Wolcott – Surname Saturday

By Don Taylor

Photo of Don Taylor with cat Nasi.Ancestry indicates that the surname “Wolcott” is a Habitational name for someone from Wollcot in Somerset, England. Possibly so named from the Middle English wolle meaning “spring” and cot, meaning “cottage” or “shelter.” Forebears indicate it is derived from a person from Wollscott in Warwickshire.

Geographical

Approximately 7,775 people worldwide bear the surname Wolcott, and 7,650 of them live in the United States. With the most living in New York, California, and Florida.

Wolcott Ancestors

I have eight known Wolcott ancestors:

    • 5th Great-grandmother: Mary Wolcott(1767-1857) b. Mass., d. New York
    • 6th Great-grandfather: Samuel Wolcott (1736-1802) – b. & d. Connecticut.[i]
    • 7th Great-grandfather: Samuel Wolcott (1713-1800)
    • 8th Great-grandfather: Samuel Wolcott (1679-1734)
    • 9th Great-grandfather: Samuel Wolcott (1656-1695)
    • 10th Great-grandfather: Henry Wolcott (____-1680)
    • 11th Great-grandfather: Henry Wolcott (____-1655)
    • 12th Great-grandfather: John Wolcott (____-____)

Historical

Mary Wolcott was born in Massachusetts and died in New York.

Her father, Samuel Wolcott, was born and died in Connecticut.

I do not have birth locations for the earlier ancestors; however, Henry Wolcott was one of the founders of Windsor, Connecticut, and was identified as one of the original persons identified in the 1662 Charter of Connecticut (the basis of Connecticut being the “Constitution State”).

Wolcott Descendants

I have 867 known descendants of John Wolcott; 121 Brown, 94 Wolcott, 31 Parsons, 17 Berg, 16 Hanson, 16 Larson, and 15 Briggs descendants. Six hundred eighty of those descendants are known descendants of Mary Wolcott. I have previously written about 5 of them.

Famous Wolcott’s

Wikipedia indicates fifteen famous Wolcott’s, including three governors, two senators, a representative, and a signer of the Declaration of Independence, Oliver Wolcott. There are also eight places named “Wolcott” in the US.


Sources:

Ancestry Surname Page: http://www.ancestry.com/learn/facts.
Forebears Surnames Page: http://forebear       s.io/surnames.
Ancestry – Don Taylor’s Roberts-Brown 2021 tree on Ancestry.
Wikipedia – Wolcott.

Endnotes:

[i] Ancestors before Mary Wolcott (1767-1857) have been potentially identified but not confirmed through my personal research.

My Computer History

My History, My Memories
Saturday Night Genealogy Fun
By Don Taylor

Photo of Don Taylor with cat Nasi.In his blog, Genea Musings, Randy Seaver suggested that people write about their computer history – basically how we “became slaves” to our computers. I figured, because computers are such a big part of my life, it would be good to share my experience.

High School

Osseo High School, New Wing – Source: 1967 Osseo Yearbook

My first experience with computers was the “computer club” at Osseo High School. Members of the club learned to program in BASIC. We used a teletype with an acoustic coupler using a telephone. If I recall correctly, it ran at 300 bits per second. We did our programming offline and created a perforated tape to send our programs to a mainframe computer. (Again, if I remember correctly and IBM 360.) To send our programs, we would dial up the host and send our perf’ tape info. The computer would then do the work and send back the results of running the program. I was terrible at programming. I remember writing a program to generate the prime numbers from one to 1000. Most of the other kids’ programs took a second or two of computer time to generate the numbers. My program took nearly a minute—very inefficient programming by me.  Anyway, I learned enough BASIC to be dangerous.[i]

Navy Days

I didn’t work with computers directly, but I did work with crypto equipment, which was very computer-like. Some of the equipment I used had perforated tape and used the same Baudot code as my high school teletype terminal. While in the service, I took a college course in COBOL[ii] and learned some more computer skills. I also took a college course in “Introduction to Computer Systems.”

TRW

Woman at a Docuteller 300 – Courtesy Wells Fargo Archives

After my Navy time, I got a job with TRW[iii] Customer Service Division. With them, I repaired cash machines (Docutel Total Teller 300), window teller machines, and terminal processors. The Total Tellers had small minicomputers associated with them. The computers were Lockheed and CAI mini-computers. To load the program into memory, you had to enter code directly into memory to create a bootstrap program. That program then accepted the actual code from a cassette tape using a standard Radio Shack tape recorder.  Occasionally, when repairing equipment, it was necessary to write a simple program that would cause the cash machine to do a simple task, such as to pick up a money packet and deliver it to the money drawer, or pull in a card, read it, and send it back. Simple programs, but they were all done in machine language.

