My longest-enduring genealogical brick wall has finally been broken through, thanks to the generous help of Serena Stuettgen, Museum Curator at the Luxembourg American Cultural Society and Center, and Jean Ensch, expert on Luxembourger emigration to the United States.
My grandfather’s great-grandmother Margretha Wolff (see this earlier post for a summary of details prior to breaking through the brick wall) was born in Luxembourg 190 years ago, and the link back to her birth country has been lost for at least the last 113 years, when she died in 1910. The last time her birth country was correctly recorded was on the 1880 US census. From 1885 onwards, her family seems to have forgotten where she was born and assumed it was Germany, presumably because she spoke German as her native language. Continue reading →
In Part 1 of this series, I covered the history and prehistory of the Gores family’s ancestral home of Schönecken, Germany, from when Neanderthals called the area home in the Middle Paleolithic (roughly 200,000–40,000 years ago) until Charlemagne had himself crowned the new Emperor of the Romans in 800 AD. In Part 2, I covered the history of the Schönecken area from the death of Charlemagne in 814 AD until the Trier Witch Trials that began in 1581.
In Part 3 of this series, I’ll cover the history of the Schönecken area from the Cologne War of 1583–1588 until the period of great hunger (the Great Famine of 1815–1816 and the Potato Failure of 1845–1846) that preceded my Gores forebear’s emigration from his ancestral homeland. Continue reading →
When I was a 10-year-old boy, I watched the TV miniseries Roots with my family. I was amazed that Alex Haley could trace his family back to his ancestor Kunta Kinte and to Kunta’s ancestral homeland in the Gambia.
During those eight evenings from January 23–30, 1977, a fire was ignited within my imagination that has only intensified since then. I wanted to discover who my ancestors were, and where my family’s homelands were. I wanted to someday feel the type of connection to a place that eludes many Americans whose ancestors migrated here from elsewhere long ago—I wanted to know the place(s) that my ancestors had lived in for hundreds or even thousands of years.
What does it mean to be connected to a place? How much of the history of a place where your ancestors lived for generations is truly the history of your ancestors? It may be fun to claim Celtic or Etruscan ancestry as your own if your family is from Brittany or central Italy, for instance, but how likely are those claims? Only by learning about the deep history of a place can we answer that question. Continue reading →
Anora (“Anna”, “Annie”) (Lee) (Horan) Prettyman (1847–1892) was my 3rd-great-grandmother and she has been something of an enigma to all recent researchers—myself included—who have tried to discover who she was and where she came from.
Thanks to new information I’ve gotten from a handful of newly discovered cousins, I think I’ve got a much better handle on Anora. While there are still large gaps and unknowns in her story, I’ve revised so much of her history that a new post is warranted. Most notably, I had the misidentified her parents (there were two girls named Anora/Anna/Annie Lee born in Indiana at the same time, and I was tracking the wrong one) and I got some details of her early years wrong.
I’d like to thank my newly discovered cousins Lorna, Suzette, and Michael for sharing what they know about our shared Prettyman ancestors as well as Anora’s first husband, William Horan. I’d like to give special recognition to Lorna for responsibly caring for, recording, and organizing so much Horan and Prettyman history and photos. Without her and her late father’s impressive memory, many of the details of Anora’s life would have been lost forever. Continue reading →
Update (2023-06-03)—Margretha’s origins have been discovered! I’ll put a link to the solution to this mystery at the end of this post.
There are brick walls (ancestors whose own ancestry resists all attempts at discovery) who will probably always be brick walls. These individuals often lived in times and places where record-keeping was sparse or non-existent, or were trying to run away from their past or reinvent themselves, or had descendants who purposefully or accidentally destroyed evidence of the ancestor’s life, or had other circumstances that make it understandable why we may never learn about their ancestry.
And then there are brick walls who have no reason being brick walls. These individuals lived lives that were relatively well documented, they were not trying to hide their past, they had/have descendants who cherish their memories, and they’re only a couple/few generations removed from living descendants. My third-great-grandmother Margretha (“Marg”, “Maggie”) Gores is just such a brick wall. She’s one of my most enduring brick walls and she’s certainly the closest to me in time. For my Prettyman cousins reading this, Margretha was Judge F.E. Gores’ mother.
Veronika (Evertz) Gores (her maiden name was sometimes spelled Ewertz) was my grandfather Bill Prettyman’s maternal grandmother—she was his mother’s mother. She was born in Germany around 1860 and immigrated to the United States, where she met and married the son of German immigrants. Bill never had the chance to get to know his grandmother Veronika, as she died when Bill was less than a year old. Bill’s mother also died tragically early (read that story here) and after a prolonged period of strain in their relationship that had its origins in a fatal car crash eight years earlier (read that story here). Whatever details Bill’s mother Rose (Gores) Prettyman may have known about her own mother’s German origins apparently never got told to Bill, as he had no stories about Veronika to pass on to me.
