Ethel Wight Collection – Part 24

Brown, Bruns, Buckley, Bucklin, & Utterstrom

Photo Friday
Ethel Wight Collection
By Don Taylor

Photo of Don Taylor with cat Nasi.This week, for Photo Friday, I identify the people in five more envelopes from the Ethel Wight Studio Collection[i]. The envelopes contain the names who paid for the photos, not necessarily of the individual portrayed in the image. As such, it is important to analyze the pictures and information to identify the individual therein.[ii] Ultimately, my goal is to reunite the photos with family members who may have never seen the image.

Alice Davenport Bucklin, circa 1936

The envelope this negative was in says, “Miss Alice Bucklin, 11 Surrender St., Portland #744.”

A search for Alice Bucklin of Portland yielded an Alice Davenport Bucklin in the 1933 South Portland High School Yearbook. The yearbook photo appears to be of the same young woman to me.

The 1920 US Census identifies Alice D. Bucklin as the five-year-old daughter of Joseph W. and  Gertrude B. Bucklin, living at 15 Henry Street. Note that she has an older brother Joseph E. Bucklin.

I haven’t found Alice in the 1930 Census, but she does appear in the 1934 Portland City Directory as a student nurse residing at 804 Congress. She does not appear in the 1935 City Directory; however, her brother Joseph E. Bucklin and his wife live at 11 Surrenden, the same address provided to Ethel Wight.  Alice married Charles H Paulsen on 29 June 1936, which explains why I’ve been unable to find her in other documents.


Family Search identifies Alice D. Bucklin, the daughter of Joseph William and Gertrude Belle (Nash) Bucklin, as ID GMVX-516. I am quite sure this is Alice about 1936, before her marriage to Charles Henry Paulson. I have uploaded two photos of her to her Family Search profile. Ancestry Family Trees have at least 26 trees which include Alice.

Haswell M. Bruns, circa 1935

The envelope this negative was in says, “Mr. H. M. Bruns, 6 Roberts St, Portland #333.”

Haswell M. Bruns, circa 1935

The 1934 Portland City Directory lists Haswell M. Bruns living at 6 Roberts. The 1930 Census enumerated the 21-year-old Haswell in the household of his father Jens Neilson and Ethel Libby (Skillings) Bruns also at 6 Roberts. Suggesting Haswell was born about 1909. Further research found he was born 26 May 1908 and died 15 May 1969.


Family Search identifies Haswell Bruns, the son of Jens and Ethel Bruns, as id LVVF-HLS. I am sure this is Haswell about 1935. I have uploaded a photo of him to his Family Search profile. There are about 11 Ancestry Trees which include Haswell Marshall Bruns.

John Brown of High Street, Portland, circa 1935

This negative’s envelope says, “Mr. John Brown, 108 High St, Portland #665.”

John Brown of High Street, Portland, circa 1935

The 1934 Portland City directory lists John Brown, a stevedore, residing at 108 High. The 1935 directory finds him associated with the Dew Drop Lunch at 17 Pleasant. The 1936 Portland City Directory available online is missing pages 173 thru 177, so I can’t see him there. The 1937 Portland City Directory shows John Brown, associated with the Dewdrop Lunch residing at 56 Maple. The 1938 and the 1941 directories both put John Brown at 56 Maple. However, I have been unable to find him in the 1940 Census.

The 1932 &1933 Directory shows John Brown, a stevedore residing at 108 High.

The 1931 directory shows a John Brown living at 92 Arcadia. That John Brown was a 40-year-old carpenter from Poland. The John Brown in the photo appears to be older than 45, and his occupation is inconsistent with the John Brown of 108 High Street and 56 Maple.

It will take a lot more research to sort out the various John Browns of Portland, Maine, to determine the exact John Brown of the photo.

I have added his photo to Dead Fred.

John Joseph Buckley, circa 1937

The envelope this negative was in says, “Mr. John J. Buckley, 377 Cumberland Ave, Portland #648.”

This photo is of a young boy, probably about 14 or 15 years old. The 1940 Census lists a John J. Buckley (born about 1923 in Canada) and who lived in Portland in 1935, living with his parents, William P (born about 1886 in Canada)and Catherine M. Buckley at 363 Cumberland. The 1935 City Directory has William P and Catherine living at 377 Cumberland, so I am confident this photo is of their son, John J. Buckley, who was born in Canada about 1923.

