Saturday, January 12, 2019

Genealogical Goals for 2019

Goals. Resolutions. They are sort of the same thing.

If I don't share goals, than I'm not accountable, right? So I'm sharing my genealogical goals for the next year. At the end of 2019, I'll see how I did.

In no particular order:
  1. Attend one genealogy conference.
  2. Take one genealogy field trip.
  3. Visit NARA in DC. Review at least three Civil War military files.
  4. Update and document the steps so I can do it more easily the next time. I owe corrections and additions to several cousins.
  5. Correct the spelling of every Swedish source and parish in my database. Tedious, but necessary.
  6. Remove distant Pelton branches from my database. They are not useful and the source book has been acknowledged by the author to be deficient.
  7. Use MyHeritage more. Deal with Smart Matches and DNA at least monthly. Add ancestors to fully support the 6 DNA tests that I have on that site.
  8. Visit FTDNA monthly to review new DNA matches for 4 tests. Add ancestors and trees to support the tests that are currently not properly supported. Revisit the Maddox project and my cousin's Y-DNA test.
  9. Find the birth record for cousin R's elusive Swedish ancestress. This is a challenge, but I'm determined. It will require DNA sleuthing.
  10. Complete the last two posts for the blog They Remember Arizona. This  little series just needs to be wrapped up. Also check all links within the series.
  11. Post once a month to the blog Murder at Mauvaisterre Creek. Set aside the extra research and tell the story.
  12. Fully migrate from the old Family Tree Maker 11 to Roots Magic. This will be the hardest goal to achieve, as I like how fast I can do data input in my old friend, FTM. It's very dated, though, and has some issues.
That should keep me plenty busy.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Happy Dance, Swedish Style: 52 Ancestors

The Swedish church records are a wonderful resource. They are far more comprehensive than American records and are far more accurate -- usually. A recent discovery about Hannäs parish is extremely puzzling. This final post to wrap up the past year has the dual purpose of informing cousins and of laying out the baffling evidence for comment by others more knowledgeable in the language and customs of Sweden.

The story begins with two sisters who married two men in the parish of Björsäter, Östergötland. In 1798, Maja Lena Nilsdotter married my ancestor, Peter (Per) Persson. Two years later, in 1800, Catharina Nilsdotter married Nils Persson. Both men had been born in Hannäs parish, which was part of Kalmar County until 1971, when it became part of Östergötland County.

The couples moved on to other nearby parishes, never living more than 30 miles away from each other, but also making it harder to keep track of them. I did not know that the men were brothers and could not find birth records for either Peter or Nils in the Hannäs parish records. I followed Peter throughout his life, but lost track of Catherina and Nils, who spent several years in Värna.

Peter returned to Björsäter parish in 1814 and took the surname Fröling between 1819 and 1822. He had very bad luck with wives and children, burying three wives and seven of his twelve children. Peter Persson Fröling died on August 12, 1842, leaving a widow and five children. His estate inventory (bouppteckning, Bankekinds Häradsrätt FII:32 page 741) referred to Nils Persson, who was then living in Svinstad parish.

Having located Nils, I followed him forward until his death on March 8, 1858. There was a wonderful surprise. Many death records are only a line or two long, but the record keepers in Svinstad wrote an entire paragraph when a parishioner died.

The Svinstad death record led to the Hannäs birth record, but there is a date discrepancy, which is why I could never locate the right record. The only sense I can make of it is that the Hannäs record keepers may have been confused about the calendar changes which had taken place in 1753. Here are the two records.

Birth Record, Hannäs CI:2 Page 325
Death Record, Bankekind (Svinstad) BI:1 Page 445

In both records, Nils' parents are listed as Per/Peter Nilsson and wife Stina Östensdotter of Knappemåla. His birth record gives his date of birth as February 11, 1777, with his christening on the 16th. However, his death record gives his date of birth as March 5, 1777. The March date must have been written on his moving certificate. Interestingly, his original moving certificate must have had a birth year of 1768, but somehow it was apparently corrected about 1812, after which all the records said March 5, 1777.

Having identified Nils parents, Peter's birth record was now easy to find, based on the same parents. However, there is yet a different date discrepancy.

Birth Record, Hannäs CI:2 Page 311
Clerical Survey, Björsäter AI:9 Page 278

His birth was originally recorded as September 13, 1768, with christening on the 18th. However, all other records show his date of birth as September 6, 1768. Why would his moving certificate have a the date changed earlier by a week? Was it that his was the 16th birth of the year and the 6 was written in error, rather than 13? Or is this part of a pattern of errors in moving certificates from Hannäs?

This ends the puzzling records description. Comments are welcome!

The remainder of this post is for the descendants of Peter Persson Fröling.

The Life of Peter Persson Fröling

Let's start with a map of the area and with Peter's parents -- the source of the happy dance. Click the icon at the top left of the map to see the legend.

Peter Persson was born to Per/Peter Nilsson and wife Stina Östensdotter of Knappemåla, Hannäs parish, Kalmar län. Stina's surname of Östensdotter is unique in my family records. The name Östen has several possible sources and meanings, once of which is Happy. And you know that finding this family after 14 years of searching has made me very happy!

