One of the benefits of using Ancestry DNA for Genetic Testing is their vast database. Because there are so many people in their system, you are much more likely to have a DNA match. Sure enough, it happened again. This time, a previously unknown person, Debra contacted me via Ancestry Messages with the simple message, “My DNA results says that you are my 1st cousin.”
Oh my, here we go again.
I clicked on View the Match, then clicked on the little “Info icon” to see how much DNA we shared. Debra and I share 621 centimorgans across 25 segments. According to the chart I use, that amount of shared DNA put us in an overlapping range of first cousin and first cousin one removed. I then clicked on “Shared Matches” and saw that she also matched with my Roberts half-siblings. Because I can view my half-sister’s matches, I looked at her results and saw that she and Debra share 893 centimorgans of DNA across 37 segments. Solidly in the first cousin range. For sure, Debra is a first cousin and now I knew that we share a common grandparent on my paternal side.
My grandparents, Bert Allen Roberts and Essie Pansy Barnes, had five children. The amount of DNA shared was not enough for Debra to be my half-sibling, so that ruled out my biological father, Hugh Eugene Roberts, from being involved. In subsequent messages, she indicated she knew who her mother was, so that eliminated Pansy and Helen, leaving only two potential sources for her to be a first cousin – Uncle Bert and Uncle John. Between the two, Uncle Bert was, by far, the likely candidate.
Then, Debra let us know that her sister told her that her father’s name was Bert, but never knew his last name. Debra also sent a photo of Bert, her supposed father, from the late 1940s. My half-brother Tom knew Bert and was able to identify Uncle Bert from the picture. Mystery solved!
So, welcome cousin Debra Edwards to the growing Roberts clan. I am so pleased you were able to identify who your father is after so many years.
So far, DNA test results have led to my learning about:
Note: I wish Family Tree Maker had a better way to indicate offspring producing relationships. Creating a “spouse” and then set the relationship set to “Friend” or set to “Other” is cumbersome at best but doesn’t describe the relationship. Sigh….
One of my early atDNA matches was on Family Tree DNA. Family Tree DNA suggested that GV and I were probably 4th cousins. He had some Roberts in his tree, but I figured that there was only a one in 32 chance that our match was on his Roberts ancestor. There was another person, MA, who shared the exact same segment of DNA with GV and me. If I could find the common ancestor between GV and MA, because of triangulation of the same segment matching, we’d know the common ancestor they share with me. I worked to help MA develop his tree further but never found a connection for him to GV and consequently never determined a common ancestor to me.
Then, I did determine who my biological father is, connected with new half-siblings and have been exploring my new family tree. I thought back to my connections with GV and MA and wondered if I could find the link now.
I took a look at the surnames I’ve been researching and compared them with the names in GV’s tree. Sure enough, we both had a John Roberts marrying an Elizabeth Blackwell. We found our common ancestor.
His tree had my “Asa” as “Acy” but otherwise, it fit my ancestors entirely. The generations are:
GV’s Roberts Line
My Roberts Line
John Calvin & Elizabeth
John Calvin & Elizabeth
Elijah Josiah Roberts
Asa Ellis Roberts
Hugh Ellis Roberts
Bert Allen Roberts
Our common ancestors are our third great-grandparents, and we are of the same generation, so we are 4th cousins (sharing 59cM). That fits the amount of DNA we share perfectly.
GV and I have long known we are related genetically. It is just so fulfilling to finally confirm the relationship with a paper trail.
I like to control and manage my family tree information. As such, I’ve never been a fan of systems where family trees are managed by many individuals. I tend to be concerned that other individuals aren’t quite as thorough as I like to think that I am. I also like to work from sources and not rely on other individual’s family trees for anything other than “hints,” so I don’t really use other people’s family trees much.
Family Search – Family Tree – Find
I was researching Hugh Ellis Roberts and couldn’t find much information. I was having such a bad time that I decided to use Family Search Family Trees to see if I could gain any leads there. After selecting [Family Tree} [Find], entering my subject’s name and year of birth the system returned 50 different entries. Four of the first five entries were my particular Hugh Ellis Roberts. They all had the same birth year, all had the same death year and they all had the same spouse. None of the entries had any sources for their information at all. Sigh…. I decided I couldn’t let four entries for the same individual stand so I selected the one that had the most information, parents and children names, and began merging the other entries into that one. It wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be. I also corrected the marriage date from “Oct 1900” to “7 Oct 1900” and associated my source to that fact. There is still a problem with his being married to three different people, Clara, Clora, and Cora Dell Scott. I’ll merge those identities up when I work on Clara’s biography and decide on what I really think her name was. (Different records all are interpreted differently.) There are still other issues with the family unit on Family Search Family Trees, such as one of his sisters being duplicated, but I’ll fix it as I work on the family unit.
