Episode 482 - Catholic Descendants of The Mayflower / Native American History Month

podcast episode Nov 20, 2023

Happy Thanksgiving! Host Scott Fisher opens the show with David Allen Lambert, Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. Both Fish and Dave describe recent discoveries they made and how they found them. Then, David talks about how a stash of letters, written in the 1750s from France and never unsealed (they were captured by the British) are being opened and digitized! Then, there’s more now on the painting discovered in France a few years ago. It had been hanging in the kitchen of a 90-year-old woman and was headed to the garbage can. It has now been sold for $25 million dollars and has been deemed a “national treasure.” Also, a marvelous museum of African American History has been opened in Charleston, South Carolina. David has more.

Next, Fisher talks with Christopher Child of NEHGS and editor of the Mayflower Descendant. Chris takes us through his recent study of the first found family of Catholic descendants of the Mayflower and the amazing journey it led him on.

Then, it being Native American History Month, Michelle Chubenko of sponsor Legacy Tree Genealogists talks about her background and a surprising DNA discovery of a match in a very unexpected place.

Then, David returns for Ask Us Anything over two segments.

That’s all this week on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show!


Segment 1 Episode 482

Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert

Fisher: And welcome America, to America’s Family History Show Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth, on the program where we shake your family tree, and watch the nuts fall out. Great to have you along genies! We’ve got Chris Child here today. He is from the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. He is also the editor of the Mayflower Descendant. And he’s discovered some Catholic Mayflower Descendants and an amazing story tied to this branch of descendancy from the Mayflower. You’re going to want to hear that. And then later in the show from our sponsors over at Legacy Tree Genealogists, Michelle Chobenko joins us for Native American history month, talking about some of her experiences as a Native American. Right now it’s time to head out to Boston because David Allen Lambert is standing by, the Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. Hello David!

David: Hello, my friend, and what have you been up to in the geological realm of your club?

Fisher: Hours and hours and hours of researching. I found this wonderful area of probate records on Family Search for Montgomery County, Indiana, where my wife was from and found all these records. We’re talking about receipts and invoices with signatures on them from the estate from when her fourth great grandparents died. And these were receipts, and invoices for things like coffins, and doctor bills, and tombstones, all this stuff and all these various debts that the estate owed. Some of them going back to before the ancestor died, so, we got signatures of him and her on these various things. It was really fun.

David: I love when you can see a signature, because it's a replacement when you don't have a photograph of the person.

Fisher: Yeah, that's true. And you can match it up to other documents. So that's good. And of course, you were just out in Salt Lake City, Utah, and you were helping a lot of people, but I know that you always take a little time to work on your own stuff, any discoveries?

David: I did actually. I had a DNA match with my great, great, great grandmother, three of her sisters and one of them had a lead as to where we came from. The last name is Tulk like The Incredible Hulk but with a T. And before they were in Newfoundland, they were in Dorset, England.

Fisher: Aha!

David: I found the parish records. Lydlinch Parish has the baptism of my third great grandfather, my fourth great grandfather, his marriage, my fifth great grandfather's marriage, all neatly packaged in a parish that every year for the baptisms, they all fit on one page, that small.

Fisher: Nice!

David: Well, they got the death of my fifth great grandmother, and it said she was a pauper. I'm like, “Oh, that's interesting.” There were pauper records, Fish. Open up a new Pandora's Box. I go through it and I find the pauper accounts from 1778 till her death. And then I thought I was done. But then I noticed item two because you know on Family Search digital oilfield, you’ve always got to crank till the end. There might be something else.

Fisher: Yep.

David: There were 13 miscellaneous pages. And one of them was a 1762 letter with her mark on it talking about her granddaughter. So, my fifth grade grandmother is talking about being impoverished and having to care for her granddaughter. 10 years later, my fourth great grandfather is asked to be removed back to the village she was originally from and names it. And best one was a document from 1783, naming my third great grandmother, who is now a widow with her three year old son, and her six month old son, William, who just happens to be my immigrant to Newfoundland.

