Cross-Country Travels

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun
My Life
By Don Taylor

Photo of Don Taylor with cat Nasi.The Weekly Genealogist, produced by NEHGS, regularly has a survey question designed to make you think about your ancestors’ lives. They recently had a question asking if you or your ancestors traveled “across the country” not by airplane. In this case, “across the country” was a trip of more than 1500 miles.

Randy Seaver, in his blog, Genea-Musing, suggested taking that idea, cross country trips, and write about it.[i] I thought about the question and realized that with Detroit to Portland, Oregon, is over 2300 miles, my grandmother, mother, and I have all have had such travels, several times.

My Cross-Country Trips

I’ve made trips across the country several times.

1964 Ford Falcon Estate pic2
1964 Ford Falcon like I traveled in in 1969.
When I was in the service, (Christmas 1969) three of us drove a Ford Falcon station wagon from San Francisco to Minneapolis. One person drove, one sat in the passenger seat, and one person slept in the back. Each person would rotate positions every three hours. We only stopped for gas and made the 2000 mile trip in less than 34 hours.

My second cross country trip was when I left Oregon to go to training in Vallejo, California, in 1972. After training, we knew I was heading to a ship at sea, so my wife and son moved from Oregon to Minneapolis. I drove Mary (my first wife), and our son Matt, the 1600 miles back to Minnesota, where they lived during my time at school. I flew from Minneapolis to San Francisco to training and again to the Philippines for my first cruise aboard the USS Kitty Hawk.

The next cross-country trip was when I moved Mary-Alice from her home in Maine to Minneapolis. Just a little over 1500 miles, it only barely qualified for this list. That trip was in her Dodge Caravan, loaded to the top with stuff. We arrived in Minneapolis just after the “Great Halloween Blizzard of 1991.” Before I had told Mary-Alice that Minnesota was colder than Maine, but we didn’t get as much snow. When we got to Minnesota, Interstate 94 was two ruts heading up out of the Saint Croix river valley because of the 28 inches of snow the Twin Cities had received. She gave me that look, that said, “We never had this much snow in Maine in October.”

The Mojave Desert in Bloom – Photo by Geoff Stocker.

In 1998, Mary-Alice and I moved to Long Beach, California (about 1900 miles). I drove the car and Mary-Alice drove her van. We kept in contact with little radios. When we got to the Mohave Desert, she kept asking where the desert was. We drove through it during a “once-in-a-century” flower bloom. It was gorgeous, entire hillsides yellow with flowers.

In 2000, Mary-Alice and I moved from Long Beach to Boston, Massachusetts. Our van was over-loaded with stuff and relatively old, so I was afraid to try the shorter 3000-mile northern route because of the mountains on the way. So, we took the 3200 mile-route through Phoenix, El Paso, and Dallas. That was a brutal trip. We stopped at a weird motel in Tennessee and had a difficult time finding our room. Little did we know that the 200 rooms were downstairs from the 100 rooms.

I made the trip between Minneapolis and Portland, Oregon, as an infant, twice with my mother. I don’t remember either trip and rely only upon my mother’s telling of the stories.

My Mother’s Cross-Country Trips.

Back in 1950, my mother got a job with an outfit that sold magazines door to door. They had a crew of kids, my mother was 18, and moved city to city. I know they started in Detroit and ended in Portland, Oregon, in just a few months, stopping at cities and towns all along the way. I still wasn’t born yet but was born a few weeks after her arrival in Portland.

In 1953, my mother was pregnant with my sister, Glennis. Mom like the hospital I was born in and decided she wanted her second child to be born in the same hospital. She hitch-hiked from Minneapolis to Portland, Oregon (1700 miles) with 3-year-old me. Wow—What a trip that must have been for her.

My mom and Budgar traveled between Minneapolis and Phoenix (over 1600 miles) many times.

On one occasion she traveled between Phoenix and Minneapolis by herself and then continued with me to Clarksburg, West Virginia (about 2600 miles in total).

My Grandmother, Donna

My Grandmother was a fantastic traveler. She was born in Albion, Michigan and lived there until about 1914 when she went to California to be one of Max Sennett’s Bathing Beauties and to be in the movie, “Birth of a Nation.”

She traveled from California to Massachusetts in 1915 and lived in the Boston area for a few years.

In 1919, Donna traveled from New York to Decatur, Illinois to join the cast of “Chin Chin.” She then toured with the show to Nebraska, Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, Idaho, Oregon, British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Indiana, Michigan, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Maryland, Vermont, Connecticut, and Massachusetts before the show ended.

Known locations Donna was at during the “Chin Chin” Tour.

In 1922 & 1923, “Donna Darling and Company” went on the road. They started in New York and went to Pennsylvania, Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Wisconsin, North Carolina, South Carolina, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Arkansas.

