930 Packard brand new sitting there and saying, great grandpa bought it.
David: I mean, imagine if the barn fell down and a volcano fell over it, that’s kind of what it would be like.
David: I’ll tell you another story from across the pond. This is from a friend and colleague named Myko Clelland and he is known as the Dapper Historian. He posted a probate from the 1820s, be prepared for this one. “I bequeath to my monkey, my dear and amusing Jacko the sum of ten pounds sterling per annum. To be employed for his soul and exclusive use and benefit. To my faithful dog Shock and my well beloved cat Tib, a pension of five pounds sterling. On the death of all three, the sum appropriated for this shall become the property of my daughter Gertrude.”
Fisher: What?! [Laughs]
David: Yeah. “To whom I give this preference among my children because...” ready for this? “Because of the large family she has and the difficulty she has in bringing them up.” What? Are you kidding me?!
Fisher: That’s insane! [Laughs] What a find.
Fisher: Thank you Myko for sharing that with the world. And thanks to everybody tied to RootsTech! I mean, there’s just so much stuff to learn and play with and it’s up for free, for a year at RootsTech.org. So, David we’ll talk to you at the back end of the show, okay?
David: Sounds good to me.
Fisher: As we get into Ask Us Anything. And on the way next, one of my favorite, Fisher’s favorite 50 interviews of all time, it’s the “Driveway Sisters.” You’ll understand the story when you hear it coming up in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.
Segment 2 Episode 366
Host: Scott Fisher with guests Hilary and Dawn
Fisher: Welcome back to America’s Family History Show Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth and today as we kind of put RootsTech in the rear-view mirror, we thought we’d share with you a couple of my favorite 50 interviews of all time. Listen to this story about Hilary and Dawn. You know there are things that happen in family history research that are just unexplainable. And the story of my next two guests really falls into that category. They’re in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. Meet Hillary and Dawn. How are you ladies?
Dawn: We’re wonderful.
Hillary: Hi, we’re good.
Fisher: You guys, I mean, you’re next door neighbors. You share a driveway, right?
Fisher: All right. Now Hillary, you’re the younger of the two ladies here. You’re what, about thirty one years old?
Hillary: I am thirty one.
Fisher: Thirty one, and as I understand it, you’re an adoptee. And like a lot of adoptees, you want that hole in your life kind of filled. You want to figure out where you came from. And your family situation was that you came from an open adoption. In other words, the records weren’t hidden too much for you. So you were able to get access pretty easily, yes?
Fisher: So where did you go to find out about your background?
Hillary: I was adopted from Catholic Charities. I thought it would have been much more challenging but all I did was go online to their website and filled out some information and within a day, actually the very next day I got a call from the lady there that said my adoption was an open adoption and that they had all my records.
Fisher: Come and get it, huh?
Hillary: Yes, yes!
Hillary: They ended up sending a packet in the mail in the next couple of days I just kept waiting for my whole life.
Fisher: Well, now tell me about that. I mean, you were how old when you decided to look and how long had you been wanting to look?
Hillary: Well, it was in 2012 when I was starting this actual search.
Hillary: That’s when I became pregnant with my daughter Stella.
Fisher: Okay, so you were about 25, you’re starting your own family and you want to know.
Hillary: Yes, for health reasons and I just wanted to know mostly for Stella’s sake and for my sake and I knew I had to find the time to get some answers.
Hillary: And I have wanted to my whole life, ever since I can recall. I knew I was adopted. My parents had told me so. I mean, forever. I couldn’t wait till I was old enough and could find out more information.
Fisher: Could do that. So you finally got around to it. So you went to work and you found some interesting information in there.
Hillary: Yes. In the pamphlet, in the very first page I was able to see what my birth mother’s name was where she lived and then in the next paragraph they said who my birth father was, but unfortunately he passed away in 2010. His obituary was in my packet.
Fisher: Which kind of led you now to next of kin?
Hillary: Yes, in the packet I was able to see that I had two half-sisters that I know had the same father and I had two half-brothers from a different mother.
Fisher: Okay, different mom. Were you able to find these people?