Fisher: Wow!

David: So, now I've got three generations of family, loads of documents scanned, I've got to write the whole thing up, which I haven't done yet.

Fisher: Sure.

David: You know, do as I say, not as I do.

Fisher: [Laughs]

David: But very, very exciting.

Fisher: That is exciting. I mean, that's the kind of haul of a lifetime. And you know, for people listening, think of how many years David has been doing this and yet he's still making major breakthrough, so it just really never ends.

David: Well, for Family Histoire News. This first one is very appropriate, because it is a batch of French letters, love letters! Not written, say, in World War II, but how about during the Seven Years War or as we call it here, the French and Indian War? These are captured letters, Fish that the British Navy got off of the French vessel. These were intended to go to the sailors from their family, loved ones and associates back in 1757 to 1758. The intention was, they would be given to them as prisoners in England. Yeah, that never happened. But they did end up at the National Archives in London, where they've sat pretty much sealed and unread for over 100 years.

Fisher: Wow!

David: Until now, someone is going through and reading all of these letters. Some of these are love letters, some of these are from parents to their children who are serving. And with the technology of digitization and obviously Google searching, putting some names out there may connect these letters to their descendants.

Fisher: Yep, absolutely. That's a great one. Wouldn't that be fun to be the guy who gets to open these letters for the first time in 270 years?

David: Well, I can tell you this much, it's all French to me. [Laughs]

Fisher: Yes, indeed.

David: Well, you know, another Family Histoire News, again, in France. Do you remember a couple of years, back we talked about a 90 year old lady who had a painting in her kitchen, she thought it was a Russian painting, she was about to put it in the trash?

Fisher: Yeah, I do remember this.

David: Yeah, well, it's worth $25 million.

Fisher: Ohh!

David: And it has been acquired and it's considered a national treasure of France. And it's going to the Louvre.

Fisher: [Laughs] Well, that's going to change her life. I'll bet you she's just going, “Why didn't I check this out 50 years ago?” [Laughs]

David: Exactly. Probably would have changed everything, because I mean, we all have Monets and Rembrandts hanging in our kitchens, our homes, don’t we, Fish?

Fisher: I have five or six of them myself, yeah.

David: This one's really amazing. I remember a few years back at RootsTech, Martin Luther King Jr. son came and they had a wonderful presentation about a proposed museum on African Americans for Charleston, South Carolina. Family Search was very generous and helped out with a major donation, and that museum just opened. The International African American Museum in Charleston, South Carolina will help people with both genealogy and uncovering the stories of their past. Well, that's all it from Beantown for us this week, my friend. Remember, if you're not a member of American Ancestors, you can use the coupon code, “Extreme” at AmericanAncestors.org and save $20.

Fisher: All right, David, thank you so much. We will talk to you at the back end of the show when we get around to Ask Us Anything. And coming up next, one of your colleagues, Chris Child, he's got stories about Catholic descendants from the Mayflower that he's discovered, coming up next when we return in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show.

Segment 2 Episode 482

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Chris Child

Fisher: Welcome back to America’s Family History Show Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth, and my next guest is known to many listeners of Extreme Genes over the years. He is the editor of the Mayflower Descendant. He works over at the New England Historic Genealogical Society. He is Chris Child. And Chris, you just recently came out with an article that’s blowing a lot of people’s minds. It’s about Catholic descendants of the Mayflower. And we’ve got Thanksgiving coming up here in just a few days. Let’s talk about your discovery that you just made this year.

