52 Ancestors – Week 15 – DNA

I will admit that I am not a real sciencey person. Most of it goes right over my head. In school science bored the tears out of me. The only science I could somewhat handle was psychology which is why 90% of the science in college was different psych classes with the exception of biology 101.

Anyway I digress, the science of DNA and genealogy confuses me to no end. I understand barely enough to get by and am thankful to Blaine Bettinger for his work and charts to make it somewhat easier to understand.

I have taken a DNA test along with my parents, my husband and several other family members and it was nice to see how nicely we were related. Have there been surprises? Absolutely.

One of those was the potential discover of a half-aunt to my Mother-in-law through her grandfather Henry Bass. (Thank you Ancestry for ThruLines). I am still piecing that one together but the DNA numbers seem to be right. Now to find the rest of the documentation I need on that one.

Someday when I have time I would love to figure out how go through each of the DNA lines and delve deeper. I would also love to attend some DNA classes but am scared that my eyes will glaze over with the science of it all. I am lucky I even know what a centimorgan is.

Anyone else in this boat?


52 Ancestors – Week 14- Brick Wall

For the longest time my brick wall was my Sarah Larkin Beardsley. It is probably why I still look for information about her quite often. For me it is more that adding names and dates to a tree. It is about collecting the stories of their lives. I seriously wish I had paid more attention when the stories were being shared. I am eternally grateful for those summers I spent with my grandparents going to cemeteries and the library. I am grateful for remembering what I do remember about the stories.

Now I have several brick wall ancestors I am working on. Sarah Knowlton Coolidge. I have written about her before and how I am trying to clear up an AIR (DAR term for Additional Information Required). I have a birthdate with parents but it doesn’t coincide with the date on her tombstone. There are several unsourced genealogies out there with parents and a husband but I need a marriage and link to her father that isn’t purely circumstantial. I am actually going to try and stop at the Jay Cemetery this upcoming weekend to see if Sarah will give me some clues into her parentage and possibly her marriage.

Next we have Mary Shaver (Schaffer) Weatherwax. I am trying to find out when she died and possibly where she is buried. I have her alive until around 1880 but then poof she is gone. Also I need to connect her to her parents but that is proving tricky in the early 1800s in Clinton/Essex County, NY though there is a reference to a George Shaver who discovered iron ore in Clintonville.

Notice a trend that my brick walls tend to be women. Here is another one poor Minerva Winchester Beardsley. Poor Minerva lived a short life approximately 1823-1843. So before names on a census. Only thing I have is her son Leslie Winchester Beardsley’s Death Certificate naming her. Again I can only find reference to one Winchester family in the Clinton/Essex County area a Moses Winchester. He is on the 1830 census but not much else is out there.

I have been working on putting together research plans and stopping by the Jay Central Cemetery to speak to Sarah Knowlton Coolidge and then to the Old Clintonville Cemetery to speak to Minerva Winchester Beardsley. I want them to know the are not forgotten and just maybe they will lead me on this search to find out more about them and their lives. Maybe I can piece more of their stories together.

More about Sarah Larkin Beardsley

If you have been following along for a while you will know 2 things that I really enjoy podcasts and I have an affinity to Sarah Larkin Beardsley, my 2X great grandmother.

I have been binge listening to the podcast Research Like a Pro Podcast. It is really well done and I have been learning little things. I also love that Diana is always sharing about her journey to become and Accredited Genealogist. While listening to Episode 21, there were a couple hints about searching the Family Search Catalog and it has made things super easy for me. As a test, I used my Sarah Beardsley to find out if there was anymore to her probate file.

Guess what? There was.458bf45c-b666-43d2-98a9-410d98058766

Ancestry had a couple of Administration letters but there was a little more over on Family Search. For years information on Sarah’s death was limited to a cemetery marker and a line in her husband’s Civil War pension file. As I move forward and I stop looking at the low lying fruit. I am rewarded.

This file only had about 5 more pages in it but one was a statement from her husband about only him and their minor daughter being the only two members of the family.


The other items were bonds and one of the people who put up the bond was James Thompson. James Thompson, owned a mill in Valley Falls, New York. He was also married to Sarah’s younger sister Lucy. It shows that this family was closer than we though. Honestly, I have been searching this family for years based on a family story of 3 sisters, Sarah, Lucy and supposedly a Johanna (who I really think is a Julia) but I have yet to be able to confirm that.

