Sunday, March 26, 2017

DNA Detective Work

DNA results can be very daunting to read and interpret.  As usual, I tend to just live with things for a while as I jump around trying to find links, and see what I come up with.  The hunt is what drives me!  While waiting for my knowledge to develop by reading The Family Tree Guide to DNA Testing and Genetic Genealogy by Blaine T. Bettinger, I was able to pin down a viable link to my native american test results.  Here's what I did:

On gedmatch.com I took my gedcom (family tree) file, looked for gedcom matches to my Tapp line, which has been proven native american, and search for others that had matches to my Tapp line.  I found a gentleman who was linked to the early Taptico chief's, as I believed to be.  Then, I took his DNA kit and compared it to mine.  I found we had a small 7.3 centimorgan match on our 11th chromosome.  I went back and looked at where the native american link was on my chromosomes and there it was the bottom 11th chromosome for us both, exact same place.

Now, this method is probably not the tried and true way of connecting methodically, but I like it because I got to play detective and have fun!

This is a picture of Captain John Smith attempting to take the King of Pamunkee (Opechancanough-brother or cousin to Powhatan, father of Pocahontas) prisoner in 1608, from an inserted picture collage from the book Virginia 1584-1607 The First English Settlement in North America edited by Alan Smith, published in 1957 in London (in my possession).  They are reprinted in this book from Captain John Smith's The General Historie of Virginia, New England & The Summer Isles, first published in 1624.


The only knowledge of my native people is through the British documentation of the time.  The book I have, mentioned above, has great detail of their way of life, even if from the onlookers perspective.  This is a piece of my ancestors language:



My 7th great grandfather, King Taptico (1664-1695) (Wicocomico Tribe)probable father Machywap (Chicacoan tribe) were part of this later Powhatan Empire.  Man, did I have fun doing this!!


Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Sherlock had his Moriarty, I now have mine!


Serendipity!  I have written about my wife’s past life regression that gave me Rebecca Putnam Andrews Browne.  The layers of cosmic connections grow and grow.  Rebecca’s father was John Hancock Andrews of Salem, prominent merchant.  I worked for a few years at the New England Historic Genealogical Society, and my connection to this institution began with just walking in the door and asking about volunteer opportunities.  Within a short time, I was working there as a researcher full time.  To this day, the biggest mistake of my life was leaving the place I loved the most.  I couldn’t handle a difficult situation that would have resolved itself in time had I just stuck it out.  An opportunity came up that allowed me to get out of a toxic situation and I took it.  To this day, I have never gotten over my deep connection to the Society and even more the library space.  It was a sanctuary for me!  I always felt something or someone guiding me while I was there.  I think I’ve uncovered my spirit guide!

George Andrews Moriarty, Jr. makes my world small and connected.  Who is he and how does he connect to me?  I will tell you!  His grandmother was Rebecca Putnam Andrews Browne’s sister, Nancy Page Andrews Moriatry!  Oh…that’s not all!  George Andrews Moriarty, Jr. was a prominent genealogist who practically lived at the NewEngland Historic Genealogical Society, mostly at their location at 9 Ashburton Place in Boston.  During his time he was considered to be the greatest antiquarian of his generation.  He was very old when the Society moved to their current location, where I worked, at 99 Newbury Street, about 4 years before he died, also when he remained at a nursing home in York, Maine.  It's highly unlikely he was able to visit the new location.  His legacy lives on through his writings in the New England Historical & Genealogical Register and other publications such as TAG (the American Genealogist).

Wait…it gets even more serendipitous!  He was a student at St. George’s boarding school in Newport, Rhode Island where I used to teach!!  St. George was established in 1896 when G. Andrews was about 14, so it's likely he was one of it's first students.  

  George Andrews Moriarty, Jr.


Thank you, George, for looking over my shoulder!  I hope to make you proud by writing about you, your family, and Rebecca’s forgotten life.  Cheers, compatriot!!