I was not successful in finding a profile for either John J. Buckley or his parents, William P. and Catherine M. Buckley, on Family Search. However, John Joseph Buckley is found in three Ancestry family trees. There were three photos of John, so I have one here, and I uploaded two additional images to Dead Fred.

Dorothea Louise Utterstrom, circa 1937

The envelope this negative was in says, “Mrs. Frank Utterstrom, 23 Olympia St, Portland #365.”

Dorothea Louise Utterstrom, circa 1937

When I saw this name, I immediately knew it was a person from my Blanchard-Utterstrom Project. I knew that Frank Raymond and Dorothy E (Semple) Utterstrom had a daughter, Dorothea Louise Utterstrom, born on 28 August 1927. The 1930 Census enumerated Frank, Dorothy, and Dorothea living at 23 Olympia in Portland.

At first, I thought these two photos might be of two different people, because one is in a coat and the other in a dress. Both show a round-faced girl with similar bangs, similar hair length, and what appears, to me, the same dress. As such, I believe this is the same girl in both photos taken

Dorothea Louise Utterstrom, circa 1937

about 1937. Sadly, in one of the photos, the girl’s face is slightly out of focus.

Family Search did not have a profile for Dorothea, so I added her two photos to Dead Fred.


I had:

      • Two successful identifications where I could post to Family Search
      • Two other identifications that didn’t have profiles on Family search, so I uploaded them to Dead Fred.
      • One inconclusive identification (several potential candidates)

Final Note

If any of these photos are of your family member, I would love to hear your reaction. Especially if this photo is of a loved one for whom you hadn’t seen this photograph before.


[i] The Wight Studio was in Portland, Maine. Many thanks to Ethel Wight’s family for access to and permission to use the collection of their great aunt.

[ii] These images were converted to positives using a lightbox, a Nikon camera, and Photoshop Elements.

Ethel Wight Collection – Part 23

Brisson, Broderick, & Brown (3)

Photo Friday
By Don Taylor

Photo of Don Taylor with cat Nasi.This week for Photo Friday, I identify the people in five more envelopes from the Ethel Wight Studio Collection[i]. The envelopes contain the names of the individual who paid for the photograph session, not necessarily of the individual portrayed in the image. As such, it is vital to analyze the photo and information to positively identify the photographs.[ii] Ultimately, my goal is to reunite the pictures with family members who may have never seen the image.

Stanley, Robert, & Donald Brisson, circa 1937.

The envelope this negative was in says, “Mrs. Leon Brisson, 1883 Washington Ave, Portland, #920.”

The 1937 Portland City Directory lists Leon F. Brisson and his wife Merna J. living at 1887 Washington Ave. Leon was a fireman with the MC RR. The 1940 U.S. Census enumerated the Leon F. Brisson household consisting of Leon, his wife Myrna, three boys, Robert J (Age 12), Donald L (Age 11) and Stanley W. (Age 10), and a young daughter (age 2). The three boys in this photo are Robert, Donald, and Stanley.

Family Search identifies Robert Brisson (1928-___) as ID: LTTT-G8H, Donald L Brisson (1929-2006) as ID: LTTT-7NV, and Stanley (1930-___) as ID: LTTT-C84. I have uploaded a photo of the trio to their Family Search profiles. Forty-one trees on Ancestry refer to Leon Freeman Brisson.

Mary Broderick (1900-1950), circa 1937

The envelope this negative was in says, “Miss Mary Broderick, Exeter Hospital, Exeter, N.H., #539.” The photo appears to be of a woman in her mid-30s.

Mary Broderick of Exeter, NH

Mary A. Broderick, the 31-year-old single daughter of Daniel and Katherine Broderick, lived with her parents at 5 Cottage Street, Exeter, Rockingham County, New Hampshire, during the 1930 Census. She was working as a stenographer for the Electric Company. The 1941 Exeter City Directory indicates that Daniel died March 1939. Mary Agnes Broderick was born on 18 June 1900 in Exeter. The 1940 Census finds “Agnes” still ling at 5 Cottage Street, now with her brother, Joseph T. Broderick. In 1940, Agnes was working as a stenographer at N.H. Gas & Electric, Co.

