52 Ancestors Week 7: Favorite Discovery

+14 votes

Time for the next 52 Ancestors challenge!

52 Photos and 52 Ancestors sharing bacgesPlease share with us a profile of an ancestor or relative who matches this week's theme:

Favorite Discovery

From Amy Johnson Crow: What is the neatest thing you've found while exploring your family's history? What makes you smile even now thinking about it?

Share below!

Participants who share every week can earn badges. If this is your first time participating and you don't have the participation badge, or if you pass a milestone (13 in 13, 26 in 26, 52 in 52) let us know here. Click here for more about the challenge.

in The Tree House by Eowyn Langholf G2G Astronaut (1.5m points)
edited by Eowyn Langholf
Like so many on WikiTree I am delighted by the connectivity that brings exciting discoveries "free of charge."  Thomas Blossom was certainly one of those for me.  He and his son were on the Speedwell set to accompany the Mayflower to the New World.  His family had to wait a few years to finally make that trip on a second Mayflower after their ship sprang a leak before even getting on its way.

My husband, Bob Chancy, came from a line of farmers. His 9th great grandfather,  Charles (Chauncey-8) was quite a surprise. We found him thanks to FTDNA testing. 

He was the second president of Harvard College. 

As my husbands cousin said "Don't you guys like vowels?"

This is my 4th week and this challenge is motivation to find out more about both our families

I like this discovery because it was so random. I was looking for my great uncle James Colville at Greenwood Cemetery in Rockford which is a large meandering cemetery. It took three trips to find him. On my first “unsuccessful” try, I saw a stone with a familiar name “Enoch“. I thought she might be related to a pioneer buried in my first cemetery page https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Space:Guilford_Union_Cemetery

Turns out she was his daughter. But that wasn’t the only discovery. She was married to John https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Andrew-1979 my first cousin 3x removed and early resident of the Scottish Settlement in Argyle 

That would not be the last time taking a photo of a gravestone on a hunch would pay off. 

55 Answers

+13 votes
Best answer

Many years ago, when I still lived in London (England), I travelled by train one day to Tiverton in Devon, hundreds of miles away, to find the grave of my grandmother's little sister, Mari Edgcombe, who died of diphtheria when she was 4.  The rest of her family is buried elsewhere in the county; her parents as far away as Sydney, Australia.  I found the grave with the help of the cemetery director, who pointed to a piece of grass and said, "6 feet from that one, and 6 feet from that one, and there she is."  Not even a headstone.

In those days, there was only one train down in the morning, and one train back in the afternoon, so I went to a local cafe for a glass of milk to decide what to do for the rest of the day.  The waitress was interested in the reason for my trip, and an old, old man sitting in the corner remembered Mari's father! "Yes, I 'member ol' Edgcombe," he said, "E 'ad a little shop with a barrel of vinegar in the front, and you could go and dip a bottle in and fill it up for a penny."  What an enchanting discovery after being faced with an unmarked piece of grass!

by Ros Haywood G2G6 Pilot (847k points)
selected by Shirley Davis
That would be a complete surprise to find a family story while waiting on a train.
+15 votes

Genealogy has been one great discovery after another, so to pick a favorite is difficult. I guess finding out my grand uncle, Charles McCleery is in a favorite photo was a real surprise. I have always loved old magazines, and finding that he was the manager of the newsstand in a 1914 photo I had has been a favorite discovery of mine.

by Alexis Nelson G2G6 Pilot (139k points)
+11 votes

I have sooo many favorites ... however, since it is the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower voyage, I guess it would be appropriate to name Richard Warren as a favorite.

by Bill Sims G2G6 Mach 5 (51.9k points)
Pic is "oopsied" Bill :)
+13 votes

Discovery is what I think I love most about genealogy.  I always get excited when I learn something new about my ancestors.  When I found the Bates County, Missouri court record that gave me the LNAB my great great grandmother Rebecca Shaylor  and named her father I did a happy dance!  That discovery led me to find that Rebecca's grandfather Joseph Shaylor  was an officer in the American Revolution who answered the first alarm at Lexington.  Another great discovery was Joseph's will. I am in the process of joining the DAR with him as my patriot ancestor.  It would never been possible without the first discovery.    