Little side note that supports my theory that Lucy and Sarah were closer than I think is I found a descendant of Lucy’s back in the early 2000 and he knew very little about my Sarah but as Lucy was his grandmother he was able to share a little about her. Lucy gave birth to her son Leslie supposedly on a train in Jonesville, MI, in 1884. I can tell you my Sarah was practicing medicine in Jonesville MI in 1884. Also they both lost daughters named Myra in infancy but I haven’t been able to connect more to that.

Back to Sarah’s probate file. One other bond was put up by a Mr. Hunter but I do not know who he was so that will require a little research into a possible FAN club connection.

I have a research trip coming up on Thursday and hopefully I can get some things done. I do plan  on visiting Sarah and Leslie Beardsley’s gravesite. I always thing that the story is over but then something else pops up.

I highly recommend listening to Research Like a Pro. It has been really fun. I am hoping to be caught up in the next couple of weeks.


From My Archives…

I came across this letter this morning while organizing some files to do a little bit of research. I guess you can say I have been at this for a while and several of the questions in here have been answered.img_3735

WE have done almost no research on those Stewart or Shumway families. Mostly because they give me a headache. LOL. But you see that whole paragraph on the Larkin’s and Grandma Beardsley has been solved. Would love to know what the letters she is talking about are. This letter made me smile today.


Who were Grandma & Granpa Huttel?

Yes I went down a huge rabbit hole last night and this morning. Especially since Facebook wasn’t working for me. As my last post said I visited St. Michael’s Cemetery in Queens and found this gem of a tombstone and the whole Grandma and Grandpa thing threw me. Especially since they died years before poor Florence was even born.


Photo taken by me 13 April 2019 St. Michael’s Cemetery East Elmhurst, NY

I started with finding out who Florence’s parents were by searching for the 1930 and I found, Peter and Lillian Huttel with 3 daughters Louise 15, Florence 13 and Caroline 9. Peter was Butcher and born in Germany.


I then did a search of the 1940 census after a quick search of the NYS death index yielded no results for Florence’s date of death.


The family was enumerated on April 15, 1940. At this time the family consists of Peter, Lillian, Louise 25 and Caroline 19. Peter is still a Butcher and the girls are Salesladies. Poor Florence has already passed by April 15.

Next I did a search of Peter Huttel and found he died in Houston, TX on the 18th of January 1974. He lived to be 88 years old. I love Texas as they put their Death Records online and this gave me a clue onto his parents names.

peterhutteldcPeter was born 26 Oct 1885 in Germany to Franz Huttel and Elizabeth we do not know her maiden name yet.

I decided to look for Peter in the 1910 Census because he might possibly be living with his mother, as according to the tombstone his father Franz died in 1909.


The 1910 US Census shows Peter with his Mother Elin living with their Brother-in-Law Ernest (who is listed as a Butcher), his wife Augusta (who is  Elizabeth’s daughter and Peter’s Sister) and their daughter Florence. Elin is listed as a widow which fits with the death date on the tombstone at St. Michaels.

Next up was a search of the 1905 Census see by this point I was really sucked in and wanted to see what else I could find. The 1905 Census 1905Huttelcensus

has the Schumacher family and Franz, Elizabeth and Peter Huttel living with them. It also lists that the Huttel’s had only been in the country for 1 year. Time for another search to see if I could find a passenger list.

Screen Shot 2019-04-14 at 8.06.06 AM

Success Franz Huttel along with his wife and son appear on the passenger list of the SS Ryndam that arrived June 21, 1904 to New York from Rotterdam. They are on the Record of Aliens held for Special Inquiry.

I don’t know why Franz and Elizabeth Huttel came to NY in their 60’s. I did find quite a few listings for children of Franz and Elizabeth Huttel in Germany but my German is not very good.  I did find who I believe are Franz and Elizabeth in the NYC Death Index for their respective years of death.

A little more research on Peter and Lillian Huttel (Florence’s parents) revealed they applied for a marriage license on 26 of April 1913. Peter also became a naturalized citizen.

huttel naturalization

By this time I had a couple of little niggling questions. What happened to Lillian Huttel, since her husband died in Texas? Who was John Chartrand, the informant on his Death Certificate?

When I want quick results I generally check out Ancestry family trees for clues and this morning Ancestry did not disappoint. The first result for a search of Peter Huttel was for a Chartrand Family tree. John Chartrand was Peter’s son-in-law. The husband of Caroline Huttel Chartrand. It suggests that Lillian died here in New York though I haven’t found proof.

