Now I get to learn about AncestryDNA

For Christmas, we asked Todd’s parents to do AncestryDNA kits for us. The results came back and I realize I have a lot to learn. I’ll talk about the 4 features of the results.

First, there’s the Ethnicity Estimate:

Todd’s Dad, Lanny – 97% European, with a trace of Native American, Asia Central, and West Asia/Caucasus. His European ethnicity breaks down to 45% Europe West, 32% Ireland, 5% Great Britain, 6% Italy/Greece, 4% Europe East, 4% Scandinavia, and trace Finland/Northwest Russia.

Todd’s Mom, Marilyn – 99% European with trace West Asia/Middle East. Her European ethnicity breaks down to 40% Great Britain, 20% Scandinavia, 16% Ireland, 10% Iberian Peninsula, 8% Europe West, 3% Italy/Greece, and 2% Europe East.

The next feature is the DNA matches with others in the AncestryDNA database. This information will be constantly updating as more people are tested. So far Lanny matches about 8,500 and Marilyn matches about 7,700. One of Lanny’s cousins contacted me, and after exchanging messages and talking on the phone, I extended a branch on Lanny’s tree back three generations, ending at the ancestor he shares with that cousin – Lanny’s 5x Great Grandfather.

The next feature is New Ancestor Discoveries. Lanny had 6, but one has already been added into his tree due to the cousin-related research I mentioned. Marilyn has 5 (all born in the 1700s). I will extend the branches of their trees to include those ancestors. Documentation that far back is so hard to come by, but with the DNA hits I know I’m tracking the correct people. As more people are tested, more ancestor’s will be discovered. I think DNA is the only hope I have to break through my Gray brick wall – Catherine Wadsworth.

The final feature is DNA Circles. Lanny fits into 7 and Marilyn fits into 8. A DNA Circle is a group of individuals who all have the same ancestor in their family trees and where each member shares DNA with at least one other individual in the circle. Like everything else, these connections will grow as more people are tested. One exciting thing I can see coming from DNA circles is the sharing of photographs.

My plan for the weekend is to watch the free Ancestry Academy classes regarding DNA, and read all the articles Ancestry has published about DNA. Maybe I’ll have time to check out some of those New Ancestor Discoveries too.

A New Year – 2016

It’s been a long time since I blogged. Holidays, time with kids, etc. We also painted the office, and I have intended to get in there and get all my genealogy stuff organized . . . but I haven’t gotten to it.

I had some goals for the winter break, in addition to the office painting/organizing project. I was going to organize my computer files, naming all my genealogy related items with a consistent naming pattern, and putting everything into folders by family group. I haven’t gotten around to doing that yet either.

I thought 2016 would be the perfect year for the Genealogy Do-Over. There’s a book now, which I’m sure is super helpful. (This isn’t an affiliate link. My blog isn’t monetized.) But, I’m not ready yet.

I worked so hard to get 3-4 generations back on each of my lines and each of Todd’s lines, to get that information written up and published here. I think I got a bit burned out! I’ve enjoyed seeing my daily statistics though, and I know that there are people out there interested in the information. That is really what I wanted for my blog – a way to get the information out there for people connected to our family trees. And hopefully hear back from people who have information to add to mine.

I’ve decided to start working on completing the 4th and 5th generations back on each line. That is a LOT of family groups to research. And, with them being so far back, it’s so hard to find records to verify the information found on trees on Ancestry, or the information that has been passed down to me. So it will be slow going, but I’m trying to get back at it.

Hope your 2016 is off to a great start, and hopefully you’ll be seeing more content here soon.

My First Genealogy Conference – Ancestry Day in Raleigh, November 2015

Earlier this month, I attended my first genealogy conference, Ancestry Day in Raleigh. I also attended the Friday pre-conference sessions at the NC Archives. The event was sponsored by, The Friends of the Archives, the North Carolina Genealogical Society, the State Archives, and State Library of North Carolina. I learned a lot about each of these organizations and what they have to offer.

