Saturday, September 12, 2015

Find A Grave Memorials

For those who are relatives, here is a list of all of the Find A Grave memorials for my ancestors. Note that some of the memorials are "place holders" since the location of the person's grave is not known.

Anders, Adda Wanda
Anders, James A.
Anders, James Adda
Anders, James W.
Anders, John Demostinie
Anders, Robert Lee
Anders, Roy Jacob
Baldwin, Benjamin Franklin
Baldwin, George Avner
Baldwin, Spencer Clarke
Berry, Margaret Kendall
Boatwright, Precilla
Boatwright, Thomas
Burnett, Denton P.
Burnett, Lula Mae
Clarke, Clara Ann
Clarke, Jack D.
Clarke, Michael N.
Coleman, Elizabeth
Coleman, Frances
Coleman, Jeremiah
Comfort, Hannah
Comfort, Richard
Covell, Calvin Townsend
Covell, David Wilmot
Covell, James B.
Covell, Jonathan
Covell, Maude Emeline
Denton, Elizabeth
Erickson, Evelyn Thorst
Erickson, Frank
Erickson, Iver Frank
Ford, Tabitha
Formby, Martha
Friberg, Emma Christina Maria
Gilleland, Daniel
Gilleland, James
Gilleland, Nancy
Gilleland, William
Gregson, Lucinda A.
Guerrant, Charles
Guerrant, Magdellen Moseley
Gustafsdotter, Anna Catrina
Johnson, Nancy
Jones, Loretta Josephine
Kuijper, Aaltje
Landrum, Catherine
Landrum, Sarah
Landrum, Zachariah
Larsson, Nils
McGraw, Nancy
Nelson, Anna Christina
Pegoda, Frank P.
Pegoda, Georgia Effie Florene
Pegoda, John
Pickens, Mary
Pierce, Rebecca B.
Potter, Esther
Prior, Dorothy
Rankin, Robert
Rankin, Sarah A.
Rankin, William Marshall
Rushing, Amy
Spencer, Mary
Thompson, Austin William
Thompson, Clark Minard
Thompson, Paul
Tine, Letitia
Traylor, John Randolph
Traylor, Mary Louise
van Zanten, Stijntje
van der Klok, Tiete
Vanderklok, Jennie
Vandermade, Aafje
Vandermade, Minard
Vandermade, William
White, Henry Charles
White, John Allen
White, Margaret Alice
Williams, Mary Dudley
Womack, John N.
Worsham, Israel
Worsham, Jeremiah
Worsham, Martha Myrtella
Young, Charity
Young, Susannah

Is Find A Grave Becoming the US Genealogy Reference Standard?

Find A Grave began with a simple premise: a website with a memorial page for each grave in the United States. (I realize Find A Grave is worldwide, but I think it is most heavily used in the United States.) With the website now containing over 130 million entries and the capability of linking individuals to spouses and parents, it may very well be in a unique position.

Since the premise is to have one page per grave, if it were to ever be complete Find A Grave would be a significant foundation for building a genealogical family tree of the United States. Think about that for a moment. Unlike the family trees on and other websites, this website has a UNIQUE record for each individual with the potential to illustrate marriages and ancestry. This is what I mean by Find A Grave becoming the "US genealogy reference standard" - a centralized location that approaches the astounding goal of documenting the family tree of the United States.

Imagine if Find A Grave memorials were expanded to include the ability to document census record appearances, birth certificates, death certificates, marriage licenses, military service, and so forth and so on. Actually, now owns Find A Grave. What if integration of records was to occur? Imagine the genealogical treasure that would be created for future generations.

But, this will only happen if Find A Grave wakes up to discover the potential they have. The site is currently dominated by those that create the memorials, some of them managing over a million memorials. I would venture that the vast majority of memorials are not managed by descendants. I have had difficulty having memorials properly updated, even as a direct descendant. It is not practically possible for one person to process the edits for more than perhaps a few thousand memorials much less have any idea if any of the information is correct.

