Week 2 (Favorite Photo) – Mary Pennypacker Garner

For the second week of the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge the prompt is “Favorite Photo.” I was not sure I could really pick a favorite photo because each ancestor photo that I have been lucky enough to get is very important to me. But after thinking about it for a little while, I decided to blog about a tombstone photo that I took myself on a visit to Vincent Baptist Cemetery in Chester Springs (Chester County) PA back in 2005. It is a picture of the gravestone of my third great-grandmother Mary Pennypacker Garner, who was born in 1802 and died in 1852.

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Grave of Mary Pennypacker Garner, 1802-1852, Vincent Baptist Churchyard, Chester County, PA

Before I talk about the tombstone photo, I first wanted to blog a bit about Mary. She was born 4 Jul 1802, to Henry Pennypacker and his wife Susanna Zublin.1 She had an older sister Elizabeth and younger siblings James, Aaron, Owen, Sarah and Susan.2 Her father Henry was a farmer in Chester Springs. The Pennypackers were an established family that trace their roots back to the immigrant Heinrich Pennebacker, who immigrated from Holland prior to 1700 and eventually settled in what is now Skippack, Montgomery, Pennsylvania.

Mary married John Garner circa 1822.3 Their known children were Samuel, Susan, Sarah, David, James, Mary and John Jr. Census data suggests there may also have been a daughter born prior to Samuel. The young family seems to have moved around quite a bit. In 1830 they are in East Nantmeal, Chester Co., PA, in 1840 they are in Upper Union Township, Berks Co., PA and in 1850 they are in North Coventry, Chester Co., PA.4,5,6 Mary died in 18521 and by 1860, John is a widower living in Phoenixville, Chester Co., PA.7 Mary is buried next to her mother, Susanna Zublin Pennypacker, and step-father, Valentine Pennypacker (a cousin to her father), in the cemetery at Vincent Baptist Church. While I suspect her father’s family was Mennonite, her mother was a member of this church.

There are several reasons why her tombstone photo is so important to me. First, when I visited the Vincent Baptist Cemetery it was for general research. I knew that several of my ancestors and relatives lived in the area and was hoping to find some family members buried there. However, from what I knew of where the Garners lived based on census and land records, I was not expecting that Mary’s grave would be there. Finding it was wonderfully serendipitous!

Second, though her tombstone was in very rough shape, it was very informative. It gives the name of her husband (John Garner) and her parents (Henry and Susan Pennypacker) in addition to her date of death and age at death. It is, in fact, the only record I have been able to find of her vital information. I have not found her birth, death or marriage dates in church records, newspapers, any sort of family records or any other publications.

And the third reason I am so glad to have this photo is that when I returned to the cemetery about a year or so ago, her tombstone was no longer there! She is buried next to her mother and step-father. That area is now just grass. In the intervening years, her tombstone must have been damaged and/or destroyed and removed. Unfortunately, there was no one on-site at the church to ask. Since this is the only record of her birth and death dates, I am so very glad to have gotten a photo of it before it was gone.

Footnotes/Sources

  1. Tombstone Photographs – digital images (privately held by Janis Tomko), Vincent Baptist Cemetery, photographed 9/9/2005. Her tombstone inscription states that she was the wife of John Garner and daughter of Henry and Susan Pennypacker, died Sept 10, 1852, aged 50 years, 2 months and 6 days. (Admittedly, the tombstone is difficult to read, but this is my best interpretation.)
  2. “Pennsylvania Probate Records, 1683-1994,” images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-L99T-NBVZ?cc=1999196&wc=9PMZ-FMZ%3A268496301%2C280294901 : 3 July 2014), Chester > Orphans’ Court records 1822-1831 vol 14-15 > image 259 of 575; county courthouses, Pennsylvania. Petition of Harmon and Matthias Pennypacker, sons of Harmon Pennypacker Sr. names the children of their deceased brother Henry.
  3. Marriage date is based on birth of eldest daughter possibly being circa 1823.
  4. 1830; Census Place: West Nantmeal, Chester, Pennsylvania; Series: M19; Roll: 148; Page: 203; Family History Library Film: 0020622. Household of John Garner
  5. 1840; Census Place: Union, Berks, Pennsylvania; Roll: 438; Page: 395; Family History Library Film: 0020535 Household of John Garner.
  6. 1850 U.S. census, Ancestry.com, Digital images (National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.), Census Place: North Coventry, Chester, Pennsylvania; Roll: M432_765; Page: 171A; Image: 347. Household of John Garner.
  7. 1860; Census Place: Phoenixville, Chester, Pennsylvania; Roll: M653_1092; Page: 697; Family History Library Film: 805092 Household of John Garner
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Week 1 (Start) – Anna Maria Shimer Keeley