I am reasonably confident that Mary Agnes Broderick, the daughter of Daniel Patrick Broderick and Catherine Donahue, is the same Mary Broderick in the photo. However, I have been unable to find any connection between Mary and the Exeter Hospital, a Family Search profile, or a specific tree on Ancestry. As such, I have added her photo to Dead Fred.

Either Rena Ione (Redmond) Brown (1900-1992) or Constance L. (LNU) Brown (___-___), circa 1937

The envelope this negative was in says, “Mrs. Blanchard Brown, 166 Brentwood St., Portland, #771.”

This timeline is somewhat convoluted, but here goes:

1930 – Blanchard H. Brown married Rena Ione Redmond on 20 August 1919 in Portsmouth, NH. They were living together as husband and wife during the 1930 Census living at 28 Pleasant Ave. Blanchard was 37, and Rena was 29. They had been married for ten years.

1935 – The 1935 Portland City Directory indicates that Blanchard and Rena are living at 166 Brentwood.

1936 – The 1936 Portland City Directory is missing pages 173 through 177, which are the pages I expect to find Blanchard and Constance on. I need to follow-up and view the 1936 Directory.

1937 – The 1937 Portland City Directory does not list a wife for Blanchard H. Brown. It does list Mrs. Rena I Brown living at 15 Rackleff.

1938 – It is the 1938 city directory that puts everything into chaos. It lists Blanchard Brown and Mrs. Constance L. Brown living at 166 Brentwood. Note that Constance Brown was not listed in the 1937 directory.

1939 – The 1939 Portland City Directory lists Blanchard H Brown and his wife, Constance L., living at 166 Brentwood. All would seem fine except that Blanchard married Philomena K. Curato on 2 October 1939 in Portland.

1940 – The 1940 U.S. Census lists Blanchard H. Brown, and his wife Philomena, living at 166 Brentwood.

So, who was Constance? I have not found any records of Blanchard H. Brown marrying someone named Constance. I suspect that Constance was a live-in significant other that was only reported as his wife to keep appearances. If that is the case, then who is the photo of.  Based upon the number (771), the picture is likely to have been taken about 1937. If that is the case, I think it is likely a photo of Rena. However, If Blanchard married Constance about 1937, it could easily be a photo of his new wife at that time.

Maybe a family member of Rena can confirm it is a photo of her, or perhaps a family member of Blanchard can confirm his having another significant relationship.

Rena Ione Redmond has a profile on Family Search of LKR3-QBR. Over 40 Ancestry Family Trees refer to Rena Ione Redmond Brown Marshall. Without finding a marriage or divorce record for Constance L [Brown], I cannot find her on Family Search. Likewise, none of the 30-plus trees on Ancestry show Blanchard Hilchey Brown indicates a spouse name, “Constance.” As I believe this photo could be either Rena or Constance, I have not posted it to either place.

Orrin Richard “Dick” Brown (1929-1999), circa 1937

The envelope this negative was in says, “Mrs. D. J. Brown, 8 Grand St., Portland, #151.”

I thought the name was D.J. Brown; however, a review of the 1933 Portland City Directory found Orrin J. Brown and his wife Irene living at 8 Grand, which convinced me it was “O. J. Brown.” They were still living at that address for the 1940 City Directory. The 1940 Census found “Arrin J.” and his wife Irene Brown living at 8 Grand Street in Portland. With him was his wife and two sons, Richard L and Robert, ages 11 and 8. As this photo was taken about 1937, and the boy in the photo appears to be more likely an eight-year-old than a five-year-old, I believe it to be Richard and not Robert.

Family Search identifies Orrin Richard Brown (1929-1999) as ID: LT6J-FFL. I have uploaded a photo of him to his Family Search profile. (I have a similar image of Richard; however, it is pretty blurry.) Three Ancestry trees also refer to Orrin Richard Brown.

Dorothy Brown (1926-___), circa 1936.

This negative envelope says, “Miss Dorothy Brown, 22 Paris St., Portland, #193.”

The 1938 Portland City Directory recorded Edward R. Brown, and his wife Ethel R., living at 22 Parris. The 1940 Census finds Edward R and Ethel living with their 14-year-old daughter, Dorothy E. Brown, living at 24 Mechanic Street, Portland. This photo was of Dorothy about 1936 when she was about ten years old.