I visited the State Library, and talked to some librarians, and met some archivists from the State Archives. I have a better understanding of what each has to offer. You go to the Archives to see the original public records (county records, state agency records, governor papers, veteran’s records) and also private records (journals, letters, academic records, family Bibles, church records, newspapers). Before visiting the Archives, you can search MARS (Manuscript and Archive Reference System) so you know what records they have that you want to see. You go to the library for indexes and abstracts, books, periodicals, newspapers, published family histories, and government publications. Someday I’ll be brave enough to go there and do some research. It seems overwhelming, but not as overwhelming as it did before the conference.

I’ve had years of experience with, but moving forward I’ll be getting a LOT more out of that website. I learned that Ancestry hints pull only from the 10% most popular databases, so crafting your own searches is important. I learned about the card catalog, which I hadn’t explored before. I learned that then you start typing in a location, it’s best to click on the suggestion gives you rather than keep typing it yourself. If you click on their suggestion, Ancestry knows the GPS location and your search results widen from that area.

I learned an easy way of looking at multiple search results to determine which relate to the person you are researching. When presented with a list of search results, “right click/open in new tab” each item you think may be what you are looking for. Then drag those tabs around until you have them in date order.

I learned how to use wildcards in searches. The “?” replaces a single letter. You can use this in places where you don’t know, for example if you ancestor is listed as Catherine or Katherine by searching for “?atherine”. You can also use it in place of letters that are often transcribed incorrectly. An example given was that the letter “L” can be confused for the letter “S”, so you can search “?awrence”.  The  *” replaces the ending of a word. The example given was if you are searching for Vincent, and he may be listed as Vinny or Vinnie, search for “Vin*”. You have to mark the “exact” box to activate a wildcard search.

I heard how records are acquired to be included at, and now understand why there are duplications. For example, I’ve found Iowa marriages are recorded in numerous indexes. Two or more databases may contain the same information, but from different sources. People and organizations create indexes using their own criteria. For example, an individual may have indexed 3 counties, and another individual may have indexed 10 counties, but only certain last names in those counties. Ancestry acquired both record sets, and there could be overlap. offers so many learning opportunities that I didn’t know about. There’s a “Learning Center” which I had completely overlooked, including a long list of free research guides, and there’s even a research guide for each state. Also, Ancestry has a channel on YouTube. There’s a Family History Wiki includes two full genealogy books (The Source: A Guidebook to American Genealogy, and Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources), plus content from and content from the public. Finally, I’m very interested in Ancestry Academy, which offers classes, some free and some by subscription.

I learned of so many online research opportunities, and I’ve updated my toolbox.

I learned about DNA testing from I hadn’t understood the value of testing all siblings. It was explained that siblings get 50% of their DNA from their mother and 50% from their father, but it’s random which pieces each sibling gets from each parent. For example, a person could do the test expecting to find they have Native American DNA because they’ve been told there are Native Americans in their family tree, but the results don’t show Native American DNA. There are two possibilities – there are no Native Americans in that person’s family tree, or that specific DNA didn’t trickle down to that person. Perhaps a sibling got some of it though. If you test all siblings, you get a better picture of ethnicity. One sibling could be 0% Irish and another could be 50% Irish, even if each parent is 50% Irish. It was also explained that if you test your DNA now, more and more information will become available to you over time as others are tested. When you link your DNA results to your family tree at, you get notified of cousin matches. If you fill out a fan chart, and color in the sections where you have cousin matches, it verifies that you are tracking the correct line.

I learned about the North Carolina Genealogical Society and what it has to offer, and I joined. After looking through the vendor fair, I decided that the $40 registration fee would provide me with more learning opportunities than $40 spent at any other table at the vendor fair. I’ve already listened to two hour-long webinars that are free to members, Tarheels in Your Family Tree 1 & 2.

I also bought the HUGE book “North Carolina Research: Genealogy and Local History.” It was marketed as an excellent how-to book for any genealogist, with examples from North Carolina.

Separating the Lives of Two Men Named Edward T. Suschank/Suschanke

updated January 2019

Let me cut to the chase, and then I’ll tell the story. There are TWO men named Edward T. Suschank/Suschanke who were born in 1892. Both lived most of their lives in Saint Louis, Missouri. Both have daughters named Dorothy.

This week I have been researching for a friend. When researching a name like Edward Theadore Suschank, I thought I’d either have an easy time of it because of the unique name, or I’d have a rough time because of misspellings. As it turned out, finding records for Edward was pretty easy. I ended up finding him on 4 censuses, with 2 wives, and 5 children. I also found draft records, enlistment records, a death certificate, City Directory listings, and a Find A Grave memorial.