by Caryl Ruckert G2G6 Pilot (179k points)
Caryl, I am so glad you are joining DAR. I am not much for ladies groups, but I love my DAR chapter. I went to the national convention last June in DC and had the best time ever. We have a naturalization welcome party at our federal court house ten times a year for our new citizens, and we team up with the Salvation Army to do things for veterans. Last month WiKiTree was a big help for me to get a good friend’s genealogy together, so she can also join DAR now.
Thanks Alexis!  I have attended two chapter meetings so far and our chapter is focused on service like yours.  I am looking forward to participating in the naturalization ceremonies and welcoming new immigrants to our nation.  The chapter also supports military vets and active service personnel through various programs.  I was expecting a "ladies group" but that is not what I have experienced so far at all.
DAR is a wonderful organization.  I was pleasantly surprised to come across a wonderful segment about DAR on Brian Kilmeade's programs on Fox Nation.
I loved your finding the Lexington alarm response story. Such fun, for us that is.
+13 votes
My Favorite Discovery would definetly be when I could establish both my maternal lines up to the Progenitors = Van Dyk and Prinsloo

Also equally so my Paternal line up to the Proginetor SWART
by Petrus Swart G2G6 (6.7k points)
+12 votes

I was delighted to discover how the press in the old days could turn a minor event into a news worthy item. Thus when my great grandmother Anastasia was sixty-four she slipped on the ice and fractured a wrist, poor soul. One little phrase in the paper and the picture of Anastasia is more finely painted than before. No doubt friends and neighbors found it best to check in on her. 

by C Ryder G2G6 Mach 5 (56.4k points)
I agree. Our local paper published several times that my great grandfather had come into town to visit his daughter. Imagine. Historical newspapers are fun.
+13 votes

My favorite discovery was finding out that my grandfather, Battiscombe (Jack) Gunn   https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Gunn-1707  


had been actively involved in the occult in his youth. 

 All that I know about him, from my father, grandmother, step grandmother, great aunt, and half uncle (and the books several of them had written) showed that he was firmly opposed to (and outspoken against) the occult, most noticeably denouncing the "Rosemary Affair".  

But my research showed that, in the period before W W I,  he had been actively involved in the occult, including the Theosophical Society, the Golden Dawn, Aleister Crowley, Arthur Waite, and so on.

It is spelled out in detail, including sources, in the Wikipedia article.  The Wikitree profile only has the genealogical information.

by Janet Gunn G2G6 Mach 6 (69.4k points)
+12 votes

It's hard to choose a favorite! While digging around in the California Digital Newspaper Collection (http://cdnc.ucr.edu) I discovered what a clever marketer my great grandfather James Whitsett Blanchard was!   He raised fruit in Penryn California and in addition to being on the board of the Cooperative Fruit Company, he sold it in Auburn from his fruit wagon pulled by his horse “January”.  He would drop a gift sample off at the Placer Herald newspaper, and they then published an article about his luscious fruits!! Free advertising! Go check him out!!

by Lyn Sara Gulbransen G2G6 Mach 2 (21.8k points)
Lyn - I did not know about the California Digital Newspaper Collection.  I have found many items for my California ancestors this afternoon. Thanks for sharing the link and the cool story about your great grandfather James!
Thanks Caryl!  It is a goldmine for early CA folks!! :) Where in Ca were your people?
Sonoma county for most of my ancestors but also Humboldt, Lake, Solano and Santa Clara.  I am the 3x great granddaughter of George J. Donner, who was rescued at age 11 from the infamous party of 1846/47.  He was granted a lot in San Francisco in 1847 and spent the rest of his life fighting in court to get the squatters off his land. He settled first in San Jose before moving to Sebastopol.  Where in CA are your people?