Hillary: Yes, I was able to find my two half-brothers on Facebook actually, pretty much that day I think I went on.
Hillary: And I was able to find them because their last name is not very common. And I knew I could tell immediately that they looked like me, and resembled me, and I had their address. I knew where they were from so I knew that that was them.
Hillary: And they accepted my request without even knowing who I was.
Hillary: I was fortunate enough for that. [Laughs]
Fisher: [Laughs] Yeah.
Hillary: And I kind of kept it a secret for a while from them. I didn’t confront them even until 2015 actually. I kind of just held it all in because I was as nervous about telling them and asking them.
Hillary: I didn’t know if they knew I existed. I didn’t know if anyone had told them. I didn’t want to step on anyone’s toes. I didn’t want to ruin anything.
Fisher: It’s a touchy thing, isn’t it?
Hillary: Yes. And then I was not able to locate my sister. Her name was Dawn Johnson.
Hillary: From my father’s obituary and other stuff in the packet, I mean I would go on Facebook and type Dawn Johnson and I would get a billion Dawn Johnsons.
Fisher: Um hmm. This whole family was around your area there in Wisconsin, right?
Hillary: Yeah, pretty close. You know, coming to find out that my birth mother lived an hour and a half away from me my whole life, and my two half brothers and then Dawn lived two hours away from me.
Fisher: Right. Now, let’s talk to your neighbor Dawn here. Now Dawn, you moved in only last year, right?
Dawn: That is correct. We purchased the house in June of 2017.
Fisher: Okay. And you shared this driveway with Hillary. And Hillary has got a little girl, four years old who I understood took quite a shine to you.
Dawn: Yes. I found out her name was Stella. And she was so intrigued. She always wanted to come over and find out what I was doing. And I was mostly by myself during the day as my significant other, Kurt, worked nights so he slept during the day at our other house in Greenwood. And she would constantly come over and it was wonderful to have a little girl around who was so intrigued in everything that I was doing.
Fisher: How did you feel about that Hillary? Were you okay with that?
Hillary: Not exactly, no.
Hillary: I had not met the neighbors yet and I’d constantly tell Stella, “Stella stop going over there.” We don’t even know them. “No mom, they’re really nice. They really like me.” I would constantly tell her to not go there because I’m like I wasn’t sure. But she insisted. I couldn’t stop her. She would literally just show us she was in the driveway so she wasn’t far away but she would constantly be over there.
Fisher: So she introduced you basically to the new neighbors?
Hillary: Yeah. She made me want to get to know them maybe, a little bit.
Fisher: Yeah. And you found out their names were Kurt and Dawn?
Hillary: I did, yeah.
Fisher: Did you find that kind of intriguing?
Hillary: I did find that intriguing. My husband was talking to Dawn when they had met and she told him that she was from the Greenwood area, that her name was Dawn. And he came inside and told me and he’s like, “I met the new neighbors. Her name is Dawn, she’s from Greenwood.” And it hit me right away. From my father’s obituary it said Dawn Johnson from the Greenwood area.
Hillary: So it hit me like a ton of bricks. And I told Lance, my husband, I was like, “Do you get it? Like Dawn, Greenwood” and he was like, “What?” So I brought out my pack of stuff and showed him and he was like, “Oh, yeah.” We were like, no, there’s no way.
Hillary: That? No. No. We kind of giggled and we’re like, could be…but no, you know, we didn’t know her last name and we were just getting ahead of ourselves. So we kind of dropped it for a little bit there.
Fisher: Really. So, I understand from one account you actually were staring at her quite a lot. Did that make you uncomfortable, Dawn?
Dawn: Well, yeah. It started pouring when me and Kurt were ripping off the shingles on our garage so we had to obviously come off of the roof and go into the garage. This was in the first part of August. So, we were standing in the garage waiting for the weather to pass and Lance, Hillary, and Stella came over into the garage and we were all standing there, and a strange feeling, like she was like staring at me from moving around all angles of me.