In 1924, Donna went on another tour heading west from New York to include Montana, Oregon, and California with stops all over in between.

In 1926, Donna had another tour heading west from New York and including Texas, Arizona, California, Oregon, Washington, Montana, Wisconsin, Michigan.

In 1927, Donna had another tour heading south from New York and across to New Orleans and back.

During her travels, virtually all of the trips were via train. A typical day, she’d board the first train out of a city, take the train with her crew, cast, and sets to another town, typically 2 to 4 hours away. The crew would unload and install the sets at the theater. She would then do a show or two that day. After the show, they’d head to a hotel for the night then head out again with the first train to another town. Sometimes, on longer travels, I’m sure they’d sleep on the train while heading to the next city. She had a train stuck in the snow in Nebraska for several days, a trestle washed out in Arizona (where they needed to carry their scenery past the wash-out on their backs), and had an earthquake break the tracks in California.

As I get more and more of her vaudeville career documented, I’ll create maps showing her travels and some of her many travel challenges.

Others

Oxen Team pulling covered wagon – Photo by Don Harrison (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

I don’t know anything about my biological father’s life travels, nor do I know about his parents’ travels. I know that grandpa Dick was in the service and probably traveled cross country with that. He served in Panama, so I’m sure he at least traveled from Minnesota to the Gulf (or a coast) as a minimum. My great-grandmother Mary (Manning) Brown never traveled 1500 miles (to my knowledge), but she did travel the 1000 miles, from Kentucky to Minnesota, by oxen-driven wagon. That trip was with her grandparents, Enoch & Minerva (Toliver) Mannin.  I think a 1000 miles trip by oxen-driven wagon is much tougher than twice that distance by train or automobile, so it should count.

ENDNOTES

[i] Internet: Genea-Musings by Randy Seaver – 27 July 2019 – “Saturday Night Genealogy Fun – Ancestors Trans-Continental Travel (not by Airplane)

 

Ages of my 3rd Great-Grandparents

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun
Brown/Montran Research
Roberts/Barnes Research

By Don Taylor

Randy Seaver, of Genea-Musings, suggested taking a look at our third great-grandparents lifespan.  When were they born; how long did they live? Randy’s suggestions often make me think about my tree and point out where I have holes or other problems in my genealogical research, so I thought I’d give it a try.  Randy’s suggestion this time was no different.

Of my 32 great-grandparents, I only have 23 named in my database. Two are women for whom I only know their married surname.   Only 13 of them, do I have birth and death dates. I have much more work to do to fill in the blanks.

NEW & on my “Want” list.

My earliest born 3rd Great’ was John Calvin Roberts, born 3 March 1795; the most recent born was Andrew Haley born 1837. I was surprised there were 42 years between two ancestors in the same generation.

The youngest to die that I know about was Joel Cruff Taft who died at the age of 48. Barney Daney Brown was born about 1814 and died sometime between 1860 and 1870 could have died at age 46, age 56 or any age in between.

My longest living 3rd great-grandparent was William Sanford who lived to 92. However, I must mention that my great-grandmother Mary (Manning) Brown lived to be 105.

The average age at death for my 3rd great-grandparents was 70.6 years old.

My Ancestors for whom I know their birth and death dates include:
Name Birth Death Age at Death
[Brown], Mary C Abt. 1824 24 Jun 1900 76
Blackhurst, Stephen 1801 24 Dec 1869 68
Blackwell, Elizabeth 10 Sep 1796 05 Jul 1867 70
Brown, Barney Daney Abt. 1814 1860 to 1870 46-56
Haley, Andrew J. 24 Aug 1837 29-Dec-05 68
Mannin, Enoch 03 Jan 1823 7-Apr-07 84
Parsons, Mary Electa 14 Sep 1828 18 Jun 1888 59
Roberts, John Calvin 03 Mar 1795 Apr 1873 76
Sanford, William M 30 Mar 1823 5-Jun-1915 92
Southerland, Fanny 03 Apr 1796 24 Mar 1864 67
Taft, Joel Cruff 25 Dec 1800 19 Apr 1849 48
Taylor, Fanny 1806 1889 83
Tolliver, Minerva Ann 05 Feb 1821 24 Oct 1902 81

As is so often the case with Randy’s exercises, Randy reminds me how much more genealogical work I still need to do. I’d love to learn the birthdates and death dates of all my 3rd great-grandparents. Then again, my genealogical goal is not to fill in the blanks; instead, my goal is to get to know my ancestors, to try to understand them, and to appreciate their lives.

