Category Archives: 52 Ancestors

Close to Home

Close to home. The school would be close to home. That was one of the reasons we believe that my grandfather was sent to live with his father’s cousin when he was only four or five years old. As it turns out, the cousin, Flora Moyer Epright, lived with her husband Hilary and widowed father Nathan Moyer on the Moyer family farm. And Ridgeville School (a one-room school house) was right around the corner. Here is my scrapbook page documenting that story. (The page is made with a kit called “Hello Father” from the Digial Scrapbooking Studio.)


Long {Life} Line

The next 52 Ancestors prompt is “Long Line.” I’m actually running a little late with this post, plus I took some liberties with the prompt and decided to write about a relative who led a long, interesting life. There are probably several in my tree that I could have chosen, but I decided to go with my grandfather’s first cousin, Laura Yeager Sampsell.

Laura was born in North Coventry, Chester, Pennsylvania on February 28, 1887 to Jacob John Yeager and Anna Elizabeth James. She died on January 22, 1981 in Norristown at the age of 93. She was their only child. Her father died of pneumonia in 1894, and her mother married a widower named John Quarry in 1902. John had four children from his first marriage giving Laura two step-brothers and two step-sisters.

Both of Laura’s parents came from prominent and well-to-do families. Anna (aka Annie) James was the eldest daughter of Charles James and Emma Ibach and sister to my great-grandmother Alice James Garner. The James family were millers and lived a comfortable life in Coventryville, Chester, Pennsylvania.

Laura’s father, Jacob Yeager, came from a prominent farming family in the area of Kimberton, Chester, Pennsylvania. Distant relatives run a Christmas tree farm as well as a pumpkin patch and a road-side store to this day on land passed down through the Yeager family.

Laura had an interesting work-life and career. In 1908, at the age of 21, she was listed in the local City Directory as a saleslady. In 1910, her occupation was manicurist and in 1912 through 1916 she was a hairdresser. But then in 1918 her occupation was listed as chiropodist. This was a term for foot doctor and would eventually be replaced (at least in the US) by podiatrist. In this era, a chiropodist did not have the training of a medical doctor.  But there was some training and credentialing involved. Her 1981 obituary noted that she was a member of the Keystone Podiatry Society of Pennsylvania and the a life member of the American Podiatry Association — so she did have the amount of training required in her day.

About the time of her career shift she moved from Pottstown to Norristown and married Floyd Sampsell. He was a railroad engineer. Their first child, John Y. Sampsell was born in 1917, followed by another son Warren in 1919. Their youngest, Floyd Jr. was born in 1926, but died two years later in 1928 of Bright’s disease. Sadly, Warren died in 1937 of a pulmonary embolism and John in 1938 of pernicious anemia. It is hard to imagine what she went through at this time in her life.

Laura was also a bit of a mystic. My Mother tells several stories of Laura telling fortunes, predicting future events and sensing events that were about to happen. Though there is much more that could be written about Laura, I’m going to include a recent scrapbook page I made of her and leave at this for now. (The layout is made with a modified template from Anna Aspnes and the kit is “A Crystal Winter” by DayDreamDesigns.)





Favorite Photo

In 2018 I started the 52 Ancestors in 52 weeks challenge. I didn’t get very far into the year before I let it lapse. I am going to try again this year, but with the caveat that I will give myself the option to change up the prompts to better suit the stories I want to share. Also, instead of regular blog posts, some (maybe even most) of posts will be in the form of a scrapbook page. My hope is that I will be able to accumulate the pages into a heritage photo book at some point in the future.

The week 1 prompt this year is Fresh Start. My plan is for that post to be about my patrilineal line. Not only is the prompt relevant to that line, but my first post (Start) in 2018 was about my earliest documented matrilineal ancestor Anna Maria Shimer Keeley. And I think there is a nice balance if I switch to the patrilineal side this year. Unfortunately, I am not ready with that post at this point. Therefore, my first 52 Ancestor post for 2020 is going to be prompt 2 – Favorite Photo. And the post is actually artsy scrapbook page using supplies from Anna Aspnes Designs. I hope you enjoy this format.


Week 7 (Valentine) – Catherine Keeley Evans

wedding-ringsThe theme this week is Valentine, and I chose to write about Catherine Keeley Evans because she is my ancestor with the longest marriage. On December 26, 1822 Catherine Keeley married Amos Evans.1 She was 20 and he was 19. The marriage ended on March 7, 1884, upon the death of Amos.2 They were married an incredible 61 years,  2 months and 10 days!