Family Search identifies Dorothy E. Brown (1926-___) as ID: LT6X-H25. I have uploaded a photo of Dorothy to her Family Search profile. No Ancestry trees refer to Dorothy; however, nine trees identify her parents, Edward Russell and Ethel M (Denbow) Brown.


I had:

      • Five successful identifications where I could post to Family Search
      • One probable identification that I posted to Dead Fred and contacted other researchers for confirmation.
      • One inconclusive identification (two potential candidates).

Final Note

If any of these photos are of a family member, I would love to hear your reaction.


[i] The Wight Studio was in Portland, Maine. All photos are ©Copyright Heirs of Ethel Wight.

My thanks to Ethel Wight’s family for access to and permission to use the collection of their great aunt for genealogical purposes.

[ii] These images were converted to positives using a lightbox, a Nikon camera, and computer software.

Ancestor Bio – Chester Parsons (1799-1887)

52 Ancestors – Week 2018-16

By Don Taylor

I never imagined I’d have an ancestor that there is just too much information available. Amazingly, I have more information about Chester Parsons and his life than I can keep up with. Ancestry, suggests there are 85 Ancestry Hints and 13 other public Ancestry Member Trees relating to Chester Parsons. Admittedly, five of those Ancestry Hints are from me because of one of those old trees, but still 80 Hints is more than I recall seeing elsewhere. I went through all of them, several weren’t clearly my Chester Parsons (1799-1887) and appeared to have been other Chesters. But still, there were a couple items I hadn’t seen before including a photo of Chester. I have several sources of information that I didn’t add to my tree because they didn’t add any new detail, instead confirmed information that I already had. But still, I ended up using 21 sources for information about Chester’s life.

Brown-Roberts Research 2017 – Ancestor #102

List of Grandparents

Chester Parsons (1799-1887)

Chester Parsons was born on 1 December 1799, the fifth child of John Parsons, Jr. and Mary Wolcott, in Sandisfield, Berkshire County, Massachusetts.

Chester’s siblings included:

  • Samuel –  Born 5 Apr 1787
  • Polly – Born 17 Jan 1792
  • Orrin – Born 6 Mar 1794
  • John – Born 5 May 1796


Sometime shortly after his birth and before 1802, the family moved from Massachusetts to Windham, Greene County, New York. In April 1813, Chester’s father, John, died. It appears that older brothers Samuel and Orrin established their own households by the 1820 Census. I have not been successful determining where Chester, his sister Polly, his brother John or his mother, Mary, were during the 1820 Census. I suspect they were living with another family member whose surname was not Parsons.


Chester married Deborah Buel Maben on 26 November 1824 in Greene County, New York.

They had eight children

  • Lucinda           Born 1825 in New York
  • James               Born 1826 in Michigan
  • Mary Electa   Born 1828 in Michigan
  • Alfred David  Born 1830 in Michigan
  • Harriet Eliza Born 1832 in Michigan
  • E. W.                 Born 1833 in Michigan
  • Sarah Jane     Born 1833 in Michigan
  • Melissa           Born 1843 in Michigan


In May 1826, Chester and his brother, Orrin headed west to Michigan Territory. The two of them purchased 160 acres of land in Saline Township on 1 November 1826. They built the first mill in the area as well as the first frame house.

The 1830 Census found Chester as the head of the household consisting of two males and three females. On 1 August 1831, Chester purchased 78.24 acres of land, and in 1837 he bought another 80 acres.

The 1840 Census found Chester’s household consisting of four males and six females. There is one male, age 50 to 60 and one female age 20 to 30 that are unknown and do not appear to be Chester’s children.

The 1850 Census finds the Chester Parsons household consisting of Chester, his wife, five of his daughters, one son, and four unrelated farm hands, although Zebe Fuller would marry his daughter Harriet.  Chester’s real property was valued at $7,800.

The 1860 Census finds a prosperous Chester Parsons living with his wife and two daughters. Also living in the household are two young females, ages 19 and 22 who are domestics as well as three farm laborers. Chester’s real property was valued at $12,500.