 

Top 10 Surnames in my Roberts-Brown Research

Roberts-Brown-2017
Saturday Night Genealogy Fun
Surname Saturday
By Don Taylor

Photo of Don Taylor with cat Nasi.In a recent “Saturday Night Genealogy Fun,” Randy Seaver suggested we look at our surname list. My Roberts-Brown tree has 6,084 individuals. I manage the tree using Family Tree Maker 2017.  A Surname Report is available under person reports. Two clicks and the report is done is less than a second. The first click was to include all individuals in my file, not just the immediate family. The second click was to sort by surname count. It doesn’t provide a total of the number of unique surnames. But, again a couple clicks do it easily. A click on Share then select export to CSV.  The system asks where you want the report, you save it, then the system asks if you would like to open the Exported Report. I did and my computer launched Microsoft Excel. Entries are every other line. The last surname on the list was line 2801.  Subtract 3 for the three lines of header and divide 2798 by two and I learned I have 1,399 unique surnames in my tree.

I was surprised by the some of the results.

  Surname Count
1 Mannin 424
2 Roberts 243
3 Raidt 183
4 Brown 147
5 Krafve 120
6 Bryant 109
7 Warner 98
8 Wolcott 95
9 Unknown 75
10 Manning 70

Surprises

Raidt is the surname of my son’s maternal grandfather. I have done quite a bit of research on him, but I didn’t realize it was that extensive. For my Raidt research to be number 3 was quite a shock. I should, probably, break this research into a separate project.

Even more shocking was the Krafve surname.  Hildur Krafve was my step-grandmother and is the grandmother of two of my siblings. I didn’t think I researched that family much and was surprised that I have done so much research on that line. I have followed that family name through six generations. With all the children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and so on, there were many names. That it rated high makes sense, but I was still surprised.

I was also surprised by Wolcott. My 5th great-grandmother was Mary Wolcott Parsons.  I have tentatively followed her ancestry back seven more generations to my earliest known ancestor, back in the 1500s.  But still, I had no idea that I had that many known Wolcotts.

Not Surprised

Before I knew who my biological father was, I did a lot of research on the Roberts surname. I was looking for and following potential connections based upon Y-DNA results and other people’s trees. Most of these Roberts entries are not related to me in any meaningful way. That I have over 200 individuals with the Roberts surname didn’t surprise me.
Search Military Records - Fold3

My number one surname was Mannin and that my number 10 surname was Manning didn’t surprise me much. Mary Elizabeth Manning was my great-grandmother and I have done a lot of research in her ancestry. Her husband was Arthur Durrwood Brown. Seeing Brown, and the related surnames if Bryant and Warner, wasn’t much of a surprise either.

Sadly, my number 9 surname, “Unknown,” highlights mistakes in my tree. For a while I used “unknown” when I didn’t know an ancestor’s surname. For married women, whose maiden name don’t know, I’ve begun using their husband’s surname in brackets instead of “LNU” or “unknown.”  That gives me a better idea of where they fit in the tree without needing to see all the other details of the individual. That I have 75 individuals for whom I’ve entered their surname as “unknown” suggests that I need to so some cleanup.  Certainly, “unknown” could be the appropriate entry on occasion, but rarely is it the best entry. As an example, “Ann Laurie Unknown” doesn’t tell me as much as “Ann Laurie [Fannin].”  As long as I remain consistent, I think I’m okay using bracketed names in an unconventional manner.

Conclusion

I enjoy Randy Seaver’s Saturday Night suggestions. They make you think about your family tree in different ways.  In this case, looking at the surnames in this exercise reminded me that I need to be consistent in how I handle unknown surnames.

My Male Ancestors – Birth, Death, and Age at Death

Brown/Montran Research
Roberts/Barnes Research

One of the reasons that I enjoy Randy Seaver’s blog, Genea-Musings is that he regularly makes me realize the missing branches I have in my tree leaves have lots more to do on my tree.  His recent “Saturday Night Genealogy Fun” asked folks to look at their tree and determine the age of death for their male ancestors. (He had done a similar thing for female ancestors the week before.)

Using Heredis, it is really simple to generate such a report. I clicked on myself, then clicked on Documents/Ancestor Report and the system generated the data. Then I went to Report Export, I selected Excel from several options.  After the information exported, the Excel spreadsheet opened automatically.

Because the ahnentafel numbers for the individuals are exported, it is easy to select just the male ancestors by deleting all of the odd numbers. I immediately saw that my 3rd great-grandfather, Enoch Mannin, lived the longest – 88 years. The ancestor who died the earliest was my great-grandfather Hugh Ellis Roberts, who died at an extremely young 24 years of age.

Next, I began seeing my gaps.  I have three people with a range of dates for their life.  For example, my great-grandfather John F. Montran was born sometime between 1860 and 1875 and died sometime before 1911. So, he could have died at 35 or died at 51 years or anywhere in between; I don’t know.

