52 Ancestors Week 2: Challenge

+23 votes

imageReady for Week 2 of the 52 Ancestors challenge?

This will work the same as last year. Each week there will be a prompt for which you'll find an ancestor or relative who matches that prompt and post about them in that week's thread. For examples, check out last year's challenge. See more details for 2019 here and check out the new sister challenge: 52 Photos.

Ready for the week two prompt?

It's ... CHALLENGE.  

From Amy:

What is genealogy without a little challenge? Two ways that you might interpret this prompt is to share an ancestor who was a challenge to find or an ancestor who faced his or her own challenges. 

Share below!

in The Tree House by Eowyn Walker G2G Astronaut (1.7m points)
edited by Eowyn Walker
Can I use the Same ancestor this year that I used last year?  Cuz I don't remember who I used.

How do I add my 52 ancestors 2nd week post? Did it in week one but slept since then. Found it!!

The "Challenge" theme yielded this blog post: Week 2: Challenge - George W. Patrick, the elusive Great-Great-Grandfather

You may find his entry here: George W Patrick

Me too now!

Linn-1261, Matilda Linn Gray, is my great-grandmother.  She is a challenge to me as I have found so little about her.  She died in Arkansas before my mother was born.  Her husband went to live with his three daughters one at a time and shows up in the Census records in their homes.  The name Linn should not be that hard because there are not a lot of them.  I cannot find the maiden last name of her mother, Mahala __________ Gray.  This has been a challenge for me for several years.  The family was around Montgomery County, Indiana and built towns around the Walnut Township.  How do I find the family of Mahala?  The ones I have found died in an epidemic, but I do not know if they are the right ones.

My GG-grandmother has been a thorn in my side for years now. She is my greatest challenge. Even beating out her ancestor who remains parentless since I cannot locate the next generation back. Anyway, her name is Lucinda Shelton [Shelton-4148] and she was born in 1834 in North Carolina, moved to Kentucky and had 5 children. None of us cousins can locate a single marriage for her nor can be find her death or burial records. She remains to this day a challenge to us all who descend from her.
This was last year's 52 Ancestors.  For the current link (it's 'Favorite Photo') go here:


85 Answers

+6 votes
For me McDaniel-576 has been challenging, mostly with updating misinformation on his heritage.  There's so much out there claiming his connection to the Chiefs of Clan Donald.  But with Y-DNA testing, we found out he's connected to the High Kings of Ireland.  The challenge first came with updating him here on wikitree and then trying to stop the spread of wrong information on ancestry and familysearch.  Sometimes it's accepted easily, sometimes not so much.
by Eric McDaniel G2G6 Mach 4 (40.6k points)
+7 votes

One of my ancestors who overcame challenge was Benjamin Griswold Hildreth.


At the age of 8 he was admitted into the Charleston Orphan House by his mother. To be admitted the child had to be an orphan or his family was too poor to care for him themselves. Nothing more is known about his mother as there have been found no further records that mention her. Benjamin was apprenticed to an umbrella maker. He overcame the challenge poverty and growing up in an orphanage. He became an honored person in his community by becoming a Methodist Circuit Rider. He married and had fourteen children, at least two of whom followed his footsteps by becoming ministers of the Gospel themselves. His legacy is documented in a book called The Hildreth Family by James William Newman Sr. and William Alton Newman Sr.

by Nelda Spires G2G6 Pilot (287k points)
+7 votes
My challenge is finding the connection to the Wild side of the family for a Sarah Whitworth. There is a small tin box of documents and picture relating to Sarah. Unfortunaltely many of the photographs are not named.

There are rent books and certificates birth marriages and burial but what is her connection so far unknown, other than she used to look after my Father in Law as a child.

So I hate to do it but I will possibly have to create a unconnected profile for her and use the research facilitity to find out more.
by Janet Wild G2G6 Pilot (172k points)
+8 votes

There is a family story, that Margaret Concannon who was born in Ireland lost her parents at a young age and then the aunt that she lived with afterwards. She then went to live in a convent with another aunt. At the age of 18, it was arranged for her to go to America to stay with her older brother. Off she sailed, expecting that when she arrived in New York her brother would be there to meet her. The brother never arrived. Speculation is that he was robbed and killed on his way from St. Louis. Fortunately, Margaret had another sister living in Tennessee.