Metropolitan State University

commodore 64 – Photo by the NerdPatrol via Flickr. (CC 2.0)

I wrote about my experience at Metropolitan State University in “Schools I’ve Attended.” The bottom line is that I purchased a Commodore 64 and a word processing program to keep up with the rewrites I needed to do for a Non-fiction Writing class I took. That computer was the start of my using personal computers for home use. I’ve always had a home computer since then.

NAVPRO

For several years I worked for the Navy at the NAVal Plant Representative Office in Fridley, Minnesota. I worked as an Engineering Technician in the Quality Assurance Division. The office installed a Wang 2200. The system has a program called IDEAS, which was an interface to a compiler that compiled BASIC programs. I requested access and was granted access to write some programs to track waivers, deviations, and engineering change proposals. I then wrote a couple of other applications for the Quality Assurance Engineers’ use. Meanwhile, the computer programmer they hired could not get any programs he was working on to work well. The commanding officer (CO) asked if I would be willing to go TAD[iv] to the Computer Team and work on some things. After a 90 day assignment, the CO asked if I wanted to do another 90 days. I agreed. After six months, the CO asked if I’d go there permanently. I agreed and was made a Computer Specialist. There I led the integration of Wang PCs into dual roles of office automation and terminals to the Wang 2200.

DCMC

After the NAVPRO, I got a job with the Defense Contract Management Command as a computer specialist. There I worked with several different computer systems, but most importantly, I set up a Novell Netware system using Ethernet. While working for DCMC, I became Netware Certified. DCMC became its own agency (DCMA), and I continued working for them. I became certified in Microsoft Exchange Server and began working as the Exchange “subject matter expert” for the agency.

Technology Chief

I continued working for DCMA and was selected to be the Technology Chief for the Eastern District. As Chief, I had Computer Specialists in some 25 states reporting to me for technical direction[v].

FBI

After 911, I decided to apply to the FBI. I was selected for a computer specialist position at CJIS Division in Clarksburg, WV. I worked in Requirements for a while. I studied to become a PMP (Project Management Professional). I was then selected to lead the test group where we tested changes to hardware and software to IAFIS (Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System),[vi] NCIC (National Crime Information Center)[vii], and NICS (National Instant Criminal Background Check System)[viii]

Triple-I

After I retired from the government, I used my Program Management Skills and Technical know-how to put together a NOSC (Network Operations and Security Center) for a Triple-I[ix] and SAIC[x] joint project. While there, besides putting my Project Management skills to use as the site leader, I became a CISSP (Certified Information Systems Security Professional).

Today

Today, I use an iMac for my personal use and have for probably ten years or so. I knew Windows NT very well back in the day, but I get confused and frustrated when I need to use Windows 10 (it works very differently from Mac). That said, I and the “Technology Guy” at the Historical Society where I volunteer. I also help out fellow genealogy folks in several genealogy groups I am a member of, particularly if it relates to online systems (Ancestry, Zoom meetings, etc.) or Mac.

I became interested in computers when I was in high school in the 1960s and began working with them as the key component of my employment in the 1980s. I’m not sure I’d agree I’m a “slave to my computer,” but I do use mine 40 to 50 hours a week, so some people (like my wife) might agree that I am a “slave to my computer.”


ENDNOTES

[i] Good thing BASIC stands for “Beginners’ All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code.” I was definitely a beginner.

[ii] COBOL stands for “COmmon Business-Oriented Language,” and was used for data processing in business, finance, and administrative systems.

[iii] TRW stood for Thompson Ramo Wooldrige. It was qcquired by Northrop Grumman in 2002.

[iv] TAD – Temporary Assigned Duty.

[v] At that time the Computer Specialists reported to their local commanding officers for administrative purposes and most command required activities and to me for technical direction.

[vi] IAFIS is the system that law enforcement checks when fingerprints cannot be matched within their own local or state systems.

[vii] NCIC goes back to the 1960s. I remember Harry Morgan tearing off the NCIC printouts from the teletype machine and handing it to Jack Webb in the Dragnet revival.

[viii] NICS is a system used by 22 states to check that a gun purchaser is not prohibited from buying a gun.

[ix] Triple-I is Information Innovators, Inc. The company was acquired by Salient CRGT in 2017.

[x] SAIC is Science Applications International Corporation.

