Saturday, November 5, 2016

Surname Saturday - Sparks from Queen Anne's, MD

This version of my Sparks family tree connects my Sparks family to the original Sparks immigrants in Queen Anne's County, MD.  There are still a lot of gaps to fill in, but I've learned a lot since my original Sparks post in 2011.

My great-grandmother Ariana Sparks was born in Queen Anne's County, MD and later moved to Baltimore, MD with her husband John Councill. Her parents were Samuel Sparks and Susan Godwin. Samuel Sparks is named in land records along with his father Daniel, uncle John, and his siblings and spouses.

The will of James Sparks names sons Daniel, John, and Henson. This is one of the shakier links since I don't have proof that these are the same Daniel and John Sparks named in the land records with Samuel Sparks. The time period and location in Queen Anne's County seem to fit.

The other shaky link is the one from James to William Sparks, Jr. The Sparks Quarterly Issue 124 has an explanation of why James Sparks is the probable son of William Sparks, Jr. According to the Sparks Quarterly, William Sparks  had four sons: William Jr., George, John, and Joseph. Wills and estate settlements of John, George, and Joseph name their children, but none of them are believed to be the James that married Elizabeth Burkhurst.

Sources for the first four levels in the tree are the Sparks Quarterly and the Sparks Family Tree.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Amanuensis Monday - Will of John Meredith, Queen Anne's County, MD

The will of John Meredith leaves his estate to his four children, John Meredith, William Meredith, Thomas Meredith, Sarah Cofton, and a grandson James Meredith. The will was signed on July 14, 1764 and probated in Queen Anne's County, MD.

One of the witnesses to the will was Henry Councell and the will mentions a tract of land called Tom's Fancy Enlarged that was named in land records for my Councill family. This copy of the will comes from MD wills, Vol. 31-32, available on

In the name of God Amen. I John Meredith, from Queen Anne County and the province of Maryland...

Item: I give and bequeath to my beloved son, William Meredith, eighty acres of land where he now dwells being part of a parcel of land called Tristram's? Ridge to be taken of said tract square ? to him and his heirs forever.

Item : I give and bequeath unto my beloved son John Meredith my now dwelling plantation being the remainder of any ? track of land called Tristram's Ridge with hundred acres of land thereto adjoining being part of a land called Tom's Fancy Enlarged to him and his heirs forever.

Item: I give and bequeath unto my beloved son Thomas Meredith one Negro named I? and one Negro named Co? to him and his heirs forever.

Item: I give and bequeath unto my beloved daughter, Sarah Cofton, one Negro, named ? and her child named ? to her and her heirs forever. Item I give and bequeath to my beloved grandson James Meredith, son of my son William Meredith one Negro girl named Rose? to him and his heirs forever.

Item: I give and bequeath unto my beloved son John Meredith all my wearing apparel and my sword and pistols.

Item: My will and desire is that should my son John Meredith die without issue? that then and in that case his part of my above named land should be divided up as follows Viz The dwelling ? called Tristram's Ridge to my son William Meredith being the remainder of the tract of land to him before bequeathed to him and his heirs forever, and the above mentioned ? acres of land being part of Tom's Fancy Enlarged to my son Thomas Meredith, him and his heirs forever.

Item: My will and desire is that after my just debts be paid and my funeral charges defrayed that the remainder of my estate to be equally divided between my above named four children Viz. William John Thomas and Sarah, and I do hereby constitute and appoint my beloved son John Meredith my sole executor of this my last will and testament hereby ? all other will and .. 14th day of July in 1764.

John Meredith

My 2x great-grandfather Francis Councill married Mary Ann Meredith, daughter of John Meredith and Elizabeth Hall. Mary's father John was born around 1800, so he is not the one named in this will. I suspect that the John Meredith that wrote the will is connected to my family, but I need to link up another generation or two to make the connection.

