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Colorado Connections

Although I have lived most of my adult life in Colorado, I am not a native. One of my granddaughters is the only person in my immediate family who was born in the state.

Yet I have several ancestral ties to Colorado:

  1. My father grew up in Loveland. His mother relocated the family from Wyoming after my grandfather, Owen Herbert Reed (1896-1935), died in a truck accident near Brighton, CO. Grandma and Uncle Harold remained in Colorado. Aunt Hazel settled in the Boulder area after stints in Nebraska and Wyoming. Uncle Bob and my dad returned to Colorado to live out their final years.
  2. Dad’s second cousin, Cyril Dale Reed (1903-1982), raised his family in Denver and Wheat Ridge. His son Dean (1938-1986), who became a socialist singer known as the Red Elvis, is buried in Boulder’s Green Mountain Cemetery.
  3. Dad’s uncle, Thomas Aaron Reed (1894-1966), retired in Cañon City. One of his sons had settled near there after being stationed at Fort Carson during WWII.
  4. Dad’s uncle, Robert Morton Reed (1891-1967), took his first assignment as a railroad telegrapher in Denver. He was living there when he registered for the WWI draft in 1917. After his railroad career, he retired in Delta.
  5. Dad’s maternal grandmother had a cousin who left his family home in Ohio to settle in Colorado Springs. Samuel E. Sessions (ca. 1849-1907) married there in 1875 when Colorado was still a territory. His children were born in “the Springs” after Colorado became a state in 1876.

I do have some bona fide Colorado roots even though I was not born in the Centennial State. My grandmother arrived here in 1936, and other family members came here, too. Even though I cannot display a Colorado Native bumper sticker, my family has been here a long time.

I Join a Lineage Society

Success! After waiting since last July, I finally received word this week that my application to join the General Society of Mayflower Descendants has been approved.

My qualifying lineage runs from the adventurer Stephen Hopkins. He accompanied the Pilgrims on their journey in 1620. They hired him because he had previous New World experience.

To file this application, I did not need to document the first few generations of my ancestors who came after Stephen Hopkins. The 30-volume Mayflower Families Through Five Generations provides an authoritative family tree down to Hopkins’ descendant, and my ancestor, Thomas Snow (1735-1790).

I did need to prove my descent from Thomas through his daughter, Lucy (1760-1795). Because no other descendant of hers has ever applied to the Society, I could not piggyback on the application of someone else. There are a couple of long-ago applications from descendants of Lucy’s brother, Edward Snow, but they included no records that I could use for my application.

I had little difficulty collecting appropriate documentation for most of the generations between Thomas Snow and me. Wills, obituaries, or vital records spelled out the relationships between generations.

But there were two links that were more troublesome. I did not know whether the documentation I submitted would pass the review of the Society’s genealogists:

  1. Was Olive Hall (Dunbar) Riddle (1823-1902) the same person as Olive, daughter of Rhoda (Hall) Dunbar (1784-1850)? Olive’s father died when Olive was a child so his will did not include her married name. Olive’s mother did not leave a will. Olive’s obituary did not provide her mother’s name, and an obituary for Rhoda has not been found. Nor has a family Bible. To solve the problem, I collected land conveyances that mentioned Olive Dunbar inheriting and Olive Riddle selling the same parcel of Ohio land.
  2. Was Lucy (Snow) Hall the same person as Lucy, daughter of Thomas Snow? I could find no primary sources that provided this information. Instead, I crossed my fingers and submitted a page from the Hall family entry in the Encyclopedia of Massachusetts (1916) that claimed Lucy’s descent from Stephen Hopkins.

The Society genealogists deemed the land records and the published biographical information enough to establish the links I needed.

The next step will be to receive my membership numbers for the national organization and the Colorado chapter. This should take a week or so.

The Society will retain all the genealogical information I provided. Any of Lucy (Snow) Hall’s descendants can now use it to file applications of their own.

Furthermore, my work on this line will be preserved. When I cannot be certain that my own family will keep my research, submitting it to a lineage society will assure that it is not lost.

I am thrilled that my application was successful.

Virtual Genealogy Anyone?

At this time of year, we have many opportunities to further our genealogical education. The invitations keep rolling into my In Box.

