2019 Challenge: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Week 21: Miltary

PA 149th Regimental Flag

Pennsylvania 149th Infantry Civil War Flag

My 2nd Great Grandfather: Silas Potter (abt 1837 – 1864)

I may have written about Silas before, but as many genealogists know, Genealogy is an ongoing thing, and you can never find out too much information. Such is the case with my 2nd Great Grandfather.

Silas in the Civil War

Silas enlisted on the side of the North, 17 Aug 1863, with the Pennsylvania 149th Infantry, during the Civil War. I’m sure with a lot of searching I could find exactly which battles he fought in between his enlistment and his death, but in my mind, nothing compares with his last battle. I have a difficult time not crying when I think about it. It’s going to be interesting to see how much I will be able to control the “not crying” while I finish writing this blog’

His Last Battle-The Battle of The Wilderness, Virginia

About a month ago, someone brought to my attention a blog about that battle. (Reference below). It brought this battle into a totally different perspective. I had originally thought that he’d been shot, and died the next day from his bullet wounds, and that those wounds were inoperable but the field surgeons.

There is something that happened during the Battle of the Wilderness that isn’t mentioned in very many places. That area of Virginia was heavily forested. May typically sees temperatures in Virginia rising. Likely there wasn’t a lot of rainfall, so it was ripe to be a tinderbox. When the battle began with the firing of the muskets, sparks from the flash of gun powder caught the nearby trees on fire. So not only are the 149th and the other units that were there to fight this battle dealing with enemy fire, they were also dealing with real fire.

Death By Fire

Consequently, men that were felled by enemy shots were stuck, lying where they landed, well into the next day. They were unreachable. There were soldiers, not yet dead, that were trapped in that fire, and were burned while still alive, though severely wounded. These men are recorded in the Military Records as “Missing In Action”. Not dead, not deserted, just missing. This made it difficult for their widows to get their widows pension. It took me combing through 64 pages of Silas’s wife’s application to figure this out. She was denied a couple of times, until a former 2nd Lieutenant gave his written, sworn statement that he had seen Silas shot on May 4th, and then she was finally approved and received the pension she was due.

Why Did The Military Fail To Mention Men Killed in The Fire

I really can’t speak for the Military, especially not all the way back then, but I think it was to spare the widows (and probably the nation at large), the horrific reality. I know how I felt when I learned the truth. I wouldn’t wish that on anyone either. Some might think that they omitted the details to cover it up, to keep from being berated about not rescuing the fallen, stuck soldiers. The fact of the matter is, war is hell on soldiers, and trying to rescue a fallen soldier, while under enemy fire, and fire burning all around you, all at the same time, I suspect, had they attempted it, (which we don’t know that they didn’t attempt it), more would have been lost than the way too many that were lost in that battle as well as the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House, which happened the next day.

I got through it without crying too much.

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2019 Challenge: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Week 20: Nature

Farmer Daddy's Chickens aka His Children Resized

Photo Taken by T Counce, 2007

Yes, I know, I Skipped A Week

Week 19’s Challenge is Nuture, and since I’ve written about the teachers that I know of in other blogs, I have to come at that challenge from a different angle, and that is taking some time to research, as I want to come at it in a way that no one else has.

Week 20: Nature, Not My Usual Blog For These Challenges

For this Week’s Challenge, the subject is Nature. Normally, I write these blogs on dead ancestors, due to privacy issues with the living. I come from farmers on both sides of my family, all the way back from when the immigrated to this country and Canada. I don’t know enough about their farming to make it noteworthy in a blog. I could tell you where their farms were located, I might be able to tell you how much land they had, or that they raised cattle or pigs, or whatever, but none of that is interesting to tell about, as it would just be scant facts.

I suppose it’s genetic, since I had an extreme interest in Agriculture while in High School, and belonged to the Future Farmers of America, raised a lamb, sold it at auction, and am attempting for the second time to grow my own vegetables. (First time had some success, just not what I was hoping for.)

My Father-City Dweller Or Farmer?

Due to privacy issues, and he is still alive, (thankfully), I can’t list his name and information, but the only person I can think of, that I have an interesting perspective to write about for this week’s challenge is my father. Hopefully he won’t mind, and might even find this funny. This will be another short blog, and this one will not have any links.

Growing Up

My father grew up on a farm. He joined the military, got married, and then I came along. As I mentioned in the Week 18 Challenge, I was born in San Francisco, a huge, VERY busy city, even back then. I hadn’t seen a farm until I was five, when we visited my Uncle Roy and his family, during a cross country move. The closest we came to farms after that belonged to other people, not us.