Amanuensis Monday is a popular ongoing series created by John Newmark at Transylvanian Dutch.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Amanuensis Monday - Will of James Sparks

The will of James Sparks, signed March 21, 1775 leaves his estate to his wife July Sparks, sons Nathan, Daniel, John, Henson, and step-daughter Sarah Meredith. The will was probated in Queen Anne's County, MD.

From land records in Queen Anne's County, MD I knew that Daniel Sparks was the father of my 2x great-grandfather Samuel Sparks. The land records also name a brother of Daniel as John Sparks. It looks probable that James' sons Daniel and John are the same as the ones named in the land records. This would make James my 4x great -grandfather. I became aware of this will due to some shaky leaves on my tree, so thanks to those that added it to their trees!

Maryland Wills, vol 40-41, 1774-1777, Image 156
Item, I leave unto my loving wife, July Sparks the use of my house and fifty acres of land on His Lordship's Manor that is under lease, during her natural life or widowhood, or the lease holds good.

Item, I give and bequeath to my loving son John Sparks one featherbed with a buckram tick and what furniture belonging to it.

Item, I give and bequeath to my loving son Daniel one featherbed with a plain linen tick and all its furniture there belonging.

Item, I give and bequeath to my son, Henson Sparks, one middle sized pewter dish and six pewter plates.

Item, I give unto my wife Juley Sparks one iron pot holding about six gallons. I also give to my loving wife Juley Sparks six yoes and lambs.

Item, I give and bequeath to Sarah Marydith daughter of Juley Sparks an equal part of the rest of my personal estate that is to be divided amongst all the rest of my children.

And lastly, I leave my loving wife, Juley Sparks and my loving son Nathan Sparks my whole and sole executors of this my last will and testament. In witness whereof I have fixed my hand and seal this 21st day of March Anno Domini, 1775.

The entire will is transcribed in the Sparks Quarterly, along with an explanation of why James is most likely he son of William Sparks Jr. and Margaret Hamilton.

Source for will: Maryland, Wills and Probate Records, 1604-1998 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2015.

Amanuensis Monday is a popular ongoing series created by John Newmark at Transylvanian Dutch.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Wedding Wednesday - Ann Baynard and John Councel

The Maryland State Archives has many books of marriage licenses available online. This entry is for Ann Baynard and John Councel, dated August 15, 1808 in Caroline County, Maryland. The date is for the marriage license and not the marriage itself.

I've been trying to figure out if John and Ann are the parents of my 2x great-grandfather Francis Councill. John and Ann were residing in Queen Anne's County in 1821 when they sold their share of an inheritance from Levin Baynard's estate. I know that Francis and his brothers were born after 1808 and inherited land from their father John in Queen Anne's County. The estate papers of their father John Councell mention his wife Ann, but don't mention her maiden name.

Wedding Wednesday is a Geneabloggers daily blogging prompt.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Sunday's Obituary - Mary Catherine Hagedorn Gast

This obituary for Mary Catherine (Hagedorn) Gast was published in the Celina Democrat on November 12, 1915.  Mary Catherine was my 3x great-grandmother and was married to Mathias Gast. She was the daughter of Hermann Hagedorn and C. Maria Tebben.

  Mrs. Mary Catherine Gast, aged 92 years, the venerable mother of John Gast, sr., of this city, died suddenly early Saturday morning at her home at Maria Stein. as the result of a stroke of paralysis sustained u few hours previous. 
  Deceased was a native of Germany, but immigrated to this country when a young girl and had spent the greater part of her life in this county. She is survived by five children—John H. Gast, of this city; Mrs. Henry Schaefer, of St. Bernard,. Henry Gast and Mrs. Henry Feldhake of Lima; and Mat Gast, of Maria Stein. 
  One of her daughters, Mrs. Schaefer and her husband celebrated their golden wedding anniversary last Sunday at St. Bernard, and while the venerable mother was not able to be present, a portion of the wedding cake was sent her and she enjoyed eating it on the day previous to her death. 
  Funeral services will be held at the St. John Catholic church near Marla Stein, Monday morning.