Halloween 1959

My “Best-est” Halloween

My Memories
By Don Taylor

Photo of Don Taylor with cat Nasi.I got to thinking about Halloween and tried to remember what my “best-est” Halloween ever was when I was a kid.  Of course, memories from that long ago are often forgotten unless something, usually a photo, keeps the memory alive. Thanks to a 1959 photo taken outside our house in Fridley, MN, I remember the Halloween of ’59 reasonably well. It is the best Halloween I can remember. That year, for Halloween, my mom and I carved a Jack-O’-lantern and put it in the window (we did that most years). The pumpkin was nothing fancy, be we always had fun doing it. We didn’t have all the fancy carving tools that folks have nowadays. A simple knife was it.  But it wasn’t a bad looking pumpkin.

Donald Taylor (Larson) & friend Patty Hopkins – Fridley, MN – Halloween 1959 – Photo by Sylvia Larson (Matson)

The photo I have is of my friend Patty Hopkins and me dressed for Halloween, and that pumpkin is in the window. Both Patty’s and my family were pretty poor at the time.  Patty and I were the only children around with single mothers, so fancy costumes were out. Simple masks were about all we could afford. That year, my mom splurged for a “Captain Kidd” mask for me. It was a big deal – Aaaarrrrggghh! Patty had a simple Morris mask, but it was enough. Neither of us had costumes; we wore regular clothes. Patty had a couple red scarves she waived around to be exotic. I remember that Patty and I went around our neighborhood for a while, then we had a great idea, the 12-plexes on the other side of Highway 100 (I-694 now). It was only about a mile away, and if my mom would drive us, we could really clean up with the candy. Sure enough, we convinced her, so she took us down to 53rd & 3rd, to what is now called the “Northeast Villas.” It was a complex of apartments with almost a 100 units within about a block and a half covering both sides of the street. Trick-or-Treating there was a great experience and made for the “Best-est” Halloween ever.

Ancestry Updated Ethnicity Estimates & DNA Communities

DNA
Roberts-Brown Ancestors
By Don Taylor

Photo of Don Taylor with cat Nasi.Ancestry has updated their Ethnicity estimates once again. Ancestry likes to look at your DNA from a world perspective, but I find the “DNA Communities” much more interesting. Besides showing you where ancestors may have settled in the United States, it shows possible ancestors from that place and “featured matches,” people who also are in that group and are DNA matches. In my case, I fit into five DNA Communities.

  • My DNA Communities

    Early Connecticut & New York Settlers

  • Southern Minnesota and Northwestern Wisconsin Settlers
  • Central Appalachia Settlers
  • Delaware Valley, Chesapeake, and Midwest Settlers
  • Lower Michigan & Virginia Settlers.

Looking closer at one of the Communities, “Early Connecticut & New York Settlers – 1700-1975,” all four ancestors suggested are from my tree, and all have entries placing them in the location during the period suggested.

Sarah Blackhurst (1847-1928)

2nd Great-Grandmother – Born in England in 1847, immigrated to New York in 1850, located to Michigan in 1860, where she died.

Nelson Barnes (1816-1884)

2nd Great-Grandfather – Born in New York in 1816, moved to Indiana about 1845, where he died.

Chester Parsons (1799-1887)

4th Great-Grandfather – Born in Massachusetts, moved to New York for a short while, located to Michigan by 1826, where he died.

Madonna Montran (1893-1976)

Grandmother – Born in Michigan, lived in New York on and off during her vaudeville career from 1919 to 1930. She lived in Chicago, Michigan, and Minnesota after 1930; she died in Minnesota.

As I look at these “communities,” I wonder if Ancestry really looked at DNA matches or if they only looked at my tree and grouped various individuals into their community based solely upon my tree entries. Likewise, the “Featured Matches” included only people that have trees with the same people that I have in my tree that I do share at least some DNA with.

I guess the bottom line is that I am not impressed with the DNA Communities. That causes me to circle back to looking at Ancestry Ethnicity Estimates.

I did a Birthplace Chart/Spreadsheet about five years ago because it was “all the rage.” It had the potential to help me see what my ethnicity was. Of my 16 2nd great-grandparents, only one was an immigrant. Two were unknown, and the other 13 were all born in the United States. So, from it, I learned I was at least 6.25% from Great Britain.

I recently had a cousin who asked if I knew exactly what “Heinz 57 Variety” we were. I told him I hadn’t determined that because most of our ancestors have been in the United States for many generations. Looking at my skin tone, I figure I’m of northern European ancestry. But, after texting with my cousin, I thought it might be fun to add another generation to my Birthplace chart/spreadsheet from five years ago and see if anything new pops up after five years of further research.

No changes. I’m still 6.25% English.

