Category Archives: Personal Family History/Research

Fun with Surnames

Too many elusive ancestors caused me to need a little “creative” break. So I used wordle to create the surname collage, added a background and a couple of embellishments and voila — a surname graphic!

Brick Wall – Jacob Garber/Garver/etc born about 1800 in Pennsylvania

After finding the maiden name and parents of Mary Swavely Dilliplane, I am now down to one 3rd great-grandparent for whom I have not been able to identify either parent. This one is Jacob Garber (aka Gerber, Garver, Carver, Garvey). As you can see, one of the problems is the various spellings of the last name as recorded in various church and civil records for him and his children.

Jacob was born about 1800 in Pennsylvania, probably Berks County. He was married to Ann Campbell in 1825. They had five known daughters and one known son: Mary Ann (b. 1825), Rachael (b. 1827), Elmira (b. 1829),  Catherine (b. 1832), Harriet (b. 1836) and Samuel (b. abt 1842). Jacob was enumerated in the 1850 census in Amity, Berks, PA with daughter Elmira and son Samuel. Ann was not with the family and may have died in March of that year. The 1860 and 1870 census show a Jacob Carver in the area, but I am uncertain if he is my Jacob.

I have more detailed information about this brick wall on my website [link]. Any information is greatly appreciated!

PA Probate Records on FamilySearch — YEAH!

CRASH! BANG! That’s the sound of another brick wall breaking down!  Last evening, after clicking send on an email to two cousins who also descend from Thomas Dilliplane and his wife Mary, I went to my GoogleReader and saw the Genea-Musings post from Randy Seaver on a new database available on the FamilySearch.org website [link]. I was absolutely stunned to see that Pennsylvania Probate Records are now online since the email I had just sent was regarding getting a hold of the Berks County, PA estate file of Adam Swavely. We were suspecting that Mary was a daughter of Adam and were hoping that she would be named as such in the file.

Talk about pay dirt – this was the genealogy equivalent of hitting the lottery! Despite the Probate Records being browse-only, it was fairly easy to locate Adam Swavely’s file – all 25 pages! And yes, we now know that Mary Swavely, daughter of Adam and Esther, was indeed the wife of Thomas Dilliplane. (See my previous post on this topic [here].) And as if that wasn’t enough, since Mary died before her father, we also know the names of all of Mary’s children. There were actually twelve — which was a few more than previously identified.

And the best part is that with these probate records now available online  I am positive that additional brick walls and uncertain linkages will be confirmed and sorted out!

If you also have PA ancestors, you are going to love having these records online! Here’s the [link].

Thank you FamilySearch for hosting these records and thank you Randy Seaver for posting about them the first day they went online!

Did Mary Swavely marry Thomas Dilliplane?

For a very long time had I nary a clue as to the maiden name of my third great-grandmother Mary Dilliplane. Even learning her first name was hindered by the fact that she presumably died before 1850 and so was never enumerated in the US Censuses by name. The only record of  her first name that I have found is contained in the death record of her son Joshua (presumed brother of my ancestor William). This is also the only source cited in “The Delaplaines of America” by Marvin G. Delaplane – which also only provides her first name.

But now I have a working theory as to her maiden name and parents – a hypothesis. I think that there is a chance that she might be Mary Swavely, the daughter of Adam Jr. and Esther. So far, the facts I’ve found regarding Mary Swavely are consistent with what little is known about Mary Dilliplane. (For more details see my website [link].) I am hoping definitive proof – one way or the other – lies in the estate file of Adam Swavely Jr. He died in November of 1842 and the Berks County, PA Register of Wills online index shows that there is a 25 page estate file. My next step in this process is to check out that file.

Have You Found Anyone in the 1940 Census Yet?

I have to say that after a rocky start I made out pretty well yesterday – which was Day 1 of the 1940  US Federal Census release. I started pretty much at 9:oo EDT on the dot trying to access the ED where both my sets of my grandparents lived from the NARA website. After several hours of no luck — meaning the site was too busy and I was not even able to view one image – I tried Ancestry.com. Luckily for me, the state of Pennsylvania was near the top of the queue. By mid-afternoon, some of Chester County was available so I starting looking at North Coventry and South Coventry townships for some “cousins.” I hit the jackpot finding several families.

In the evening Montgomery County, Pennsylvania came online and I was able to access the ED for the 6th Ward of Pottstown. On one of the very first pages was my maternal grandparents with my mom as a little girl!!! A couple pages later I found my dad and his family!! There were really no surprises – everyone in the immediate families were right where they were supposed to be, working in the jobs I knew they had. But it was so cool to view their families and their neighbors and to actually recognize names of people I knew or had heard about!!

If you weren’t as lucky as I was on Day 1, don’t give up. Ancestry is continuing to load the states and seems well-equipped for the volume of people wanting access. (Currently, I have a subscription, but it is my understanding that the 1940 census images will be available for all to view thru 2013.) FamilySearch doesn’t have images for quite as many states uploaded, but they’ll get there — plus they have a small army of indexers! And, of course, since images are becoming available on these other sites,  there will probably be fewer people trying to access directly from the NARA site. So you may have better success with access there too.

Good Luck and Happy Researching!