The Moriarty lineage is also from Salem, dating back to the 12th century,  Lords of Loch Linn, Kunkerron, and Templenoe, staying in the Tralee area until the 18th century.  G. Andrews' 3rd great grandfather immigrated from Tralee, Ireland in 1775 to Salem.  G. Andrews' grandfather, John Moseley Moriarty (Port Physician of Boston/Gloucester) married Rebecca Andrews Browne's sister Nancy Page Andrews.  


Currently, George Marshall Moriarty, a Boston retired lawyer, who worked/works for Ropes and Gray law offices in Boston, may be connected to G. Andrews Moriarty (as he signed his name).  Ropes and Gray assisted the Society with litigation when they moved to the Newbury Street location back in the 1960’s.  George Marshall is a former president of the Boston Athenaeum and a current Councilor at the New England Historic Genealogical Society, former board president of Brigham and Womens Hospital in Boston.  I must contact this man to see if he will converse on this subject.  George Andrews had only one child, a daughter.  A direct lineage link doesn't look promising, but I have suspicions there is some relationship.  Hopefully, I can update this later!


I really love how history comes to life through this process.

Did I mention, I LOVE what I do!


Friday, March 17, 2017

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

In honor of one of my Irish ancestors, Mary Delaney Kelly, born 1812 in Laos County, Ireland, married Matthew Francis Kelly about 1839/40 in Laos County, and died 18 Jan 1896 in Vinton, Quebec, Canada.  The inscription on her gravestone states she paid for this stone with her own money.  Something she must have been proud of doing, giving me a sense that she was a strong woman.  The story goes that she was from a wealthy family and Matthew Kelly was a tailor for the family.  They're relationship was not supported by the family and they left for Canada during the famine years.  I would love to find where she was from in Laois County, Ireland.  My suspicion is Offerlane, Parish Castletown, diocese Ossory.  There are a couple of possibilities for Mary Delaney's being baptized in this diocese around the same time as her estimated birth (based on her age at death).  Also, but not conclusive as the first names are so common, is family names of Martin and Judith.  

10 years ago I was told my grandmother Mary Jane Kelly was too common an Irish name to find much of anything.  Now, I have the entire family in Canada dating back to their migration from Ireland in the 1840's.  And, the long line of forbidden marriages of William Gilchrist (Scottish Protestant) to Hannah Kelly, daughter of Mary Delaney and Matthew Kelly; John Samuel Kelly, Mary Delaney's grandson marrying a Protestant Scottish 1st cousin, and them running away across Canada as not to shame the family.  😳
Happy St. Paddy's Day!!!

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

A Genealogist on the Run



I spend all of my free time researching, studying, and reading about genealogy and history.  My life is constantly a balancing act between my two careers, music and genealogy.  For a very long time now genealogy has taken a back seat.  Slowly and surely I'm doing more on that front, but my dilemma of attending lectures and workshops, especially the big ones, suffers greatly.  Why??....look at my performance schedule until July!

Performance Schedule

Not on this schedule is practice time, lessons that I teach, and rehearsal times.  I will miss most, if not all of the upcoming NERGC http://www.nergc.org conference in Springfield, MA.  This is my home turf, and my colleagues will be working booths and giving lectures.   Aarrggh!!

When do I sleep, you ask?  Uhhhhh.....At least I can NEVER say I'm bored!


Monday, March 6, 2017

DNA testing can really help, but don't assume it's an easy journey!


We keep hearing of these wonderful stories of adoptive and family reunions of all kinds, thanks to DNA testing.  The story below is a great example of the wonders of DNA.

Sisters meet after decades apart

With all these great stories there is a lot that is left out.  DNA is VERY complicated.  Finding family matches is hard enough even when you know a lot about your genealogy.  I am constantly overwhelmed by how much I don't know reading DNA reports, but I continue to find "the more I live the more I learn, the more I learn the less I know" to quote the famous Babbs below.


It takes an experienced DNA interpreter to help with these miracle finds.  While my specialty is not in DNA, I am continuing to learn, especially when it's time to call in the big gun, the genealogist that specialize in the genetics field.