My Illinois-born 2nd great-grandparents’ parents came from a mix of Tennessee, Illinois, and Kentucky. My Ohio 2nd great-grandparents’ parents came from Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Delaware, and my Ohio 2nd great-grandparents’ parents came from a mix of New Hampshire, New York, and Michigan. There are still 18% of my ancestors that are unknown, but a whopping 2/3 of my 3rd great-grandparents were born in the United States. So, ethnically, I am definitely an American with a smidgen of English.

My “unknown” ethnicity places are known “brick walls.” My great-grandfather, John Montran, parentage is still unknown. I have a project to watch for all Montran’s I can find and learn more about their locations in hopes I can eventually connect John to immigrant ancestors. Likewise, My 2nd great-grandmother, Elisa Jane Fannin, parents have been elusive. I know she was born in Kentucky; I’ve looked at her several times looking for her parents. I need to do more research to try to find her parentage.

My Ethnicity map per Ancestry 2021

Ancestry indicates my ancestors are between 62 and 100% from England, Belgium, and the Channel Islands. Probably true; I have nothing in my pedigree research to disagree with that assessment. Still, it is always nice to receive confirmation.

 

Parsons – Surname Saturday

Brown-Sanford-Parsons Line
By Don Taylor

Origin of the Parsons Surname

Ancestry indicates Parsons is an occupational name for the servant of a parish priest or parson, or possibly, the parson’s son. I ignored other meanings for Parsons, from Irish and Scottish origins, because my Parsons immigrant ancestor came from Dorset in the 1600s. According to Forebears, the surname is most common in Wiltshire, while it is also numerous in counties around Wiltshire, including Dorset.

Geographical

In World: Today, Parsons has the greatest incident in the United States, with over 86,000 people having the surname.

In Dorset, England, where my earliest ancestors lived, there are 881 people with the surname.

In the US, there is a greater incidence of Parsons living in California and Texas. In the 1880 Census, the most incidences of Parsons were in New York and Massachusetts. My Parson ancestors left New York in the 1820s and were in Michigan during the 1880 Census.

Direct Parsons Ancestors

51 – Mary Electa Parsons(1828-1888) – 3rd Great Grandmother
102 – Chester Parsons(1799-1887) – 4th Great-Grandfather
204 – John Parsons(1764-1813) – 5th Great-Grandfather
408 – John Parsons Sr. (1737/38-1821) – 6th Great-Grandfather
816 – Timothy Parsons (1695-1772) – 7th Great-Grandfather*
1632 – Samuel Parsons (1653-1734) – 8th Great-Grandfather*
3264 – Joseph Parsons (1620-1683) – 9th Great-Grandfather*
6528 – William Parsons (___-___) – 10th Great-Grandfather*

* Note: I have not fully reviewed or recearched ancestors #816 or higher.

Historical

In 1840, Chester Parsons was living in Saline, Washtenaw County, Michigan. His household included himself, his wife Deborah, and six children. There were eight Parsons families in Washtenaw County during the census. Chester and his brother lived in Saline.

In 1880, Chester’s father, John Parsons Jr,  was the head of the household in Sandisfield, Berkshire County, Massachusetts. His household included a wife and one child.  Chester’s Grandfather, John Parsons Sr., was also the head of a household. John’s household consisted of himself, five females and three males. They were two of the nine Parsons households in the county.

My earliest known Parsons immigrant ancestor is Joseph Parsons. He came to the colonies between 1629 and 1646. It isn’t clear whether he first came to Massachusetts (where he died) or Connecticut (where he married Mary Bliss in 1646).

Photographic History

Chester Parsons

A drawing of Chester Parsons was printed in the History of Washtenaw County, Michigan. His is one of the earliest ancestor images I have.

There is a copyrighted drawing of his home in: York, Saline, Ypsilanti, Lyndon, Sharon (Mich.) Township residences, ca. 1874; 1874. Page 105. University of Michigan Library Digital Collections. Accessed: April 02, 2018.

There are photos of the Parsons family marker and Chester’s individual marker via Find-a-Grave.

Likewise, there is a photo of the marker of John Parsons, Jr., on Find-a-Grave.

Direct Parsons Descendants

My earliest known ancestor, William Parsons, married Margaret Hoskins sometime before 1620, probably in Beaminster, Dorset, England.  My records have identified 868 direct-line descendants of William and Margaret.

My most recent, known Parsons cousins are children of Alfred David Parsons (1830-1908) and Percia Tallmage (___-___). They had five children between 1861 and 1873, all were born in Saline, Washtenaw, Michigan. They are 1st cousins, 4x removed.

Sources:

  • Ancestry Surname Page: http://www.ancestry.com/learn/facts
  • Forebears Surnames Page: https://forebears.io/surnames
  • Ancestry – Don Taylor’s Roberts-Brown 2021 tree (Private) accessed 23 July 2021.