The Life and Travels of Peter Howell by Himself

This week I began research on the Howell Family Tree (my wife’s).  I had very little on her grandfather, a bit more on his father (who was in the Civil War) and very little about his father Peter Howell.

Unfortunately, or fortunately as it turned out, her grandfather, went by his initials most of the time. I knew he was a Baptist preacher in North Carolina. So I started searching Baptist records in North Carolina just searching for “Howell” and not his first name, nor his initials, just “Howell.”  Suddenly a WOW!  Up popped a book, “The Life and Travels of Peter Howell”.  My wife’s great and her 2nd great grandfathers were both named Peter Howell.  Could this be the same Peter Howell.  Found the book was at a library in Raleigh reference section.  I then searched around for the title elsewhere and found it at archive.org, which is a must site for your searches.  I downloaded the files and began to read.  It was the right one, born 1805, married to Caroline Pankey, lived in Virginia…. it was the right Peter Howell.

The first page was a bit of a disappointment, he mentions his birthdate (which we didn’t have before) but not his parent’s names.  He spent his adult life as an itinerant preacher. He traveled from town to town preaching in people’s homes, at court houses, at Methodist and Baptist churches, even on occasion at quaker meeting halls, masonic temples and a Catholic Church. He walked almost everywhere putting on over two thousand miles walking in one year preaching at hundreds of places.  He describes town, buildings, such as the Virginia and North Carolina State Houses, as well as places like Kitty Hawk and Kill Devil Hills.  He mentions churches,  and most importantly people throughout his travels. Sadly, he mentions very little about his personal life or his family, but the book does provide a wonderful insight into the life of a itinerate preacher of the 1840’s.

He seldom ever mentions his two daughters.  He does correct one name Lousianna (I had Laurana previously) but never mentions the name of his second son nor his second daughter. He confirmed the name of his first son and, in the book, corrects the name I had for his youngest child.  More importantly, he provides county information for his parents, marriage information for a sister, and the names and living locations for a couple brothers that I had no information about.

It took many hours to go through the book, determine genealogically interesting information, and incorporate them and the source references into my tree.  

Of course one of the greatest finds in the book was a drawing of the author, Peter Howell (b. 1805).

Y-DNA – Post2: The Test, Results, & Roberts Connection

I
was really excited to get the test. I did the cheek swabs and sent it back the
following day.  Then the long wait – It
seemed like months, but was probably only a few weeks.  I don’t recall when I sent the swab in, but
in November, 2008, I receive the results. 
They determined I am haplogroup R1b – who Ancestry calls “The
Artisans”.  Basically, they are the folks
from what is now the British Isles, France, and the Iberian Peninsula.  No surprise there, I always figured I was of
Northern European decent as I my skin is quite light, I was blond as a kid, and
had a lot of red in my beard as a young man. (It is grey now.)
Then
the click to see matches.  My closest
match was a person with whom I shared a common ancestor 10 generations ago. His
last name was “Roberts.”  Assuming there
weren’t any sideways name changes (like mine), it might be that I was fathered
by someone with the surname of Roberts. 
Now, I could tie my ancestry to a possible name.  Of course, in my excitement of finding a
possible connection I didn’t realize that over 10 generations there were likely
thousands of male offspring.  Although he
had 11 generations of male ancestors in his tree, if I started at that tenth
generation ancestor and each generation had two boys, then there would be over
2000 potential father candidates, assuming I could follow each of the
lines.  It became dejecting but I hoped
to persevere in the long rum.  I
connected with Mr. Roberts and exchange trees with him to this day.  Ancestry has updated their database and he
now shows as sharing a common ancestor with me 14 generations ago.
Another
two men with the surname Roberts have shown up as sharing a common ancestor
within 10 generations.  I haven’t
contacted them yet but probably will do so in the near future.    
Then
the most amazing thing occurred.  A
person popped into the DNA matches with whom our MRCA (most recent common
ancestor) is only 3 generations away. 
Wow!  He too is a Roberts.  Finally someone who’s tree I can work with to
determine a possible father.  I contacted
him and he agreed to share trees with me. Of course, Ancestry’s MRCA
determination isn’t quite a clean as you might think.  It is really complicated, but basically there
is a 50% chance that this person and I share a common ancestor within 3
generations.  I looked at his tree
closely, nothing jumped out at me, no one lived in the right city at the right
time.  More importantly, none of his
three ancestor generations could be candidates nor any of their offspring.  So, based upon his known tree, I’ve begun a
Roberts Notional tree wherein I’m going back to his fourth, fifth, and sixth
ancestral generations then following each of the male offspring looking for
someone who might be the right Roberts at the right place and time.  I’m afraid I might need to wait another 10
years until the 1950 census comes out to find out the answer.  Certainly, the family tree can wait a few
more years.
Next – My Brother-in-law’s DNA Test & Results