Chris: All right. Thanks, Scott, for having me on. Yes. So this is an article that came out in our summer 2023 issue of the Mayflower Descendant, it is about the Fosdick and Lambert families of Boston, Massachusetts. For those that are unfamiliar in the Plymouth settlement shortly after the Mayflower there were no Catholics in that early settlement. And there were laws prohibiting Catholic congregations in the Massachusetts colonies. And so it wasn't really until 1780 the Massachusetts State Constitution that allowed Catholics to be in Boston and Massachusetts. So years ago NEHGS in around 2016, we made an agreement with the Boston archdiocese to digitize a lot of their sacramental records. So one of my big things that I was really interested in was to see where could be the first Catholic Mayflower descendants in Massachusetts knowing that it's not 1620 it's probably going to be in the 1780s or 90s.

Fisher: Yeah, and that's kind of the way it worked out from what I understand here.

Chris: Yes, so once the records were digitally available, I searched several years ago to try to see if I could find some Catholic Mayflower descendants. I found another family that was really interesting, but I didn't find any Mayflower descendants then so I put it kind of on pause for a few years. Then earlier in this year, I decided to look at the records again and see if I could find some other families that might be of interest. And so then I found the two baptisms in Boston at Holy Cross in 1796 and 1798 of these two Lambert children Mary Catherine Elizabeth Lambert and Amelia Matilda Lambert.

Fisher: And no relation to Dave, right?

Chris: No relationship to David Lambert although he was helpful in certain aspects of the research process, but no, the father was listed there as Louis Lambert and then the mother was listed as Lydia Fosdick. Fosdick really stuck out to me as a common New England surname.

Fisher: Yes.

Chris: It's not a Mayflower passenger, but I've encountered lots of Mayflower descendants with that surname. So I researched the family more I found out that Lydia Fosdick went back to William Brewster of the Mayflower. So there I found okay, this is an example clearly in the 1790s of two baptisms in Boston of Catholics that are Mayflower descendants. So that was the start of it and how I got going on the project. And it just really led to a lot more things than I originally anticipated beyond just them being the first Catholic Mayflower descendants in Massachusetts.

Fisher: Well, the article is massive. And let's talk about this because the whole story kind of evolved over the course of an entire century.

Chris: Yes, it was really cool. So Louis Lambert actually became a business partner with his wife's father, Alvin Fosdick, who was originally from Connecticut and moved up to Boston to become a merchant. And the two of them had this company called Fosdick and Lambert. They imported lots of stuff from the Caribbean, meats, cheeses, furniture, all sorts of stuff. And they had this business for a few years. The Lambert family was only in Boston for a little bit. Then they moved from Boston to Alexandria, Virginia. He died of disease in the early 1800s. Death notices said they had three surviving kids so I was interested to trace them out and see where they went. One daughter ended up in Connecticut, another son ended up in St. Bartholomew, and then I had some trouble figuring out what happened to the youngest son. But then I learned through a series of searches that the firm Fosdick and Lambert actually had a claim with the US government, which is known as the French spoliation claims.

Fisher: Okay.

Chris: These are a record series I had never heard of. These go back to the quasi war that the United States had with France in 1798.

Fisher: Yeah.

Chris: So during that period of time, there were various commercial ships from the United States that were seized by French privateers and the goods were seized and ordered sold by a French tribunal court. So, much, much later, 1885, the United States Congress decides to award heirs of these seized ships claims. We're talking about ships seized by 1801, starting in 1798. So about over 5000 petitioners petition the US government to request compensation for their sea ships, and by this point, almost all the merchants who had a ship seized have long been dead. Most of their kids are long dead. So you're talking three, four or five generations. So in the cases of the heirs of Fosdick and Lambert so they had a ship seized in 1798 called The Three Friends, a great grandson of Alvin Fosdick, a grandson of Louis and Lydia Lambert. He started the proceedings in 1885. Gilbert Huntington, the US government ultimately awarded him a little over $15,000. But the process took quite a long period of time, and part of the reason it took so long was there to start a whole probate proceeding about the last heir of the company. Since Louis Lambert died earlier, the surviving partner was Alvin Fosdick. So he actually died in New Hampshire in 1831. I don't know if his descendants knew when and where he died, but he never had a probate. So his heirs started a probate in Boston in Suffolk County, Massachusetts, in the 1880s, basically, so that they could receive all of this money that they were going to be getting from the US government.