The 1900 Census
Because Hugh Ellis Roberts was born after the 1880 Census and he died in 1908 finding him in the 1900 Census was a must. I knew that his father died in 1887, so using his name wouldn’t help. I searched and searched and never found him. I also knew that he was married in 1900 in Illinois, so I figured he had to be in Illinois somewhere, probably in either Jefferson or Franklin County. Still no luck. Then I decided to search Illinois for people born in Illinois in 1884 with the surname “Roberts” and nothing else. I then looked closely at any individuals born in July. I found a “Heine” Roberts, living with his mother Anna and a sister Talaramer. His mother’s name was Patience Anna. Could it be? Looking closer at the entry,
I saw that Talaramer was a transcriber’s attempt to read a nearly illegible Florence. The birth year and place for Anna matched Patience Anna, the birth date matched the month, year, and place for Florence, and the birth month, year, and place all matched Hugh. Last, but not least, it was in Franklin County (which borders Jefferson County), Finally, I had found Hugh Ellis Roberts in the 1900 Census.
Hint: When looking for someone in a census, try ignoring the first names of individuals and just search for a surname with other identifying criteria.
RB-08 – Hugh Ellis Roberts
2 July 1884 – 30 August 1908
Hugh Ellis Roberts[i] was born in July 1884 in Illinois. His marriage license indicated that he was 18 when he was married in 1900; however, I think it is more likely that the 16-year-old Hugh lied about his age in order to marry without parental permissions. One on-line source indicates that he was born in Jefferson County, Illinois, however, the marriage license of his son, Bert Allen Roberts indicate that he was born in Benton (Franklin County, Illinois.[ii] According to other researchers, Hugh died on 30 August 1908.,[iii] Several of his children’s marriage licenses identify their father was deceased when they married in the 1920s, thus confirming the early death. Additionally, Hugh’s wife remarried in 1909.
He is the fourth known child of Asa Ellis Roberts (1835-1887), aged 49, and Patience Anna Marshall (1845-1919), aged 39. Asa and Patience had three other known children together, Charles Wilson, Rosa Della, and Florence Elizabeth Roberts. Asa was married previously to Cynthia Minerva Toney and that had six children so Hugh was the youngest of ten children of Asa. His six half-siblings were William, George, Margaret, Calvin, Sarah, and Monroe.
When Hugh was only three, his father, Asa Ellis Roberts, died (8 October 1887 – Spring Garden, Jefferson County, Illinois).
The 1900 census indicates that Hugh may have had a nickname of “Heine.” The 15-year-old was living with his mother, Anna, older sister Florence, and a niece, Nellie Roberts. It is unclear whose child Nellie was. The 1900 census indicates that only five of Anna’s six children were living, so it is possible that Nellie was the child of her dead child. Mother and son were farming in Barren Township.[iv]
On 7 October 1900, Hugh married Clara Dell Scott (1884-1945), daughter of Samuel Vaden Scott (1863-1931) and Amanda Jane Hale (?-1889) in Ina, Jefferson County, Illinois)[v]. They were both 16-years-old, however, they both indicated that they were 18 on the marriage registration.[vi]
A quick seven months later, Hugh and Clara had their first child.[vii]
The Children of Hugh and Clara included:
Harry Ray Roberts, born on 22 May 1900 in Franklin Co. (Franklin Co., Illinois). He married Lillie Vernea Higgins in 1922.
Carrie Mae Roberts, born in 1901. (I have not researched her further, yet.) Bert Allen Roberts, born on 20 September 1903 in Sesser (Franklin, Illinois), died on 1st May 1949 in Elwood (Madison County, Indiana), aged 45. He married Essie Pansy Barnes on 13 May 1922. They had 5 children: Pansy, Bert, Hugh, Helen and John.
Mabel Ilean Roberts, born on 2 June 1908 in Lena (Stephenson County, Illinois, United States), USA. She married Olan B Hart on 3 January 1925.
It appears that the Roberts family moved from Franklin County to Stephenson County between 1903 and 1908.
Several researchers indicate that Hugh died on 30 August 1908 at the age of 24. I have been unable to confirm that; however, his wife, Clara, is reported as remarried in 1909 per the 1910 Census.[viii]
Confirm death date.
Determine cause of death.
Confirm day of birth.
[Note: I ordered a death certificate from Stephenson County Clerk & Recorder on 19 Feb 2016, which should answer all the above questions. If unsuccessful, will try again with Franklin County.]
Find Property Record for Anna’s farm ownership.
[i] Note: Family Search ID: LR7R-9J1 [ii] Source: Indiana Marriages, 1811-2007 – Family Search (Other) [iii] Ibid. [iv] Source: 1900 Census; Anna Roberts, Barren Township, Franklin, Illinois, United States; citing sheet 10A, family 182. [v] Source: Family Search (Other) – Illinois, County Marriages, 1810-1934 / Ellis Roberts & Clara Dell Scott, 1900 – Family Search (Internet) [vi] Source: Illinois, County Marriages, 1810-1934; Ellis Roberts & Clara Dell Scott, 1900 [vii] Note: They say the first child can come anytime, the rest take nine months. [viii] Source: 1910 Census; Indiana, Sullivan, Turman, District 0178, Hosea Adams
I think the more passionate we are about something the more likely we can be compulsive about it. We can put hours and hours into something with no results and still keep going. At some point, we just need to set it aside and say, “I’ll come back to this later.” Such is the case with my research regarding my potential grandfather Bert Allen Roberts. (See My Paternal Brick Wall for details regarding “potential.”)
I have many key facts regarding Bert and his life. I know about his birth, marriage, children. I even followed him through all the censuses and through many city directories. I just wanted to find his death information. It can’t be that hard….
I thoroughly searched Family Search, Ancestry, and several of my other regular genealogical sites and didn’t find anything. He just like vanished after the 1940 census. Then, I turned to one of my favorite sites, Newspapers.Com. I quickly found an article about a Bert Roberts who died in a motor vehicle accident on 1 May 1949.
The Terre Haute Star (Terre Haute, Indiana) ·
Mon, May 2, 1949, Page 1
The article indicated that this Bert lived in Detroit. I know that at least two of his children were living in Detroit in the late 1940s so imagining that my Bert moved to Detroit during the 1940s is quite imaginable. So, could this article’s Bert Roberts the same Bert Roberts I am researching? With the name and date of death, it should be easy to confirm that this is the right Bert Roberts and I will have the answer. After searching for hours… and hours… and hours… I just couldn’t find anything. Sure, I found other articles about the accident but nothing that mentions next of kin. One article said that the body was shipped back to Detroit (NewspaperArchives accessed via MyHeritage). I thought I should find a death certificate in Indiana records – No such luck. Maybe an obituary in Detroit/Michigan records – Again no luck. I searched this way, that way, and the other way but no success. I found it incredulous that I couldn’t find a link as to who this Bert Roberts, who died in Elwood, IN, was. I kept searching. I got more and more compulsive about finding if this Bert was my Bert.
After spending the better part of three days (probably over 20 hours searching), I have finally come to the conclusion that this is not time spent well. I have other fish to fry and need to move on. Will I return to searching for my Bert’s death information? Of course, but I will also hope that my research into other individuals in this family will prove (or disprove) my Bert and this Bert are the same person.
Bert Allen Roberts (1903-1949)
52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – Week 2
Bert Allen Roberts was probably born on 20 September 1903 in Sessor, Franklin County, Illinois[i]. I say “probably” because, although his marriage records indicate his birth as 20 September 1902, every census indicates him to be born consistent with a birth in September 1903 (age 6 in 1910 Census, age 16 in 1920 Census, etc.). It is not clear why he would make himself 19 instead of 18 when he married, but it appears that he did. I believe him to be the third of four children born to Hugh Ellis and Clora D (Scott) Roberts. His older siblings were Harry Ray and Carrie Mae. His younger sibling was Mable Ilean.
Family of Hosea Adams with Roberts children.
I believe his father died sometime between 1907 (conception of his sister) and 1909. In any event, By the 1910 Census, his mother had remarried for a year and Bert was a stepson in the household of Hosea L. Adams living and attending school in Turman, Sullivan County, Indiana.[ii]
In 1920, his is still living with his mother and step-father, in Hutsonville, Crawford County, Illinois, but now working as a farm laborer for wages[iii].
He married Essie Pansy Barnes about 19 May 1922[iv]. He and Essie show up in the 1929 City Directory for Terre Haute, Indiana. He and Essie also appear in the 1930 US Census in Terre Haute.[v][vi]
The 1931 Terre Haute Directory is something of a conundrum. It shows Essie P Roberts (wid Bert A) working as a cook[vii]. I think this is in error for a number of reasons as follow.
The 1934 Directory brings Bert back to life as a taxi driver living with Essie at 354 Chestnut.[viii]. Likewise, the 1936 City Directory has him and Essie still together and him working as a driver for the Circle Cab Co. [ix]
The 1940 Census has the Roberts family living at 1719 Chestnut Street, Terre Haute, with Bert working as a laborer in the enameling and stamping industry[x]. That is the last solid entry that I have for him.
We know that his youngest son, John Harald Roberts married Isabell Jean Matcher in May of 1947 and lived in Detroit.[xi] We also know that his son, Hugh Eugene married Janet Marie Dion in Detroit in 1950.[xii] With at least two of his children living in Detroit in 1949, it is easy to imagine that Bert was also living in Detroit. If so, the vehicle accident on 1 May 1949 could have easily been his death.
I know that I was being compulsive placing so much time trying to connect the 1949 death of a Bert Roberts to my Bert Roberts. I thought, my goodness, I should be able to find something about the death of Bert Roberts of Detroit who died in Elwood, Indiana on 1 May 1949. I will put it aside for now and come back to it after I’ve researched more of the family. Hopefully, my overall genealogical research process will intercept the information I am looking for later and everything will fall into place.
[Correction: One of the grand-daughters of Bert Allen Roberts, confirmed that her grandfather died in 1949 in this motor vehicle fire. 1/31/2016]
[i] “Indiana Marriages, 1811-2007,” Sullivan Co., Indiana, Bert Allen Roberts, 1922, GS Film Number 001906822-Digital Folder Number 004170594-Image Number 00614, Image, Family Search, https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:XXF1-HZN, 27 Dec 2015.
[iv] “Indiana Marriages, 1811-2007,” Sullivan Co., Indiana, Bert Allen Roberts, 1922, GS Film Number 001906822-Digital Folder Number 004170594-Image Number 00614, Image, Family Search, https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:XXF1-HZN, 27 Dec 2015.
[v] “U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995,” 1929, Terre Haute, Indiana, 411, Bert A Roberts, R. L. Polk & Co., Ancestry, 22 Dec 2015.
[vi]“1930 Census,” Terre Haute, Vigo, Indiana, Bert A Roberts – Head, Roll: 635; Page: 9B; Enumeration District: 0022; Image: 637.0; FHL microfilm: 2340370, Ancestry, 21 Dec 2015.
[vii] “U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995,” 1931, Terre Haute, Indiana, 387, Roberts, Essie P, R. L. Polk & Co., Ancestry, 21 Dec 2015.
[viii] “U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995,” 1934, Terre Haute, Indiana, 323, Bert A Roberts, R. L. Polk & Co., Ancestry, 21 Dec 2015.
[ix] “U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995,” 1936, Terre Haute, Indiana, 350, Bert A Roberts, R. L. Polk & Co., Ancestry, 22 Dec 2015.
[x] “1940 Census,” Terre Haute, Vigo, Indiana, USA, Bert Roberts – Head, Roll: T627_1103; Page: 13A; Enumeration District: 84-31, Ancestry.Com, 21 Dec 2015.
[xi] “Michigan, Marriage Records, 1867-1952,” John Harald Roberts, County File Number: 704264-State File Number: 381870, Michigan, Marriage Records, 1867–1952. Michigan Department of Community Health, Division for Vital Records and Health Statistics.-, Ancestry, 21 Dec 2015.
[xii]“Michigan, Marriage Records, 1867-1952,” Hugh Gueene Roberts [Eugene], County File Number: 780165 – State File Number: 461232, Michigan, Marriage Records, 1867–1952. Michigan Department of Community Health, Division for Vital Records and Health Statistics.-, Ancestry, 21 Dec 2015.