Here’s a little more information about Catherine. She was born on December 15, 1802 to Jacob Keeley and Mary Shimer.3 [Note: I have written about her mother Mary Shimer Keeley earlier this year. That blog post can be found here.] Catherine was the youngest of their nine known children. It was a family of six girls and three boys. They were Hannah, Sebastian, Elizabeth, Jacob, George, Mary, Esther, Sarah and Catherine.

Catherine likely spent the first several years of her life in Limerick township, Montgomery County, PA where her family was enumerated in the 1800 census.4 Upon the death of her paternal grandmother Elizabeth Frey Keeley in 1808, her parents purchased the family homestead. It was located across the Schuylkill River in East Vincent Township, Chester County, PA, near Sheeder’s Mill.5 Life would have been a little different for the family as they now ran an inn and owned a grist mill.6 Unfortunately, this life would not last long. In April of 1814, Jacob and Mary both died within one day of each other. Jacob died of typhoid fever and it is probable that Mary did as well.7,8

Catherine was 11 years old when she was orphaned. Her sisters Sarah and Esther were also minors, aged 13 and 16 respectively. The other siblings were grown and most were married. We do not know for sure what happened to Catherine, Sarah and Esther after the death of their parents. The court appointed Capt. John Adam Miller as Catherine’s fiduciary guardian. Sarah and Esther, being over age 14 by the time of probate chose their own. Sarah chose John Hause and Esther chose John Titlow.9 These guardians were responsible for managing the girls’ inheritance until they came of age. so it is quite possible that they actually lived with one of their older siblings.

As noted before, Catherine married Amos Evans in 1822 when she was 20 years old. Amos was from the Evans family whose ancestors settled in Limerick Township, (then Philadelphia, now Montgomery County), Pennsylvania in the early 1700s. After their marriage, Catherine and Amos lived in Limerick Township on the Evan’s land, where Amos followed the occupation of farmer.10, 11, 12, 13 The couple raised a large family of 12 children. They were Edward, Mary Ann, Elizabeth, Catherine, Amos K., William, Daniel, Matilda Ann, Sarah Ann, John P., Harriet and Lewis. Thanks to a cousin marriage a couple of generations later, I actually descend from two of these children. Mary Ann was my 3x great-grandmother and John P. was my 2x great-grandfather.

Amos and Catherine suffered their share of trials and tribulations during their marriage. Of their twelve children, only six were still living when Amos died.14 My ancestor, Mary Ann, was one of those who pre-deceased her parents. She died in 1862 at the age of 37.15 I have not uncovered her cause of death. My other ancestor, John, was one of the surviving children. He died in 1906 at the age of 66.16 Another child that died early was Daniel. His story was particularly tragic in that he drowned in 1866 at the age of 32 when he accidentally fell from his canal boat while passing through a lock. He left a wife and two young children.17

In their later years Amos and Catherine moved from their farm in Limerick Township to a house in the borough of Pottstown. Amos was still working at the age of 77 and was employed at the roller mills.18 He died four years later (March 7, 1884) at the age of 81.19 After Amos’ death Catherine continued to be an active part of the lives of her children and grandchildren. In October of 1884, Grandmother Evans (as she was known) attended the surprise 64th birthday party of her former son-in-law, George K. Miller.20 (George had been the husband of my ancestor Mary Ann Evans who died in 1862.)

evans-amos-catherine-copyCatherine died on January 16, 1886 at the age of 83. She was survived by 5 of her 12 children. (Daughter Sarah Ann, wife of Augustus Scheffey, had died the year before.21) She was also survived by 32 grandchildren and 42 great-grandchildren!22 She was buried along side her husband at the churchyard in Limerick Township. It seems appropriate that when I was there to photograph tombstones in 2005 Catherine’s broken stone was propped against that of her husband Amos.23