If you are interested in genealogy, I would encourage you to find the memorials for your ancestors and submit updated information for them or even request ownership of the memorials. And, consider writing to Find A Grave to encourage them to re-orient the rules to favor descendants and expansion of the site to become what it has the potential to become. Right now it is not clear to me that they "get it."

Monday, March 30, 2015

The Genealogy Reward

I have been doing genealogy research for more than 10 years off and on. It has taken this long to get the result shown below: almost 7 generations completely documented (12 missing people out of 127).

Fan Chart for Kevin Thompson

From the additional charts below centered on my grandparents, you can see that in some areas much more than 7 generations are known.

Fan Chart for Clark Minard Thompson
Fan Chart for Evelyn Thorst Erickson
Fan Chart for George Avner Baldwin
Fan Chart for Adda Wanda Anders

If you have done serious genealogy research for any length of time, you know that these charts are definitely a reward in themselves...

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Austin William Thompson Photographs

Continuing the stash of photographs found by my mother in a box owned by my father's grandmother, Orpha (Vandermade) Thompson...

These are photographs of my great-grandfather Austin William Thompson.

Austin William Thompson holding
son Clark Minard Thompson,
with niece Marva B. Bee

Austin William Thompson (left) with friends

Aafae (Orpha) Vandermade and
Austin William Thompson

Austin William Thompson

Austin William Thompson

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Paul Thompson Photographs

Continuing the stash of photographs found by my mother in a box owned by my father's grandmother, Orpha (Vandermade) Thompson...

These pictures are of the immigrant Thompson ancestor Paul Thompson (who might have originally had the surname Truittson). The baby in one picture is his grandson Clifford T. Bee, and it is likely the same baby in both pictures. This dates the photographs to 1910.

Paul Thompson with grandson
Clifford T. Bee (undated)

Paul Thompson with unknown baby
(probably Clifford T. Bee)

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Vandermade-Kuijper Photographs

My mother recently found a large stash of photographs in a box owned by my father's grandmother, Orpha (Vandermade) Thompson. The pictures below are mostly of "Grandmother Vandermade" - Orpha's grandmother - but her husband is in one of them too. Her name was Aaltje Kuiper (09 Feb 1837 - 27 Mar 1923) which Americanized to Orpha Cooper. She was born in Wieringen, Noord-Holland, Netherlands and died in Muskegon, Muskegon, Michigan. Her husband was William Vandermade, Sr. (21 Jan 1834 - 01 Nov 1903). He was born in Goedereede, Zuid-Holland, Netherlands and died in Mooreland Township, Muskegon, Michigan.

Unfortunately all of the pictures are undated, but the picture of the two of them probably dates to at least the 1880s.

Aaltje Kuijper (undated)
Aaltje Kuijper, daughter Matilda (Mattie) Vandermade,
and grandson Cash Verner Slaghuis (undated)

Aaltje Kuijper (undated)

William Vandermade, Sr. and Aaltje Kuijper (undated)

Thursday, December 4, 2014

The Mystery of Emily Morse (Moss) Pegoda

(This is an old post I had started on 23 Sep 2012 but failed to post for some reason. The information is a bit dated now, but I felt it worthwhile to post.)

Part of my ancestry contains a curiously unique surname: Pegoda. If you know a Pegoda (spelled exactly like that), especially one that lives in Texas, there is a 99.99% chance I am related to them. So, recently, I decided to focus my research on the Pegoda family. Such a unique name sure makes weeding out non-relatives easy - they are all related to me!

While researching the Pegoda lines, I have luckily solved one of the long standing mysteries in my family. It was a minor mystery about the first wife of my 3rd great-grandfather John Pegoda, but nonetheless it was a mystery. And, it was a mystery to my part of the family, but apparently not to at least a few others in the distant family.