Webinar – Privacy & Our Ancestors

I watched the webinar, “Privacy and Our Ancestors” given by Thomas MacEntee on October 3rd.  I really like his delivery style and this talk was spot on. He had a lot to say about expectations regarding privacy over different times.  His webinar is available for free at Legacy Family Tree archives until October 15. If you can’t see it by then, I think this one might be worth purchasing the CD.  Here is the Webinar Description.

Privacy and Our Ancestors. With all the news about privacy, identity theft and the role of access to vital records, have you ever considered that in 2012 most of us (at least here in the United States) have more privacy than our ancestors? As a result of living in the a digital age ruled by the Internet and social media, is there really less privacy than in prior years? In fact, the reverse is true. Learn what type of information about your ancestors was public and how to find it!

Besides his Privacy information, he gives several other hints that I found really good, such as joining the SCGS which I hadn’t thought of doing before his talk.  I probably will do so now though.

Stop Georgia State Archives Closing

I received an eMail regarding the Georgia State Archives being Closed to Public Access.  Today’s number of supporters is 16,626 and 50,000 supporters are needed.  I signed the petition and I hope you will too.

———————

The secretary of State has announced that the Georgia Archives will be closed to public access November 1st and that staff serving public access will be eliminated because Governor Nathan Deal required a 3% budget cut from this year’s budget.  Public access to the records of government is an essential element of a democratic society.  



It is critical that we muster thousands of Georgians to sign a petition requesting that the Governor reverse this decision.  Could you please ask the preservation and public history students to sign the online petition and to get at least five of their closest friends to sign the petition as well.  As of 4:30 this afternoon 3,333 had signed.  We need 50,00 from all parts of Georgia.

A news account of the closing can be found at: http://www.bizjournals.com/atlanta/news/2012/09/13/georgia-archives-closing-due-to-budget.html

Signers can go to: http://www.change.org/petitions/the-governor-of-ga-leave-our-state-archives-open-to-the-public?utm_campaign=new_signature&utm_medium=email&utm_source=signature_receipt#share

Genealogical Success Rating – 4%

Crista Cowan suggested on the Ancestry.com Aces Program group on Facebook that we do a simple math exercise about quantifying our successes in genealogy. I thought I had been doing pretty good, all things considered, but see I was only deluding myself.

I know that I’ve done a lot better on my wife’s tree and that not knowing my father cuts my possibility to 50% on all generations except 1-4 which is 53%.  (Figuring out who my natural father was is another project I’m working on).  When I can determine who that is, thanks to DNA Testing, it will open up the other side dramatically, probably double all numbers.

Anyway, here are my numbers.

Generations 1-4: 8 out of 15 (53.3%)
5th Generation: 6 out of 16 (37.5%)
6th Generation: 4 out of 32 (12.5%)
7th Generation: 6 out of 64 (9.3%)
8th Generation: 6 out of 128 (4.7%)
9th Generation: 5 out of 256 (2.0%)
10th Generation: 6 out of 512 (1.2%)

Total: 41 out of 1,023 (4.0%)

By the way, if I use my stepfather Generations 1-4 jump to 100% and the 5th generation jumps to 10 of 16 (62.5).

Wow, I have a lot of work to do on my tree, so you can expect to see I’ll be working on Brown/Montran and the “Roberts Notional” trees in the near future.  The Roberts Notional tree I’m working on is based upon DNA results which I’ll write more about later.