After my father got out of the military, he settled in San Francisco. Definitely NOT on a farm. I had never seen my father anywhere on a farm doing things that farmers do. EVER.

Visiting With A Purpose

In 2007, I was working for a company where I delivered vehicles, (by actually driving the vehicle), to the places that they needed to be delivered to. I had picked up a truck in Texas that needed to go to San Diego, and stopped in New Mexico to visit with my father. What I witnessed while I was there had me laughing or staring with my mouth hanging open, until my father looked at me, then I promptly closed my mouth.

Follow The Leader

You see, my father has free roaming chickens (pictured above, though those may no longer be alive). I watched these chickens following him around the property like they were playing follow the leader, or the way chicks follow their mother. It was the darnedest thing I’d ever seen up to that point in my life, and since.

There were other things that were observed on that visit, but that will always be the most memorable, for me. I’ve mentioned this to him a couple of times, and he reminded me (or told me, depending on the perspective), that he grew up on a farm. I realized on that visit that I really didn’t know this person, just what I knew from my time with him while growing up, in cities or towns, where we did not live on a farm.

When was the last time you visited a farm?


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2019 Challenge: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Week 18: Road Trip

Captain Edward Tracy Allen for Blog

Captain Edward Tracy Allen (1838 – 1926)

A Road Trip That Can Also Be Seen As A Mind Trip

For this week’s challenge I chose a 5th Cousin 5 times removed, Captain Edward Tracy Allen, because he moved from the East Coast all the way to the West Coast of the United States (3064 miles), not to mention the moving around he did with the Military.

Have You Found An Ancestor That You Have Some Things In Common?

I noticed a lot of things I have in common with Edward. He was born the day before me, with a 120 year difference, on the opposite coast. Ironically, he died, on the opposite coast, in the same city where I was born.

While writing his biography for WikiTree, I felt a particular connection to him that I cannot explain. (Or at least not without sounding like I’ve lost my mind.) His birth year and mine both end in 8. I moved from California to Virginia at about the same age as he was when he moved from Rhode Island to California. (The last two I noticed while writing this).

In looking at the addresses found through Ancestry.com records, before he died, he didn’t live very far from where my family lived when I was born, though it was over 25 years earlier.

I can’t help but wonder if some of the places that I visited were places that he also visited?

More Information

If you want to know more details about Edward than what I have written here, please visit his profile, with full biography at WikiTree.com. (Figure that is better than me putting everything here, since I already wrote everything up once.)

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2019 Challenge: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Week 17: At Worship

First Congregational Church of Stonington

The First Congregational Church of Stonington (aka The Road Church)

“The First Congregational Church of Stonington is the oldest church in Stonington and one of the oldest in Connecticut. The church was established in 1674 and the first Minister was Reverend James Noyes.” (From History @: http://www.fccstonington.org/history)

My Special Ties To This Church

This church was started 03 Jun 1674 by nine people that I am related or connected to, one way or another:

2 of My 9th Great Grandfathers:

Thomas Stanton (1630 – 1677) and Thomas Wheeler (1603 – 1686)

3 of My 9th Great Uncles Through Marriage to 9th Great Aunts:

Reverend James Noyes (1640 – 1719), Thomas Stanton, Jr (1638 – 1718)Nehemiah Palmer (1637 – 1717), and Nehemiah’s brother Moses Palmer

And 3 Others Distantly Related Through Marriage:

Nathaniel Chesebrough (1630 – 1678)Lt. Thomas Miner (1608 – 1690), and Ephraim Miner, Sr (1642 – 1724)

Because of my ties to the above named men, and their connection to this church, I decided to start a One Place Study on Stonington, Connecticut. In conjunction with the One Place Study, I’m also in the process of compiling a list of Ministers, Members, Attendees, anyone recorded as doing something in this church.

My Most Used Reference

This “reference” was actually my inspiration for this weeks challenge as I use “religiously”:

History of the First Congregational Church, Stonington, Connecticut, 1674-1874; With The Report of Bi-Centennial Proceedings, 03 Jun 1874; With Appendix Containing Statistics of the Church.” By Richard Anson Wheeler (1875)

With this reference not only can I see what day someone was, for example, baptized, I can also tell who performed the baptism. By getting this information, it helps me to better understand the relationships of my ancestors with each other and the Church.