The last bit I will leave you with is the Obituary for Caroline Huttel Chartrand.


They never forgot about poor Florence. So in the answer to the question of who Grandma and Grandpa Huttel were?

They were Franz and Elizabeth Huttel.

I told you it was a rabbit hole and a side note to my own family put my whole name on my tombstone or whatever marker you decided to put there for me. 


52 Ancestors – Week 10 – Bachelor Uncle

As you can tell I am behind with the prompts. So much going on and I actually have a bunch of posts I want to do not related to the 52 Ancestors prompts. Hoping to get myself on track this week with a schedule.

My bachelor uncle is my Uncle Calvin. Uncle Calvin is my grandma’s brother making him my great-uncle. Uncle Cal was about 18 months younger than my grandma. He was born in December 1923 on Lyon Mountain to Charles and Mildred Shumway Stewart. He enlisted into the Army in 1943 during WWII. He did all sorts of jobs.

Now, I knew Uncle Calvin later in his life and he was a character. He honestly was a great story teller and a kind human being. A favorite story of ours is how in the early 2000s he told us he still had butter made by my grandma he was using or his feeding of the livestock. The livestock were the rats. He would go out of his way to help you.

From family stories the reason he was a bachelor is his mother chased away all the girls. Not entirely sure why except maybe she didn’t want to be alone. A true testament to the life one has lived is the turn out at their funeral and Uncle Calvin had a full house. Heck I drove all the way from NY to Clinton County for it in 2011 and I don’t generally go to funerals or to Clinton County much anymore.

Family Picture

This picture is of my Grandma, Frances, Uncle Calvin standing and those adorable kiddos are Lesley, Sheila and Shirley Witherwax. I would say this photo was taken in 1947.


Dreaming of Warmer Days & Research Trips

It is a rainy and rather dreary day here in Queens, I am stuck at work. I am dreaming a research trip or two.

I am at the point in some of my lines where I need a good old-fashioned boots on the ground research trip. I haven’t been to a library or an archive for my own research since about 2000 when I went to DC and visited NARA and the DAR Library. I decided today would be a perfect time to list some places I want to go and some research I want to do.

I understand family search has some of the probate records for NYS but I always feel the actual packets may be better than what is listed in the books. Also I swear some of my family was completely left out of the will books. (It may be wishful thinking on my part.)

  1. Day trip to Brooklyn, NY to hit up Canarsie Cemetery and Holy Cross Cemetery.
  2. Municipal Archives in NYC – would love to view the Coroners Report microfilm. Look at several death certificates and marriage certificates.
  3. Trip to Clinton County (I probably could spend a week or 2 here).
    1. Head to the probate court to review the entire David Weatherwax file.
    2. check to see if there is a packet for either Jacob or Mary Weatherwax.
    3. check for probate records for my Larkin family, Jehiel Beardsley.
  4. Visit the Baker Burying Ground, Gillaland Cemetery and Harkness Cemetery while I am in the area.Screen Shot 2018-05-02 at 3.39.22 PM
  5. A Trip to Essex County, NY to check on the probates of Beverly Beardsley who died in 1815, as well as the Beverly Beardsley who died in 1897. See if there are probate Packets for Benjamin Knowlton Coolidge, Obadiah Coolidge, Elijah Preston and both Abner Preston Sr. and Abner Preston Jr.
  6. A quick trip to Rensselaer County Probate Court for the entire Probate pack for Sarah Larkin Beardsley. This one I am rather curious about as Sarah died in 1886 and she predeceased her husband by about 30 years.

Eventually I would love to hit up the various libraries and historical societies but currently I need to be meaningful in my trips.

I would also love to head over to Oneida County to try to find the probate for Benjamin Knowlton and his wife Phebe Wright. I need to prove my Sarah Knowlton Coolidge is their daughter. I also need to find a marriage record for Obadiah Coolidge to Sarah Knowlton and that just might require a trip to New Hampshire.

I am dreaming of sunshine, summer days and the time to travel in New York.


52 Ancestors – Week 3 – Unusual Name

Last year for 52 ancestors there was a post about unusual or Favorite names and I wrote about Bezaleel Wood.

When looking at my family and the names none of them seem particularly unusual. Maybe that is because my first name is Chiara. It is a family name, as I am named after my grandmother, who in turn as per family stories was named after a princess.