Then, I realized I have six ancestors for whom I have no death dates. More work.

Finally, I realized I have nine ancestors in the past five generations that I know nothing about.  No names, let alone birth or death dates. So, Randy’s challenge reminded me of how much more work I still have to do. But the good news is that I have 11 of my male ancestors identified as to their age at death. Even better, I have eight more this year than I would have had last year (all of my Roberts line.).  I even have one more than I would have had last week, So things are definitely looking up.

Chart of Male Ancestors, Dates of Birth and Death

Ahn. #
Surname
Birth Date
Death Date
Age at Death
Father
2
Hugh Eugene  Roberts
° 9/1926
† 27/3/1997
70
Grandfathers
4
Bert Allen  Roberts
° 7/9/1903
† 1/5/1949
45
6
Richard Earl  Brown
° 14/9/1903
† 19/1/1990
86
Great-Grandfathers
8
Hugh Ellis  Roberts
° 2/7/1884
† 30/8/1908
24
10
Joel Clinton Barnes
° 23/6/1857
† 30/6/1921
64
12
Arthur Durwood  Brown
° ~ 1864
† 27/8/1928
~ 64
14
John F  Montran
° <> 1860 & 1875
† < 1911
< 35
2nd Great-Grandfathers
16
Asa Ellis Roberts
° 28/2/1835
† 8/10/1887
52
18
Samuel Vaden Scott
° 1860
† 1931
71
20
Nelson Barnes
° 24/3/1816
† 21/2/1884
67
22
Nimrod Lister
° <> 1824 & 1827
† < 1909
< 82
24
William Henry Brown
° 1842
26
John William  Manning
° ~ 1845
† 25/4/1888
~ 43
28
Unknown (Montran)
30
Franklin E  Barber
° 10/1836
† 7/4/1917
80
Third Great-Grandfathers
32
John Calvin Roberts
° 3/3/1795
† 4/1873
78
34
Unknown Marshall
36
William H. Scott
38
Adrico J. Haley
40
Unknown (Barnes)
42
Unknown
44
Unknown (Lister)
46
Unknown
48
Barney Brown
° ~ 1814
† <> 1860 & 1870
<> 46 & 55
50
William M  Sanford
° ~ 1822
52
Enoch  Mannin
° 1819
† 7/4/1907
88
54
Unknown
56
Unknown (Montran)
58
Unknown
60
Unknown (Barber)
62
Stephen  Blackhurst
° ~ 1804
† 24/12/1869
~ 65
———-  DISCLAIMER  ———-

 

It is all the rage – Birthplace Charts

It has become all the rage. Doing a birthplace chart.  I understand that J. Paul Hawthorne started the idea on Facebook of doing a simple pedigree chart indicating where your ancestors came from.  It has been picked up by many others, including Judy Russell, in her blog, The Legal Genealogist.  It was also suggested in Randy Seaver’s Genea-Musings  blog, so I just had to jump on the bandwagon and give it a try.
Don’s Birthplace Chart

There are several templates available, both Judy and Randy suggested one at on Google Drives.  I used it and filled in my entries with my own colors. 

My Birthplace Chart

It is clear, Michigan (light blue), with seven ancestors, is the most common state where my ancestors were born.  Next most common was Illinois (brown), with five ancestors born there.
There is a little bit of the Western Movement showing up in my chart.  New York to Indiana, Ohio to Indiana, but more so, I think, a northern movement shows up with Tennessee to Illinois to Michigan and Kentucky and Michigan to North Dakota. The unknown birth location for my maternal, great-grandfather’s parents jumps out like a sore thumb.  Trying to figure out those ancestors names and birth places is high on my list of tasks for my Brown/Montran research.
Rather than just saying England, I added the flag to show the birthplace of my 2nd great grandmother, my only known immigrant ancestor in four generations. 
My wife’s Birthplace Chart

Then I got to thinking, I really couldn’t do one of these charts without doing one for my wife’s family. We went to Easter dinner yesterday at one of niece’s homes. We enjoyed conversation with several family members. Needles-to-say, at some point anytime there is a family get together somehow the conversation turns to genealogy.  Anyway, I just happened to bring a hard copy of my wife’s birthplace chart.  It would be identical for her brother, except for the place of birth. Her brother, “J,” loved the chart and took it with him. 

I have really enjoyed the Saturday Night Genealogy Fun activity. Thanks for sharing the idea. Both my wife’s and my Birthplace charts are interesting to look at; they provide a visual representation of family lines and allows me to see things and notice things I might not otherwise notice.  Thank you J. Paul Hawthorn for the idea and thanks to Judy Russell and Randy Seaver for promoting it to be “all the rage.”

–       Don Taylor

———- DISCLAIMER ———-