Fisher: So like 50 years after the fact they started a probate.

Chris: Yes. And probably not in the right County, but that's where they thought the county court should have been because he did live in Boston for a period of time, and also at the time that this ship was seized. So yeah, so it started in 1885. Interestingly, Gilbert Huntington, the grandson of Louis Lydian started the proceeding. He died in 1893. They didn't actually get any money until 1901. So, by that point, all of Lydia and Louise children were dead, all but one of their grandchildren were dead. And further to make this kind of interesting was the youngest son, Gabriel Lambert, he had lived in Guadalupe, New Orleans and Georgia and his daughters lived in New York City for a period of time, the family didn't know what happened to them. They hadn't heard from them for 40 years. So there was all these heirs and they were listed in two different theories of distribution, because they knew that there were six great grandchildren that could have children, but they didn't know about two of the six. So they had theories of everyone getting divided into one quarters, or one, six, but even within those one quarters, or one, six, all but one of them were known to be deceased. So then, those six got further divided into 130 or 1/54.

Fisher: Oh my gosh!

Chris: So it was really, really fun. And by this point, the descendants are living all over the world. There's descendants and again, St. Barts, Philadelphia, St. Maarten in the Caribbean, also out in Australia, so all over. I said NEHGS should have had me travel to all these places that would have been fun.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Chris: But I mean, they varied some really interesting families. We used records written in English, French, Swedish, Dutch, and Spanish. There were heirs in Key West. So how much these heirs received was kind of if there was one great grandchild alive who received one sixth, that ended up being a little over $1,500. The folks who got 1/54, that was about $168. So divided all between these heirs but what was great is it for this very international family. This petition from Suffolk County probate court that came out of a US claim court record really outlined who all the descendants were, their names, and where they lived.

Fisher: Isn't that fascinating? And in the course of all this, did you discover any other people who are researching the same family or were living members of this family today?

Chris: There's plenty of descendants of this family down to the present day and there's a lot of descendants there in St. Barts. The cover feature has the cemetery from St. John St. Bartholomew were several of the descendants are buried. There's also descendants today in Philadelphia, it doesn't seem like there's modern day descendants that were aware that they had this Mayflower ancestry. A lot of them knew they had this Caribbean ancestry. But I don't think this Catholic Protestant marriage in the 1790s was known to them. I think, you know, over time, they knew a portion of their ancestry, but they didn't know you know, all of their ancestry.

Fisher: Well, they're going to be among the many hundreds of 1000s if not millions of people who don't know that their Mayflower descendants, whether they're currently Catholic or something else, right?

Chris: Yes, that's what's kind of been interesting with editing articles with the Mayflower Descendant over the years. I've included several articles that do mention sort of first. We had an article four years ago about the first Wampanoag Mayflower intermarriage. We had an article about some African American descendants in Louisiana right before the Civil War that were Mayflower descendants. So it's really fun to add some more variety in terms of what you may think of as Mayflower ancestry, but especially by the 19th century, the descendants really do get more spread out all over the country in the world.

Fisher: Well, it really goes to show that over many, many generations, there is all kinds of intermarriage and mixing going on. And this is just another fascinating case of this. How many descendants are we up to now? I mean, we always hear the number 30 million somewhere around the world who have descended from the Mayflower people who still have ancestors today, right?

