Monday, December 30, 2013

Whynot? WHAT?!?!

After following an shaking leaf on yesterday, I've come to learn that my great grandfather had a maternal aunt named Jane "Jennie" Samms-Whynot who may have played an instrumental role in bring my Earle line to the United States from Newfoundland.

After reviewing the 1900 U.S. Census that listed my great grandfather's sister, Susie Earle, living with the Whynots in Boston, Massachusetts, I set about to see what else Ancestry might have on the Whynots. After linking my tree to the one census record, 44 additional hints appeared...and then it increased to 71.

Among the hints were some photographs that a researching cousin uploaded to Ancestry from their own personal collection of family photos.

Immediately I saw a resemblance. You tell me. 

The woman on the left is Jane "Jennie" Samms-Whynot; the very handsome gentleman on the right holding the child is my great grandfather, Abram Thomas Earle. Jane would be his aunt.

They aren't the clearest of photographs but I see the same square jaw and that same furrowed brow.

The baby, by the way, is my great uncle, Allen Preston Earle. I never met any of these people.

I still have not determined when exactly my great grandfather, Abe, or any of his older sisters arrived in the U.S. but I know for sure that the eldest sister was in Boston in June of 1900 with the Whynots.

After seeing the photo of Great-Great Aunt Jane I called my grandmother; Abe's daughter-in-law, to see if she had any recollection of anyone ever mentioning family in Boston, or of Jane Whynot. Now granted, my grandmother's memory is not as sharp as it could be but she immediately said, "Yes, Aunt Susie did live in Boston." 

"Did she live with her Aunt Jane?" 

"Hmm, I don't know; but Abe's Aunt did come from Boston for our wedding."


My next step is to show my grandmother this photo and see if maybe - just maybe this woman could be the Aunt who attended my grandmother and grandfather's wedding in 1949.

The Arrival of Earles

I have stated this in my blog before; 6 of my 8 great grandparents were born a stones throw away from where I currently reside in New York. The other two great grandparents were born in Canada. 

Great Grandma Mary Elizabeth Sharp-Gardner, otherwise known as Mayme, was born in Sherebrook, Quebec and arrived in the United States by way of Lowell, Massachusetts in 1914 at the tender age of 23. She is my most recent immigrant ancestor.

Great Grandpa Abram Thomas Earle, also known as Abe, was born in Twillingate, Newfoundland in January of 1891. He was born after the death of his father, Abraham Earle, who was lost at sea on a ship called the "Rise and Go." His mother, Sarah Samms-Earle, remarried in 1894 to a man named James Bromley. When Abe was just 8, his mother succumbed to pneumonia and died on March 20, 1899. 

From my understanding, it was very soon after her death that Abe and his four older sisters, Susie, Frances, Elizabeth, and Marie, took off for the United States. But I have never had any documentation of on their immigration just a notation in the 1920 U.S. Census, which is the earliest U.S. record I have for Abe, stating his date of immigration as 1902. Abe would have been about 11 and that statement to the census taker may or may not have been given by Abe himself and so one can never really trust those dates of immigration from the census.

I do not know if the siblings came to the U.S. together. I don't know if they came directly to New York. I just don't know.

This morning I set to poke around on for a friend. When I opened the site I had a hint notification. It was not for the friend's tree that I have been working on, no, it was for my own Earle Family Tree. It was a 1900 U.S. Census record for a "Susie Earle" living in Boston, Massachusetts. 

I had to decide if this Susie Earle was indeed my Susie Earle. It's nice that the 1900 census includes the month and year of birth for every person. Both this Susie and my Susie were born in June of 1877 in Canada. It is relatively safe to say that they are one in the same person; that this is my Susie. 

Interestingly enough the Census record lists her date of immigration as 19900; the same year as the Census itself. Susie would have arrived in Boston before June 5, 1900 when the record was created.

Abe is not with her. She is listed as a niece of George and Jane Whynot.

A little more poking around and I learned that Sarah Samms-Earle did indeed have a sister named Jane.

And so, here we go... I am off and running on Earle Family research this morning.
...just after I said I have not been collecting family history documentation for myself.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Like Moving Away from the Painting

In my heart I am a painter. 