After John Pegoda immigrated to the United States in 1851 and settled in Walker County, Texas, he married a woman named Emily Morse on 17 Oct 1852 in Walker County. But, we should first note that her surname might not be Morse. When we first see John and Emily together in the 1860 United States census with their 3 children (Nancy, Mary Frances, and John), there is a curious older woman living with them by the name of Nancy Moss who the record states was born in Indiana. Since the record states that Emily was born in Illinois, I have assumed that Nancy is Emily's mother. No guarantees, but a relatively safe assumption given their relative ages and almost identical surnames - Morse and Moss. I have not been able to trace Nancy and Emily back to the 1850 census with any surname: Moss, Morse, Morris, etc. So, there is another remaining mystery (they never really end do they?). As we will see, some of the new evidence I have found also points to the Moss surname. [NOTE: Since Sep 2012 I have learned of new evidence that points to Emily being of the Mass family - see my book "The Pegoda Family in America" for more information.]

Now, by the 1870 census, Emily has vanished along with the 3 children she had with John, and John has remarried to another woman named Nancy McGraw (my 3rd great-grandmother) and had new children. And, this is the mystery I have solved. (Since solving it, I have finally come across at least two other people who had put these pieces together. It was just not readily available on the internet - only in family trees.)

I have always believed that Emily died, and probably also the three children. This belief was rooted in a note in a Walker County, Texas history book stating that John and "his wives" were buried in unmarked graves in Bath (Possum Walk) Cemetery in Walker County. Although I have not found Emily Morse's grave yet, I do not believe this is true, especially not how I thought - with Emily dying in the 1860s. John is likely buried there with his second wife Nancy, but probably not his first wife. Why? Emily did not die in the 1860s.

In the 1870 census there is an Emilie Pegodie (yes, that spelling would throw a wrench in searching by an index) in Trinity County, Texas. (Searching with soundex is beautiful, isn't it?) Her age and place of birth are a little off from the 1860 census, but there are two children with her: Nannie and Fannie, nicknames for Nancy and Frances. And, their ages and birth places are perfect. Little John is missing, but it is very possible to lose a child in 10 years during that time period.

Emily lives on until after the 1900 census often living with her daughter Frances. I believe she is buried somewhere in Robertson County, Texas as this was her last known place of residence. I find it very unlikely that after almost 40 years of separation in different locales that Emily would be buried back in Possum Walk Cemetery with her ex-husband and his second wife.

Apparently John and Emily divorced, although unfortunately the census records never confirm this. I have not checked for a divorce record in Walker County, but it seems someone would have mentioned it before now. Perhaps the record does not exist or is archived (as some are in Walker County).

So, what started all of this? The death certificate for John and Emily's daughter Mary Frances from 1949. Old death certificates are powerful genealogy tools! It states her parents as "Mr. Pegoda" and "Emma Moss." We always knew from the 1860 census that John and Emily had children. I thought they vanished off the face of the earth. But, when I found Frances' death certificate, I knew that was not true. So, she had to be somewhere in 1870. And I found her. With her mother. In Trinity County, Texas.

Mystery solved!

And, through all of this, I have finally been able to locate the immigration record for John Pegoda. I knew it existed, but I had never located it. One of the two people who had already put these parts of the Pegoda family together had a link to it.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

New Books - Pegoda, Thompson

I have mostly finished two new genealogy books.

The first is a book called "The Pegoda Family in America" and it documents the first three generations of descendants of John Pegoda, Sr. who immigrated from Ruda, Prussia to Walker County, Texas.  The book is largely complete and is awaiting input, corrections, and additions from other Pegoda researchers I have reached out to.

The second is a book called "The Descendants of Paul Thompson" and it documents the first three generations of descendants of Paul Thompson (an immigrant from Sweden) of Muskegon, Michigan.  It also is largely complete and is awaiting input, corrections, and additions from a few Thompson researchers I have reached out to.

The books are being published electronically and can be downloaded as PDF files from the front page of my genealogy website:

If you are a descendant of either of these immigrants, please have a look at the books and provide corrections and additions. It is my hope that these will be the most complete and accurate genealogies of descendants possible.

- Kevin