The above article on the funeral was published in the Celina Democrat on November 19, 1915:

  The funeral of Mrs. Catharine Gast, the venerable mother of John H. Gast, of this city, who died on the 11th inst., was held at St. John's Catholic Church at Maria Stein last Monday morning and was attended by a large following of relatives and friends. Among those present were:
  Mr. and Mrs. J. H. Gast, daughters Jennie and Nettie and son Andy, Barney Gast, Nora Gast, Henry Tubben, Mrs. Holkman and Ferd Woesta, of Celina; Wm. Harting and family, of Desatur; Mr. and Mrs. John Schaeper, of Norword; Miss Cecelia Schaeper, of St. Bernard; Mr. and Mrs. Henry Feldhake, Mr. and Mrs. Henry Gast and family, of LIma; Mr. and Mrs. Woeste, John Holkman, of Coldwater; Frank Harting, of St. Henry; and Miss Armelia Roeckner, of Chickasaw.

Images of the Celina Democrat are from the Chronicling America site.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Surname Saturday - Five Generation Birthplace Chart

I've been seeing this all over Facebook and genealogy blogs, so thought I'd join in on the fun! This five generation chart shows the birthplaces of my family, starting with me and going up to my 2x great-grandparents. The paternal lines are on top in each pair and I've color coded them by US state and country.

I added the surnames of my 2x great-grandparents on the right, color coded by their country of origin. The names in white are still unknown or lines I haven't researched that far back yet. Most of the unknowns are probably from the UK, Ireland, and France, but my Matson line is still a mystery. My Gast family was from France, although they were close to the German border. My Councill and Sparks families were from England.

The first blog I saw this on was Linda Hall-Little's Passage to the Past's blog and the template I used was posted on Miriam Robbin's AnceStories blog. J. Paul Hawthorne, author of GeneaSpy blog came up with the original idea. Check out #MyColorfulAncestry on Twitter and Facebook to see more charts.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Those Places Thursday - Thatched Cottages of Ireland

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

I took this picture in September 1990 on my first trip to Ireland. The thing that stood out about these cottages was the traditional thatched roofs. I think this was taken when we were in Adare in County Limerick. It was raining and a bit chilly when we saw the thatched cottages, so this was the only shot I got. I've wondered if they're still there after all these years. Wishing everyone a happy St. Patrick's Day!

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Sunday's Obituary - Kate Coakley Egan

The following obituary for Kate Coakley was published in The Wilmington Journal of Clinton, Ohio on September 26, 1906. I suspect that the Coakley family in Wilmington, Ohio was related to my Creeden family. Both families came to the US from County Cork, Ireland somewhere between 1849-1852. Patrick Creedan and Jeremiah Coakley were both present at the first Catholic mass held in Wilmington and Patrick's first wife was Mary Coakley.

Mrs. Kate Egan, wife of Patrick Egan, who for many years conducted a saloon at the corner of South street, adjoining the C.&M.V. Railroad, was found dead in the hallway of her home Tuesday morning at 9:30 o'clock. The obituary goes on to describe details of Kate being found several hours after falling down the stairs in her home.

The deceased was born in County Cork, Ireland, about seventy-two years ago, and came to Wilmington with her parents, Jeremiah and Mary Coakley, about 1852, since which time she has made her home here. Funeral services were held in St. Columbkille Catholic Church on Thursday morning. The rest of the obituary describes her estate, valued at $6,348.44. Her brother Timothy Coakley was appointed as administrator and Edward J. West was the attorney for the administrator.

Kate's first name was spelled Catharine in her marriage license. She was married to Patrick Egan on September 12, 1868.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Census Sunday - Willis Family

In a previous post I traced my Willis family from the 1850 to 1900 census records.This post traces my great-grandfather Eugene Willis in the census records from 1910 to 1940.