Chris: Yeah, between 30 to 35 million. And then it's just an estimate. Even getting to that number is kind of complicated, because you're talking about a little over 100 passengers, half of them die in the first winter. Lots of the families will intermarry with one another. There's a high birth rate during that early period, but also high mortality rate. So that's kind of on the assumption of average numbers of kids and what we do know about the sort of Mayflower composition, for the first six or seven generations, there could very well be more, but that's the general estimate that we think 30 to 35 million highest concentration being in Massachusetts, next concentration in Nova Scotia. But there's Mayflower descendants that are England, Leiden, and Holland. There were some passengers who died the first winter who had children still in Leiden, and there are plenty of Dutch Mayflower descendants as well as ones who were in England and their kids remained in England and English Mayflower descendants too, and obviously, in this case, descendants out in the Caribbean as well.

Fisher: Do we have a database of how many are around today? Do you know?

Chris: I mean, at American Ancestors, we have a few different databases. And most of those will be who has been accepted to the Mayflower society.

Fisher: Yeah.

Chris: We have a database. It includes the descendants through what's been published by the Mayflower Society. And then we'll have the deceased individuals that appear on approved Mayflower applications. So that's a small number of the total amount of Mayflower descendants, but it includes the ones who have gone through the process of joining the Mayflower societies have their descent approved.

Fisher: Yeah, and that's usually a pretty rigorous test right there. So that's, that's good stuff. He's Chris Child. He is the editor of the Mayflower Descendant. And of course is over at NEHGS and Chris, Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family. And thanks for coming on and sharing this amazing discovery. What fun.

Chris: Happy Thanksgiving to you Scott. Thank you.

Fisher: And coming up next, Michelle Chubenko from Legacy Tree Genealogists talking about Native American History Month when we return in five minutes on Extreme Genes.

Segment 3 Episode 482

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Michelle Chubenko

Fisher: And welcome back to America's Family History Show Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. Fisher here your Radio Root Sleuth. It is Native American History Month right now and really there isn't a better guest I think I could get to speak to this topic than Michelle Chubenko. She's with our sponsors over at Legacy Tree Genealogist. And Michelle you're, of course, partly Native American, partly a lot of things actually. And I know you're always exploring this. You've had some recent adventures with this.

Michelle: Yes, I have being a mixed blood Cherokee, I had the opportunity to go back home. My dad is from Eastern Oklahoma. He's born in Stillwell. So I was able to take a trip there just about two weeks ago.

Fisher: And in the midst of all this, of course, you had a DNA test that revealed something interesting.

Michelle: Yes, we did. In 2019, we discovered a cousin who had tested, actually, she discovered us, born and raised in France. It turns out that my grandfather actually had a relationship while he was stationed there during World War II and we have a GI baby uncle.

Fisher: Oh, wow! And is he still living or not?

Michelle: Yes, he's still living. So that was the reason for my trip to Oklahoma. They had come to the United States. My uncle, my aunt and my cousin, and they joined me here in New Jersey, got to meet all the family here. And then we got on the plane and headed west.

Fisher: And so you have this uncle who's now in his 70s and then your dad came along when your grandpa came home?

Michelle: No, my dad was born before my grandpa enlisted into the US Army. So we definitely got a web here for you, Scott.

Fisher: [Laughs] I'm sorting it all out right here in my head. Okay, I gotcha.

Michelle: Yes. My dad is the oldest, unfortunately unable to travel. So that's why I was the person to bring my Uncle Phillip, and family to Tahlequah to visit the tribal complex. Also tour all the historic sites with the Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma. Blood quantum is not a requirement for registration and becoming a citizen. It all is lineage dependent from the Dawes roll. But even still, my grandfather was one sixteenths Cherokee, and that makes my uncle 1/32. So he gets half of his dad's blood quantum on his paper.

Fisher: Sure. That's true. You've talked in the past about the Dawes roll, and the registration of official members of the tribe. And so did the uncle realize his background before you guys found him?

Michelle: He knew a little bit. He had very scattered details about his dad, because his mom really wasn't sharing. But when he did take the DNA test and he had Native American admixture or ethnicity percentages, it kind of was like wait. And it kind of ties to hey, my dad is from Oklahoma. There's a lot of Native American ancestry centered in Oklahoma.