Dawn: Now mind you, we hadn’t really talked at all. It was basically a wave, a smile, and that was about it. Stella was the one I had more association with so it was a little strange having this person stare at me. And as we were leaving, pulling out of the driveway because we were not staying overnight here yet, the house wasn’t ready to sleep there.
Dawn: So as we were leaving, Kurt and I were out of the driveway, and Kurt said, “What was up with Hillary? She wouldn’t even let me an inch in between you and her.”
Dawn: I said, I have no have idea. So we just left it at that and went home to Greenwood, and took a shower and that’s the same night that all these strange text messages just started coming through because we gave our phone number to Lance in case something happened while we weren’t here because we weren’t here all the time working on the house.
Fisher: Okay. Sure.
Dawn: And just out of the blue I’m getting text messages from the neighbors.
Fisher: Now Hillary, you had seen something though that kind of clued you in that this might really be your half sister. And what was that?
Hillary: Yes. Early August there was a very large truck that pulled in our driveway, our shared driveway. A pack of shingles and on the shingles there was like a huge red banner, I mean twenty feet long, and it said Johnson plastered across the side of the shingles. And I was all alone. I lost it. I thought, “Oh my gosh! It’s Dawn Johnson! Like “Oh my gosh she’s from Greenwood!” It’s like how many Dawn Johnsons live in Greenwood? It’s a small town, right? I’m going crazy.
Hillary: I call my husband. I’m like, “I found out her name is Johnson.” He’s like, “Oh my gosh, yeah, you’ve got to ask her.” I’m like, “I’m not going to ask her, like who her dad is or whatever.”
Hillary: I’m like I’m not going to just go ask her. I’m like “How’s this happening?!” I didn’t even know for sure still until I started asking her those random questions.
Fisher: Sure. And this is where the crazy texting thing began, right?
Fisher: Okay. And then finally you just came out with it?
Hillary: Finally I asked her a series of questions of stuff I knew. I started off by asking if she was the Miss Loyal Corn Fest Queen because I had known from my father’s obituary that Dawn Johnson was Miss Loyal Corn Fest Queen. [Laughs]
Hillary: And she said, “Yes. Why?” And then I pretty much just blurted out after that. I just said, “Whose you birth dad? Who’s your dad?” And she said, “Wayne Close” our father’s name. Unfortunately he passed away in 2010. And my husband was sitting there and I was screaming. It was nine thirty at night. I was screaming and crying, joyful, scared because I still haven’t told her who I am. So then I texted her and I said, “We have a lot to talk about. Can I call you?” And she said, “Sure.”
Fisher: Dawn what was your feeling when you heard this? Did you know that Hillary existed?
Dawn: No. I actually did not meet my birth father until I was eighteen. So we never had a really close father-daughter relationship. It was quite a shock because I put together the text messages, you know, those three questions that she asked me, and I knew they were my father’s obituary and I knew Hillary is adopted from her husband Lance. I picked up the phone and she said, “You know how I told you I was adopted?” And I said, “Yeah?” “Well I know who my birth father is.” And at that instant with all those questions and her saying that, she said, “You and me have the same dad, don’t we?” [Laughs] I said “Oh my God!”
Dawn: You know, there’s not enough words to describe the feeling.
Dawn: I was like in shock, and I’m like, I wasn’t upset, I was very grateful. I was like, “Oh my God I’ve got another sister out there, how wonderful!” And that means Stella is my niece! [Laughs]
Fisher: That’s right, little Stella!
Dawn: You know what, and that’s so weird because we looked at twenty plus houses in the city and they go extremely fast and we found this house, and the only thing we did not like about it was the shared driveway. [Laughs]
Fisher: The shared driveway. [Laughs] That is an incredible story, ladies. And I’m so happy for both of you. This is an amazing thing.
Dawn: Thank you.
Fisher: And your family circle has expanded. And I can tell, I’m sure you’ve told this story already a hundred times to one outlet or another, but it still impacts you just as you repeat it, right?
Dawn: It does.
Hillary: It still impacts. I’m not kidding I get goosebumps every time almost. We both cry sometimes. It never gets old I’ll tell you that.