The 1870 Census finds Chester and his wife, Deborah, living alone. His real estate is valued at $21,000 and his personal property at $5,000.

Deborah died in 1874 at the age of 69. They had been married for nearly 50 years.

C. Parsons Home

Chester remarried on 11 November 1875 to the Widow Wakefield. Chester’s second wife, Jennette Arnold Wakefield, was 24 years younger than Chester.

The 1880 Census finds Chester and Jennett living together in Saline, Chester was 80 and Jennett was 56 and keeping house.

Chester died on 7 June 1887. He was buried at Benton Cemetery, in Plot 30 next to his first wife.

Chester’s property went through probate. Many of his children and grandchildren were mentioned in the various probate documents. There were auctions of his property as well. At one auction, on November 28th, 1890, 52 acres wheat on the ground sold for $6.95 per acre. Also, and a large number of farm implements. Sixty acres of timberland was sold to Sturm and Reeves. Also sold at the auction were 12 cows, 16 head young cattle, and seven horses,

Because Chester was an early pioneer in Saline Township he is often mentioned in various historical books, such as The History of Washtenaw County, and newspaper articles long after his death. According to them Orrin and Chester built the first sawmill in town in 1827, two miles south of the village. There is another story where Chester and Orrin were concerned that someone else might purchase the land they wanted, so they walked by an old Indian trail through the night to Monroe to acquire the property. Chester became the postmaster for Benton in 1835 and cut a road from Saline to Tecumseh road. He kept a hotel before the railroad was completed to Ann Arbor.

Page 437 of The History of Washtenaw County provides a portrait of Chester Parsons. (See above.)

Marker – Chester Parsons – Courtesy Find a Grave

Likewise, page 105 of York, Saline, Ypsilanti, Lyndon, Sharon (Mich.) Township residences, ca. 1874, provides an image of Chester Parsons’ house in Saline. (See above.)

I’ve found a photo of Chester, a birth record, a death record, two marriage records, presumably him in the 1800 Census and through all the Census records in his adult life, 1830 through 1880. I’ve found photos of his home, Bureau of Land Management records of his land purchases, his probate records, and maps showing his property during various years. Finally, stories about his life and activities abound.  His was a life well lived and I am proud to be descended from him.

Further Actions / Follow-up

  • The History of Washtenaw County, page 1406, indicates that Chester’s wife Deborah wrote a history of their move from New York to Michigan what recounted the “hardships and privations of their early pioneer life.” Apparently, she did not complete it, but I would love to find a copy of whatever might have survived from that writing.

Search Military Records - Fold3


I have so many sources for Chester Parsons, I’ve decided to abbreviate the sources so that the sources aren’t longer than the article. Additional detail is available; however, the information provided should be sufficient to find the record.

  • 1800 Census – John Parsons Jr. – Sandisfield, Berkshire, Massachusetts (3rd from bottom).
  • 1830 Census – Chester Parsons – Saline, Washtenaw, Michigan Territory/
  • 1840 Census – Chester Parsons – Saline, Washtenaw, Michigan
  • 1850 Census – Chester Parsons – Saline, Washtenaw, Michigan
  • 1860 Census – Chester Parsons – Saline, Washtenaw, Michigan
  • 1870 Census – Chester Parson – Saline, Washtenaw, Michigan
  • 1880 Census – Chester Parsons – Saline, Washtenaw, Michigan
  • Daughters of the American Revolution, “Ancestor Search,” DAR, Buell, Grover – Patriot: A016639 – Member: Ruth Evelyn Hill Carr
  • Daughters of the American Revolution, “Ancestor Search,” DAR, Maben, John – Patriot: A072838 – Member: Ruth Evelyn Hill Carr
  • Chas. C. Chapman & Co. (2012). History of Washtenaw County, Michigan: Together with sketches of its cities, villages and townships, educational, religious, civil, military, and political history; portraits of prominent persons, and biographies of representative citizens: history of Michigan: embracing accounts of the pre-historic races, aborigines, French, English and American conquests, and a general review of its civil, political and military history – Pages 1370, 1371, 1373, & 1405.
  • Massachusetts, Town and Vital Records, 1620 – Operations, Inc., 2011 – Parsons.
  • Michigan, Death Records, 1867-1950 – Chester Parsons – Died: 7 Jun 1887.
  • Michigan, Marriage Records, 1867-1952, Ancestry.Com. – Chester Parsons – Jennett Wakefield.
  • The Saline Observer (Saline, MI)– Various repositories:
    • 1882-08-17, Page 3, Column 2, Para 16
    • 1890-11-20, Page 7 – Auctions – Chester Parsons
    • 1890-12-04, Page 5, Column 2, Paragraph 6 – Chester Parsons
    • 1890-12-18, Page 7, Column 3, Paragraph 19 – Chester Parsons
    • 1897-06-24, Page 5, Column 2, bottom –  Obit – Janette A Arnold [Parsons]