Fisher: Sure.

Michelle: So, it kind of paired together nicely for him.

Fisher: Wow! So this had to be a really interesting thing, because he was basically raised as French, yes?

Michelle: Correct.

Fisher: So a completely different culture.

Michelle: Yes, exactly. And he, as a child was drawn to US history and really loved Native American history. And he wasn't sure why he kind of was fascinated by it. And he really loves that era of US history, and only to find out that is now his history, as well.

Fisher: Wow, that that had to be unbelievable. How did the tribal people receive him when you visited Oklahoma?

Michelle: Well, I did a surprise for him. So two surprises, I visited the family in 2021. And I brought items of my grandfather to him, so that he could have something of his dad's and then this year, when we visited in Tahlequah, I actually made an appointment with Chief Hoskins so that they could have a meet and greet. So, it actually went very well. The chief was very happy that we took the time to kind of reach out and set up time for him to get to meet the chief and other tribal officials.

Fisher: Wow! What about your cousins now, the French cousins, how are they feeling about this?

Michelle: Oh, they're loving it trying to figure out when they can come to the US and vice versa. When can we get over there to France?

Fisher: Have you been to France before?

Michelle: Not until 2019. That was my first adventure to France. And then I visited them for just over a week in September of this year. I was in Europe for five weeks doing research and visiting family.

Fisher: Very nice. Yeah, we were over in Europe and France this summer, as well and having a great time with family over there. You know, you really bring up an interesting point, because I'm sure there are a lot of folks who do their DNA tests. And they discover unexpected ancestry, perhaps Native American like this, and maybe there are a lot of people also who expect to be Native American and find out oh, no, no, just a myth. In fact, that's very, very common among European Americans.

Michelle: Yes, at Legacy Tree, we get a lot of clients who want to find out more about their Native American ancestor, or they have the story and they ask, is this true? Can it be proven? Some of them take the first step without us and do that DNA test and don't find genetic evidence of this family lore ancestry with a Native American tribe. So we deal with that a lot. Unfortunately, for the most part, it is not proved because the family is, has been European ancestral based.

Fisher: Um hmm.

Michelle: Which can be sad, you know. You get a story from grandma or great grandma. You want to believe that they're telling the truth. But sometimes I think, you know, we all are familiar with the game of telephone, we have the family's stories that I think evolve over the decades. And what may have been a family friend, or some type of involvement with a Native American person or tribe turns into a more personal story of we are. And unfortunately, today in the 21st century, debunked or unproven.

Fisher: Yeah, yeah. You know, that happens with all kinds of things, not just ethnicity, just stories in the family. And it's funny as they're passed along generation to generation how they changed just a little bit. I don't know if you've ever gone back and found an earlier account of a story that you heard while you were growing up. And you notice just how different it was from what you'd originally heard. There was something about a prince in this family that had had this affair with the house maid. And that's how my second great grandmother came around. And when we looked into it, oh, no, he was this army guy. And it was I think it was just all kind of made up to cover up her very difficult background. So, a lot of things like that are I think created in order to give some color to our stories.

Michelle: Yes. You know, as we are storytellers today, so were our ancestors.

Fisher: Yes, absolutely. And it gets passed down it. And sometimes those stories themselves become part of the history even if they're not true. It's kind of fun to make a note of what they were and what people said through all those various generations. What should people be doing here? It's Native American History Month. What do you think people who have Native American ancestry in particular, could be doing this month to focus on that?

Michelle: Well, first and foremost, I think making sure that your connection to a particular tribe, investigate it, find out if it's true. Secondly, learn the history of the Native American tribes that are in the ancestral area that your ancestors are living. It's kind of interesting, sometimes we hear about someone who has Blackfoot ancestry, and they're from North Carolina. Geographically, it is a mismatch. But it is a good step for genealogists always to understand the historical picture in which our ancestors lived.