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Cemetery at Brownbacks – Burial site of Anna Maria (nee Shimer) Keeley and her husband Jacob

The prompt for this week is “Start.” I chose my 4th great-grandmother Anna Maria (nee Shimer) Keeley to write about because she is the earliest documented ancestor in my matrilineal line. She represents a starting point of sorts since she is the ancestor that I can reliably point to as the one from whom I inherited my mtDNA (mitochrondial DNA).  [Here’s the link to my mtDNA post.]

Anna Maria Shimer was born about 1760, probably in Pennsylvania. Her father was Michael Shimer. 1 It’s possible that her mother was Catherine Ash (or Esch), daughter of Adam Esch, and that she had a brother and two sisters, but more research is needed to verify her mother and siblings.  2,3

The Shimer family lived in Vincent Township, Chester County, Pennsylvania. 4 Their property was supposed to have been along the Schuylkill River and thus was likely near present-day Spring City.2

On March 7, 1782 the Lutheran minister Rev. Henry Melchior Muhlenberg performed a ceremony uniting in marriage Anna Maria and Jacob Keeley. 5 Jacob also grew up in Vincent Township and was the son of Sebastian Keeley and Elizabeth Fry. His father was a prominent citizen who, at the time of his death in 1777, owned a plantation, mill and tavern in Vincent Township as well as a plantation in across the river in Limerick township (then Philadelphia, now Montgomery County, PA).

Both the Shimers and Keeleys were of German descent. Many German Protestants immigrated to Pennsylvania in the early to mid 1700s in large part to escape religious persecution. The Shimers and Keeleys were likely part of this group.

Jacob and Anna Maria Keeley spent the early part of their married life in Limerick Township, Montgomery County, PA – quite possibly living on the Limerick plantation originally owned by his father. They were enumerated there in 1790 and 1800. Upon the death of his mother in 1807, Jacob purchased his parents’ property in Vincent township from his brothers and sisters and presumably relocated his family to that land.

Jacob and Anna Maria had a family of nine children – 3 sons and 6 daughters. Their children were Hannah, Sebastian, Elizabeth, Jacob, George, Mary, Esther, Sarah and Catherine. 6 My ancestor was Catherine, the baby of the family, who was born in 1802.

Tragically, Anna Maria died on April 14, 1814, just one day before her husband Jacob. The church records say that Jacob died of typhoid fever. It is quite possible that Anna Maria died of the same disease. They are buried side by side at Brownback’s United Church of Christ Cemetery in East Coventry, Chester, Pennsylvania. 1 Note that Brownbacks was founded in 1743 and was formerly known as the First Reformed Church of Coventry, it being one of the earliest German Reformed Churches in Pennsylvania.7

Sources/Footnotes:

  1. Tombstone Photographs – digital images (privately held by Janis Tomko), Brownback’s UCC Cemetery, photographed 6/25/2005. Her tombstone inscription states that she was 54 years of age when she died in 1814 and that she was the daughter of Michael Shimer and wife of Jacob Keeley.
  2. Shimer Allen R., History and Genealogy of the Shimer Family in America,(Allentown, PA: Press of Berkemeyer, Keck & Co., 1908), Vol 1, pg 52 and Vol 2, pg 221-222; digital images, The Internet Archive, archive.org. Information on immigrant Michael Shimer and family.
  3. Pennsylvania, City of Philadelphia, administration files; Author: Philadelphia (Pennsylvania). Register of Wills; Probate Place: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Wills and Probate Records, 1683-1993 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2015. Probate file of Michael Shimer of Vincent Township, Chester, PA (widow was Catherine)
  4. Pennsylvania Archives, 3rd Series, Proprietary Tax Lists, Chester County Rates – 1771; Volume Number: Vol 11; Page Number: 772; Family Number: 1
  5. Tappert, Theodore G. and John W. Doberstein, “The Journals of Henry Melchior Muhlenberg,” Volume 3, The Evangelical Lutheran Nimisterium of Pennsylvania & Adjacent States, page 474; Marriage of Jacob Keely and Anna Maria Scheumer
  6. “Pennsylvania Probate Records, 1683-1994,” images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-899T-J93C-4?cc=1999196&wc=9PMZ-2NP%3A268496301%2C280267001 : 3 July 2014), Chester > Orphans’ Court records 1809-1822 vol 12-13 > image 233 of 570; county courthouses, Pennsylvania. Petition of the heirs of Jacob Keeley, late of Vincent Township.
  7. Brownback UCC Church History. (https://www.brownbackschurch.org/church-history)