As I was doing the tree on, I was surprised by the birth years of the children born to two different women. May Tillman had children with Edward in 1919, 1921 and 1926. Anna M. Zach had children with Edward in 1916 and 1922. That is unusual, right?

My first thought was that somehow Anna and May were the same person. Maybe the M. stood for May, and she was born Zach and married a Tillman prior to marrying Edward. I had found when Anna died, and where she was buried, but I couldn’t find that information for May. Then my friend provided more information. After Edward and May divorced, May remarried someone with the last name of Lechner. I found that marriage record, and followed her life until her death, where she is buried next to her second husband. So, Anna and May were definitely not the same person.

My friend said her family didn’t have record of an Anna M. Zach, and I couldn’t find a marriage record. Yet, she was listed as married to Edward and living in Missouri on the 1920 and 1940 US Census. Also, the Social Security Index listed Edward as father and Anna Zach as mother of two children born in Saint Louis. My friend’s family did have record of May Tillman, as the mother of their direct line ancestor. But I didn’t find Edward and May together on a census, or in marriage records. The records that connect Edward to May Tillman are infant son Edward’s death certificate, and the Social Security Index for one daughter.

Then I noticed that Edward’s birth month was listed as January on his draft card. Other places, his birth month was May.

SUSCHANK Edward WWI Draft Card

When I searched for him under that birthday, I found death records – for a death that took place 30 years AFTER the death documented on the Missouri Death Certificate. This man died at age 90 and is buried next to Anna. (Infant Edward Suschank, a 1 month old born to Edward and May, is buried in the same cemetery. Every time I started to feel the lives separate, something reconnected them!) The man with the earlier death date is buried in a military cemetery, and his son, my friend’s grandfather, was the informant. Yikes. I was seriously beginning to think the guy faked that first death.

I found two of Edward’s children, Marie and Dorothy, listed in the 1940 US Census living with another family as foster daughters. One was born to May Tillman, the other to Anna Zach.

I found Edward only once in the 1900, 1910, 1920 and 1940 US Census. Not at all in 1930. I found a single draft registration card. The only duplicate records were related to his death. But there were birthdays 5 months apart, and various spellings of the last name. What was going on? I needed to solve this mystery!

I decided to make a timeline, listing every single source I’d found regarding Edward. I had already saved the files to my computer, but I edited them in Photoshop to clip just the information regarding Edward, so that I could actually see the Census entries and such as I looked through the timeline. I dropped each item into a Microsoft Word document, and typed up the information included in each item just to make sure I was paying attention to every detail. This is the first of 7 pages:

SUSCHANK Edward Timeline

As I did this, I noticed that in 1940, the age of one of his daughters in foster care was 10 years off. Could there be another Dorothy Suschank? I had already followed Dorothy Cecelia Suschank, daughter of Edward and Anna, born in 1916, and I knew who she married and when she died. I searched for a Dorothy Suschank born in 1925 and found Dorothy Margaret Suschank. I was able to follow her life, too. (My friend told me that they knew Dorothy ended up in Washington, and this Dorothy DID end up in Washington. My friend also said that Dorothy was thought to be a half-sibling, but I think she was a full sibling.) Anyway, there were absolutely two women born 9 years apart in Saint Louis named Dorothy Suschank, and they both had fathers named Edward. The two girls living in foster care in 1940 did NOT have two different mothers – they were the daughters of Edward and May. Suddenly, it was possible to divide the life of Edward into two different lives, each with one wife, and children that matched to that wife.

I hadn’t paid much attention to the City Directory information. It’s fun to see the listings of your relatives from way back in the day, because you can follow them from address to address and see job changes along the way. But unless you know your relative was the only person living in that city at the time with that name, you can’t be absolutely sure it’s your relative. In this case, it would have been BIG clue right at the start. There are 2 Edwards listed in some years of the Saint Louis City Directory. Here’s the entry from 1909:

SUSCHANK Edward 1909 St. Louis City Directory

I printed off the timeline, and began to mark through the information for Edward born on January 1st, and married to Anna. I marked through the children born to Anna. What I have is a very incomplete picture of two men’s lives. I have one on the Census in 1900 and 1910, and the other in 1920 and 1940. I have a draft card for one and enlistment records for the other. But, I feel sure that I have each man documented correctly.