His parents married on December 26, 1765. Peter was the second of seven children of the marriage. His older brother died young, but he also had two older half-siblings from his mother's first marriage. The home at Knappemåla appears to have been Stina's from her first marriage to Pehr Johansson, in 1759.

The first known record of Peter after his birth is in the Björsäter clerical survey of 1792-1795 (AI:1 page 243), where he was recorded as a laborer entering the parish in 1795, coming from Yxnerum parish. He was living in the household of his future wife and in-laws.

He married Maja Lena Nilsdotter on January 11, 1798, and they moved to Vist parish sometime that year (Vist AI:3 page 28). Daughter Stina was born on December 1, 1798. It appears that Peter took up farming during the three years they lived in Vist.

1801 finds the family moving to Svinstad (Bankekind) parish (BI:1 page 637), where daughter Casja Lena Persdotter was born on September 7, 1801. Baby Peter Persson followed, born on May 28, 1803, and dying a few months later, on January 25, 1804. Maja Lena Nilsdotter died on August 9, 1806, leaving Peter a widower with two little girls.

Waiting less than a year, Peter married my ancestress, Inga Stina Svensdotter, on February 5, 1807, in the neighboring parish of Landeryd (C:3 page 281). Six children, including a set of twins, were born to Inga and Peter during the next seven years in Svinstad. Four of the six children died before their first birthday. My line is via their eldest son, Sven Peter Persson, born on February 22, 1808, in Svinstad. Their second child, Maria Persdotter Fröling, born on September 27, 1809, also survived to have children.

In 1814, Peter and Inga moved to Björsäter parish (AI:4 page 407), with his occupation recorded as a bricklayer (tegelslagaren). His transition from farmer to bricklayer must have occurred while in Svinstad, though not recorded in that parish. Two more daughters, Ulrica and Inga Lisa, were born to the couple before Inga's death on February 2, 1822. Sometime between baby Inga Lisa's 1819 birth and Inga Stina's death, Peter took the surname Fröling.

Peter, in 1822, was the father of two grown daughters, two young teens, and two children under age six. Nine months after Inga's death, he married wife number three, Brita Stina Andersdotter, on November 29, 1822. Brita died only four months later on March 28, 1823.

Peter took a break from marriage, probably depending on the older children to care for the younger ones. On November 7, 1826, he married his fourth and last wife, Anna Maja Bergquist. They had one son, Johannes Gustaf Fröling, born on July 14, 1828.

Throughout the rest of his life, Peter's occupation was recorded as a bricklayer. There was no indication that he retired, although one clerical survey noted that he was elderly. He died on August 12, 1842, in Björsäter parish. His second daughter had died in 1835, leaving three daughters, two sons and his widow.

I'm happy to have found Peter's family. He was an end-of-line ancestor for many years. The Hannäs records may reveal a couple more generations, but there are no clerical surveys to help track the families. Nor are there any estate inventories for his parents. Even their death records are uncertain. So I rejoice at what's been found, knowing there may be little else to find in the confusing records of Hannäs.

Friday, December 28, 2018

Tangled DNA, A Merry Chase: 52 Ancestors

It's a challenge to sort out two men (or women) of the same name. But when you don't know whether there is one man or two men, the research is even more challenging. You have to chase every available piece of evidence, including DNA. When the men are from the same family, evaluating DNA may be very complex.

A recent post to the DNAExplained blog was titled When DNA Leads You Astray. Roberta writes about careful DNA evaluation, using the hard science of FamilyTreeDNA and other companies, as opposed to the warm and fuzzy feel good science of AncestryDNA.

The Tangled DNA series of posts focuses on the Allee family of Alabama and Arkansas. However, if there had been no man named Merrill Allee, there would be no confusion and would be no need for such careful DNA evaluation. This final post of the series will discuss the name, the possibilities, the records and the DNA.

The Name Merrill Allee

My great-uncle, Thomas Merrill Allee, once told me about his name. Passed down through several generations, he pronounced the name as Merle, or phonetically as Murl. His last name, he and my grandfather pronounced as AL-ley. So when you see Merrill Allee, think Merle Alley. One nickname for Merrill/Merle is Merry, pronounced Murray.

The Possible Men

There is no doubt that a man named Merrill Allee was born to John Allee and Mildred Lawrence about 1790. The second person was a child born to Nicholas Allee and Mary Dennis between 1796 and 1799. This child was listed as Merry in the 1808 will of Nicholas. Both of these individuals were born in Virginia and were born within 10 years of each other. There are conflicting family legends, which were discussed in an earlier post about John Allee.

The Records



John Allee moved his family from Virginia to Kentucky about 1806. Merrill Allee first appears in the tax records of Barren County, Kentucky, in 1810, as a male of under 21 years of age. In 1812, he was taxed as being over 21. Those two records pinpoint his year of birth as close to 1790.