Fisher: It never gets old. Well, Hillary and Dawn, thank you so much for coming on Extreme Genes and sharing your story. That’s what it’s all about in family history research, isn’t it?
Dawn: Yes it is definitely.
Fisher: All right. You guys have a great day. Thanks so much.
Dawn: Thank you.
Hillary: Thank you so much. You too!
Fisher: And coming up next in three minutes, another of my favorite 50 interviews of all time, this one about tracing forward a relative who was kidnapped, wait till you hear this.
Segment 3 Episode 366
Host: Scott Fisher with guest Terri O’Connell.
Fisher: Hey, welcome back. It’s Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show with Fish here, with one of my favorite 50 interviews. One of the craziest stories I’ve heard in a while came to my attention through a woman in Chicago, her name is Terri O’Connell, 21 years a genie. Terri welcome to Extreme Genes! I’m really excited to share this story with everybody because it’s incredible. At what point in your research did you discover that you had a kidnapping in your family?
Terri: I’ve probably known most of my genealogical time. It was a story my grandmother and her sisters always talked about. They always wondered what happened to Harry who was their mother’s brother.
Fisher: And Harry was how old when he was kidnapped?
Terri: He was an infant. This was the late 1890s. He was born roughly between 1895 and 1898 in Ohio. So, after Harry was born his mother Suzie had to go into the hospital. There’s many different stories as to why she went into the hospital, but she went into the hospital and her husband John was bringing Harry back and forth to the hospital to nurse daily. In doing so, he couldn’t work. He couldn’t provide for his family. So, he went next door to Suzie’s best friend who had just lost a baby and asked her if she would care for the baby and if she would wet-nurse for the baby, and she agreed. Every day he would wake up in the morning, he would go over and check on the baby and make sure that this woman had everything she needed then he would go to work and, you know, go about his day. And every day everything was fine. On the day Suzie was due to come home from the hospital, he got up and went to go check on the baby and the house was empty.
Fisher: Oh, my gosh! So, this has been a mystery now for 120 years or so, and along comes our good friend DNA.
Terri: Right. So, this past March, I have a cousin Tim, who lives in Tennessee and he descends from this family as well, and he found something rather odd in his DNA.
Terri: He found this match and this match had all these Norwegian names, except for one and it happened to be Hilton, which was Harry’s last name.
Fisher: Oh, wow! Okay, so the match had other people who had Hilton on their tree, and that’s how he was able to figure out that this might be the connection you were looking for all these years?
Terri: Well, when he found it he was very adamant. I really don’t think it has to do with the missing baby. He sent me an email saying, go in your DNA matches, look for this gentleman John and take a look at his tree, then come back and tell me what you think. And I emailed him back and I’m like, “Oh my gosh, the missing baby!” And he was like, “No, I don’t think it’s him.” I was so excited but it was March and March is my big time because I focus on Irish research. So, I really didn’t have time to play with DNA, and we went back and forth through emails. And Tim was a trooper all month and kept going and looking for records, trying to find things, and every once in a while he would email me a little update. Well, just after St. Patrick’s Day passed I got another email from him and it said, “Hey, I’m back to thinking we’re on to the missing baby here.” And I’m like, “Oh my gosh, that’s cool! Keep me updated. I’m still really busy.” He was like, “Okay, that’s cool.”
Fisher: Right. [Laughs]
Terri: So, another week or so passed and I happen to have gotten sick from being overworked through March. I was sitting on my couch and I was like, I should go take a look at all this DNA stuff and see what I can find because obviously I’m intrigued. We have this 120 year old kidnap case, everybody wants to know what happened to poor Harry and it’s unfolding in front of us.
Terri: So, I pulled up my tree and I went and looked at this gentleman John who is now our genetic cousin. I mean we’re just trying to fit him in.
Fisher: What is the relationship for John? Have you figured that out or what is it predicted by Ancestry?
Terri: Um, I want to say John might be like a second cousin.
Fisher: That would be about right, I mean for that time period especially if you sharing great grandparents.
Terri: Right. So, I looked at John’s tree and I thought, okay, so I know that we’re matching on the sly. Obviously, it’s going to be the Hilton DNA because that’s the only other name in John’s tree that’s going to connect to my tree and it’s going to connect to Tim’s tree as well.