  1. GenealogyBank, “Historical Newspaper Archive, 1690-2010,” database, Genealogy Bank ( accessed ), Marriage of Amos Evans and Catharina Keely, citing records of Reading Adler, 7 January 1823.
  2. Pennsylvania. Pottstown.,   Montgomery Ledger, “Obituary of Amos Evans,” March 11, 1884.
  3. Falkner Swamp Reformed Church (New Hanover Township, Montgomery, Pennsylvania), “Records of Falkner Swamp Reformed Church,”, birth/baptism of Catharine Keely.
  4. 1800 U. S. Federal Census population schedules (National Archives and Records Administration), Series: M32 Roll: 41 Page: 761. Household of Jacob Keely
  5. Chester County Archives and Records, “Deed Book Index, 1681-1820,” database, Jacob Keely purchased land in Vincent Township, 1808.
  6. Pennsylvania, Wills and Probate Records, 1683-1993 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2015. Will of Sebastian Keeley – includes description of real property
  7. Zion Lutheran Church (East Pikeland Township, Chester, Pennsylvania), “Records of Zion Lutheran Church.” death record for Jacob Keely.
  8. Tombstone Photographs – digital images (privately held by Janis Tomko), Brownback’s UCC Cemetery, photographed 6/25/2005. Tombstone for Mary Shimer Keeley
  9. Orphan’s Court File – Decedent Jacob Keely Vincent township, 1814, Chester County Archives and Records, West Chester, Pennsylvania. Guardianship petitions for Catherine, Sarah and Esther.
  10. 1830 U.S. census,, Digital images (National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.), Census Place: Limerick, Montgomery, Pennsylvania; Series: M19; Roll: 154; Page: 262. Household of Amos Evans.
  11. 1840 U.S. census,, Digital images (National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.), Census Place: Limerick, Montgomery, Pennsylvania; Roll: 478; Page: 166. Household of Amos Evans.
  12. 1850 U.S. census,, Digital images (National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.), Census Place: Limerick, Montgomery, Pennsylvania; Roll: M432_799; Page: 81B; Image: 163. Household of Amos Evans
  13. 1860 U.S. census,, Digital images (National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.), Census Place: Limerick, Montgomery, Pennsylvania; Roll: M653_1145; Page: 150. Household of Amous[sic] Evans.
  14. “Obituary of Amos Evans”
  15. Pennsylvania. Pottstown.,   Montgomery Ledger, “Death Notice of Mary Ann Miller,” 20 Jan 1863.
  16. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1966 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2014. death cert of John P. Evans
  17. Pennsylvania. Pottstown.,   Montgomery Ledger, “Drowning Case,” November 20, 1866.
  18. 1880 U.S. census,, Digital images (National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.), T9, roll 1158, Lower Pottsgrove, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, enumeration district (ED) 24, p. 13. Household of Amos Evans
  19. “Obituary of Amos Evans”
  20. Pennsylvania. Pottstown.,   Montgomery Ledger, October 17, 1884. Birthday celebration for George K. Miller.
  21. Pennsylvania. Pottstown.,   Montgomery Ledger, “Obituary of Sallie Scheffey,” May 12, 1885.
  22. Pennsylvania. Pottstown.,   Montgomery Ledger, “Obituary of Catherine Evans,” January 19, 1886.
  23. Tombstone Photographs – digital images (privately held by Janis Tomko), Limerick Church Burial Ground, Limerick, Montgomery, Pennsylvania, photographed October 2, 2005.

Week 6 (Favorite Name) – Mary Swavely Dilliplane


St. Paul’s Church in Amityville, Berks, Pennsylvana – where Maria Swavely was baptized.

It was very hard for me to chose an ancestor this week. In the end I decided to write about my 3x’s great-grandmother, Mary Swavely Dilliplane. Her name is a favorite simply because I found it! I did it by examining her FAN club (family, associates and neighbors), developing a theory for her parentage and then finding records to prove it. It was a combination of research and analysis to develop the theory and luck in that there was direct evidence in her father’s probate file to confirm it.

I have briefly written about Mary and finding her family on this blog before here and here.  This post will go into more detail. There were several factors that made it so difficult to identify her. First, she died prior to 1850 and was never enumerated by name on any census. Second, neither she nor her husband Thomas Dilliplane have a tombstone that I have been able to find. So I had no dates — not even a birth year. (Remember prior to 1850 people were only identified by tick marks in age range buckets.) But I did have a starting point. There is a very comprehensive and well-researched book, “The Delaplaines of America,” written by Marvin Delaplane in 1998.1 It had her as Mary with maiden name unknown.

So how did her first name come to be know? Well, there were two records that suggested that her first name was Mary. One was the 1853 Berks county death record for her son Joshua.2 Pennsylvania counties were supposed to record births and deaths from 1852-1854, but not all complied and not all records survived. It was fortuitous that the record for Joshua existed. It did not provide her maiden name, but it did give us a first name of Mary. (This was the source cited in the Delaplanes of America book.)

The second record that seemed to identify her was the 1819 baptism of Samuel, son of Francis and Maris Dellekum.[sic]3 At first blush, this records appears to be for an entirely different family. But it is a transcription. I have not been able to see the original handwritten record, but I have looked at many other early church records and they can be nearly illegible. If the first letter of T was mistaken for an F, I can see how someone could come up with Francis instead of Thomas for the father’s first name. Also, I wasn’t able to find any Dellekum family in other Berks county records (census, tax lists, etc) in or around 1819, leading me to believe that the last name was misspelled/misinterpreted as well. When you are researching a last name like Dilliplane, you have to be open to many spelling variations — and this seemed like it might be one of the more creative ones!