My people ended up in Sacramento, Placer and Sutter Counties in 1850s after their stints in the goldfields. The reason I asked is my grandmother kept a photo album (https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1RXzW-v9KCZZ2cxSFeP8OlAWH7sx7MDLQ?usp=sharing) in the 1880s-90s of her family and many friends and neighbors. I keep hoping to run across family for some of these people.  I raised my family in beautiful Sonoma County :) 

Thanks for the link. I found my grandfather was a dermatologist in 1904 in San Francisco
+12 votes
I am always finding things that surprise and amaze me so this is a hard one to answer. I love photography and so a big part of my love of genealogy is the photographs that I've collected along the way. So my absolute favorite find was unpacking a box that I'd been given from my grandmother's things that included a snapshot album from right before and a few years after my mother was born in 1929. Seeing snaps from their daily life, sometimes with humorous notes in the margins in my grandmother's hand, is absolutely fascinating and gives me such happy feelings.
by Saphyre Rogers-Berry G2G6 (9.3k points)
+12 votes

Ok, sooooo... i'm pretty new to working my family tree,etc.. 

And sure, i've learned some fun and interesting things... but I think, at this current time at least, my favorite discovery is a DNA discovery.

My DNA results highlighted that I'm some percent ashkenazi jewish.  This might not sound interesting, but I thought it was VERY intriguing.  A family mystery I hope to learn or discover more about.

I'll just be over here getting my Nancy Drew on!

by C. Verworn G2G3 (3.8k points)
+14 votes

This may be an odd thing to be a favorite, but mine came when I was trying to puzzle out the handwriting of an early 19th century document concerning my 3g-grandfather Stephen Heritage. What does it say? Stephen Heritage . . . a lunatic? Yes, that's what it says. Stephen's wife Elizabeth petitioned to have him declared a lunatic, as they called it then, and there are pages of very wordy documents as the process went forward. This was the first big surprise I encountered after making genealogy a regular hobby, and it gives a fuller picture of life back then than most documents do.

by Richard Heritage G2G6 Mach 1 (19.6k points)
+12 votes
I think my most favourite discovery was finally learning of why my ancestors moved from Somerset to Devon in 1824.

It was a sad reason, and eventually I was able to get a copy of the paperwork. It was called a Removal Order. For my 3x great grandfather and his wife and their children.

by Robynne Lozier G2G6 Pilot (704k points)
+9 votes

I agree, it's hard to pick just one - the many discoveries are the reason this hobby is so addictive.  But if I had to pick just one, it would be learning the story of my 10th GGF William Bassett and his family -- they were swept up in the Salem Witch Trials, and William's daughter Elizabeth (Bassett) Proctor (my 10th great-aunt) was the Elizabeth Proctor, who was the wife of John Proctor, in Arthur Miller's play "The Crucible."  I love that play and did a competitive duet acting scene from it when I was in high school -- except that I played the evil Governor Thomas Danforth, and we did the scene at the end of the play where Danforth condemns John Proctor to die!  I could never have imagined then that I was acting out a tragic scene from my own family history almost 300 years ago. 

by Scott McClain G2G6 (6.1k points)
+10 votes

Well in my own family tree I have many discoveries that were amazing and helped me build my tree even more, but recently I set about to fix a Data Doctor error and solved brickwall/mystery as well.


Frances Prélaz and her father Stephen Prélaz

by Elizabeth W G2G5 (5.1k points)
+10 votes
I loved getting my great-grandmother's Social Security application and finding out the names of her parents (a local good Samaritan had been an invaluable aid in tracing her family; the application was a confirmation)-that was a huge section of my family tree that had been a complete mystery that was suddenly filled in.  If only that luck could be replicated!  For now, I'm still researching the ancestry of Elizabeth Louise Cass and my seven other great-grandparents.
by K. Anonymous G2G6 Mach 9 (92.5k points)
+11 votes