Can you imagine the challenge to an 18 year old to arrive in New York, alone, and then travel to Tennessee? This would have been huge without today's methods of instant communication. I find it interesting that there aren't any family stories about how she actually accomplished this challenge.

by Anne B G2G Astronaut (1.2m points)
edited by Anne B
...not to mention the trauma of her brother's death, upon her arrival to the U.S.  Such tragedy.
+7 votes

I've been searching for Aurich relatives most of 2018, in particular my grandmother's father Frederick M. Aurich. This particular family line is difficult as:

  1. Frederick Aurich lived between NJ and PA, it appears he had a wife (Bessie) in PA and left her on a whim and then married my great grandmother Katherine.
  2. Frederick was born in Lepsic and I'm not familiar with researching German records...yet.
  3. DNA results are a black hole for this line of the family so far. I hope to be able to establish some confidence this year.
  4. I'm NPE and I can't exactly call my relatives and ask them to explain the family history because they don't know I exist.
by Shanna Leeland G2G6 Mach 5 (54.6k points)

I had to look up NPE; Non-paternity event is a term used in genetic genealogy to describe any event which has caused a break in the link between an hereditary surname and the Y-chromosome resulting in a son using a different surname from that of his biological father.

+8 votes
I talked about my ancestor James Purdy (Purdy-1898) who lost his entire family at the age of 11 on the way to America. Despite the challenge of being an orphan in a strange land he grew up to fight in the Revolutionary war and raise a large family.

by Janelle Weir G2G6 Mach 4 (45.4k points)
+7 votes
My biggest challenge goes back into my grandfather, Paul Crumbliss. Paul was much older than his wife, Juanita Rooks and our family hasn't been able to locate any information on her yet. We have looked through census records near where she married my grandfather. Juanita was very young when she married Paul. Even my aunts and uncles that were her children have not yet been able to provide any documentation or information of her parents, where the marriage took place, etc. Paul was quite a bit older than her and as far as we know, she married to help raise the kids he already had after his wife died.

Still, facts and stories don't line up with each new detail so I hope to solve this riddle this year.
by Tess Obenauf G2G6 (8.8k points)
+7 votes

My paternal 2nd Great Grandfather faced many challenges, from birth. John Wallace Campbell, Campbell-16748, was born August 1, 1842. His mother, Clarissa Brannum, died days after he was born, leaving his father, Joseph Campbell, a young widower with an infant. Although Joseph remarried, John Wallace was orphaned in 1851, when his father, stepmother, and baby brother all died of cholera. John lived with his paternal grandparents. He was blinded by freezing weather in 1863, during the Civil War. He raised 13 children. His wife died in 1903. He died in 1911. John W. Campbell Reunions continued long after his death. 

by Sheri Taylor G2G6 Mach 2 (24.6k points)
+10 votes
My personal challenge is that I'm paralyzed on the left side, from a brain hemorrhage stroke. Before December 29, 2004, I taught in an elementary school, wrote fiction, attended college, and looked forward to family time. But I've adapted, my brain may have lost cells, but I learned how to survive. I type with one hand, pretty fast! In 2007, I began my paternal Taylor genealogy. And it was a challenge.
Two men named Henry Taylor, born in July, 1787. Both married Ruth H(o/e)dge - BUT beware of "shaky leaves"! One has a father who is a Revolutionary Pensioner. One is my ancestor, lived and died in Auglaize, Ohio.
I made the error - but quickly fixed it. Turned out, the OTHER Henry Taylor's descendant lived less than 5 miles from me. Being wheelchair and homebound, no longer able to drive, I never met her, but she sent me Christmas cards for years. :)
by Sheri Taylor G2G6 Mach 2 (24.6k points)
edited by Sheri Taylor
God bless you Sheri!