————–  Disclaimer  ————–

Review – DNA Painter

Tech Tuesday
By Don Taylor

Photo of Don Taylor with cat Nasi.Last fall, Blaine Bettinger mentioned in his Facebook group, “Genetic Genealogy Tips & Techniques” an introduction video was available on YouTube for DNA Painter. I respect Blaine’s opinions, so I knew that I wanted to give it a try. It took a while for me to get to it and I’m glad I finally did. Wow, great program.

DNA Painter helps you understand exactly where your DNA came from. With it you can determine if a segment of your DNA you have may have come from your great grandmother on your maternal grandmother’s side or from another ancestor.  You can paint with common DNA information from GEDMatch, Family Finder (Family Tree DNA), or 23&Me. Sadly, Ancestry doesn’t provide DNA segment matching data, so it can’t be used. However, the raw data from Ancestry may be exported by the DNA owner and then imported into GEDMatch or Family Finder where you may export the data for use in DNA Painter.

The DNA Painter video was great. I only needed to watch it once and I was confident I understood the tool enough to use it for DNA painting. I was right; the tool is very easy to use.

I am fortunate because I have had my mother tested and I have her results. So, if my mother has a DNA Segment and I have it, I know it came from her. All the other DNA that I received from my biological father, who passed away before autosomal DNA testing became available.

I began doing the DNA painting, copying the data about matching segments of DNA from various cousins. When I looked at the matches from my half-aunt and myself, I could see exactly which DNA segments came from my maternal grandfather (and his ancestors). I compared with a known third cousin and saw which DNA came from our common second great-grandparents.

Image of Note: Chromosome 3 has a long DNA segment known to be from Hugh Eugene Roberts
Note: Chromosome 3 (top line) has a long DNA segment known to be from Hugh Eugene Roberts
Image of Chromosome 3 has two DNA segments (in pink) known to be from Asa Roberts and a one segment from an unknown Ancestor, not Asa.
Note: Chromosome 3 (top line) has two DNA segments (in pink) known to be from Asa Roberts and one segment from an unknown Ancestor, not Asa.

I could see where bits of DNA came from.  In another example, I received a nice 141cM chunk of DNA from my father on Chromosome 3. Based upon other DNA matches, of that fragment of DNA a 21cM piece of it and another 17cM piece of was inherited from Asa Roberts. He also had a sizeable 47cM chunk of DNA inherited from another ancestor that apparently was not Asa. I don’t know who it was yet, but additional samples should show its source. It was fun to do, but I couldn’t see a substantial genealogical reason for doing it. How could I use this tool?

Image of DNA Painter - AHW match on C13
DNA Painter shows three DNA segments match on C. 13 for Glennis.

Then, I thought about my half-sister Glennis, so I started a new profile and began painting her DNA. We share a common mother, so, once again, I was able to copy that information into her profile and have all of her maternal DNA. Then, I could focus entirely on her unknown paternal side.  I began finding any of her biological cousins that do not contain our mom’s DNA. That is when I started to see a pattern.  There were segments that were shared by a common ancestor of multiple individuals. That proved, to me, that these segments were from a common ancestor. Their trees indicated that they shared a known ancestor, so I know that Glennis shares either the same common ancestor or an ancestor of that individual. Furthermore, if the individual is more genetically distant than a second cousin, I know that the descendants below the person’s second great-grandparent cannot be a direct line. That can save me considerable research disproving a potential family line.

DNA Painter is a great tool that can help identify likely genetic ancestors and help identify unlikely descendant lines. I like it.



Top 10 Surnames in my Roberts-Brown Research

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


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.


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.