Terri: Now, here’s the interesting part. So, John and I share the Hilton DNA, and we’re sharing the Scarlinger DNA, but Tim, the cousin who found all this only shares the Hilton DNA, though, he also descends from that Scarlinger line as well.
Fisher: Well, you’re not sharing it. That’s all it means. You didn’t inherit the same DNA.
Terri: Right, exactly. So, without the two of us, we wouldn’t have been able to put it together.
Fisher: Yeah. So, now have you been in touch with John and have you figured out who Harry was, what the new name was?
Terri: [Laughs] So, we have emailed with John back and forth, Tim and myself. So, this is what we know of Harry’s life. Harry moved to Iowa. The woman that he put down as his next of kin we are assuming is the woman that took him. The name isn’t the same but it looks close.
Terri: He never changed his name. He went by Harry Hilton.
Fisher: He went by Harry Hilton the whole time?! How did he even know his name?! They must have told him obviously.
Terri: [Laughs] So, we were like, okay, this makes absolutely no sense. Who kidnaps a child and doesn’t change his name, especially as a baby?
Fisher: Yeah. [Laugh] who does kidnap…. so did you find them in the census records? What is that showing?
Terri: So, there’s been a couple of records that Tim has found. He’s been on that search and he’s found some military stuff like draft cards. I don’t think he found them in the census yet. The only thing that we can figure out is that because of this woman who took him, was best friends with Suzie, and according to family stories the only thing that comforted her about Harry being gone, was that she knew he was loved.
Fisher: Um hmm. Yes.
Terri: So, on the flip side, my thought process is that she really loved Suzie so much that she also just loved this baby, and after losing her own, couldn’t give up another.
Fisher: Of course.
Terri: She probably just told him that maybe his parents died and she promised to take care of him.
Fisher: Oh, that makes sense. Yeah, your parents died, I’m taking care of you and your real name is this. Okay.
Terri: Yes. It’s the only thing that makes sense to me.
Fisher: Yeah, that does make sense. That would fit very nicely, but to find him in the family grouping in the 1900 census, the 1910 census before he’s an adult. I mean, that would be really interesting to see, wouldn’t it?
Terri: It would and I have to go look. I know I have a ton of emails from Tim of the things he found when we were going through this, last March. It would be very interesting because we do have addresses from the draft cards.
Terri: And we know that he was career military. The first marriage didn’t last. John’s family story tells us that Harry did marry again and there are other children out there. We just haven’t found them yet.
Fisher: You just haven’t found them yet. Have you seen photographs of him yet?
Terri: Of Harry? We have.
Fisher: Wow! What was that like the first time you laid eyes on the picture of the baby that was kidnapped?
Terri: I can’t remember if it was a military picture or not, but my cousin sent it to me and he sent it with a picture of another one of the Hilton brothers. And they all have this like little point in their eyebrow.
Fisher: Okay. [Laughs] That’s the distinguishing feature, huh, the little point in the eyebrow.
Terri: It is and Harry totally had it.
Fisher: Okay. And he was a full brother to the others, so that’s really interesting.
Terri: Yeah. But what is really weird, so John and Suzie, all of their kids are registered, all their births in Ohio, and I found them, but Harry’s is not.
Fisher: Ha! But you’ve got the DNA, so you know for a fact there’s no question as to who his parents were.
Terri: We’ve got the DNA. Yeah. Unless, the only other way it could go is if John had an affair with one of Suzie’s siblings.
Terri: That would be the only other way he could have both of the DNA.
Fisher: Uh, yes that would be true, I suppose. Nonetheless, it would come in a little differently though. The DNA match would be off if that were the case.
Fisher: I don’t think that would be it. You know, that’s really cool. A 120-year-old cold-case solved by DNA, and just by an ordinary person with an extraordinary find. Well done! I’m impressed Terri.