My mtDNA Results Are In!!

dna-1020670_1280This is one of those blog posts that I have been meaning to write for the past few months but never got around to doing. Last summer I decided to take the mtDNA (mitochondrial DNA) test available from FamilyTreeDNA. Just to recap – this is the type of DNA that is passed unchanged (except for occasional mutations) from a mother to her children. In other words, you get this type of DNA from your mother’s mother’s mother…. etc. While this is much the same way the Y-DNA is passed through the paternal line, please note that mtDNA is NOT to be confused with the X-DNA — they are 2 completely different things.

I took a full sequence mt-DNA test. It examines all regions of mt-DNA and is the most comprehensive one available. Basically, this test compares your mt-DNA to a reference sequence. The results reported are the differences between your DNA and the reference sequence. You also find out your maternal haplogroup — which traces your maternal ancestry to a major branch point on what is known as the mitochrondrial phloygenetic tree. This is basically the earliest ancestor with your particular set of mutations. If you are interested in more details, I recommend this article on mt-DNA on the ISOOG wiki.

To be honest, I thought long and hard about taking this test because I really wasn’t sure the information I would get from this test would justify the cost. I have a solid paper trail for my matrilineal line back 7 generations to Anna Maria (aka Mary) Shimer, wife of Jacob Keeley and daughter of Michael Shimer. She was born about 1760. Her mother may have been Catherine Ash, but I need further research to confirm that. In any case, all evidence points to Anna Maria’s parents being of German descendant. She seems to have been born in Pennsylvania, but both her parents were likely immigrants from a Germanic state. I therefore expected a European haplogroup. I also expected many matches, most of which would be so far back in time that I would not be able to determine a common ancestor. After all, the common ancestor for an exact match can be 22 generations back (or more)!

As it turns out, there were a few surprises! The actual results were that my maternal haplogroup is H13b1b. This is a subclave (or subgroup) of H13, which I found out is supposed to be found mostly around the Caucasus, Iran, Anantolia and Sardinia, but also along the Mediterranean coasts of Europe. So my deep maternal ancestry points to this region of the world. (Interestingly, my AncestryDNA ethnicity results show the Caucasus as a trace region.)

Also, apparently this haplogroup (H13b1b) is relatively rare. Rather than many matches, I only had 2 exact matches on FTDNA. One of them had a tree, and incredibly, he was also a descendant of Mary Shimer Keeley. His line was through the daughter Mary who married Abraham Hause, whereas my line was through the daughter Catherine who married Amos Evans. Given that we are exact mt-DNA match, I feel that this offers additional support (maybe even proof) for my entire matrilineal line back to Mary Shimer. [The other exact match did not post a tree and did not respond to my email as of yet.]

 

2018 – A New Year and a New Project

Maker:S,Date:2017-8-20,Ver:6,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar02,E-veHappy New Year 2018!

Every time the calendar turns to a new year I think to myself that I will try to make a concerted effort to be a more regular blogger. And every year, despite my good intentions, I find myself mostly neglecting this blog.

In an effort to fix that this year I decided to participate in Amy Johnson Crow’s 52 Ancestors in 52 weeks. Basically, Amy provides a very general (and purposefully) vague prompt each week to spark participants to write about one of their ancestors or collateral relatives.

I am very excited to take on this challenge. And make no mistake, this much blogging will certainly be a challenge for me! So look for my first post in this series in the next couple of days. Until then wishing you a Happy 2018 — and all the best in life and in your research this year!

Janis

3 Tips For Getting Started with Ancestry DNA

If you’ve taken an Ancestry DNA test with the idea of using it to further or enhance your genealogy research you might be wondering just how to get started. Looking at page after page of cousin matches can be overwhelming to say the least.

dna-dog-web

Maybe you’re feeling a little like the dog in the above photo!? Well, if you are, here are some tips which have helped me. Maybe some of you will find them useful as well.

I. Get Known Close Relatives To Test.

I am putting this first not because it is the first step in analyzing your matches if you are new to AncestryDNA, but I feel that it is the most important thing you can do to in order to gain better insight into your matches in the long run.