One of the first steps I took in trying to identify Mary’s maiden name and her parents was to look at the census data and try to pin down an approximate year of birth. The first census that shows Thomas Dilliplane as a head of household is 1820.4 He and his family are living in Earl Township, Berks, Pennsylvania. They are also there in 1830 and 1840.5,6
Dilliplane-Mary-Swavely-table1I created a little chart for the birth year of his presumed wife in those three census years.  Looking at the overlap between the birth year ranges for the various census years – and  taking the information provided at face value – Thomas’ wife would have been born between 1790 and 1794.

On to the FAN club. Ideally, the first set of records I would consider would be the baptismal records for the children. The reason is that baptismal sponsors were often, though not always, relatives. I have found that it is worth doing at least some cursory research on the sponsors to see if there is a familial connection to either the father or mother of the baptized child. Unfortunately, in this case there was only one baptismal record to consider. And there was a bit of uncertainty that the record even applied to this family. But you have to work with what you’ve got. The baptismal sponsors for Samuel “Dellekum” were Samuel Schwabely and Maria Ritchard. Since Mary and Maria are usually variants of the same name, it seemed unlikely Maria Ritchard would be a sister to Mary Dilliplane. So while I was keeping both Swavely and Richard (and variant spellings) in mind, I was a little more focused on Swavely.

The next step was to see who was enumerated near to Thomas Dilliplane in the various censuses. In particular, I wanted to see if there were any Swavely families living nearby. In 1820, there was an Adam Swafle two lines above Thomas. In 1830 Adam was four lines above Thomas. (This time the last name looked more like Swevely.) And in 1840, Adam was three lines above Thomas. Presuming that Adam was the oldest male in these census records, he was more of the age to be a father to Mary than a brother.

Things really started to come together when I found the 5 Nov 1793 baptismal record for a Maria Schweffle, daughter of Adam and Esther, at St. Paul’s Reformed Church, Amityville, Berks, Pennsylvania. According to the record, Maria was born 8 Oct 1793 of the same year.7 As it turns out Swavley (like Dilliplane) is another last name with creative spelling variations in early records. [Note — St. Paul’s church, where Maria’s baptism was recorded, is pictured in the photo at the beginning of this post.]

The last piece of the puzzle came together when I was able to access the 1842 Berks county PA probate file of Adam Swavely.8 Since Adam, a land owner, died intestate his son John filed a petition with the court to sell the land. In it John named all of Adam’s heirs. This included the then surviving children of Adam’s deceased daughter Mary, who had been married to Thomas Dilliplane. It was extremely lucky that this document exists because it provides direct evidence of Mary’s parents. It also names Mary’s children and tells which are of age and which are still minors.

So there’s the story of finding Mary’s maiden name – as well as her parents and children. As I mentioned at the beginning , it took some research and analysis and a fair amount of luck in that records containing direct evidence existed and were even available online!


  1. G. David Thayer, editor, The Delaplaines of America, Third Printing edition (Salem, Oregon: Rapidsoft Press, 2004.) Originally authored by Marvin G. Delaplane, 1998
  2. Berks County Deaths 1852 – 1855 (online – transcribed from Berks County Court house). Record for Joshua Dilliplane
  3., “Pennsylvania, Church and Town Records, 1708 -1985.” Database and images., (accessed 1 Feb 2012); birth/baptism of Samuel Dellekum; citing the records of St. Joseph’s Hill Church (Pike township, PA).
  4. 1820 U. S. Federal Census population schedules (National Archives and Records Administration), Series: M33 Roll: 99 Page: 132. Household of Thos. Dilplain
  5. 1830 U. S. Federal Census population schedules (National Archives and Records Administration), Series: M19 Roll: 143 Page: 434. Household of Thos. Dilplain
  6. 1840 U. S. Federal Census population schedules (National Archives and Records Administration), Series: M704 Roll: 438 Page: 346. Household of Thomas Dellpliane
  7., “Pennsylvania, Church and Town Records, 1708 -1985.” Database and images., (accessed 1 Feb 2012); birth/baptism of Maria Schweffle; citing the records of St. Paul’s Reformed Church (Amity township, Berks PA).
  8. “Pennsylvania Probate Records, 1683-1994,” images, FamilySearch ( : 3 July 2014), Berks > Estates 1800-1850 Stocker, John-Swavely, Samuel > image 2337 of 2398; county courthouses, Pennsylvania. Probate file of Adam Swavely, 1842, Earl Township, Berks, PA.