As I look at my family tree the thing that draws me is the use of maiden names or surnames as middle names. My great uncle was named Leslie Winchester Witherwax. Winchester was his grandfather’s (Leslie Winchester Beardsley) middle name and it  was his mother’s, (Minerva Winchester),  maiden name from what I have found. I have not been able to garner much information about Minerva but am hopeful.

Dorcas Winchell Coolidge, my 2X Great Grandmother was the daughter of Benjamin Knowlton Coolidge who was the son of Obadiah Coolidge and Sarah Knowlton and grandson of Benjamin Knowlton. I do not know where Winchell came from but it will be fun to unravel that one eventually.

My dad’s family has a couple of fun stories about his Mom and her siblings. I just told you, I am named after my grandma and she was named after a princess, supposedly there was a European Princess named Chiara Doralda. Haven’t researched that yet but it will probably be fun to go down that rabbit hole. Her siblings were also supposed to be named after various European leaders. I haven’t proved or disproved that story but I have to shake my head a bit with that one. Maybe I will send away for all the birth certificates of those born in NY in the early 20th century. I feel a project coming on.

52 Ancestors 2019 Edition

Well, let’s hope I complete more of 2019 than I did for 2018. So the goal is more than 13. Wish me luck.

Here we go Week 1 – the prompt FIRST…For this I decided to concentrate on my husband’s family and his Norwegian Great-Great Grandfather Neils Osborne.  I always thought the Osborne was Irish but guess not.

Neils Osborne was borne in December 1855 in Norway. We have no parental information and have not been able to find a passenger record for him yet. Sadly his death certificate lists no parents either.

Neils first appears in New York in the NYS Census for 1892 in Brooklyn and is a laborer along with his wife Bergetti and son John.

We can trace Neils through Censuses, City Directories and sadly his death certificate. He lived on Furman Street in Brooklyn almost all of his time in the United States and held the occupations of laborer, Grocer, Day Laborer, Longshoreman. He never became a citizen, though in the 1900 Census he is listed as PA meaning a petition was filed though I have not found it.

We have a range of immigration dates from 1880 – 1886 according to census records. We also have a range of marriage dates of 1870-1880.

We last find Neils in the 1930 Census living with his son John, on Wyckoff Street in Brooklyn. He is listed as Elmer and let me say that led me on a wild goose chase. Sadly Bergetti is not listed.

He and his wife only had one child who survived to adulthood John Osborne. Neils and Bergetti died within 6 months of each other in 1930 and are buried in Canarsie Cemetery in Brooklyn.

Before finding Neils, my husband had heard rumors of Norwegian ancestry and Neils and Bergetti are them. We are beginning to do research on where the Osborne name came from along with hopefully finding the parents of Neils at some juncture.







Reflections & an offer.

So 2018 has been a year to remember good and bad. As I get older I try more and more to roll with it.

The good

  • Gerard retired.
  • Chiara was accepted into her dream college for her dream program.
  • Jimmy made the transition to middle school seamlessly.
  • I attended the Genealogical Research Institute in Pittsburgh. (would love to attend in 2019 but don’t think that will happen.
  • Attended my 2nd DAR state conference.
  • worked on organizing a Children of the American Revolution Society
  • Lots of good times with friends and family.
  • After a lot of hard work we finally were able to get Samantha settled in a Kindergarten and she is thriving.

The bad:

  • Jimmy having to have 8 teeth removed which resulted in a rather large bill but he seems happier.
  • Sami’s fiasco experience in the first kindergarten she was placed in.

Thankfully my parents are healthy and still moving and grooving in life and I am blessed by that.

I have lots of goals for 2019 and I am working on putting them together and making them concrete realities which leads me to my next thought. I know I am not a prolific writer I think it has to do with being a special needs mom and not having a huge amount of time on my hands and that I am a fairly direct person. So I am going to work on this blog more in the coming year.

I want to try my hand at 30 minute ancestor profiles. I will research your ancestor for 30 minutes and provide you with a written ancestor profile on the ancestor. I am still working on the pricing for this as I want it to be fair and playing with the price of $45.00  for this. The turn around will be 2-3 weeks.

So I need your help to try my hand on this. I am offering a limited trial run at the discounted price of $23.00 limited to 10 people.

If interested please e-mail me at Chiara@decodingthefamilytree.com, the first person to email me will receive their ancestor profile for free.

Thanks in advance if you are one of my trial ancestor profile guinea pigs.