Merrill married Sally Stephens on November 9, 1809, and divorced her for desertion three years later. The divorce revealed that there was a daughter born in 1810 and that Merrill did not know where Sally and his daughter had gone (Equity Court Records, Book 1, 1812, Bundle 183). The 1810 census shows the three of them together under the name Merral Ally.

The War of 1812 militia service records report that he briefly served as Murriel Alley, Corporal, Captain David Harding's Company, 3rd Regiment, Kentucky Detached Militia. He is listed on Barren County militia rosters between 1812 and 1816.

Merrill last is found on the Barren County tax rolls in 1819. Monroe County was carved out of Barren County and adjoining counties in 1820. John Allee was taxed in Monroe County beginning in 1820, but Merrill does not appear on the Monroe County tax rolls except for the years 1824 through 1826. John was last taxed in Monroe County in 1827, before moving to Indiana.

Did Merrill move to Indiana with his parents, to Missouri with cousins, to Alabama with aunts and uncles, or elsewhere?


Turning to Alabama records, Merrill could be either of the possible men.

The 1820 census of Lawrence County, Alabama, lists Merral Alley with three males under age 21 and one female (a wife?) over age 21. This record would indicate the younger man and that he was only 20 years of age. Could a 30-year old pass for 20? Was there a tax benefit to being under 21? Did the census taker just make a mistake?

The 1830 census lists Mirri Ally with four male children and two female children. Mirri was aged 30-40 and his wife was 40-50.

Merrill bought and sold land in Alabama. The land transactions do not add clarity. 


By 1840, the family had moved to Saline County, Arkansas. Mirrill Allen had three young men, two young women, was aged 40-50 and his wife was 40-50.

Merrill is listed in the Saline County tax rolls with several creative spellings, including Muroil and Muril. He last paid tax in Saline County in 1849. It is possible that he aged out, with tax only being assessed through age 59. If that was the reason he was dropped from the rolls, it would indicate the older man. But there were other reasons to be dropped from the tax roll.

The 1850 census adds some interesting facts. It shows that Merrill was age 53 and was not able to read and write. His wife was age 70, with their marriage having occurred in either 1826 or 1816. It appears that 1826 was the more likely marriage date, which would mean that Ester was not the biological mother of Merrill's children. But could one or more be her children and his step-children? Was Ester a Gamble by birth, as speculated by Gamble descendants? Ester becomes part of the puzzle, as no marriage record has yet been found.

The last census where Merrill is listed is the 1860 census of Saline County. It lists Merrill as age 64 and his wife as age 74. Her age in later years was 84 and 94, so 74 seems correct and the 1850 census was wrong.

If Merrill was 53 in 1850 and 64 in 1860, he was the younger man. But why did he pay no tax after 1849? Census records are not a primary source and are often inaccurate.

Looking at the three presumed children of Merrill, all had stated birthplaces of Alabama: Abraham in 1818, Josiah in 1821, and Margaret Catherine in 1824. The second girl is believed to be a niece, Nancy Jane. The other two boys are unknown to me, though one may have been named Nicholas.

None of the three believed that they were born in Kentucky. However, it is possible that Merrill moved his family multiple times between Kentucky and Alabama, which would account for his absence on the Kentucky tax rolls.

Merrill Allee died between the census years of 1860 and 1870. If he was born in 1790, that would make him 70-80 years old at death. If he was born in 1796, he would have been 64-74 years old at death. The second seems more likely. However, either could be correct.

The DNA Challenge

There are questions and intermarriages that make DNA analysis especially tricky.

Mitochondrial DNA is not useful for Merrill, but could help clarify his wife through female only descendants of presumed daughter Margaret Catherine Allee Gamble.

But what if none of the children were his? What if they were step-children, nieces, nephews or cousins.  Y-DNA for his male Allee descendants could prove the line back to Nicholas Allee of Virginia, but cannot eliminate the possibility that he raised nephews or cousins.

Autosomal DNA matching is needed for this family, with the careful evaluation described in the blog posts at DNAExplained. Autosomal evaluation is needed for matches to the following:

Descendants of Nicholas Allee and Ann Stephens
Descendants of John Allee and Mildred Lawrence
Descendants of siblings of Mildred Lawrence Allee
Descendants of siblings of Mary Dennis Allee
Descendants of Joseph Allee and wives
Descendants of Isaac Allee and Sarah Walden, Isaac Allee and Melinda ____
Descendants of Elizabeth Allee and Elisha Stover
Descendants of Hannah Allee and Samuel Brown
Descendants of Nicholas Alley of Fayette County, Alabama
Descendants of Missouri Ann Allee Hitt

Extra caution must be taken where intermarriages occurred, including with the allied Gamble family:

Descendants of Nancy Jane Allee Grant via Martha Elizabeth Grant Allee
Descendants of Nancy Jane Allee Grant via Nancy Jane Grant Gamble
Descendants of Margaret Catherine Allee Gamble
Descendants of Abraham Allee and Margaret Gamble

The many intermarriages can cause bad conclusions. I would go so far as to propose that descendants of Martha Elizabeth Grant Allee should not be used for any sort of matching within the Allee family tree, as her descendants have the most tangled DNA in the tangled Merrill Allee branch.