As a Minister, myself, it also helps me to see their relationship with God to a certain degree. As a genealogist, it also helps me to understand their relationships, to a degree, with the church and each other.

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2019 Challenge: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Week 16: Out of Place

(Warning: This is going to be a very short blog)

My Original Choice For This Week’s Challenge Is Being Elusive

The person I want to profile for this challenge according to FindAGrave is lost. What this means is that she was buried in a particular cemetry, was moved, and in the process of moving her, she got lost. Can’t remember specifically who she was (one of the hazards of working on hundreds of ancestors biographies…) or which cemetery that it was that lost her…when I find her again I will update.

My Second Choice For This Week’s Challenge Is Esther (Denison) Wheeler (1715-1799)

Esther (Denison) Wheeler is my 6th Great Grandmother, wife of Jonathan Wheeler (1708-1790). What makes her out of place is that according to FindAGrave she is listed as being buried in White Hall Graveyard in Mystic, Connecticut. Where she actually is buried is, in her rightful place, next to her husband in Jonathan Wheeler Cemetery #24, in Stonington. This is proven by Midge Frazel, in her blog: Granite in My Blood, including photos that she personally took. This particular blog was in response to a question that I had asked her.

The Mystic Location Versus The Stonington Location

While Mystic is technically a village that is part of Stonington and Groton, It shares one zip code with Stonington, shares no zip code with Groton, and has two of it’s own.

In where the location of the two cemeteries are located, location really does matter, because White Hall Graveyard is just over 5 miles away from Jonathan Wheeler Cemetery #24.

Do you have an out of place Ancestor in your tree? I’d love to hear about it.



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2019 Challenge: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Week 15: DNA

As Usual, I’m Behind On These

Life has a funny way of telling you that you need to do other things. Mostly I’ve just needed to relax and step away. My head gets full of information and after a while it all starts swimming together and then I start having the weirdest dreams, like me chasing a rat with my hand trying to grab the record that he stole that I needed (I have that one a lot). Last week I took one day to pick who or what I was going to use for each weeks challenge. The next day, for all but two, I wrote the blogs, in a text document, getting all my ideas, sources, and links together. Then I let it sit for a week, to let each blog settle in my mind. Rather than bombard you with a big batch of blogs, I’m going to post 3 a day, until I’m caught up again. The first of three follows:

My DNA Story

My Perspective For This Weeks Challenge: DNA

I’m a little stumped on how to address this challenge, as I already did a story on the main reason I went ahead and submitted my DNA. So I think what I’m going to do with this challenge is write about my opinion on it and my journey through it.

Why I Submitted My DNA Sample

Honestly, I hadn’t planned on doing so for reasons I would prefer to not talk about. However, there were questions on the maternal side about parentage of certain ancestors, and brick walls galore on the paternal side, so my hope was to

1) Get answers and

2) Break through brick walls.

Looking For Answers: Maternal Line

I mentioned in another blog that I was concerned, if not just flat out skeptical about the parentage on my mother’s paternal side. While most of the documentation appeared to line up, there were missing links and suspicions by others that what my maternal cousin and I believed to be true to be a false claim, and even after proving a couple of things on paper, they were still a bit skeptical.

The DNA confirmed that the one person besides me that was a bit skeptical is a 2nd cousin through the same person, so that answered the first paternity question. I have yet to find a Bates or Flanders beyond that though, so the question of the paternity of my Great Grandfather is still being contested by me.

Break Throughs: Paternal Line

All the DNA test did, as far as my Paternal Line goes is confirm my research. There are some interesting questions that have been raised though. In the Gentry Line of my tree, even though most have the wrong parents attached to my 2nd Great Grandmother, Lydia Ann (Gentry) Counce, somehow I’m related to people in the wrong line of parents. Most likely I’m related to them through the parents that I know to be the right ones (because there is a DNA match), in spite of them having errors in their Ancestry trees.

New Questions That The DNA Results Bring To Mind

  1. Why do I have matches with some of these people.
  2. How are we connected?
  3. Do I really want to contact a bunch of strangers?

    a) Are they only interested in their direct lines?

    b) Are they even actively researching?

    c) Do I want to be perceived as a threat?

The answer to 3c is NO. This is a tricky business.

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2019 Challenge: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Week 14: Brick Wall

Maria Mary Andres Bates approx 1977

Maria “Mary” Andres aka Bates (1908-1978)

Brick Walls

The woman pictured above is my materal grandmother. I didn’t really know her that well, but doing the research on her and her ancestors has been one heck of an adventure.