I recently did an adoption case where redacted information was made available to the client to reveal the mother's name and enough information from the client's search to lead me to a wonderful family paper trail into a long journey through the pale settlement in Russia and then the exact town in Poland, which is now in Lithuania.  DNA was recommended, but the client, so far, has chosen not to go this route.  I have to say the journey to this major break through for me was so exciting and so very valuable in my education in history, genealogy, Jewish/Russian history.  If the DNA test would have revealed this information first, how would my journey have been different?  What would I have lost?  I think a lot!  But, that's how I roll!

For me, I continue to follow my passion of the hunt.  Finding documents, compiling histories and stories from paper trails and oral history.  It is very nice, though, to have the assistance of DNA to verify or uncover what can't be done otherwise.  Just know what your up against when spitting in that tube!!  If it's general information about your heritage (british, irish, german, native american, african, etc...) you can get generalities (and those even have flaws!).  It's very complicated!

For me...the only unexpected find was that I am, apparently, very high on the Neanderthal variants!  Just ask my wife...she would say, "not surprised!"😏  More than 83% of all 23 and me customers.  No wonder I like steak so much and walking around the house in my underwear😆  Ok...TMI

Happy hunting out there!  And don't forget to follow your ancestors leads:

"If you can fly then soar!  With all there is...why settle for just a piece of sky!  Papa watch me....FLY!!!"  Love you, Barbra Streisand!

Friday, March 3, 2017

Finding connections through history via Red Skelton

Red Skelton’s Heritage

Following my previous post on Robin Williams and my love of great comedians, I have dug into the lineage of Red Skelton, entertainer, clown, and mime. The immediate facts are as follows:

 Richard Bernard Skelton was born 18 Jul 1913 in Vincennes, Knox Co.,
IN.  He was married 3 times to Edna Stillwell in 1931, divorced 1943; Georgia Davis in 1945, divorced 1971, two children Richard, Jr. who died young of leukemia and Valentina Marie; lastly Lothian Toland in 1973 to Red’s death in 1997.  Red died 17 Sep 1997 of pneumonia at a hospital in Palm Springs, CA.  He is buried at Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Glendale, CA.  He was a Mason and Shriner for over 58 years.  Drafted into the army in 1944, served 3 months and had a nervous breakdown in Italy, was hospitalized, then discharged.  This was the early signs of a problem that later turned to over use of alcohol, etc.  I have always felt comedians have deep dark troubles that they express through their art.  I’m not sure if the art saves them or adds to their demise.  For Red it seems a dark past filled with poverty and a shady family history may have taken a toll on the man.

In the biography, Red Skelton:  The Man behind the Mask, by Wes Gehring (available to peruse on google books), thank you google and the Indiana Historical Press for publishing this book and making it available on-line, wonderful read!

Red Skelton: the Man behind the Mask

You find the following story that should be made into a movie.  I must say the first chapter on his childhood broke my heart.  His older brothers let him know he didn’t belong and tortured him like the worst in cruelty that only other children can induce and get away with.  Although his supposed non-biological brothers tortured him relentlessly, Red was known throughout his life as caring and giving.    It's interesting that Red and Robin Williams were both Cancers, July 21st for Robin and the 18th for Red, mine is the 22nd!)  Apparently, a neighbor kid was teased and slow in developmental talk.  Red not only befriended the outcast, but mirrored one of his characters, Klem Kiddlehopper in his memory (the families name was Hopper).  But, wait, let’s not get ahead of ourselves.  Red and Lucille Ball below.



Red’s father, Joseph Elmer (Eheart) Skelton, died shortly before Red was born of what is reported to be alcoholism.  Josephs’ dad, Newton, also died 9 months after Joseph was born, leaving both families in difficult economic situations.  The plot gets thick here as the name Eheart is used for the family after Newton’s death which could mean a step father situation and census takers just gave the Eheart name to the children or there was another father.  Because of Joseph’s birth and christening records listing “Newton Skelton”1 I would assume a step father.  The mother is listed as Ella Richardville2.