Terri: Thank you. The family feels the same way. They’re like, we can’t believe that you guys figured this out. [Laughs]
Fisher: [Laughs] Well, it’s been part of your family lore for literally over a century, and now we have these amazing tools that you could do this stuff with, and really anybody can learn how to do it. It’s an amazing process and so much fun and its life changing, that’s the thing.
Terri: It really, truly is.
Fisher: Terri thanks so much for coming on and sharing your story. I really appreciate it.
Terri: Oh, thanks for having me.
Fisher: Wow, there you go. There’s a couple of stories for you. And coming up next, David Allen Lambert returns for another round of Ask Us Anything on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show in three minutes.
Segment 4 Episode 366
Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert
Fisher: All right, back at it on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth. David Lambert is back in Boston and it’s time once again for Ask Us Anything where we answer your questions about family history. Dave, this is an interesting one, it’s from Dublin, Ireland. Mary McConnell has dropped us a note and she says, “Guys, according to a note I found in an old family Bible, my Irish relatives left County Mayo around 1880 and settled in Chicago. What can I do with this information here? Love your show. Mary.”
David: You know, that's true with a lot of people in Europe. They had family members that left for America and were never heard from again. So, well, Mary, you're very much in luck. You're dealing with the 1880s and not the, say, 1860s or ‘70s, because of the great Chicago fire. Some things are lost because of that. But in the case of the 1880s and I think probably survives earlier, city directories. So, if you look up the name of the head of household, because ladies didn't have the right to vote unless she was in business for herself, you’ll find the family in the city directory. So you may be able to trace them down through the address, maybe the occupation, something that you have a family tradition of, so that's a really good one, and what’s nice about city directories, Fish. I'm sure you found this, in the urban city directories, when somebody moves or when they die, the date’s there or the location's there.
Fisher: That's often the case when they leave town, especially in the smaller town directories, though it seems to me if they left some small town for another place, it would indicate that. But I also love going through directories, because I can find other relatives at the same address with the same name and you might find siblings that way, because they tended to all live together in the same buildings.
David: That's very true. And in later city directories, if you have somebody in, say, the 20th century, you can do what's called a crisscross directory that usually lists who was living at an address. So you might have an address on an old envelope or something and you may not know what relative this is, because it’s just signed "Love, Jack." And there you go. You can find it that way. I mean, of course the other thing, Mary, you can do is, check county probate, you can see if he left a Last Will and Testament. You can search places like Billion Graves and FindAGrave to see if somebody put a gravestone online, and of course the federal census. Now, if he came then, he may be on the 1880 census or his family. Unfortunately the 1890 was destroyed, but you have the 1900 right through the 1940 that you can track down this family.
Fisher: Yeah, and there's so much you can do with that information then, because you might be able to find relatives online who are posting trees back to that person who came over from Ireland, maybe not even knowing that they came from your group, and maybe you can connect with them, which would be amazing, because you could share photographs you could share stories, I mean, this is, this is good stuff! This could really develop into something terrific for you.
David: And the other thing, Mary, reach out to one of the DNA testing companies, maybe Ancestry.com, find a DNA match and maybe you don't even have to dig that far before you found your American cousins.
Fisher: Isn't that amazing! Just a little spit in a tube and all of a sudden you're in connection. You don't have to worry about all the rest of the work, because it’s all done for you.
David: You know, I have relatives that make me want to spit.
David: But generally speaking, now I want to, so I can find these relatives.
Fisher: Good point.
David: The other thing that you want to do, Mary, is reach out to your other cousins that live nearby you in Ireland. Maybe somebody has a letter or a document that has some clue or maybe even a photograph that has a photographer’s studio on it from Chicago that you can look at and find out when that photographer was located at that address and even pinpoint's a better year for you, because sometimes family sent photos back. And you have those pictures in the frames. If you can carefully take them out of the frame, see what's written on the back, especially those older ones from the 19th century. You know, during RootsTech, I actually talked to Thomas Muller, one of our listeners. He wanted to remind us that Extreme Genes isn't just America's Family History Radio Show, it’s the world's, because he listens to us in Germany.