Fisher: Yeah, as you say that I was just thinking of an ancestor on my wife's side. It was written up in this old history in the 19 century, that he had been part of the Boston Tea Party, but he was from Virginia. Like, I don't think so. I don't think so.

Michelle: Was he visiting? Did he take the train up? [Laughs]

Fisher: [Laughs] I don't think there was a train there either. So boy, what are we going to do? Michelle Chubenko with Legacy Tree Genealogist as always, just a joy to have you on. Thanks so much for all your information!

Michelle: Oh, you are most welcome, Scott. Thanks for having me.

Fisher: And coming up next, David Allen Lambert returns for Ask us anything on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show.

Segment 4 Episode 482

Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert

Fisher: We have arrived! It's Ask Us Anything on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show. David Allen Lambert is back from Boston. And Dave, our first question comes from Ed in Port Chester, New York. And he says, “Fish and Dave, what can you use that fills the role of a census before the first one in the US in 1790? I'm looking for a family in Maryland. Thank you.” All right, Dave, what do you think?

David: Well, you're lucky, because some of these colonial areas of the 13 colonies had colonial pre 1790 censuses.

Fisher: Um hmm.

David: You don't even have to start talking about census substitutes. So there was one in 1776 and one in 1778.

Fisher: In Maryland.

David: Um hmm. And the nice thing about this is, you can find them conveniently on Ancestry.com.

Fisher: Isn't that interesting? These census records were right in the heart of the Revolutionary War, and they were still doing them. Incredible.

David: You know, Rhode Island did one in 1777, it’s a military census. And that's been very valuable for people who want to join the DAR or the SAR. You know, again, putting your ancestor in a place that early, it's wonderful, but there are other things we can use for substitutes.

Fisher: Okay.

David: For instance, if your ancestor went to church, a lot of churches had pew lists, so you know who owned what pew and what row etc. But they often had to pay a tax for that pew or rental. Year by year rental accounts of pews will list an individual how much they’re paying and where they're living. So essentially, putting you in the right church, in the right pew, in a particular year.

Fisher: And the other thing about that, Dave is that, these people will often be listed together in the pew, because they're related.

David: Um hmm. Another great list, speaking of the Revolutionary War or maybe earlier wars, muster rolls. The individuals assembled in that militia company, and they're often from the same town.

Fisher: Yes.

David: So that's a great way of looking for people. Another source, of course, are just regular tax lists that most communities would have kept, either for a local county or colony tax that they were paying on a given year.

Fisher: Sure.

David: Again, reassembling where families lived.

Fisher: And that's usually the heads of the household. But occasionally, you'll have some widows in there.

David: Oh, of course, especially since she still owns the property and hasn't been sold out from under her.

Fisher: Um hmm.

David: You're very lucky to find them. Another way of finding it is the newspaper, just looking at early newspapers. The earliest newspapers in North America start back in 1704, right here in Boston. So, by the time of the 18th century, other places have newspapers, and of course, even in the colony of Maryland. So that can help you, because there might be a petition to the governor that has a list of people with grievances, essentially putting together a community and a published list. Putting your ancestor in the context just for simply putting an ad in the paper, saying that I am selling the red mare, please apply to Thomas Fisher of Baltimore, Maryland.

Fisher: Yeah. Wow!

David: So many different ways of doing this.

Fisher: That’s true. And you know, you mentioned the church records earlier, I remember finding a list of a Sunday school class. And they listed everybody together. And I knew who many of them were and how they were related. And you could really see the people of different generations and how they would sit together and how they would confirm some of your suspicions about how people are related, just because of the seating arrangement, because they did it like a lot of the censuses, you know, where they went door to door to door. They just had a line of people, all the folks kind of hanging out with one another.

David: And you know, there's always those on the other side of the law, so maybe even find jail records, because there's always that relative, sometimes closer than you want it to be,that was incarcerated.