Many of these conferences and seminars, like RootsTech ( and the NGS 2021 Family History Conference (, offer a wide range of topics.

Others focus on more specialized subjects. The Colorado Genealogical Society’s 2021 Seminar will feature Crista Cowan “The Barefoot Genealogist” speaking on using (

Those who seek classes to help them further their German research have a couple of good choices coming up:

  1. 2021 International German Genealogy Conference. With the theme of Researching Together Worldwide, this virtual conference will be held 17 July to 24 July. Registration is now open and can be completed at the following link: A special Early-Bird registration discount is possible until 31 March 2021. This conference will feature popular speakers Ute Brandenburg, Wolfgang Grams, Timo Kracke, Roger Minert, Judy Russell, Katherine Schober, Diahan Southard, and Michael Strauss covering an extensive variety of German genealogy topics.
  2. Colorado Palatines to America Spring Seminar. On April 9 & 10, Teresa Steinkamp McMillin will speak via Zoom. She will offer four sessions including The Voyages of Our German Ancestors, Understanding German Farm Names, Discover the Holdings of German Archives, and a case study using indirect evidence. Registration for this seminar is open at

I am registered for a couple of upcoming genealogy events that look interesting to me. I am looking forward to hearing some good speakers and collecting some new research ideas.

What about you? How much time do you have available? What will you choose?

A Mother for Mahala

Laura Riddle (1853-1933), my great-grandmother, had a cousin named Mahala Dunbar (1850-1939). We have long wondered who Mahala’s parents might have been.

When she was a child, Mahala appeared on two easy-to-find census records for Stow, Summit, County Ohio.

In both 1860 and 1870, the adults in the household were Benjamin S. Dunbar (1812-aft. 1880) and Rebecca Dunbar (1817-1873). These two were brother and sister. Which one was Mahala’s parent? Neither census record tells us family relationships. We do learn from these that Mahala was born in Ohio.

No other record uncovered so far has told us anything about Mahala’s parentage. Her obituary and her biography in the county history do not mention them. Neither Benjamin nor Rebecca left a will.

One tantalizing clue that remained to be searched was the 1850 census. The official enumeration date for that year was June 1, and children born after that day were not to be counted. Mahala was born on August 13. As expected, a search for her name produces no results.

Rebecca Dunbar lived in a Stow, Ohio household with only her younger sister Laura in 1850. The enumeration date recorded on the census record was September 10. Mahala would have been a month old by then. She was not recorded as a member of this household. Was this because the census taker strictly followed the guidelines and listed only people living there on June 1, or was it because she was not present the day the information was recorded?

What about Benjamin’s household? He had married Lucy Jaquays in Ohio in 1846. Perhaps they were Mahala’s parents, but I spent years searching the 1850 census for them with no luck. This week I tried again.

This time instead of looking for Benjamin, I did an Ancestry search for Lucy Jaquays. The hints list included an 1850 listing for the Norris Jaquays household in Noble County, Indiana. This place is a long way (220 miles) from Summit County, Ohio where I thought Benjamin had always lived. It turns out Norris Jaquays and his family were pioneers of Noble County, arriving there from Ohio in the late 1840’s.

And there were Benjamin and Lucy Dunbar in 1850, living in the household of the man I hypothesize was her father. Yet again, there was no Mahala. She would have been eleven days old when the census taker visited the Jaquays household on August 24. Again, were the rules being strictly followed, or was Mahala not there?

Even though Mahala was not counted on the census in 1850, locating this record makes me suspect that Benjamin and Lucy were not Mahala’s parents. They were living in northern Indiana just eleven days after Mahala was born in Ohio.

If they had been in Indiana on the June 1 census date, it seems unlikely they would have spent a week traveling back to Ohio for the birth of a baby in August. A baby of theirs would much more likely have been born in Indiana. Mahala consistently gave her birthplace as Ohio, and she grew up there. Benjamin returned there after his marriage to Lucy broke up.

I surmise that Mahala was born in Ohio to an unwed mother. Was she 33-year-old Rebecca or 21-yer-old Laura? Either way, Rebecca was the mother Mahala knew.

The baby arrived too late to be counted on the census that year. Still, she was likely present in the household, being cared for by her mother and her aunt, when the census taker came around.