If you are researching Edward T. Suschank, here’s what I have:

Edward T. Suschanke was born January 1, 1892 in Indian Territory/Oklahoma. He was in Saint Louis by 1909. He married Anna M. Zach and they had 2 children: Dorothy Cecelia in 1916, and Virginia Ann in 1922. He worked as a mechanic, often in shoe factories. He is found living with wife Anna on the 1920 and 1940 US Census, first in Poplar Bluff, Missouri and then in Saint Louis. He died in May of 1982 in Arizona, but with a Saint Louis address. Edward is buried in Calvary Cemetery in Saint Louis with Anna. (Yes, the other Edward’s infant son Edward, who was born and died in 1919, is buried in the same cemetery. It is a very large cemetery.) This Edward consistently spelled his last name Suschanke. I don’t know that the middle initial T stands for, though he used it often.

My friend’s great grandfather Edward Theadore Suschank was born May 8, 1892, maybe in Ohio. His parents are John Suschank and Mary A. Dixon according to the Social Security Index. He was grew up in Louisville, Kentucky and listed Kentucky as his birthplace everywhere except on the 1900 US Census, when it says Ohio. He is found on the 1900 US Census living in Louisville Industrial School of Reform with brother William and sisters Lillie and Laura. He was in Saint Louis by 1909, living with his brother William. He is found on the 1910 US Census living in Saint Louis with brother Albert and father John. He enlisted in the Army on August 15, 1911 and was discharged less than a month later, on September 5, 1911. He did serve in World War I from September 5, 1917 to April 24, 1919. He married May Tillman, and they had 4 children: Edward in 1919 (6 months after he was discharged from service in World War I); Charles Edward in 1921; Dorothy Margaret in 1925; and Dolores Marie in 1926. Charles Edward is said to have been raised by Edward’s brother William, and the girls were in foster care at least in 1940. Edward worked as a peddler, a bottler, and laborer. He often spelled his last name Suschank, but it also appears as Suschanker, Schushank, Suschanke. He died on May 20, 1952 in Saint Louis and is buried in Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery in Saint Louis. His Find A Grave memorial is here. His ex-wife May Tillman Suschank Lechner is buried in the same cemetery with her second husband. Her Find A Grave memorial is here.

I researched further and found the parents of the first Edward. The two Edwards are cousins.

John Suschanke and Anna Dowek were born in Bohemia, but I can’t find their arrival records. They were married in Saint Louis in April 21, 1850. Their children are:
John, born in 1854 married Mary Alice Dixon and had Edward Theadore who died in 1952. Edward, born in 1855 married Mary Ann Carter and had Edward T. who died in 1982. Another brother, Louis, was born in 1861. They may have had other children.

My Research Toolbox

updated January 2019

This is an ongoing project, and will updated often. Learn more about the Research Toolbox concept here.

General Research:
Family Locket website, Research Like a Pro (book & podcast) by Diana Elder, AG & Nicole Dyer (most records not free)
Find A Grave – Military Records (most records not free)
Internet Archive – non-profit library of millions of free books, movies, software, music
Digital Public Library of America
Storytelling with Syd Leiberman
Ancestry research guide for each state
Ancestry research guides
International List of Causes of Death (ILCD)
Dead Fred  Genealogy Photo Archive
Maureen Taylor The Photo Detective
A Guide to Researching the History of a House by Home Advisor

Specific family information:
Williams Family (on the Reece/Montgomery/Pruitt line)
Hamptons (on the Reece line): Texas Tech has a collection of Hampton papers, plus there’s an online family tree here and here

Missouri Digital Heritage
Missouri Death Records
Missouri Penitentiary Records
Stone County Roots on Facebook
Northwest Missouri Genealogical Society
Missouri Genealogy Facebook Group
Missouri Genealogy Network Facebook Group
Missouri State Genealogical Association Facebook Group
The State Historical Society of Missouri
Missouri Digital Newspaper Project