Additionally, the stigmatization of German ancestry in the United States that began in the 1910s and carried through the end of World War II caused American families of recent German descent to hide their German ancestry (see here and here for more on this topic) for fear of being seen as un-American or unpatriotic.
Whatever the reason, there is a lot that we don’t know about Veronika Evertz’s German heritage. What we do know is that Veronika was born in Germany to German parents—Peter Evertz and Magdalena Kaufmann, that she had eight siblings (although we don’t know who they were), that her parents also came to the US, and that her mother lived with Veronika and her husband Frank E. Gores in her old age. But that’s just about all we knew for certain.
In an attempt to keep today’s post more brief than it might otherwise become, I’m going to be focusing on just one aspect of my research into Veronika’s German heritage—my discovery of the identity of her maternal grandparents. To the best of my knowledge, this is information that has been lost for nearly a century—since the death of Veronika herself on February 13, 1920.
In today’s post I’ll continue my recent theme of focusing on ancestors who were early immigrants to the future United States. I’ll be purposefully focusing on details of the immigrants’ lives before they arrived in the New World, and will address their activities once here in another post.
Stockdale Coddington was baptized on March 8, 1570, in Saint Mary the Virgin Church in the village of Bletchingley, in Surrey county, England. Thus we can surmise that he was born somewhere within Bletchingley Parish in late February or early March, 1570. Stockdale was the third-born child and eldest son of the four children born to James Quidington (1530–1606) and Joan Stockdale (ca. 1537–1612). Quidington was a common Surrey variant spelling of Coddington, along with Cuddington and Quedinton.
1570 was 449 years ago, which may be hard to conceptualize for non-historians. To help you visualize England in 1570, here are a few guideposts: Elizabeth I had been queen of England for a dozen years, Pope Pius V had just excommunicated Queen Elizabeth (on February 25, 1570), Thomas Tallis was a 65-year-old composer, and William Shakespeare was not yet six years old (not until about April, 1570). The King James Bible would not be published for another 41 years. It would be another 12 years until England tried to colonize the new world (unsuccessfully, at Roanoke from 1584 to 1589), and 37 years before England founded its first successful colony in the New World—Jamestown in 1607. The voyage of the Mayflower was still 50 years in the future.
Happy Mayflower Day, everyone! 398 years ago today—on September 16, 1620—102 men, women, and children left Plymouth, England, and set sail for the Colony of Virginia in the New World. They were unsure how long their voyage would take, whether they would survive the voyage, or what their lives would be like once they landed in the New World.
We now know that their voyage took 66 days, that 5 people died at sea, that the rough winter seas forced them north to Cape Cod, and that their late arrival led to the deaths of nearly half of the crew and passengers during that first winter. My 11th-great-grandfather William Mullins was among those who did not survive that first harsh winter.
I just bought myself a little pre-Father’s-Day present to start reading on an upcoming long road trip this weekend: Jack Harpster’s 2015 John Ogden, The Pilgrim (1609–1682), and it arrived in the mail today. I’m really looking forward to reading it over the next couple of weeks. I ordered the 1858 Vinton genealogy a few days before this, but that looks like it’s not going to be here until mid-June. So it was totally reasonable getting another book in the meantime, right?
I also figured that with all the attention I’m spending on joining one or more hereditary societies this year—all of which are currently based on my father’s side of the family tree—I shouldn’t neglect my mother’s side of the family. So mom, uncle Dan, Jill, and all of my Askew kinsfolk reading this: this one’s for you.
To give you an idea of how far back we’re going, John Ogden is my 11th-great-grandfather. He was the great-great-grandfather of our Revolutionary War ancestor, Benjamin Woodruff (the subject of this post and this post). John Ogden was even distant history for Benjamin Woodruff—John Ogden the Pilgrim had been dead for 62 years by the time Benjamin Woodruff was even born. Continue reading →
My tenth-great-grandfather John Prettiman (1610–1688) was an immigrant to the English colonies in the New World. While the connections between him and his American descendants are relatively solid and well-researched, the connection between him and his English birthparents has so far been impossible to definitively prove. I can only hope that some day a document might come to light that resolves this lack of certainty. Until then, as my cousin Pat Coonan stated in his 2005 work Minnesota Prettymans,
…a process of elimination must be used to speculate on who the actual ancestor must be. Probabilities indicate that the John Prettiman that came to America is the son of Robert Prattyman and Dorothie Goddard.
I had originally intended this post to be a summary of all that we know of John Prettiman, but before too long I was astonished to discover all of the information that survives about John Prettiman after his arrival in Maryland. Accordingly, I’ll limit this post to just the events of John Prettiman’s first decade or so in the New World, from his arrival in Maryland in the mid 1630s to his departure for Virginia in 1643.Continue reading →