Halverson’s Arrive in the States

Blanchard Project


I love Henry Louis Gates’ television show, “Finding Your Roots.” In the show, he takes a famous person and leads the person on a genealogical journey through a “Book of Life,” where he shares that key, or important, findings with the individual. Invariably he has a place where his guest turns a page which reveals an important document. Often, he says something like, “I’d like you to meet your third great grandmother.” <pause> “How does it feel to learn of them…” Finding that one key document which introduces the individual’s ancestor is always an amazing part of the show and thoroughly enjoyable.

Typically, when I research someone, there are no great documents that open the heavens and releases the sound of angels singing. Usually, it is grueling work sifting through various census and vital records. Each finding adds just a little more information about their life.  In my recent work on my Blanchard Project, I was going through dozens of City Directories and various logbooks of the First Lutheran Church of Portland, Maine.  Each finding was just another small bit of information that added to the story of the Halvorsen’s immigration to the United States. Then, suddenly, I came across one of those documents which made me say, “Oh my.”

Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=192578
Cunard Line – SS Bothnia & SS Scythia Class

The document was a passenger list of the S.S. Scythia which arrived in Boston on 23 August 1884. On the ship was my Blanchard project’s 18-year-old, great-grandmother, Hannah Halvorsen, and Hannah’s mother, Dorothea.  With them were five other siblings. The list was a treasure trove of information.  That passenger list represents the exact moment that much of her family arrived in America. Her 2nd-great-grandfather, Thomas, had come to the States earlier and established himself in Portland, Maine to prepare the way for his family’s arrival.

Additionally, this is the only document we have that shows that Dorothea made it to the United States. All other records, beginning less than three years later (June 1887) indicate she was deceased. Until I found this passenger list, I thought Thomas’ wife may have died in Norway and that he brought the kids to the United States by himself. I still need to learn how and were Thomas arrived in the States, but it will come.



Happy Saint Patrick’s Day

My Irish Ancestry


My Ancestry – 18% Irish, 82% “Great Britain”

I grew up being told I was English, Irish, and French. And modern DNA testing results have confirmed that.  Ancestry indicates that I am 18 percent Irish and the rest “Great Britain” which included England, France, Belgium, The Netherlands, Luxembourg, and part of Germany.

I have discovered very few immigrant ancestors among my Ancestors. Only two that I know of were born in Ireland.  The first one is a sixth great-grandfather on my Brown line.

John Maben (1753-1813) was born in County Antrim, Northern Ireland in 1753[i]. He came to America and fought in the American Revolution. He served with Capt. Abner Hawley and Col. Peter Van Ness in the 9th Regt., Albany County Militia[ii]. In 1781, he married Sally Pierce in Connecticut. He died in Lexington, Greene County, New York in 1813.

Interestingly enough Slemish, in County Antrim, is the location that Saint Patrick was a slave for seven years.

Descendants of John Maben include:

My second Irish ancestor is a seventh great-grandfather on my Roberts line.

James Scott (1719-1783) was born in Northern Ireland in 1719. His wife’s name was Ester and he died in Virginia in 1783. I have not researched him in depth, consequently, I know little else about him.

Descendants of James Scott include:

  •             William Jarvis Scott (____-____)
  •             John Scott (1784-1855)
  •             Samuel Kinkade Scott (1809-____)
  •             William Hunt Scott (1834-1903)
  •             Samuel Vaden Scott (1863-1931)
  •             Clora Dell Scott (1883-1945)
  •             Bert Allen Roberts (1903-1949)
  •             Hugh Eugene Roberts (1926-1997)
  •             Me

Today, Saint Patrick’s Day, 2019, I raise a glass and toast my Irish ancestry.


[i] It is possible that John Maben was born in the town of Antrim in County Antrim.
[ii] Daughters of the American Revolution, “Ancestor Search”, DAR, Maben, John – Patriot: A072838.

Death Date found in a City Directory

Blanchard Project

Sometimes the information you are looking for just doesn’t exist. I had been looking for a death record for Oscar William Utterström and had looked everywhere. Pretty much every death record source and death index source I know about.  No success.  I knew he had died before 1973 as his brother’s obituary said that Oscar had preceded him in death. I also knew he was living during the 1940 Census in Portland, Maine. But, I just don’t feel right about entering a person’s death as “between 1940 and 1973.”  I just had to do better than a 33-year span.