Since we had a newborn a few months back, I can sympathize with you (a little).  I've since learned how to Wikitree with one arm as the baby us usually hanging from the other.  And so, I've learned how to do most everything via mouse and click - for repetitive tasks, consider this:

+7 votes

I had a good bit of information about my 2x Great Grandfather Oliver Ranck and using the family legends I was able to find his Civil War records and those led me to his place of birth.  In the town of his birth I was able to find his father, Jesse Ranck.

Author and Ranck researcher John Allan Ranck, in the 1970's wrote a lengthy genealogy of the Ranck family called "The Rank of the Rancks."  It traced the original Ranck brothers from Palatine Germany to Pennsylvania.  I long looked for a copy but because it was privately printed I could not find.  Eventually, it was published on www.Ranck.org and I immediately searched for Jesse Ranck and I found him.

Instantly, mother's paternal line went back another 4 generations and another 171 years!

by SJ Baty G2G Astronaut (1.1m points)
+6 votes

I would like to share the first ancestor who Challenged my assumption that all previous research my parents had done was correct, and that set me on the path to question everything and look at every document myself.

My GG grandmother was Emma Lawrance, born abt 1856 (to William Lawrance), married to Frederick Sailing in 1879 and died in 1890 after having 6 children.

My parents had linked her to Emma Lawrance (born 1856, Luton, Bedfordshire, England to parents William Lawrance & Emma Dimmock). I had done a great deal of research on the ancestors of this couple and helped many people.  One fellow even mailed me all his work as he had no-one to leave it to.

I received an email from a man who was the grandson of this Emma and had known her personally as she had lived to be quite old.  Interestingly, she had also married a Frederick (Summerfield).  It was initially quite a shock as believed myself quite thorough. I discovered the occupation of her father was different from the one on my Emma's marriage certificate.  Also, a quick search on census records showed that she was indeed alive past 1890 and visiting cousins I had already recorded. As my Emma died in 1890, I had not looked for her later. 

The next challenge was to find my Emma.  The only census where she was married was 1881.  Strangely, NO birthplace was listed.  My only clue was the marriage certificate.  I began searching the census for any Emma with a father named William whose occupation was a gardener or similar. There were too many to draw any conclusions.

Next I looked at the address she had lived at before her marriage.  For the first time ever, I gave up on name searches only and learned how to locate an address on a census and scrolled through the pages.  There were a couple in the house named John & Eliza Downey.  This matched one of the witnesses of the marriage named Susan Downey who lived nearby.  Guessing they must be related, I determined to build a tree for this family hoping to find clues.

Eventually I discovered that Eliza Downey was Emma's step-sister.  She was the daughter of John & Lydia Scopes. Lydia had then married William Lawrance and I found Emma living with them and 2 more siblings.  Emma had named one of her children Lydia after her step-mother and I also found Emma's children on later censuses living with other relatives.  DNA has since proved this to be the correct line.

by Susie O'Neil G2G6 (8.0k points)
edited by Susie O'Neil
Wow.  Wonderful challenge.
+6 votes
Dr. Harold Arthur Penrhyn De Sadow-Pittard formerly Pittard-Bullock was a challenge to research because his father's surname was originally Bullock but had adopted the surname Brodrick-Pittard when he married so you wouldn't think of looking for children under name Bullock. Also Harold and his siblings each adopted different surnames.

He was also well travelled so finding records in the Channel Islands, Germany, England and India was challenging.

by Ray Hawkes G2G6 Mach 5 (50.3k points)
+7 votes

Challenge is the word of the year! I’ve been researching my husband’s Buckley family for over 5 years. There are 2 sets of challenges to this search.

First, my husbands grandfather had his own challenges: his first wife died in 1902 leaving a son, then in 1905 married her sister, not so unusual. They had a son also (my husband’s father). Found a newspaper article that mentioned him as injured in a fight and possibly losing a leg. After only 6 years of marriage she left him took the children and moved from New Orleans, Louisiana to Galveston, Texas.  She wasn’t happy and moved possibly because of his actions, anyway she didn’t want anything to do with him. He died in 1914 as a pauper. He left very little paper trail to follow.