What’s In A Name?

When embarking on trying to locate documents about ancestors it’s really very helpful if you know the person’s name. When I first started I realized I had a HUGE problem. A “Brick Wall”. You see, for 56 years, Grandma Bates was just that. Grandma Bates. Grandma Counce I knew better and communicated with her by mail regularly, so I knew her whole name from the return address on the envelopes (how I learned it in the first place). Grandma Bates and I did not communicate in that way, I only saw her three times in my whole life (might have only been two), and I didn’t really spend any time with her (I was young and there were other factors). So the first “Brick Wall” was lack of information to even start with.

When I started my Ancestry.com tree…I was totally stumped. No one from that side of my family, that I know, are talking to me, so I couldn’t just ask (though I did try and was ignored). So I plugged in what I knew and prayed that I’d get some of those hint leaves. Did not get any. So I just worked on the paternal side of my family. After a while my tree was extremely lopsided, exactly like the tree pictured below:


Being the OCD person that I am, this was driving me mad.

Getting Passed The First Brick Wall: My Own Insecurities

I knew I needed help, because, even though I had learned how to think outside the box on the paternal side of the family, I hadn’t figured out how to on the maternal side. I decided to post a request for help on WikiTree in the Genealogist to Genealogist (G2G) forum to ask for suggestions on how to find out what Grandma Bates first name was. To be honest, I felt really stupid asking. As I typed my dilemma out, I kept seeing, in my mind, responses like “How do you not know your own grandmother’s name?”; or envisioning people laughing at me. I almost cancelled the question at least ten times before I finally just took a breath and posted it.

It took a little bit, but not long, and someone responded. They didn’t laugh at me (that I know of, and their response didn’t come across like they were laughing at me). They didn’t ask me the questions I imagined were going to be asked. They had found something!

Getting Passed The Second Brick Wall

I wish I could remember who helped me, I did try to thank them, though they may never have seen the message. What they found was a border crossing document from when my aunt had gone to Washington State to visit a friend. On that border crossing document was my Aunt’s mother’s name and address. So then I had Mary Bates. While Mary is a very common name and Bates is a very common name, I did know that (though the memory was a bit sketchy), that the day after (might have been the same day) I gave birth to my eldest my mother had mentioned that a plant she got from my grandmother just after she died, bloomed that day. So, knowing that my eldest was born in 1978, I remembered that Grandma Bates died in 1978.

With a little bit of thinking outside of the box, I found her death certificate. It had my other aunts name on it, so I knew I had the right Mary Bates! This was a HUGE score. On the death certificate it had her parents listed on it! So I did some more searching in the Canadian records, and I found them. Only problem is that it said they were Mennonite, and that couldn’t be right. My eldest had told me that Grandma was Jewish. Stuck again. So I plugged what I knew into her WikiTree profile, then sat on it for a while. I put out questions to a few people, but they either didn’t get back to me or didn’t know.

Getting Passed The Third Brick Wall

A year later, through WikiTree, a cousin contacted me. They dropped some unexpected bombs on me. First bomb: Grandma was Mennonite, not Jewish. What? Second Bomb: Grandma and Grandpa never married. WHAT???? That bomb had me so flabbergasted, I called my father. Apparently, I was the only one on the planet who didn’t know that they weren’t married. That explained why I never found a marriage on them (aside from the fact that those records might not have been released [yet]. But in that same conversation I was given a clue about where my Grandfather was when he died, and that led me to his death certificate, with the name of a wife I hadn’t heard of…so while breaking through this brick wall led me to another one, I was definitely glad I had saved the documentation I had found on my grandmother’s parents, because it turned out that what I had found was in fact them.

Getting Passed The Fourth Brick Wall

Do you get the feeling like, like I had at the time that all of this information was locked in a very fortified fortress? My great-grandfather’s name was really common, so I had no idea if I had the right one or not, and with the smudge on the death certificate of my grandmother, If wasn’t even sure if I had the right great-grandmother. Then I was contacted by a cousin of my grandmother, through WikiTree. She had information on my grandmother and did I want it? I responded quickly, yes I did. She sent me a 24 page .pdf copy of all of the research that she had. This document takes me back 10 generations from my Grandma Bates. (12 generations back from me!!!!)

The Last Brick Wall

Now the only issue I have is getting passed my not being able to read or comprehend a couple of foreign languages and working outside of my comfort zone. I’m working on the last one, I know where to go for help for the first one.

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