FamHist Blog

Family History Research Hints and Tips

I Wear A Seat Belt When Doing Genealogy

I always wear a seat belt.  It makes it harder for aliens to suck me out of the window of my car.

Like most genealogy fans, I’m addicted to researching my lineage and associated families.  The addiction started over a half century ago and if anything has intensified every year since then.

MarvinMartian Many other researchers from around the world with my surname have contacted me over the years hoping to find common ancestry and to share research efforts.  Surprisingly, very few of the folks are related to me prior to the early 1400’s.  We wish we could find a closer tie, but alas, it hasn’t happened so far.

One of my ‘cousins’ has been in contact with me on and off for many years.  He hit a brick wall early in his research and hasn’t been able to topple it even with his most intense efforts.  Finally hoping to find a keyhole that peers into the lineage I’ve traced, I was asked if I’d take a DNA test hoping we’d find enough of a match to at least provide some encouragement in his quest.

Unfortunately, he asked for the DNA test results of an alien.

We waited for weeks before the first set of results arrived.  Opening them, I was relieved to see that the lab agreed that I was alive but was sad that there weren’t many other facts to explore.  About a month later, the rest of the results arrived.  My ‘cousin’ and I may be related, but if so, it is only because we both have two legs.

Intrigued with the concept of genealogical ‘research’ through DNA, I started reading about how to correctly interpret the results of DNA tests.

That may have been a bad choice on my part.  Thus far, I’ve found that I have almost no DNA ties to any other human on record.

I think I’m an alien.

I was born 14 years after my next closest sibling and due to size, coloring and interests have often wondered if I was left on the back step of my parents home and they never got around to telling me.

My oldest brother took my mother to the hospital when I was born because my father wasn’t home at the moment.  He and my mother told me the story many times.  My mother even elaborated on the story noting that the doctor said, “It’s a Boy! He has Red Hair!”, to which my mother replied, “That’s not Red, that’s Rust!”

I’ve always enjoyed that story but now that I’ve spent so much time trying to find DNA ties to other humans, I’m more disposed to believing that I was dropped off at my parents home by aliens.  I’m probably part of a major alien conspiracy that hasn’t been exposed yet.

How are you doing with the results of your DNA tests?  Are you part of the alien conspiracy too or have you been able to use them to prove ties to the humans?

To the other aliens out there, I say, “Aliens Unite!”  We may create a whole new area of research in the fascinating genealogical quest that humans enjoy.

I’m sure they’ll still accept us.  Source documentation may be harder for us, but think of the family stories we’ll have to tell!

See you in the Family History Library or on the Mother Ship.

17 August 2009 Posted by | DNA, Family History | , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Indefatigable Thomas Ashton

Ashton Thomas portrait Born in Parr, Prescot, Lincolnshire in 1813, Thomas Ashton was the only son of Joseph and Catherine Cawley Ashton.  Joseph was a silver smith by trade and Thomas picked up the thrill of working with his hands and mind at a young age.

He married Mary Howard in 1836 and the couple quickly had two children.  In 1840, Thomas and Mary heard the message of Mormon missionaries and were baptized into that faith in 1840.  On the 8th of November 1841, the couple boarded a ship at Liverpool and migrated to America to join up with other members of the church.

Three more children were born to the couple in Iowa.  Unfortunately, the family was driven from location to location by murderous mobs along the other church members.  They eventually moved to Nauvoo, Illinois where they established a comfortable home for their family.  Once again, the mobs began to attack.  They were forced to leave Missouri after Missouri governor Lilburn Boggs issued his infamous Missouri Executive Order 44, or the ‘extermination order’ of all members of the Mormon faith.

After years of enduring privations and stress from their attacks, Mary to become so ill that sThomas Ashton Obituaryhe died in August 1849.  Thomas was left alone to raise five children while trying to yet again build a home, make a living and provide service to his church.