Willis family in 1910 census, Centreville, Queen Anne's County, MD
In 1910, Eugene Willis and the family were living with his brother Henry in Centreville, Queen Anne's County, Maryland. Eugene and Henry were born in Delaware and were farmers. Eugene's wife Pearl and their children were all born in Maryland. They have three children in this census: my grandmother Edna, age 5, Oleda, age 3, and Pauline, age 1. The census states that Eugene and Pearl had been married for six years.

Willis family in 1920 census, 7th District, Queen Anne's County, MD

In 1920, the family is living on its own in the 7th District of Queen Anne's County, MD. In addition to Edna, Oleda, and Pauline, they have Edward, age 9, Edith, age 7, and William, age 5. Eugene's occupation is Farmer.

Willis family in 1930 census, Lansdale, Montgomery County, PA

Some big changes took place in the family between 1920 and 1930. Eugene is living in Lansdale Borough, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania with his daughters Oleda and Pauline. Eugene is a farm laborer and his daughters are working as machine operators in a pants factory. My grandmother Edna married Royce Councill in 1925, so that explains why she's not living with her father. The census record states that Eugene is still married, but I know that Pearl and Eugene were divorced at some point. That may explain why Pearl isn't in this census.

Willis family in 1940 census, Boothwyn, Delaware County, PA

By 1940, Eugene is living with his son Edward Willis in Boothwyn, Delaware County, Pennsylvania. His birthplace is given incorrectly as Maryland. His daughter Edna is living nearby with her husband Royce Councill and their four daughters. Eugene's ex-wife Pearl is also living nearby with her second husband Raymond Henry. Eugene and Pearl's son Howard Willis is living with Pearl and was born in 1922 in Maryland, so I would guess they separated sometime after that. I'll trace Pearl through the census in a future post.

Source for census images: 1910-1940 United States Federal Census [database on-line] Census Sunday is a daily blogging prompt suggested by Colleen Pasquale of Leaves and Branches.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Wedding Wednesday - John Meredith and Elizabeth Hall

Marriage license books from the Circuit Court of Queen Anne's County, MD are available online through the Maryland State Archives. The licenses are in scanned books and cover most years from 1817-1906.

The following license is for John Meredith and Elizabeth Hall. The date on the record is Feb. 5, 1823 and the officiant was Rev. Reed. A fee of $4.00 was paid. According to the information on the Maryland State Archives site, the date recorded by the clerk was the date of the marriage.

The entry is number 191 on page 64 of the book. The entries on this page are for 1824, so it appears the clerk may have made a mistake in recording the date.

According to a comment I received on a post about Francis and Mary Councill, John Meredith and Elizabeth Hall were the parents of Francis' wife Mary Meredith. They would be my 3x great-grandparents.

The commenter also mentioned that Mary's grandfather was Richard Hall and Mary had a brother named John Thomas Meredith. Mary and her brother were raised by Richard Hall after John Meredith died in 1830 and Elizabeth died in 1833. Thanks to H. Meredith for the information!

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Mystery Monday - Making Sense of DNA Ethnicity Results

A few years ago I created an ethnicity chart based on what I knew about the origins of the main lines in my family tree.

This chart assumes that percentages were passed straight down through each generation, so a great-great grandparent represents 6.25% of my ancestry. I know the DNA passed down is much more random than that, so this was just a guesstimate at best.

For this chart, I put my Mom's origins at 100% British, but I've since found out that she may have some other European and Irish roots. My Dad's heritage was about 64% German, 12% Irish, 12% French, and 12% British/Unknown on paper. That gave me the following percentages:

British  - 55%
German - 31%
Irish  - 6.25%
French - 6.25%
Unknown - 1.5%

My Mom and I had our DNA tested through last year, so I was curious to compare the DNA results to my original estimates based on my paper tree.