Who do you test? If you have living parents or grandparents they are the first priority. Remember, you only got half of your parent’s DNA. So they will have matches that you don’t – and they only got half from each of their parents. No living parents? Then get siblings to test. Unless you are identical twins, at least some of the DNA your sibling(s) got from each parent is different than what you got. Therefore, siblings will have some matches you have, but also have some matches that you don’t. No living siblings either? Then ask half-siblings, aunts, uncles, and/or first cousins if they would be willing to test. The more the merrier! Each person’s unique combination of DNA adds additional data and matches. (The exception being, of course, if both parents have tested, testing their children won’t add new information.)

I personally manage 11 kits for various relatives, These include myself, my brother, my mother, a maternal aunt and a maternal uncle for researching my ancestors. For research on my husband’s side, I manage kits for him, his mother and one of his sisters. One of his paternal uncles has tested as well.

I have found that there are at least three benefits to having close relatives (i.e. parents, siblings, aunts, uncles) test. First, they will have matches that you don’t. This expands your pool of matches for breaking through brick walls and testing theories. Second, having close relatives test could help you sort (or phase) your matches. For example, matches you have in common with a parent indicate a common ancestor on that side of your tree.  And a third benefit is that you may gain a better perspective as to how closely a match is related. Because the combination of DNA that you and a sibling inherit from each parent is different, Ancestry may classify a match as as third cousin to your sibling but a fifth cousin to you. Knowing that your sibling has a closer genetic match may indicate you need to look for a closer genealogical connection than you would expect if you only had your own test to go by.

II. Using AncestryDNA Star and Notes

Ancestry does not provide much in terms of letting the user catalog, classify and annotate matches. Basically, you have the star and the notes field. The way I use these is to star the matches for whom I have found a genealogical connection. In the notes I first put the amount of shared DNA (so I don’t have to open the match to see it) and and then the common ancestors if known. If the common ancestor isn’t known, I sometimes add brief notes that will help me pick up the analysis later. As an example, if the shared matches I have with the unknown match include matches I that I know connect on my Dilliplane/Weidner line, I’ll add that to the notes as a possible connection. If I’ve found the match on gedmatch, I also try to add that information to the notes. It does get a little tricky, because the notes are of limited length.

I would love for Ancestry to implement a user-defined tagging system (similar to say gmail) or even user-defined color-coding. It would be great to have tags for various family lines, whether or not you’ve been in contact, etc. But for now this is all they have – stars and notes.

III. Incorporate Your DNA Matches into your Family Tree

Okay. I’ll admit it. I’m a little fanatic (i.e. obsessive) about finding the genealogical connection(s) to my close genetic matches! When I log on to check out my new matches, my process is to start with the closest unidentified match. The easiest case is that the match has a fairly well-developed, attached tree and our common ancestor(s) are readily apparent. In these situations, I add any missing generations between our common ancestor and my DNA match to my research database. (I use rootsmagic for that, but any desktop family tree software would work equally well. A private research tree on Ancestry is another option.) If I don’t know the match’s real name, I use an initial or the ancestry username in place of the first name.

Unfortunately, the more common case is that the match has a small tree or no tree. In this case I will often start researching and building the match’s tree within my rootsmagic research database with the hopes of being able to eventually connect it to my main tree.  I obviously don’t do this for every match, but if there is a small tree or an unattached tree from which I can get some starting clues, I will give it a shot and see if I can make any progress. This is especially true if they are a close match — i.e. third cousin or high confidence fourth cousin match.  I should note that if they are an active user, I will try messaging them to collaborate, but if they haven’t logged onto Ancestry for months (or years) I don’t feel it’s worth sending a message that probably won’t even be read, much less answered.

When I add a person who is DNA match to me or one of my close relatives to my database, I add a user-defined fact/event to them which I’ve called aDNA. This fact uses only the description field and the notes field – no date or place fields. Since I manage multiple kits on Ancestry for various close family members, the description field contains either my name or the name of one of my relatives whose kits I manage. The notes field contains the match’s ancestry username, the number of centimorgans and matching segments, the predicted cousin relationship and any other pertinent information. If the person also matches my brother (or any of the others for whom I manage kits) I add an additional aDNA facts to capture that information. (Much like you would add multiple census/residence facts for different years.) Recording autosomal DNA matches within my rootsmagic database is a system that works really well for me. I can use the features built into rootsmagic to search for matches, calculate relationships, etc.

 

I hope that some of you find these tips useful, but keep in mind that this is just for starters. I find the combination of GEDmatch and Genome Mate Pro essential, as well as creating descendancy charts. I will blog about these topics in the future.