So, according to the papers of Red’s at the Indiana Historical Society, Newton Skelton was a prominent lawyer in Gibson County, IN and Ella Richardville was a young maid in his home.  They had an affair, which produced Joseph as a bastard child, documented on the above-mentioned birth and christening record.  According to oral history, the shame of this all led to Newton’s untimely death and Ella marrying Joseph Eheart shortly afterward.  Joseph Skelton shows up in the census as a Eheart.  Are you confused yet?  Just wait!!  Now Ella Richardville apparently ran a brothel (newspapers of the time revel this to be the case) and Red’s birth is believed to be shrouded in paternity issues.  Red did not believe his mother to be Ida Mae Fields, but a prostitute named Lillian who had relations with Ella’s son Joseph (Red’s biological father) and either died in child birth or committed suicide.  Ida May agreed to raise Red as her own as she had a stillborn child very close to the same day as Red’s birth.  Holy moly!!  This is the story Red believed to be true. 

This is where historians and genealogist differ.  I went looking for documents to support or defy Red and the author of this biography’s stories or oral histories.  The author sought out great reference material in other printed sources and family interviews.  However, neither mention birth, marriage, death or census records to much extent. I’m not discounting anything the author, Wes Gehring writes as I believe this is a wonderfully researched biography.  I just went a bit further with what genealogist do.

Ella Richardville was born about 1862 in Indiana.  Ella is found in the 1880 census of Allison, Lawrence County, IL, age 18, with her father John Richardville, no mother, sister Lida (age 23), brothers Leon, Raymond, and Charles.  Charles is the key as Ella states she has a brother Charles in newspaper references.  It appears no one on ancestry.com has the correct parentage for Ella.  My knowledge of the Vincennes area research (from my own lineage) remembered that many families, including my own, owned or lived on land right over the bridge from Vincennes in Lawrence County, IL.  Hop, skip, and a jump.  So very close, yet on paper in two different states! 

This is a mess!   But, alas, we now have a possible story line!  I found a marriage intention and marriage record for Newton Skelton and Catherine Richards, intention 4 Dec 1860, marriage 7 Dec 1860 in Gibson County, IN3.  Could this be any more difficult!  Richards and Richardville.  So similar!  At least Newton and Ella had to acknowledge the birth and christening (they did christen Joseph).  Now…do the math!  Ella was born in 1862, Newton married Catherine Richards in 1860.  Newton was obviously very much older than Ella who gave birth at 18.

The last name Richardville immediately caught my attention, so I decided to veer off track for a moment. When I’m doing genealogical research that I’m not paid for, I don’t follow usual protocol that will only keep me on track with just the facts.  I let myself wonder a bit.  This is where I find very intriguing history, especially this time! Knowing Red was from Vincennes, IN (my 5th great grandfather was the registrar for the IN territory, aiding in its statehood, helping to keep slavery from the territory, admirer of Tecumseh (owning one of his peace pipes, etc. [see previous posts]), and knowing the deep French Canadian connection, I began to dig deeper on the Richardville name.  Gold mine of information and misinformation. 

I immediately fell into a possible connection to the Miami Tribe chief Jean Baptiste de Richardville, who was known as Pinsiwa (my ancestor spelled it Pishoowah below) in the Miami Tribe. There is much history about Pinsiwa and his signing of the Treaty of Greenville and others which ceded parts of southern Indiana to the American government in return for
annuities.  There was a rift between the Miami and Tecumseh on this very issue. Chief Jean Baptiste became a very wealthy man.

In The Correspondence of John Badollet and Albert Gallatin, we find the following:  "...that the indians want nothing but good treatment to become well disposed to the United States and that there is some mystery in the indian agency.  I myself have observed one Pishoowah or Richardville half blooded indian who speaks french as well as I do, is with his uncle Pacawn, a grand chief of the Miamis & besides very much of a gentleman, I have seen that man, for some hidden reason affectedly thrown in the background and treated with very little ceremony which usage he has deeply felt."4
This was a letter from my 5th great grandfather, John Badollet, to his friend Albert Gallatin, then Secretary to the Treasury under Thomas Jefferson.  SERENDIPITY!