The failure of Mahala’s biographical information to mention her parentage points to the same conclusion. Unwed parents were not something to advertise in the nineteenth century.

Mahala’s descendants have a photo of a woman labeled “Mother Dunbar”. I wonder if this was Rebecca.

Moses Dunbar Revealed

My second great grandmother Olive Riddle (1823-1902) was born a Dunbar. She had eleven siblings.

Some members of this family have proven easy to trace. Others, not so much.

I last worked on this group about twenty years ago. Oddly enough, the three sons in the family were harder to follow than the nine girls. I finally gave up on the men without knowing when or where any of them died.

This year, I resumed the research on the Dunbars. I have many more databases available to use in locating information on the elusive Dunbar brothers.

I focused on the middle brother, Moses Dunbar (1814-?), this week. His birth was registered at Chatham, MA, but I knew nothing of his whereabouts after that.

The family had relocated to Stow, Summit County, Ohio about 1831 when Moses would have been on the verge of manhood. Did he go with them? Or was he already settled and wanting to stay on Cape Cod? “Moses Dunbar” is a surprisingly common name to research without more to go on.

I assumed that our Moses eventually made his way to Ohio, either with his family or later, living at least until the 1840’s. A man his age resided in his mother’s household in 1840.

A few years later, his name appeared with his middle initial, “W”, in Ohio land documents when the family was resolving title issues to the land their father had purchased. This initial became an important clue in a new search for Moses.

Beginning with the U.S. census, I located a sailor named Moses W. Dunbar living in Cuyahoga County, just north of Summit County, after 1850. He married there, twice. I found Cleveland census records for him for both 1870 and 1880.

As I reviewed the Cuyahoga County records, Family Search did some helpful looking on my behalf. Their hints column suggested that I compare my Moses with Moses W. Dunbar of Siskiyou County, California. The same age as my Moses, the California man had registered there to vote in 1884.

Well, I never would have thought of that. Moses, the senior citizen, went to California?

A quick search of Find A Grave provides strong evidence that my Moses and the California Moses are a match. Moses Whitney Dunbar, who died in 1906 at the age of 93, is buried in Evergreen Cemetery in the old goldrush town of Yreka, CA. His cemetery marker is inscribed with the phrase, “Native of Chatham, Mass.”

This seems to be my guy. Thank you, Family Search!

Learning Genealogy on Zoom

This month the Colorado Genealogical Society (CGS) scheduled two helpful Zoom classes for anyone looking for some new research techniques:

  1. Last week Dina Carson spoke on getting the most from database research. Dina, a Coloradan who writes books for genealogists and local historians, provided many ideas for effective searches on Google and in genealogy databases.
  2. Coming up this weekend will be Shannon Green and her program on correlating evidence to further one’s research. Shannon is a trustee on the Board of Certification for Genealogists. Her program will help all of us do more professional work.

These Zoom meetings begin a half hour before the scheduled presentation time. We use this extra time to converse and ask one another genealogy-related questions. This social time helps us stay connected when we cannot meet in person.

CGS, unlike some other societies, makes these sessions and the monthly Society meetings free and open to anyone who cares to register. Carson’s class drew over 100 participants, one from as far away as North Carolina.

I like the friendly approach of accepting all comers instead of putting up paywalls. It seems to attract new members to CGS. Every newsletter I have received during the pandemic contains a list of people who have joined the organization recently.

I hear that CGS may continue with some Zoom meetings once our usual location, the Denver Public Library, reopens. Parking has become more of an issue in downtown Denver, and the public transportation schedule has been reduced. Many people like the convenience of being able to participate from home.

Of course, it takes work for our Board to provide these meetings and classes. I am so glad they do. I get a lot for the nominal membership dues I pay this organization.

I cannot wait to hear what Shannon Green can teach me on Saturday.

Daniel Dunbar Disappears

My second great-grandmother, Olive Hall (Dunbar) Riddle (1823-1902) had an older brother named Daniel H. Dunbar. We do not know what became of him.