Fisher: Yep. Wow! A lot of great ideas there, Dave. So, Ed, thank you so much. And I hope that was helpful for you. And coming up next, we have another question when we return for Ask Us Anything on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show.

Segment 5 Episode 482

Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert

Fisher: All right, back on the job with Extreme Genes and Ask Us Anything. It is Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth with David Allen Lambert from Boston. And David, this question comes from Bruce in Harrison, New York. And he says, “Guys, please tell us more about the probate files you discussed at the beginning of the show. Are those typical of most American probate archives?” Well, the short answer, of course is, yes, Bruce.

David: You know, that's the truth. I mean, we're really lucky with some of the states where the probate offices didn't go up in flames. And the treasures that are within these probate dockets. Or if the papers got lost, you have the record books. And a lot of people don't understand the difference between the two. In fact, when Family Search, Fish was first microfilming, back in the ‘30s and the ‘40s, it was a lot easier for them to turn the page of a record book from a probate office instead of unfolding and laying flat 1000s upon 1000s of images from the probate docket.

Fisher: Sure.

David: So, in recent years, they’ve gone back and digitized them.

Fisher: Yeah, and boy, like we mentioned at the beginning of the show, there are so many things that you can find in their signatures and receipts and invoices, and it mentions all kinds of things, typically, relating to the death of the deceased, and maybe somebody else in his family, but often dealing with deaths from before his passing or her passing. And you can find all kinds of stuff there. And they're just treasures. They'll talk about folks who are related to them. And maybe they'll even mention what that relationship is. I've certainly had some Dave, I'm sure you have, too where you've had a suspicion that this was the relationship of something or other, but it gets confirmed in these probate files.

David: And that's true. And you know, one of the things if you look at it, if you write a will in 1780, and you mentioned your unmarried daughters, and you don't happen to die for another decade or so and they happen to be married, if you look at the record book copy, it made just have the will in your inventory. But if you look at the file docket, the original file papers, there could be slips of paper where the daughter with her married name is mentioned.

Fisher: Yep.

David: And that connects you back. And you're always looking through probates to try to find if there happened to be any mentions of the parents of a child that you're researching. This is a great way of doing it.

Fisher: It really is. And I will tell you, just working the other day on this county in Indiana, it took me hours, because there were several people who had wills and passed away in that time and place that all these records cover. And I thought about some of the other places around the country and started looking in there too. And, you know, they're not always as complete as other places. But they're all worth taking a good look at. Another thing I want to mention in New York City, because it all kind of ties into this whole conversation. They have files there for people when they applied to be the administrator of someone who passed away. And in these documents, they mentioned all of the interested parties, what their relationships are, where they lived at the time, their home addresses. I mean, I found some marvelous things in there that also helped me confirm that there weren't any other siblings that I might be missing, for instance, in the case of an only child.

David: Well, that's very true. And I think that the probate records are often overlooked, because people are just looking for the will. You’ve got to look at all the receipts.

Fisher: Yes. There's just so many things there. And it's a lot of fun. And if you haven't done this in a while, go back and see what you can find in the areas that you're looking at. And I should mention, the easiest way to do this is just do a Google search, and put in probate records and the name of the county in the state that you're looking in, and it'll take you right to Family Search. And then you will find the links that you're looking for right there. So, it's really pretty easy. So, thank you so much for the question, Bruce. And of course, we will answer more questions for you next time around. We're going to take a week off next week as we get ready for the holidays. And we will be back in two weeks with a brand new show. David thanks so much for coming on. We'll talk to you soon.

David: Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours, Fish.

Fisher: All right, my friend. And thank you so much for joining us again this week. And if you missed any of the show, of course you want to catch it again maybe, all you have to do is catch the podcast. It's on iHeartRadio, iTunes, Apple Media, ExtremeGenes.com, Spotify, TuneInRadio, we're all over the place. We'd love to have you. Thanks for joining us. And remember, as far as everyone knows, we're a nice normal family!

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