Here's my breakdown from

The first mystery was what happened to my Irish and German heritage? The second was where did all the Scandinavian DNA come from? I can guess that at least some of my German and Irish heritage is showing up as Scandinavian and/or British.

Even more surprising was my Mom's chart which looked more like what I expected mine to look like. She came up with 54% Great Britain, 27% Europe West and 13% Ireland and only 3% Scandinavian.

Given, that 50% of our DNA comes from each parent, this seems to indicate my Dad had a much higher percentage of British and Scandinavian roots than I can account for. Even if all of the DNA I inherited from my Mom was from her British lines, that would mean 23% of the British came from my Dad.

I transferred my results to Family Tree DNA and got the following breakdown:

Their definition of British Isles includes Ireland. This looks closer to what I expected, but shows an even larger Scandinavian percentage. On this chart, I have 22% Western and Central Europe vs. the 3-6% from  My British Isles percentage dropped from 73% on to 50%. That's quite a difference!

I also took a look at some of the Admixture tools on For another comparison, here are my results with the Eurogenes EUTest:

Interesting that my Mom's results are very similar to mine on the Eurogenes EUTest admixture. We both had around 30% Atlantic and 25-27% North Central Europe. Finding out exactly what the groupings mean on this chart is another challenge which I'll save for a future post.

So, what does any of this mean? Each admixture chart is based on different algorithms and population databases, so comparing them against each other doesn't mean too much. According to, the number of reference samples for a region and the similarity of one region to another can affect the accuracy of the results. In particular, they state that their results for Great Britain and Europe West are less accurate than for most of the other regions.

I would think the results will become more accurate as more people get tested and the reference populations for each region are refined. While the charts are fun to look at and can provide some clues on your origins, I wouldn't draw any conclusions from them.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Follow Friday - Changes to Google Friend Connect

Google announced last month that a Google account must be used to follow blogs hosted by Blogger. Users that signed up with other providers won't be able to sign in and see their reader's list.and bloggers may see a decrease in their number of followers.

Full details were posted by Blogger here: Update to Google Friend Connect.

I know some people don't want to register for a Google account, so I've provided other options on my blog. Beneath my followers list, there is a form to subscribe via any email account. The emails are sent out once a day when there is a new post, but don't contain the formatting and colors present on the blog web page.

I've also provided a button to subscribe via the Feedly reader.

For other bloggers out there, what options are you providing? I don't think this has affected me or my readers that much, but let me know if there are other reader options you'd prefer.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Friday's Faces From the Past - Celina, Ohio Eagles Lodge

I was contacted by someone that rescued this picture from a flea market and wondered if I had more information on it. Luckily, the names were written on the back. My great-grandfather Charles Creeden is standing on the right in the middle row.

I knew from Charles' obituary that he had been a member of the Celina Eagles Lodge for many years and served as president at one time. My guess is that this is a picture of the Celina Eagles Lodge members taken when Charles was in his 30s or 40s. Charles lived from 1886-1958.

The following names were written on the back:

Top Row: Geo Detrich, Albert Schuck. Arsen Wenning. Vern Sacher. Ken?, John Hassman, Zeno Sacher, Fred Stemmer, H.J. Stelzer, J.P. Long

Middle Row: Clyde Myers. Henry Weisman. John Gast. Ben Ruschau, Joe Dierkes. Wm. Stein, Chas Cavender. Jake Puthoff. Chas Creeden

Charter Members Bottom Row: Wm Curry. Joe Schmidt. J. B. Schmidt. Jake Riesner. Oran Gillespie, John Schuyler, Frank Zender, Jake Gilcher. Frank Wolf.

A couple of newspaper articles from the Celina Democrat had several of the same names as members of the Eagles Lodge as those on the back of the picture.

December 10, 1915 - Celina Democrat newspaper
April 3, 1917 - Celina Democrat newspaper
Nice find at the flea market and I'm glad the photo was rescued!