His name appears in only a few records:

  1. His birth registration says he was born 8 Sep 1809 at Chatham, Massachusetts.
  2. On 12 Sep 1833, he and several siblings quitclaimed their interest in Chatham land owned by their late father, Benjamin E. Dunbar (1776-1831).
  3. On 8 May 1837, he conveyed an interest in inherited real estate in Stow, then-Portage County, Ohio.
  4. On 12 Apr 1843, he was mentioned as co-owner of Stow, Ohio land sold at Sheriff’s sale.

Did 22-year-old Daniel make the move to Ohio in 1831 with the rest of his family? Or did he remain behind in Massachusetts? Did he go elsewhere?

No male of Daniel’s age (31) resided in his mother’s Ohio household in 1840 nor has he been found in his own household that year. No marriage record for him has been found.

Census records for 1840, 1850, and 1860 list several men named Daniel Dunbar who were born about 1809 in Massachusetts, but none of these men fit our Daniel’s profile:

  1. Daniel Dunbar of West Bridgewater, MA. This Daniel’s parents were Daniel and Nicola Dunbar.
  2. Daniel Dunbar of Ware, MA. This Daniel was usually referred to as Daniel 2nd. He was the son of John Dunbar.
  3. Daniel Dunbar of Chardon, Geauga County, Ohio. This Daniel married Clarissa Brown at Palmer, MA in 1820. Our Daniel would have been only 11 years old at that time.
  4. Daniel Dunbar of Westley, Washington County, Ohio. This Daniel began paying Ohio taxes in 1822 when our Daniel was a 13-year-old living in Massachusetts.

Was Daniel still living in 1840 but not enumerated on the census? If he had already died, one wonders why he was mentioned in the 1843 Sheriff’s sale.

If his death did not occur before 1840, he surely must have died by 1850 when again he was not recorded on the census. No death information for Daniel has been found, and his burial is not recorded in the family plot in Stow.

What happened to Daniel H. Dunbar, son of Benjamin?



A Return to the Dunbar Family

This week I was able to dive into the research on my ancestor Benjamin E. Dunbar (1776-1831). Originally from Massachusetts, he and his family moved to Ohio shortly before his death.

The last time I looked at this family, over ten years ago, I did quite a bit of research on his children. His daughter Olive (1823-1902) was my second great-grandmother. He had eleven other children, but oddly I have had little success in locating descendants of any of them. I exchanged family photos with one woman who contacted me, but she did not know which of Benjamin’s children was her ancestor.

With no identifiable cousins available for swapping information, I have been on my own in tracing this family. They left few footprints.

I decided to begin the research on Benjamin by taking another look at his children, working down the list in birth order. The eldest was a daughter, Sophronia Dunbar (1805-1849). I know this about her:

  1. She was born at Chatham, MA on 29 July 1805.
  2. She married George Tiffany in Portage (now Summit) County, Ohio on 3 May 1832.
  3. Her husband served with Sophronia’s mother Rhoda as co-administrator of Benjamin Dunbar’s estate. They were accused of mismanaging it, and some of the property was sold at a Sheriff’s sale.
  4. Sophronia and George seem to have had no children. In 1840, a 5–10-year-old girl lived with them, but I suspect she was one of Sophronia’s younger sisters. A daughter that age was absent from Rhoda Dunbar’s household, two doors away.
  5. Sophronia may have known she was terminally ill. She executed a will in the spring of 1849 leaving everything to George. She died that same year.

And what happened to the widower, George Tiffany? He would have been about 45 years old when Sophronia died.

Another researcher surmises that he was the George Tiffany, gold miner, found on the 1850 census in California. Perhaps he did leave Ohio to seek his fortune after his wife passed away.

Later, we find him back in Ohio in 1853 when he married Sophronia’s sister Lucy Snow Dunbar (1827-?). They appear in the Summit County, Ohio records a couple of times in subsequent years when they sell interest in the Dunbar land.

After 1856, the couple disappears. I have not found them on the 1860 census. But I do have a couple of clues:

  1. A woman named Lucy Tiffany resided in Waukegan, IL in 1870. If this is our Lucy, perhaps George had passed away by then.
  2. There are two graves for men named George Tiffany in Waukegan, IL. One marker is badly eroded, and the death date could say either 1869 or 1889. This George is buried with a wife named Roxanna, so he may not have been the George who married the Dunbar sisters. The marker for the second George Tiffany appears to say he died in 1869, and no wife is buried under a shared marker. This may be our George Tiffany. More research is needed to verify that the George and Lucy of Waukegan are the couple I seek.