Then I thought I might be able to narrow his death to a year or two by reviewing the City Directories. I used Ancestry, as they seemed to be the most complete, and searched for Oscar Utterstrom. I quickly saw that Oscar was in many of the directories. The most recent one was in 1960. I looked at the directory and found that he owed/paid taxes, but he wasn’t listed in the people part of the directory.  So, I went back to the 1959 directory. He was listed there and the entry had his death date – Dec 2, 1958.  Wow—Question answered by an unlikely source.  I still don’t have a clue why he doesn’t appear in any of my death record sources, but I now have a date for his passing.  With that date, I may be able to find information about his death in the newspapers near his death date the next time I visit the Maine State Library.

Utterstrom entries in the 1959 Portland (Maine)  Directory

During my searching for Oscar’s death, I also found that his sister, Dorothea Christine (Utterstrom) Cassidy passed on 18 Feb 1933. Those two findings filled gaps in my research in the Olaf Utterstrom family of Portland, Maine.





Cleanup Week – Mary Elizabeth (Mannin/Manning) Brown

This week was a clean-up week. I updated and corrected the sources I had supporting facts in the life of Mary Elizabeth (Manning) Brown (1878-1983).  “Grandma Brown” was the oldest ancestor that I recall ever meeting. She was born 72 years before I was born and was well into her 80s when I remember first seeing her. She is also my oldest known ancestor, having lived to be 105 years old.

Besides updating her sketch on my website, I updated and added many sources about her life facts to her entry on Family Search. I also added a couple of photos and a few documents, and a story I recalled about her. https://www.familysearch.org/tree/person/details/L81G-LLQ

If you have photos of Mary Brown you can share, I’d love to see them. Please send to me or share them on Family Search.

Ancestry’s ThruLines

By Don Taylor

One of the many huge announcements made at Roots Tech was Ancestry unveiling of ThruLinestm. Many bloggers have been writing about it, and I thought I’d see what it can do for me and the DNA Kits that I manage on Ancestry.

Immediately upon entering  AncestryDNA®, you now see ThruLines as the right-hand block which used to house DNA Circles.  There is a link in the block to restore DNA Circles if you wish, but I wanted to Explore ThruLines.

ThruLines then presents a block of my ancestors, parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, etc., all the way to my 5th great-grandparents. (About the limit of what Autosomal DNA results can predict relationship at.)

As I clicked on my parents, ThruLines presented my half siblings for whom I’ve known about for several years now. The same thing was true when I looked at my grandparents’ entries. Looking at my great-grandparents, Hugh and Clora Scott Robert’s ThruLines yielded a 2nd cousin that I’ve corresponded with before.

Clicking on the 2 down block opens up the names of two individuals from Beth’s tree.

When I looked at my Great Grandparents, Joel Clinton and Marada Alice (Lister) Barnes, the power of ThruLines came alive. Two new lines showed. It showed my paternal grandmother had two sisters — one a half great-aunt to me the other a great-aunt. I had known about Essie’s sisters, Flora and Mabel, but hadn’t traced their descendants down. ThruLines provided links to a half 2nd cousin 1x removed (Beth) and to another 2nd cousin 1x removed (JK). In both cases, I know about their grandparents (Flora & Mable) but I didn’t have descendants for either Flora or Mable. The first one, “Beth” had a tree that provided names, dates, and relationships.  That line should be easy to replicate with sources. The second person, cousin “JK,” had two “Private” individuals between her and my great-aunt Mabel.  I should be able to follow Mable’s descendants to that cousin fairly quickly also. However, because ThruLines shows JK’s mother and grandfather are the pathway to her great-grandmother Mable, JK’s line is clear enough to provide information to be able to ask clear and concise questions regarding JK’s ancestors.

Continuing to look at my great-grandfather Arthur Durwood Brown, I found seven DNA cousins with whom I share Art Brown as a common ancestor. Two of the seven were new to me. That is to say, I knew they were DNA cousins before, but I didn’t know exactly how they were related.  Thanks to ThruLines, it is clear.

One problem I do see with ThruLines is that it relies entirely upon individual’s trees.  That is to say, if someone has a mistake, the mistake takes shape and form throughout the system. As an example, I believe my 2nd great grandfather is William Henry Brown, but many others think that Arthur Durwood Brown’s father was Henry “Mack” Brown. ThruLines won’t show anyone who believes that Henry “Mack” Brown might be the common ancestor because he doesn’t show as an ancestor in my tree. So, if your tree is right, ThruLines will confirm your tree. But if your tree is wrong, then ThruLines will confirm your tree with the wrong trees of someone else.  I think it is a dangerous path to follow.

So, it is essential for you to do your own research to validate any “hints” you receive from anyone and  ThruLines is no exception to that rule. Consider what ThruLine provides as a hint and you’ll be okay.  I like ThruLines much better than I liked DNA Circles. It will be more useful in helping me to quickly develop width to my tree, something that is important in understanding DNA match results.

———- Disclaimer ———-