Shiloh Museum of Ozark History
Northwest Arkansas Genealogical Society Facebook Group
Arkansas Genealogy Network Facebook Group
Arkansas Genealogical Society
Arkansas Vintage Facebook Group
Arkansas National Guard Museum

North Carolina:
Rowan County NC Genealogy Facebook Group
North Carolina Genealogical Society
NC Digital Collections – best to not use Chrome
NC State Archives
Manuscript and Archives Record Search (MARS) – Youtube videos available on how to search for records found in the Archives
NC State Archives on Flickr
North Carolina Maps – historic maps
Digital NC – explore original materials from 189 libraries, museums, and archives in NC
State Library of North Carolina
NC Vital Records – not 1st choice when searching for genealogical information
History for All the People – a blog from the NC Archives

State Historical Society of Iowa

Mason County, Kentucky
Family Search Mason County Wiki
KY GenWeb for Mason County, KY
Kentucky Genealogy Trails
Mason Links & Miscellany
Genealogy Inc – Mason County

Binns Genealogy helps fill in for missing 1790 & 1800 US Census

Educational Resources:
Hack Genealogy (classes)
Genealogy Do-Over Facebook Group
Genealogy and Newspapers Facebook Group
Genealogy Cite Your Sources Facebook Group
Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness – RAOGK USA
Genealogy Gems
Dear Myrtle Facebook Group
Roots MOOC Discussion Facebook Group
Technology for Genealogy Facebook Group
Evernote Genealogists Facebook Group
The Organized Genealogist Facebook Group
DNA For Genealogy Facebook Group
NC State Library YouTube tutorials
Ancestry Academy
Ancestry YouTube
Ancestry Learning Center

Digital Scrapbooking:
Project Life App – super simple, for iPad or iPhone, very inexpensive

Newspapers: (not free)
Chronicling America – Historic American Newspapers

Other People’s Research Toolboxes:

Update – Albert Gibson Cowan (1884-1963) is my Great Grandfather

Without a doubt, Albert Gibson Cowan (born in Arkansas in 1884 and died in Missouri in 1963) is my great grandfather!

In July I posted about my detective work here.

I requested Albert’s medical records from Nevada State Hospital after reading how to do so here. I sent the letter of request in late July, and received letter saying my request had been approved by the court in August, and received a copy of the records yesterday.

The Court Order states and I must keep the records confidential, so I can’t share the information. I thought I’d say what information is included in these records that confirm that this Albert is the right Albert.

First, there is a photo of 78 year old Albert upon admission to the hospital, and the resemblance is so strong it could be a picture of his son, my grandfather Wallace Paul Cowan.

Second, there are notes about him discussing his marital history, and it matches what I believed to be true.

Finally, the woman my grandmother Bertie thought was her ex-husband’s daughter was actually his caregiver, which was my theory.

I thought it was interesting that notes made about Albert’s personality and some general health issues are things that could have been written about his son too.

It’s good to know that my Cowan branch of the family tree is following the right path!

The Maudie Carver Mystery – Pure Speculation

As I mentioned in my post about James “Jim” Wesley Hedrick, I discovered my Great Grandfather had a surprise wife and daughter in the 1940 US Census: Mollie M, age 40, and Luella, age 9. Also living in the home is Jim’s daughter Dorothy, age 14, from his previous marriage.

I asked a cousin, a granddaughter of Jim Hedrick, about this and got more information. She said that his wife went by Maudie Carver, and that Luella was his stepdaughter.

I searched for Maudie Carver in Stone County, Missouri in the 1930 Census, and found one. Her last name is Patrick, and she is living with her parents Albert and Annie Carver, her brother Ross, and her husband Herbert Patrick. She is 20 years old, so if this is the same person, she aged 20 years in 10 years . . . but census ages can’t be trusted. Patrick and Maudie aren’t listed with a Luella in 1930.

Next I searched Find-A-Grave, and eliminated the only Maudie Carver I found in Missouri because Carver was her married name. I then searched for her father, Albert Carver, and I found him – buried with his wife, and his daughter Maudie Mae Carver Long. BINGO! Next I searched Missouri Digital Heritage for a death certificate, and found one.

The death certificate reports that Maudie died at her home in Springfield, Missouri on July 31, 1951. Cause of death was homocide – gunshot wounds in chest and arms.  She was divorced, but her husband’s name was Frank Long. Her mother Annie was the informant. Maudie was 42, born April 30, 1909.

