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Remembering Ben

My family faces a sad day today. We must say good-bye too soon to a beloved family member.

My nephew, Ben Carrier, passed away two weeks ago. His memorial service is today.

His family lives many states away from my own. During this time of the coronavirus, I cannot travel there to lend my support to my sister and her family.

Instead, I will attend my first-ever Zoom funeral service this afternoon.

We feel many things today. Regret that we cannot be there in person. Sadness that we have this empty space in our family where a smiling young man used to be. Empathy for my sister who has lost her only son.

Yet this is not the only death we have suffered in this year of death. My husband/tech advisor has lost a step-father and two aunts.

But somehow this seems different.

His loved ones were all in their 90’s and had lived long, productive lives. My nephew was just twenty-eight.

The memorial service this afternoon will be a sad one, indeed.

Vital Records Begin to Arrive

For my application to the Mayflower Society, I must collect vital records, if they exist, for each ancestral couple and myself. I ordered several last month. Some have begun to arrive.

My Marriage Record

  1. The State of Wyoming was the most prompt in responding to my request. The record arrived almost by return mail.
  2. The record is on the same template as the Bride and Groom copies that we already had. The one I received from the State bears some official insignia that our personal copies do not carry.

My Mother’s Birth Certificate

  1. The State of Montana responded almost as quickly as Wyoming did. I was curious to see this document because my mom did not have an official copy of her birth certificate. Instead, she had a form from the census bureau acknowledging that her birth had been registered with the state.
  2. My mom was born in April, 1929, but I was surprised to see that her certificate was not filed until September the same year.
  3. Her father’s name and residence on the certificate were completed in a different hand than the rest of writing on the certificate. He is recorded only by his initials, B. K., not his full name.
  4. The family is listed as living at Redstone, Montana although my mom was born in a larger nearby town. Redstone is the closest place to where my grandfather’s family had homesteaded a couple of decades earlier. My grandparents met there when she arrived to teach at the local school in the mid-1920’s.
  5. My grandfather’s occupation was recorded as a switchman at an iron mine. I did not know he was working this way in 1929, and I know of no iron mines in northeastern Montana. He was working at this job in Hibbing, Minnesota the following year at the time the U.S. census was taken. After my mother was born in 1929, the family did move to Hibbing, the town where my grandmother had grown up. I wonder if he had gone ahead to Minnesota in 1929 to find a job and prepare a home before my mother and grandmother arrived.
  6. My grandmother’s occupation was recorded as schoolteacher with May, 1929 as her last month engaged in this work. This was a month after my mom was born. I am amazed that my grandmother finished out the school year with a newborn. Perhaps she was on leave with someone else filling in.

Two other vital records have not yet arrived. I ordered my parents’ marriage record from South Dakota, and I do not know how long that will take to come in the mail.

The guidelines from the Mayflower Society also say Michigan issued vital records beginning in 1867. I know compliance before 1897 was spotty. Still, I need the 1896 death record for my second great-grandfather, John Davis Riddle, if it exists. If not, the Society wants a letter from the State to that effect. The Michigan website says they take 5-6 weeks to respond, so I may be waiting a while for this information.

I already had all the other vital records I need. Once the South Dakota marriage record arrives, I will send my documents to the Colorado historian for the Mayflower Society. They, like me, can wait on the slow response time from Michigan while they review everything else.


The Document Collection Continues

My ancestors Laura Riddle (1853-1933), her mother Olive Dunbar (1823-1902), and her grandmother Rhoda Hall (1784-1850) occupied my attention this week. I worked to document their births, marriages, and deaths to complete an application to the Mayflower Society through my ancestor Stephen Hopkins. Of course, all the women present some stumbling blocks:

  1. Laura was an unwed mother. She had three sons with a man in Michigan named George Edmonds before she struck out with the boys in 1885 to homestead in Nebraska. There my grandmother was born many years later in 1896 to Laura and an unknown father. The Society may require me to get a letter from the authorities in Michigan saying they have no marriage record on file for George and Laura even though George is not my ancestor.
  2. Olive left behind a confusing marriage record. She married my second great-grandfather, John Davis Riddle (1821-1896), in Ohio in 1843. So why does the Ohio record omit the groom’s surname and refer to him as John Davis? What else will the Society require for me to prove this is my ancestral couple?
  3. I have no death date for Rhoda. She last appeared on the census in 1850. Her cemetery marker does not include a death date. I may need to contact the Stow, Ohio cemetery to see if they have burial records.

On the brighter side, the Mayflower Society did send me a copy of an application submitted by another person who claims descent through the same couple I do, Thomas Snow (1730-1790) and Hannah Lincoln (1730-1817).

I believe I descend from their eldest child, Lucy (mother of Rhoda), while the other applicant descends from the eldest son, Edward. The application copy from the Society lists the proof documents used for each generation. They list Mayflower Descendants, Vol. 12, and Massachusetts Town Records. The reference to Volume 12 puzzles me because it documents the line of Francis Cooke, not Stephen Hopkins. I will need to look at this book.

I have not yet found Lucy’s birth or death recorded in the town records. I have only her marriage record, her children’s birth registrations, and the transcription of her baptism record. I have a photo of her cemetery marker. I am hoping the Society can help me locate enough additional information to adequately prove this generation.

Will I be able to collect everything I need? One marriage record that I ordered last week has come in. I await other records from across the plains states where my family has lived.

The Historian for the Colorado Mayflower Society sent me a message yesterday asking me to begin sending in what I already have. I will begin doing that right after the Independence Day holiday.


The First Three Generations of a Mayflower Application

Lineage societies require exacting proof of generational links to a specific ancestor before they grant membership to an applicant. This week I began the process for the Mayflower Society. Right away I found that despite years of research, I do not have the exact documents they want.

This week I gathered papers for the most current three generations in my chain of descent, beginning with myself and my husband/tech advisor. Already I was missing several of the items they require:

  1. We have our marriage certificate but not the vital record from the state where we were married. I ordered a copy.
  2. I also have my parents’ marriage certificate, but again I do not have a copy of the vital record. I ordered one of those, too.
  3. The document I thought was my mother’s birth certificate is something else. It was issued by the Bureau of the Census and simply verifies that her birth was registered in Montana. I sent a request to Montana for her birth registration.
  4. For people living in 1900, the Society wants a copy of their U.S. census record for that year. I have it for my grandmother, Grace Riddle, but not for my grandfather Herbert Reed. I have never been able to locate him and his family on the 1900 census. They must have lived in Missouri where he was born in 1896 and his parents were divorced in 1904. Will the Society waive this requirement when I am not applying though my grandfather’s line? Or would either the divorce decree naming my grandfather as a minor child or the 1910 census be an adequate substitute?
  5. I do not have a birth record for my grandmother. She was born on a homestead in Nebraska before the state kept vital records. I do not know whether she was baptized. She never had a driver’s license or a passport. Will a combination of census records, her Social Security application, and her death certificate be sufficient to prove her birth date and place?

Encountering these stumbling blocks for 20th century ancestors makes me shudder to think what I will encounter in documenting earlier generations. I have four more to go before I link up to Thomas Snow and Hannah Lincoln, both proven descendants of Stephen Hopkins. Some of my documentation is pretty thin.

I wonder how many families can run a straightforward line of proofs from themselves back 7 or so generations to a proven Mayflower descendant. I must work with the historian of the Colorado branch of the Mayflower Society to gather enough evidence to complete my application.

Once I execute a preliminary application, I will have two years to submit the final one. It will be interesting to see what they say about all the evidence I have gathered. Will I be able to meet the additional demands I know they will make? This could be a long process.

The Onerous Application Process Begins

Since the 1980’s I have worked on my paternal grandmother’s lineage. Beginning with only her mother’s maiden name, Laura Riddle, I have traced her family back to the Mayflower. She never knew she had such a heritage.

I have collected 13 generations’ worth of material to document this line. This year, the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower voyage, I decided to submit it to the General Society of Mayflower Descendants to see if my descent from Mayflower passenger Stephen Hopkins passes muster.

I submitted a request for a lineage match in late April. I provided my list of names through the generations from Hopkins to myself. The Society’s review cost me $75, and they warned me it would take several weeks to receive a response. Their service involves searching the accepted lines of their members to see if and where I fit in.

This week I received a response. The first six generations, running from Stephen Hopkins down six generations to Thomas Snow and Hannah Lincoln, match the information already in their records. If I want to join, I must now submit documentation for my descent from this couple.

Only one other application in their files claims descent from Thomas and Hannah, through a son Edward. They surmise that he was a brother to my ancestor Lucy Snow, also a child of Thomas and Hannah. They offered to send me the Edward Snow lineage application so I can compare information.

They also forwarded my match inquiry to the historian for my local Colorado chapter of the Mayflower Society. She immediately sent me a welcome letter with instructions on how to complete a membership application. This will involve providing birth, marriage, and death proof for every generation between Thomas and Hannah Snow and myself, a total of seven generations.

I set to work on gathering and copying my documents right away. Then I found that my copier needed either repair or replacement. We decided to order a new one, and I am waiting for it to arrive. Copying any of my proof documents will have to wait a few days.

The Society has a lot of rules on what evidence of lineage they will accept. I do not know whether everything I have gathered will pass the test. I hope it does, but I am prepared to do some more searching for other items they may require.

If I am turned away because I cannot locate and provide sufficient evidence, of course I will be disappointed. Yet in my mind, I am satisfied that I have placed myself in the correct family tree. If Grandma had only known.

Who Was Jane Bee?

Thomas Snow of Harwich married Jane Bee of Eastham at Eastham, Massachusetts on October 12, 1762. I can find no other mention of this woman in the official records for Cape Cod. Who was she, and what became of her?

I have identified two men named Thomas Snow who lived at Harwich during that time:

  1. Thomas Snow, sometimes referred to as Thomas Snow, jr. This man, the son of Nathaniel Snow and Thankful Gage, was born November 19, 1735 and baptized November 23 at the Brewster church. On January 31, 1760, he married Hannah Lincoln at Harwich. The Brewster church has records of five children born to Thomas Snow, jr. and Hannah—Lucy (1760), Edward (1763), Bethiah, (1765), Hannah (1769), and Priscilla (1771). A cemetery marker at the old burying ground in Brewster records the deaths of Capt. Thomas Rogers Snow, son of Nathaniel and Thankful, (d. 1790 in Barbados) and his wife Hannah Snow (d. 1817).
  2. Thomas Snow, RW soldier. This man, son of Thomas Snow and Rachel Nickerson, both of Harwich, was born a few years earlier. Some sources say 1730, others say 1734. He, along with several siblings, was baptized at Harwich on July 17, 1737. He married first Rebecca Snow in 1752 and second Jane Magne/Mague. He had at least three children, including Gideon and Lydia. In 1777, the family moved to Maine where he lived until his death in 1825.

So where does Jane Bee fit into this picture? The Mayflower Families Fifth Generation Descendants, 1700-1880 claims that Jane Bee was the second wife of Thomas Snow, jr., above.

I cannot understand this. If Hannah Lincoln married Thomas in 1760, had several children with him, and outlived him, it seems odd to claim he married another woman, Jane Bee, two years after his first marriage. Who was this Jane, and what became of her?

I looked at many records from Eastham, her purported residence, this week. I found nothing else about her. No birth or baptism records for Jane Bee, no death record or cemetery marker for Jane Snow. No birth registrations or baptisms for any children of Thomas and Jane Snow.

There was a Bee family in Eastham at the time Jane would have been born. John Bee married Marcy Harris, and they had three daughters, Rebecca, Martha, and Marcy. I found no mention of a daughter Jane although this seems a likely family for her. A family tree on has placed her in this family with no sources or further information.

I am stumped. Who was Jane Bee, and was her husband Thomas the same man described above as Thomas jr.?

My husband/tech advisor has a theory. Thomas Snow, jr. was a bigamist! Until I can come up with a better explanation for this situation, his idea is as good as any.



A Disciplined Approach

Last month I viewed a webinar on creating a research plan for cluster research. I hope this method will help me find every resource I can to make the case for the parentage of my ancestor Lucy Snow Hall (1760-1795).

Cluster research involves searching for records not just for the ancestor of interest (Lucy Snow) but for records from everyone that person knew. In genealogy circles this is known as the person’s FAN club or network of Family, Associates, and Neighbors.

The webinar instructor suggested beginning with family and creating a spreadsheet page for each family member. There you list all the found records for the family member alongside the pertinent information the records contain. Looking at the data this way ensures you do not overlook anything.

This week I created the first page of my spreadsheet. I began with Lucy herself and her known husband, Gershom Hall. I have their marriage banns and records, children’s birth registrations, 1790 U.S. census record, and Lucy’s cemetery marker. None mention Lucy’s parents.

I also have a baptism record I believe is Lucy’s. Yet I have no real proof that the Lucy Snow, daughter of Thomas Snow and Hannah, who was baptized in Brewster, MA in 1760 is the same Lucy Snow who married Gershom Hall at Harwich in 1781. I can make a case for it, though.

The cemetery marker for Lucy Hall, wife of Gershom, provides an inferred birth year of 1760, the same year as the Brewster baptism. Lucy and Gershom married and lived in Harwich, MA, just north of Brewster, so the location is feasible. I have not found any records for another Lucy Snow Hall living during this time in Brewster or Harwich.

Still, it would be nice to have something more. Hence the FAN club approach. I plan to use a cluster research plan to search for wills and land records with anything that may have connected my Lucy Snow Hall to her parents.

Once I have methodically reviewed the Massachusetts records for clues to Lucy’s origins, I can draw a good conclusion about whether or not my Lucy was the daughter of Hannah and Thomas Snow of Brewster.

I Enjoy a Completed Task.

Finished! In our home office, the new carpet lies on the floor, the new baseboards hug the walls. My husband had a two-week vacation scheduled in May due to the coronavirus, so we took on a home improvement project. But the minor remodeling was not all we did.

Our office was cluttered, really cluttered. Because we had to move all the furniture out anyway to install a new floor, we took the opportunity to clear out some of the things we were storing in there. Some items we moved elsewhere, and others we discarded:

  • We cleaned off the worktable. Because what good is a worktable if you cannot use its surface for work?
  • We emptied file drawers. I discarded or consolidated files pertaining to former jobs and deceased family members.
  • We removed a shelving unit we no longer need. This freed up some floor space, making the office seem roomier.
  • We weeded a couple of bookshelves. I do not need two thesauruses or two road atlases at my fingertips.

Today I can begin working in my newly refreshed office. It feels like time and money well spent.


A Coronavirus Project

What can you do with a sudden two-week vacation during the coronavirus pandemic?

We faced this question when my husband/tech advisor’s employer required everyone to take two weeks of their vacation before Memorial Day this year. We could not use the time to go anywhere during a stay-at-home order even if we wanted to go out and expose ourselves to the virus.

Instead of frittering the time away, we hoped to do something productive. We hit on the idea of replacing the deteriorating floor in our home office.

Not wanting to have workmen come into our home at this time, we ordered all the supplies we thought we would need to do the job ourselves. We were ready to get to work as soon as the calendar said Vacation.

Putting in a new floor requires moving around a lot of office furniture like desks, computer equipment, file cabinets, and bookcases. Putting in a new floor takes a lot of time.

With the office torn apart and my attention on the flooring task during these two weeks, I am not doing much genealogy.

Once we complete this project, the office will be oh-so-nice, and I will be back on the genealogy beat.

Webinar Opportunities Right Now

I keep getting nowhere in my effort to document the pedigree of my ancestor Lucy Snow (1760-1795) of Harwich, Massachusetts. Time again for some professional help.

Yesterday I registered for two webinars being hosted this month by American Ancestors. Perhaps they will help me uncover records that have eluded me so far.

  1. Searching Databases on will run this afternoon. I have tried using this subscription site, but I find it overwhelming. Searches I attempt often return hundreds of results, most of them irrelevant to my Lucy Snow. In this webinar, the American Ancestors database coordinator will discuss the scope of the site and how to leverage search terms.
  2. Creating a Research Plan for Cluster Research runs next week. I am familiar with cluster research where you include an ancestor’s extended family, associates, and neighbors to solve a genealogical mystery. So far, my attempts at using this technique have been unsuccessful for Lucy Snow or any of my other brick wall ancestors. I hope the Director of Research Services at American Ancestors can help me craft a research plan that works.

I am nearly 5 months into my search for Lucy and her forebears. I have her marriage record and her burial site. I have the names of her children with Gershom Hall. I have what may be her baptism record, if she is the daughter of Thomas Snow and Hannah of the Brewster, MA church.

But there were several Thomas Snows and several Lucy Snows who lived on Cape Cod during the second half of the 1700’s. How do I distinguish my Lucy and put her in the correct family? I need to find the records of each and untangle them to discover the thread of my Lucy’s pedigree.

If some education available from home can help me do that, sign me up!