Fisher: Oh, that's awesome! That is great! So, guten tag, Herr Muller. And thank you, Mary for the question. And of course if you have a question for Ask Us Anything, you can always email us at [email protected]. David, we've got another one coming up here in just a few moments about a cemetery. You're going to want to hear, when we return in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show.
Segment 5 Episode 366
Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert
Fisher: All right, back at it for our final segment for the final question on Ask Us Anything on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. David Allen Lambert is standing by. And David, this one comes from Paul in Iowa, it doesn't say exactly where. He says, “Fish and Dave, there's an old cemetery that I found in the woods on our farm property. It’s in bad shape. What if anything should I or could I do with this information?” Boy that's a challenging problem and a little responsibility, isn’t it?
David: Yeah, I mean, well, I guess, the first thing is to make sure the cemetery is safe, maybe put a fence around it. Depending if you have animals on the farm, sometimes cows will wander through and step and break gravestones. But you might want to put it online. It’s as simple as putting it on FindAGrave or Billion Graves. Photograph the stones that are there. You may know the history of the property, so you may recognize the names, might be the owner is from 100 years ago or even before that. So, you kind of research your deeds back, you're going to have a bit of a title search. On the local county level, you might figure out who those people are. If someone buried turns out to be a veteran, you could actually get a free government gravestone. Whoever is your local veteran agent is could maybe put a new marker for, say, a broken stone for a Civil War veteran or even a Revolutionary War veteran, depending on how or why the stones were put there.
The other thing is, just notify the state, because they may have an inventory. Secretary of State's office would probably be the best place or the Iowa State Historical Society may have an inventory of said cemeteries. There actually is a website. I have to think about it for a minute, because I remember stumbling across it a couple of years back, it’s called IowaGravestones.org and it has county by county, you can browse through cemeteries that are known, so maybe somebody already knows about it, but there's a point of contact for each county, so you can reach out to that person and say, “Hey, listen, we've got a cemetery back here. What do I do?” and they probably know maybe the funding that's available or rules and regulations to make it accessible, so all of a sudden, if a descendant wants to track across your property, that's one of the biggest problems with rural cemeteries that are out in the back woods or in a farm, because you don't want to have somebody pull up with a SUV and haul out with ten family members and trudge across your wheat field and crush your crops.
David: Just to take a picture of a stone, you might want to keep maybe a scrapbook of the pictures or a notebook at your house that people can come and visit you and you could show them that its sort of treacherous to get out here, because you know, it’s a liability to walk through your property, and you don’t want a bunch of strangers going though and getting hurt.
Fisher: Well, I would think you might want to check also with the county historical society, because they may already be aware of the presence of the cemetery on your property. I mean, depending obviously on how long you've owned it. It may have been known to owners previous to you. The other thing that comes to mind is, is that these may be ancestors of some of the people who still live in your area. And you might want to be in touch with them and work with them if you're looking to restore the cemetery, not just to protect it, but to clean up the weeds and that type of thing, I mean, it could be a great project, depending on the degree and the amount of work you want to put into this thing.
David: Yeah, the great thing is, you found it and now it’s probably not going to get plowed under as unfortunately some of them have in the past. Even here in the north east, we've lost cemeteries that have just been forgotten, the stones fall down and somebody build a housing project over it, shy of poltergeist from the ‘80s.
David: So, you just never know. So this is great news and I hope that maybe the county doesn't know about it. But, do try to Find-A-Grave and Billion Graves, because maybe somebody already has trespassed on your property and taken photographs of it to begin with.
Fisher: There you go. Paul, thanks for the question. And of course once again, if you have a question for Ask Us Anything, you can email us at [email protected]. David thanks so much. Talk to you next week.
David: All right. Talk to you soon.
Fisher: All right, and that's our show for this week. Thank you so much for joining us. Hope you enjoyed it. Hope you enjoyed hearing the stories from the driveway sisters and the genie who found her kidnapped relative's descendants from the 1890s! Unbelievable stuff! If you missed any of it, catch the podcast on iTunes, iHeart Radio, TuneIn Radio, Spotify and ExtremeGenes.com. Talk to you next week. And remember, as far as everyone knows, we're a nice, normal family!