Here we go on another journey learning more about native history and French Canadian!  Have I said how much I love what I do?  Like many of my projects this one was not easy to research, but it sent chills down my spine and connected me to my spiritual genealogical guide!  There is so much information out there linking Red to various family lines.  It’s going to take more than a little research to really find answers that seem to be shrouded in mystery.

Jean Baptiste was the son of Antoine joseph Drouet de Richardville and Tacamwa (who was the sister of Miami tribal chief Little Turtle).  In many tribes, including the Miami, heritage is decided through the female lineage. Thus, Jean Baptiste became the “chief” of the Miami tribe through heritage.

 (Chief) Jean Baptiste de Richardville's (pictured above) father was Joseph Druet de Richardville, a French-Canadian trader of noble ancestry. 

“The other Indiana branch of the Drouet de Richerville family is associated with the history of greater Fort Wayne. From about 1750 to 1770 Joseph Drouet de Richerville traded at what was then the village of Kekionga, also known as Miamitown.49 His full name was Antoine-Joseph Drouet de Richerville, born in 1723, the son of Denis Drouet de Richerville, killed in the Chickasaw campaign of 1736.
English officials in Canada were suspicious of those Frenchmen still trading in the West after the Treaty of 1763. Sir Guy Carleton in 1767 listed "Richarville" trading among the Miamis as one who needed watching, as he was trading without the proper license.
Joseph's relationship with Tecumwah, a sister of Miami Chief Little Turtle, led to the birth of a son, Jean-Baptiste, probably in 1762. By the late 1780s Joseph seems to have left Indiana permanently to settle in Three Rivers, Quebec. Tecumwah continued to rear Jean-Baptiste after marrying Charles Beaubien, a prominent local French trader.”5
For more detailed history check out the link to the article quoted above….


Well…after my sojourn into the history of the Miami Tribe in Indiana, it turns out that Red Skelton’s grandmother Helen “Ella” Richardville was the daughter of John Richardville (there are many Jean Baptiste or John B.’s on the Chief Jean Baptiste de Richardville line, making things more difficult) born in July 1830 (per 1900 census info) in Indiana and I cannot yet link him to this family…yet.  Naming patterns are close, Ella named her son Joseph. Clue…coincidence?  Who knows, yet!  It is highly probable there is a connection and an even more sad story.  This timing was when the Miami tribe that was left living in Indiana had to either simulate into white society or stay with their love of heritage and be removed to the Indiana territory where you find many Indiana Richardville on the Indian census rolls living in this territory (usually Oklahoma). 

All the same, this is a fascinating French and French Canadian lineage, the de Richardville family.  Probably where Red got his name of Richard?  Could poor Ella’s story be more understood as a madam of a brothel, if she was a product of the times and just doing the best she could as a town harlot at 17?  Hopefully, in the future I will have time to update this research and dig deeper.  But….for now….

Did I mention, “I LOVE what I do?”  I need a nap!


1Indiana Births and Christenings 1773-1933, Indexing Project Batch No. C53798-3, GS Film No. 1433363, familysearch.org.
2Ibid.
3Ancestry.com. Indiana, Marriages, 1810-2001 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014. Original data: Indiana, Marriages, 1810-2001. Salt Lake City, Utah: FamilySearch, 2013.  
4The Correspondence of John Badollet and Albert Gallatin, 1804-1836, edited by Gayle Thornbrough, Indiana Historical Society Publication, Indianapolis, 1963, Volume 22, p. 168.
5Quote from The Family of Druet de Richerville:  Merchants, Soldiers, and Chiefs of Indiana by Donald Chaput, Indiana Magazine of History, Volume 74, Issue No. 2, 1978, pp. 103-116, on-line publication.