As a teenager who's caught the genealogy bug. I head down to the local family history center and i'm trying to find the birth record for Tom Grawrock. Now he's born in Norway and for some strange reason, the San Diego library, in the mid 70's has a complete set of Oslo parish records on microfilm. I'm set, so all i need to do is scan the records for his birth in 1892. I get there early on a Saturday morning, get the first film, and... the biggest discovery of my life, Norwegian records from 1892 are WRITTEN IN NORWEGIAN. I mean why aren't they written in English? Who knew they wouldn't be in English. I just sat there in shock. Well the kind worker had a cheat sheet to get me started. After reading three of the records, on the Rikshospital records, there was my grandfather. It completely and totally hooked me on doing genealogy. I needed lots of help to read that first record, but wow what a rush to see your ancestor in a record. I never get tired of that feeling of seeing who you are searching for.

by David Grawrock G2G6 Mach 1 (10k points)
edited by David Grawrock
This made me laugh out loud. I can see myself back then having a well thought out plan that was missing a chunk of reality. Teenagers those days . . .
Yep that was me for sure. The complete horror of looking at a record, with dodgy handwriting, and not in English. I still laugh at myself at that one.
Since the schools have stopped teaching cursive written genealogy records will be a mystery in the future.

A young lady sent me a file about her grandmother to translate. It was in English so I sent it to her right away. Her response was that she couldn't read cursive!
+10 votes

I can't think of an all time favourite discovery as I haven't been able to find any connections to any notable historic ancestors but I have made many interesting discoveries, especially when I find an unusual source.

My favourite discovery this week was while I was researching Michael Edward Glading. Michael was born in 1864 in Sydney, Australia. His father had emigrated to Australia in 1855 from Cornwall, England and ran a hotel in Waverley. Michael took after his father because he ended up running a hotel in New Caledonia, a French colony in the Pacific. Michael married, had four children, but his wife died young and he died at the age of only 36.

I found a few family trees which included Michael but they lacked sources so I started searching. 

Fortunately the French Ministry of Culture includes the Archives nationales d'outre-mer which includes the archives of the numerous French overseas territories. Their website has images of the BMD registers for New Caledonia and although they are not indexed it didn't take long to find the records for Michael (Michel) and his family. 

by Ray Hawkes G2G6 Mach 3 (38.8k points)
+12 votes

So many high school classmates are actually cousins! There were only 172 people in our class, but I discovered that several of us are cousins. While researching my 5X-great-grandfather, John Jacob Gemberling (1736-1824), I checked the Gemberling Family Association website for clues. They have focused on descendancy research. Though there are a lot of gaps, I saw a familiar name, one of my dear friends since kindergarten. And other surnames looked familiar. With further research I discovered that eight classmates are cousins and even one of our teachers. Jacob had 8 children; we descend from 5 of them.

I made this discovery shortly before a class reunion. After I announced the discovery and gave each of the cousins a 4-page document with fun facts and showing our relationships, that document circulated throughout the rest of the class. It was a favorite discovery for ALL of us!

by Beverly Benfer G2G6 Mach 1 (13.8k points)
Now that would have been a WONDERFUL Discovery to make!!
Agreed, Robynne! Our high school teachers had often remarked about how exceptionally tight our class was. Closer friends than they usually saw in other classes. And we have remained that way for more than 5 decades. Many of us are curious now about whether there are similar family connections in additinal lineages. Maybe at a subconscious level we recognized family!
+9 votes
I dont have one fav yet. But, I worked on my genealogy about 10 years ago but dropped it. I started again when I found a printout on some old papers. I was pleasantly surprised to find this website! One thing I did find was a record of my grandfather's death in a notorious mental institution. I had heard about it from my Mom but to see proof was shocking.
by Nancy Wilson G2G4 (4.2k points)
edited by Nancy Wilson
+9 votes

My favorite discovery of the past week has been of the fact that my 4great-grandparents, Simon and Mary Cock, gave their twin sons... an unusual combination of names. I have been laughing and sharing it with everyone since I found out. I wrote about it in a blog post, where I tell what the names were.

by Amber Brosius G2G6 Mach 1 (17.1k points)
In the medieval period, there were a set of twin counts of Barcelona named Ramon Berenguer and Berenguer Ramon. Yes, really. Berenguer Ramon murdered his twin brother! Maybe it was the cutesy matching twin names that drove him to it.

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