The next challenge is ours, I acquired the marriage certificates for both marriages and the names of parents for both brides and groom were listed. However, Buckley is a very frequent name in Irish genealogy. Based on US census in Louisiana the grandfather was born abt 1866, in New Brunswick, Canada. His parents are listed as born in Ireland, apparently moved to Canada in early to mid 1800s. But even with finding a possible marriage certificate for them, can’t find them in any other records. Still trying to learn how to use the Canadian records sites.

We have DNA connections to 4th or 5th cousins in Ireland but haven’t been able to jump the pond to find the fit. The search goes on.

This is one of those challenges that just keep me going and knowing that there is more information out there that I will find one day!

by Barbara Buckley G2G Crew (930 points)
There's a lot of answers this week, Glad to see you found where to put yours.
+6 votes
One of my ancestors I researched recently is [[Keukens-3|Mechelina Keukens]] Her adult life was a real challenge. Her husband died young leaving her with 6 children under the age of 8 and number 7 on the way. She had har mother in law living in with her but after her husband died her mother in law and 3 of her children died in a timespan of 3 years, The new baby included. She never remarried.
by Eef van Hout G2G6 Mach 8 (86.8k points)
+6 votes
I am mostly just getting started, so my challenge is in reviewing some of the information I have and to begin to document and find sources.
by Sally Mahoney G2G6 Mach 2 (28.9k points)
+6 votes

This is one of my "pod people" .. someone you KNOW existed, because they have left traces, but you can't find a birth for them (a maternal  great-grand aunt is one of these, so she's also a challenge, but not an ancestor .. just the sibling of my ancestress), or a death for them, but you have them on their children's birth records, you have them getting married.  Maybe they appear on the census, or the voting registrations.  My 3X great-grandfather, Wallace Gordon. has been (and still is) a real challenge in this area.  I have the record of his marriage.  I have the records of the births (and baptisms) of his children, but I cannot find his birth, or death.  He is a true pod person (a term coined for me by my daughter).

by Melanie Paul G2G6 Pilot (269k points)
Pod person.  Love it.  

It is always difficult to place those people where you must say born sometime before and died sometime after.  Then you must adjust so that their children can be born after their birth and before their death.
+6 votes
It was a challenge for me to find my real  6th GG [[Hutchins-2090|Mary Hutchins]] . After 6 months searching every day I ifinally found her using a long shot search on Gengophers.com. The biggest challenge was it was well documented that her husband [[Sprague-2899|John Srague II]] was married to his step sister Dorothy Brown. The fact was that John's father was a John and Dorothy's  mother was also a Dorothy and the researcher had made a mistake in 1898 when he going the record for the marriage intention filled by the parents. All the subsequent books published all used that mistake as fact in the lineage.
by Zoiya Tate G2G6 Mach 3 (32.6k points)
+6 votes
To answer this question I would consider 2 challenges I have with ancestors.  One is finding proof of the actual mother or mothers of Robert Columbus Blevins and William Miles Blevins.  I have conflicting stories about whether or not they have the same mother.  Their father William Edgar Blevins was married up to 5 times and  I only know of 3  wives; non of which  match a correct time line for their births.  

The second challenge is Benjamin F. Parker.  I don't know who his parents are,  don't know where he's buried,  not sure how many times he was married or how many children he had.  He's a huge brick wall.

This is my second post.
by Michelle Parker G2G4 (4.9k points)
+6 votes
My challenge has been to find out more about the Jones family. My Alice Jones (great grandmother) married a Robert William Jones. I was recently able to find more about Alice's mother after discovering a cousin who had a bible she was awarded at school (that contained school name and gave us a better idea of year born) but the challenge is to find out about the grandfather on the paternal side of Alice [Jones-53659] who was "John Jones".
by Judy Weggelaar G2G6 (7.0k points)
+5 votes

A challenge for me has been trying to find my maternal second great grandfather, Johann Wolfgang Molm, who emigrated from Bavaria and settled in the United States in Rice, Minnesota.  My many German relatives have been a brick fortress.

by Rick San Soucie G2G6 Mach 2 (27.1k points)

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