I have yet to look at the land deeds from George Tiffany that are recorded in Summit County. After I do that, I will see if I can find anything in Waukegan, IL that connects the family there with the one in Ohio. If so, I need to follow this Lucy’s trail to see how her life ended. I would like to know if she ever had children.

This inquiry may not reveal any more about Benjamin E. Dunbar, but any information I uncover can help me prepare a more complete family history. His children’s lives are part of his story.

New Year, Clean Office

In December I do not pursue much genealogy. Instead, I spend some time straightening up my office—sorting and filing stacks of papers, wiping down surfaces, shelving reference books. This helps me make a fresh start on a new research project in the new year.

This year I even have a new office chair. I had been admiring the active sitting chairs from QOR360 (, and I was thrilled to receive one for Christmas. It has an unstable seat with no armrests or lumbar support. The idea is to keep the body moving to improve posture, prevent back pain, strengthen the core, and improve whole-body health. It was developed by a trauma surgeon who developed back pain when he switched to a desk job.

So far, I like my new chair, and I am taking advantage of my newly-cleaned-up office. I plan to pursue two research projects through 2021 in this wonderful workspace:

  1. My subject for traditional, paper trail research will be the study I described last week of my third great-grandparents, Benjamin E. Dunbar (1776-1831) and Rhoda Hall (1784-1850).
  2. I continue to learn more about how to interpret DNA tests, and that will continue. I still hope to learn the identity of my dad’s maternal grandfather. I think that tools like cluster research and software like DNA Painter ( can help me with that, but the learning curve is steep for me. If I cannot crack this mystery on my own, I may look into hiring a genetic genealogist.

I have big plans for the genealogy year ahead. As always, I am eager to see what exciting family information I can uncover.


New Year, New Project

A new year will arrive in a few hours. With it will come the time for me to begin a new genealogy research project.

Each year I target an ancestor to learn more about. At the end of the year, I send my findings around to my extended family. Maybe someone will preserve what I have learned for their own descendants.

In 2021 I will try to find more information on my third great-grandfather, Benjamin E. Dunbar. He was a salt maker on Cape Cod for many years.

Benjamin is listed in the Dunbar family genealogy, The Descendants of Robert Dunbar of Hingham, Massachusetts by Ann Theopold Chaplin.

From this and other sources, I have already collected enough documentation relating to his life to create a short timeline:

    1776 Born in Halifax, Massachusetts

    1805 Married Rhoda Hall at Chatham, Massachusetts

    1814 Served in the War of 1812 as a private in the Massachusetts militia in the defense of Eastham

    1831 Died at Stow, Ohio

Benjamin Dunbar was just 55 when he died. He had recently sold his saltworks and relocated to Ohio. He left a widow and twelve children.

I have a few questions about his life that I would like to answer this year:

  1. Who was his mother? The Dunbar book says she was Hannah Hathaway, but online sources claim a different Hannah was his mother.
  2. Who were his siblings? The Dunbar book says he had a younger brother, Hosea Dunbar. Their father died when the boys were toddlers. Did Hannah re-marry? Did Benjamin have half-siblings?
  3. Did he leave any male line descendants? He had three sons, Daniel H., Benjamin S., and Moses. I have found no records on Daniel or Moses after 1843 when the Dunbar land in Ohio was partitioned. Benjamin S. lived until at least 1880 and is buried in an unmarked grave near his parents in Stow, but I know little about his life.
  4. Has anyone discovered Benjamin’s Dunbar roots in Scotland? When the Dunbar book was written in 1992, no birth family had been found for the patriarch Robert although family tradition claimed he was born in the 1630’s in Morayshire. Dunbar researchers at the time concluded that Robert had been taken prisoner at the Battle of Dunbar (1650) or the Battle of Worcestor (1651) and deported to the colonies. Is there any more recent scholarship on this man?

After a year of studying my Snow family in New England, I am ready to turn the page and look at a new family. I can apply much of what I learned in 2020 about New England research to this new project.

The Dunbars should provide an interesting subject. After all, my distant cousin the philosopher Henry David Thoreau belonged to this family. His mother was Cynthia Dunbar.