A search of newspapers found an article about the crime. The Neosho Daily Democrat reported on the front page, Wednesday, August 1, 1951, “Springfield Man Kills Two, Then Commits Suicide.” Martin Elmer Phillips, a “41-year-old bachelor killed his common law wife Maude May Carver, 42, and Paul Goldsberry, 25, a taxicab driver, and then turned the gun on himself.”

Maudie and Martin Elmer Phillips had lived in the house together for several weeks. Neighbors reported that the couple had been “arguing violently during the day” and that Maudie went to the store to call a taxicab. She then returned home and packed her clothes.

Paul Goldsberry, an air force veteran of World War II and married father of four, was planning to quit his job as taxicab driver soon to devote himself to farming, but that day he was serving as an extra driver, and he took the call. He was shot in the head on the porch while bending over to grab Maudie’s bag, staggered to the yard and died there.

Police said that Maudie had been trying to escape through the back door but was shot seven times. Martin Elmer Phillips was found on a bed, with the gun in his hands, and two wounds to his chest and one to his head

The article reported “Miss Carver, of Springfield, is survived by a daughter, two grandchildren and her parents.” Is that daughter Luella?

I figured if this was the Maudie Carver who was married to Jim Hedrick, then Herbert Patrick was the likely father of Luella. I searched Find-A-Grave for Luella Patrick, and found her in Yocum Pond Cemetary in Reeds Spring, Missouri where many of my Hopper and Hedrick relatives are buried. Her birthday makes her a year younger than Dorothy, so if this is the right person the ages were off on the 1940 US Census.

I researched Thelma Luella Patrick Back, and found that she did have two daughters, so that fits with newspaper article about Maude’s death. Unfortunately, I also found that according to her Social Security Application, her parents are Jess J Patrick and Myrtle Keithley. In 1930, when Maudie and her husband Herbert Patrick are living with her parents, Jess Patrick and his family, including Thelma, are living just a few houses away. In 1940 when Maudie and Luella are living with my great grandfather Jim Hedrick, there’s still a Thelma living with Jess Patrick’s family.

Was Maudie Mae Carver married to Herbert Patrick, then Jim Hedrick, then Frank Long? The only marriage record I can find is her marriage to Frank Long in Benton County, Arkansas on January 14, 1949. She was 39 and he was 64. The 1930 US Census ties her to Herbert Patrick. The only thing I have to connect her to Jim Hedrick is the family story that he was married to a Maudie Carver.

Was Thelma Luella Patrick Back the daughter of Maudie Carver and Herbert Patrick, and if so, why are her parents listed as Jess and Myrtle Patrick?

I may be way off track. Or, maybe I’ve found Jim Hedrick’s mystery wife.

Welcome to Filling in the Family Tree

Hello! Thanks for stopping by. I decided to start a blog because it would allow me to easily share info about our family trees with relatives. Maybe I’ll even connect with some distant cousins who have information to share with me.

I became interested in genealogy in 2011. When my Mom died, I found photos that were my Grandfather’s, marked with names and dates in his handwriting. I had to learn more. I have a collection of other genealogy records from my Mom’s house, like newspaper clippings of obituaries and death and birth and marriage records. I was able to spend some time with my paternal Grandmother shortly before her death, and learned about that branch of the tree. Finally, my husband’s parents have shared a wealth of family tree records with me so that I can work on those branches too.

I started on and clicked leaf after leaf and added info to my tree from other people’s trees. Soon I had a huge tree . . . and a huge mess. Now I know not to add info from other trees. I have a lot of cleaning up to do.

I’m interested in the Genealogy Do-Over developed by Thomas MacEntee, and I’m learning more about genealogy in general with the Genealogy Gems podcasts. I took a class, RootsMOOC: Intro to Genealogy and Family Research, offered on Canvas Network. I hope to put what I learned to work soon and do in-person research at the State Library of North Carolina.

The some of the last names in my trees are Hopper, Cowan, Hinson, Hedrick, Gray, Reece, Hickman and Perkins. I’m going to spend some time learning more about blogging with WordPress, and then we’ll start filling in the family tree together.

Suzanne Hopper Gray