I don't paint much these days; it is what I studied in college, though. These days my time is filled up with work and working on my second master's degree which is a requirement for my employment. So it is all pretty much about work which I really only do to finance my desire to travel and research my family history. 

I bring up painting because I learned a very important life lesson from painting you must step away from your work in order to see, as it were, the big picture. You could spend all your time working on one precise detail only to look back and see it is in the wrong place; that this one little section is fabulous and the rest is shit. In fact, when I was taught how to paint I was instructed to take a very specific stance; to never stand behind the canvas with both feet together - no, never! You have to keep one foot in front of you (in my case my left foot) and the other foot behind you so can easily change your perspective; forward and back, constantly moving.

This concept of distancing for clarity also directly relates to why I love to travel and research my family history. If you want to better understand the world you live in and the family surrounding you, leave and go back over and over again until you can see it clearly.

Which brings to me to the point of today's post. I have taken a hiatus from researching my own family history. Yes, I did the DNA testing and have also made my sister, father, and grandmother drool into test tubes but I have not really been tracking down family history records. I have connected with some of my DNA matches but I have not been collecting documentation for myself. I've been reading about DNA as a genealogy research tool and... 

I've been working on someone else's family tree. 

Yes, I confess I do this from time to time. I like to do it. I've done it for several friends and co-workers. Like moving away from the painting it gives me perspective.

My gene pool has been on this side of the proverbial pond for a long long time; meaning, many branches of my family have resided in the Unites States long before the United States existed. By working on the family tree of a gentleman who's relatives arrived in the U.S. in the late 1800s early 1900s I've come to realize I KNOW how to research New York resources like nobody's business. When it comes to accessing European resources - which do exist - I don't know much. 

Typical American, right? I don't know anything about anyone's history but my own. Shame, shame, shame. 

Yes, of course, I have dabbled in French Canadian research but that is just New-York-light if you ask me; it's just over the boarder there. I could walk there if I didn't know how to drive. Big Whoop! Researching cousins have provided me with documentation for my few immigrant ancestors - German and Austian/Czech. And well, I did look at a few Italian records for someone once - - once.

I think it is high time I expand my genealogical researching skills into European territories no matter how taxing it may be. I look forward to the challenge of taking this new tree as deep into European history as I can. And hey, who knows, maybe it will help me to understand my own ancestry better. At the very least I am sure I will dig up dirt on someone else's family for once; because, come on, I can't be the only one this filthy in family history.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Problem with DNA Research

I have had my DNA results from for about a month now. I can not say that I have had any profound discoveries since investing my $100 in this genealogical research but I have learned an awful lot.

One of the the big lessons has been that people don't understand DNA. 

I have tried to correspond with some of the people Ancestry says I have genetic matches with. Many of the response have included phrases like, "we are probably related, but not directly." Um, no. See a DNA match means we are probably directly related; that somewhere, maybe way back in history, we have a common ancestor. Now granted, we may never be able to determine who that ancestor is because DNA has been around a lot longer than Watson and Crick's 1953 publication about the double helix; DNA has been around a lot longer than NEHGS (the New England Historic Genealogical Society, founded in 1845); a lot longer than the first human records. DNA has been around as long as life. 

So some of these distant cousin matches Ancestry has provided me with go back much further than human records. An generation is approximately 30 year. My parents were born in the 50s, my grandparents were born in the 1920s, my great grandparents were born in the 1890s; and that is just 4 generations. So when Ancestry indicates that there is a low possibility that I am in the range of being 5th to 8th cousins with someone your talking about maybe having a common ancestor 7 generations ago; people born in the late 1700s, before birth certificates, before death certificates, longer than most church records have survived. We may never know if or how I am related to these low-level certainty distant cousins - - BUT...

...BUT, if I can pinpoint a documented ancestor of mine living in the same community in the 1700s as one of your documented ancestors and the two just happen to shared the same surname, um, that is probably the line through which we are somehow directly related; YES, directly. Maybe our common ancestor is much further back than those two contemporaries but I'd bet that is where our common gene pool resides. 

And if you don't think that is possible then, well, I kind of don't understand why you took this test; and furthermore I kind of hope I'm wrong about how DNA works. But guess what? I'm not.

If you have 45 minutes to invest in learning more about DNA, I highly recommend watching this video (; The Human Family Tree.