Calling on his metal and woodworking skills, he helped craft the famous old ‘blunderbuss’ cannon out of an old steamboat funnel during these years.  It made a great noise but wasn’t used to kill the mobsters.

Once again, the Mormons were forced out of their homes by mobs, fleeing across the frozen Mississippi River during the winter of 1846-47.  They settled in Winter Quarters, Nebraska in tents, wagons and sod homes.

The strain on the people and Thomas’ family was terrible.  Fortunately, he met and married the twenty-one-year old Sarah Elenor Mills there in September 1849.  His children again had a mother.  On August 1850, Sarah delivered a son to the Ashton family, but once again the privations of their situation was felt.  Three days later, Sarah passed away, leaving Thomas alone with six children, one of which was a three-day-old baby.

The family struggled to stay alive that fall and winter, enduring conditions that can hardly be imagined today in most areas of the world.  Fortunately, they met Araminta Lawrence, a twenty-year-old lady who was born in Canada.  On 17 February 1851, the couple married and Araminta became the ‘instant’ mother to  five children.  Thomas hadn’t been able to raise the baby in the months after the death of Sarah and he had been given to another family to raise.

In early 1851, the family left Winter Quarters with the Morris Phelps company using handcarts to carry their meager possessions.  When possible, the children rode on the cart and on occasion Araminta was able to get a brief respite from walking, but Thomas walked the entire distance from Winter Quarters to Salt Lake Valley.

Arminta Lawrence AshtonThomas eventually made a home for his family in Lehi, Utah after working in Salt Lake and Weber valleys for several years.  Another eleven children were born into the family by 1875.

Araminta was a tremendous woman and admiration for her love, tenacity and homemaking skills are still celebrated by her descendants.

Thomas served on the Lehi City Council twice, first from 1854 though 1866 and later from 1877 through 1878.  He was the water master in the city from 1861 though 1871.  Along with running a farm, he was also a carpenter, building engineer and stone mason.

Utilizing his skills to work stone, he helped build both the Nauvoo and Salt Lake Temples.

Araminta passed away on 10 Jun 1891, worn out after 59 years of life as a heroic frontier wife and mother.  Thomas’ life was filled with family, service and enjoyment when he passed away at age 89 on 22 January 1903.   He and Araminta are buried in the Lehi City cemetery.

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15 August 2009 Posted by | Ancestors, Genealogy | , , | Leave a comment

The Family History Expo Comes To Town

For folks who live in or around Utah, good news is on the immediate horizon.   The Salt Lake Family History Expo will be held in the South Towne Expo Center on August 28th and 29th. 

SaltLake-2009-Expo Holly Hansen notes that FamilySearch is offering training for LDS Ward and Stake Family History Consultants at the Expo.  All should have been notified via email, but if not, they can update their email address or register at: http://consultant.familysearch.org 

Busy folks have an option to fit in a couple of classes and a visit to the exhibitors hall this year too with the addition of single class registrations for $12.00 each.

Professionals associated with family history can grow their businesses by doing onsite consultations and distributing their business cards at the tables set up for them in the Exhibitors Hall.  They should contact Holly if they want to participate.

Ancestry.com is giving a FREE copy of Family Tree Maker 2010 to every banquet attendee.  There will also be 10 drawings for gifts that are valued at $400 each.

All of the details about the Expo can be found by clicking here

See you at the Expo!


14 August 2009 Posted by | Genealogy | | 1 Comment

Lusitania Sunk by German Torpedoes

Known as the ???Queen of the Seas???, the ship Lusitania was sunk by German torpedoes on 7 May 1915 off the Irish coast, killing 1500 or more people.

 The sinking was front page news in the Boston Journal the following day.


8 August 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Brakeman Loses His Leg

Bernard Featherstone lost his leg in an unfortunate train accident inWyoming


7 August 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Gold Nuggets Still Found in California


There is no reason to break your back looking for gold.?? Just use your chickens to do the work.

7 August 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment