User Report: MyHeritage.com

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For almost a year now, I have been tapping into the resources of the genealogical database provider known as MyHeritage.com. I started out by creating a free website, then I downloaded its free computer family tree database program Family Tree Builder. Intrigued by what I found, I next opened a subscription that provided access to more services and storage space.

One thing I noticed early on was the matching of my ancestor lines with those of Finnish genealogical researchers in Finland who had posted family trees. My paternal ancestry is based in Finland, with my paternal grandparents immigrating to America from Finland in 1902 and 1903. Now I know that most readers don’t have an interest in Finnish records, but I offer it as an indication of what might be available for other ethnicities either now or in the future.

A Global Presence

As I used the service, I did some digging and learned why: MyHeritage is a global company with a presence in every country in the world, and websites in 42 different languages. In total, more than 80 million members are sharing 28 million family trees. If you are researching ancestors from Europe (and who isn’t?), this should get your attention.

With some more poking around on the MyHeritage home page and with Google searches, I learned that in September 2016 the company introduced the “most significant collection of Finnish Historical Records Ever Published Online.”

In a news release announcing the addition of Finnish records, MyHeritage claims:

With this latest addition from Finland, MyHeritage extends its genealogy market leadership in the Nordic countries, with millions of registered users and hundreds of millions of historical records from Finland, Norway, Sweden, and Denmark. MyHeritage was the first company to release the invaluable Swedish household examination (census) records, followed by multiple collections of Census Records from Denmark. MyHeritage is committed to continue to digitize important historical records and bring them online for the first time, for the benefit of the global family history community.

The following from the news release gives more details:

Extensive collection of 33 million Church records digitized by MyHeritage covers the population of Finland during 300 years, providing a treasure trove of information for anyone with Finnish ancestors

MyHeritage, the fastest-growing destination for discovering, preserving and sharing family history, announced today the addition of a new historical records collection: Finland Church Census and Pre-confirmation Rolls, 1657-1950. The collection, indexed and searchable in its entirety, is currently available only on MyHeritage, along with millions of scanned original documents. It was created with the cooperation of the National Archives Service of Finland.

The collection includes clerical surveys (rippikirjat) and pre-confirmation books (lastenkirjat) for a period starting in 1657 and spanning nearly 300 years. MyHeritage is the first organization to index this collection. Users can access the collection on SuperSearch™, MyHeritage’s global search engine for historical records. In addition, users who upload their family trees to MyHeritage immediately benefit from Record Matching technology that automatically reveals new information about their ancestors who appear in the records.

Records from the collection list family households and include family relationships; more recent records include birth dates and birthplaces, and notes on marriages, deaths, and migrations. Records may also include notes on a person’s reputation and physical appearance.

The news release concludes with this boast:

MyHeritage is the world’s fastest-growing destination for discovering, preserving and sharing family history. As technology thought leaders, MyHeritage is transforming family history into an activity that’s accessible and instantly rewarding. Its global user community enjoys access to a massive library of historical records, the most internationally diverse collection of family trees and groundbreaking search and matching technologies. Trusted by millions of families, MyHeritage provides an easy way to share family stories, past and present, and treasure them for generations to come. MyHeritage is available in 42 languages. www.myheritage.com.

MyHeritage Now Offering DNA Testing

As you might guess, I have been quite satisfied with my experience with MyHeritage. I am looking forward to more rewarding experiences following testing of my DNA by MyHeritage. This is a relatively new service introduced in November 2016. Here is the official announcement:

MyHeritage, the leading international destination for discovering, preserving and sharing family history, announced today the launch of MyHeritage DNA, its global integrated genetic testing service. The move represents a major turning point for the DNA industry, as MyHeritage DNA debuts an international mass-market home-testing kit that is simple, affordable and will offer some of the best ethnicity reports in the world.

DNA is the hereditary material in the cells of the human body and it carries within it a unique genetic record. The MyHeritage DNA kit enables users to test their DNA to reveal valuable information about their family history and ethnic origins. The kit consists of a simple cheek swab and takes only a minute to complete, with no need for blood or saliva. The sample is then mailed to MyHeritage DNA’s lab for analysis and the user is invited to view the results on the MyHeritage website. In its initial version, MyHeritage DNA provides two main features: detailed ethnicity reports that map the user’s ethnic and geographic origins, and DNA Matches for finding relatives. Additional features and capabilities are planned for the future.

MyHeritage DNA results include fascinating ethnicity reports, showing the percentage of the user’s DNA that come from different populations around the world. The initial reports currently include 25 ethnicities, but this will improve dramatically thanks to MyHeritage’s unique Founder Population project unveiled today — the largest of its kind ever conducted. More than 5000 participants have been handpicked for this project by MyHeritage from its 85 million members, by virtue of their family trees exemplifying consistent ancestry from the same region or ethnicity for many generations. In the next few months, the project will be completed, resulting in a rich DNA data set of more than 100 ethnicities that will enable MyHeritage to show users their ancestral roots with far greater resolution than other services. To this end, the company has been sending its DNA kits to project participants far and wide, from Uzbekistan to Fiji, from Greenland to South Africa, and every corner of the globe. Standard ethnicity reports are currently available, with the expert reports to be released at no additional cost to users following the completion of the Founder Population project.

DNA test results complement MyHeritage’s core offerings, including family trees and historical records — the tools traditionally used by family history enthusiasts. DNA can be used to prove or disprove a documented family tree connection, or answer the question of whether two people sharing the same rare surname are actually related. DNA is also indispensable for overcoming seemingly insurmountable obstacles in traditional research, as in the case of adoptees searching for their biological family without access to their adoption records. On the other hand, when DNA locates a match between two people who have the same ancestor or ancestors, family trees and historical records are often essential for piecing together the exact relationship path between them.

MyHeritage DNA is seamlessly integrated with the other services provided by MyHeritage on all web and mobile platforms, as well as offered on a dedicated standalone mobile app released today named MyHeritage DNA. Thanks to its expertise in family trees and its vibrant community, MyHeritage provides its DNA customers with features not offered by most competing services including 23andMe, such as viewing family trees of the majority of their DNA Matches to pinpoint the connection path, and automatically identifying which surnames and geographical locations they have in common. DNA can be a fascinating introduction to the world of family history, and customers who embark on this journey by taking a DNA test can easily use MyHeritage’s tools to further explore what made them what they are.

“DNA testing is the future of family history,” said MyHeritage Founder and CEO Gilad Japhet. “We see DNA as a natural evolution of our business and look forward to harnessing it to reunite families, engage in new pro bono projects, and enrich the lives of millions of users.”

MyHeritage DNA kits are available at the affordable introductory price of $79 + shipping (prices vary by location). To order, visit the MyHeritage DNA website. MyHeritage has already amassed a significant number of DNA kits uploaded by its users from other DNA services, providing valuable matches on MyHeritage from day one. With the launch of MyHeritage DNA, the company will cease to offer DNA kits of other vendors. Users who have already tested their DNA on other services are welcome for a limited time to upload their DNA data to MyHeritage at no cost to benefit from free DNA Matches.

FYI, I announced my ethnicity report from MyHeritage in a blog posting on March 14. You can read it here. As expected, this DNA test found that the majority of my ethnicity was Finnish.

 

 

Learning About Gertrude Stoll

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I was working on my collateral relative Albert Bryan Wagner, Al for short, gathering any information available on Ancestry.com and from other online database providers. He was the husband of Faye F Dingman, my 1st cousin once removed.

I never met the man, but he was discussed by family members because he ended up owning the Dingman farm in Williamsfield in the mid 1900s. He also owned the farm across the road where my father grew up. Al was a gentleman farmer, preferring to live in Youngstown where he operated an auto dealership. I’ll post more about him later.

While researching Al on Ancestry.com, I learned that he married again in 1977 after the death in 1976 of Faye Dingman, my cousin once removed. The bride was Gertrude Stoll, who also was marrying a second time.

Using Ancestry, I tried to track down details about Albert’s new wife. I thought that the name Gertrude Stoll would be unique enough that I would find her details quickly. I was wrong! There were Gertrude Stolls from many parts of the country,and I spent considerable time looking at them. There even was a Gertrude Stoll from Brooklyn Heights, Ohio, who married a man by the name of Wagner. But he was Theodore, not Albert.

After spending considerable time on Ancestry.com, I went to FamilySearch.org and searched for the Wagner-Stoll marriage record. Using the recently digitized Trumbull County, Ohio, marriage records, I found their marriage record and confirmed that both parties had been married before. This record also had the bride’s father and mother listed, so I learned her maiden name, which was Woods.

Once I had this additional information, I was able to learn about her parents and where she grew up. By poking around some more, I eventually found a family tree on Ancestry which informed me that her first husband was Martin Stoll, who passed away in 1970. There was no documentation of this relationship on this tree but I was able to find census and other records that proved Gertrude’s first marriage.

One of the frustrating aspects of this search was that I wasn’t able to find any obituary for either Albert or Gertrude using online obituary databases. Maybe I will have to make a trip to Youngstown to check for paper copies or microfilm in repositories there.

Anyway, this little research effort demonstrated to me once again that you have to be careful about adding the hints Ancestry.com suggests to you for your family tree.

Stumbling onto Route 66 TV series

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Today I decided to do a Google search for Glauber Brass Manufacturing Co., a foundry in Kinsman, Ohio, specializing in plumbing fixtures. My father, Walfrid Herbert Huskonen, worked for Glauber Brass in the late 1930s and early 1940s (I don’t know the exact dates) as a patternmaker. I have heard that he commuted 12 miles daily from Andover to Kinsman with other workers at the brass foundry during the gas and tire rationing in effect during WWII.

Google produced an amazing number of “hits” for Glauber Brass and its history. But one of the most intriguing involved the TV series Route 66 from the early 1960s. Wikipedia has a very detailed article about the series.

In real life, U.S. Route 66 doesn’t go anywhere near Glauber Brass (it starts in Chicago and winds cross-country to Los Angeles), but the episode “Welcome to Amity” was filmed in Kinsman, and the lead actors were shown in and about the foundry during a workday.

Martin Milner and George Maharis in Route 66 TV series

According to Wikipedia, the story line involves a native (played by Susan Oliver) who returns to her small hometown and convinces Tod and Buz (series leads played by Martin Milner and George Maharis, respectively) to help her relocate her mother’s remains from the local potter’s field to the nearby cemetery. They run into resistance from the townspeople due to the decedent’s “pariah” status.

The Amity episode was No. 29 of the 30 episodes in the first season. It was broadcast on June 9, 1961.

The reason why I found something connecting Glauber Brass, Kinsman, and Route 66 is because there is a website, Ohio66, dedicated to reminiscing about the series and especially about episodes that were filmed using Ohio locations for settings. The owner of the website apparently traveled to many of the series locations and took photographs showing views of buildings and scenes in 2008.

The website includes several exterior shots of Kinsman Brass (the fictional name for Glauber Brass) from the episode along with the similar views from 2008. Those exterior views reminded me of when as a kid I tagged along with my father when he was making sales calls and/or delivering new pattern equipment for use in the foundry.

Tod and Buz arriving for work at Kinsman Brass in 1961

Tod and Buz leaving Kinsman Brass in 1961

Glauber Brass (Kinsman Brass) 2008

I also recognized many of the other Kinsman scenes from my growing up years. My great uncle Walter Dingman lived in Kinsman after he married Mina Wooley until his death in 1969. We frequently celebrated holidays with Uncle Walter and Aunt Mina.

One of the classic views was of the “boarding house” which actually was the Octagonal House that was the childhood home of Clarence Darrow of Scopes Monkey Trial fame.

Octagonal House in Kinsman, Ohio in 1961.

I decided to take my search a bit further and determine if I could watch “Welcome to Amity” It was offered on free sites, but I chose to purchase a copy for $1.99 from Amazon.com.

The first thing that hit me when playing the program is that it is in black and white. I had forgotten that television was broadcast in black and white 56 years ago.

Another thing important to me about the episode was that it included a sequence of shots inside Kinsman Brass showing Tod and Buz at work.  There were gas-fired furnaces melting the crucibles of brass, but no shots of making molds and pouring the molten brass into them. But there were shots of machining operations that transformed the brass castings into faucets and valves. At the time of production, I was working as an editor for Foundry magazine, and the scenes reminded me of visits I made to small brass foundries during that period.

My Results from MyHeritageDNA

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Just checked the MyHeritageDNA website and learned that my DNA test results are available. This makes the third DNA test that I have taken; the other two being AncestryDNA and FamilyTreeDNA.

According to MyHeritageDNA, I am 56.9% Finnish, 30.2% North and West European, and 12.7% South Europe (7.1% Iberian and 5.6% Sardinian).

WDH Ethnicity Estimate from MyHeritge 2017 03 14

This compares with my results from AncestryDNA: Finland/Northwest Russia, 57%; Europe West, 26%; Italy/Greece, 7%; Scandanavia, 4%; Iberian Peninsula, 3%; Great Britain, 2; and European Jewish, <1%.

FamilyTreeDNA’s  FamilyFinder test provided the following results: Finland and Northern Siberia, 64%; Western and Central Europe, 27%; and Southern Europe, 14%.

The ethnicity results match up quite well. Any differences are due to differences in the panels of people being tested by each DNA testing service.

If you are interested in doing DNA testing, you might want to learn about current turnaround times from my experience: Right now, MyHeritage has the fastest turnaround time, providing results in about three weeks. AncestryDNA is currently taking up to eight weeks to run a test through its lab, while FamilyTreeDNA falls in between those extremes.

Latest on MyHeritage DNA Test

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Here is the latest report on the progress of my recent DNA test at MyHeritageDNA:
Raw data produced

Your DNA data is being loaded into our highly secured server and analyzed by both automated algorithms and our data scientists.

Once the raw data is produced, we will have a digital file associated with your kit number.

Our algorithms calculate your Ethnicity Estimate, by estimating which pieces of your DNA originate from different regions in the world. We also try to find matches between your DNA and the DNA of all other users who took our test, or uploaded the raw data of kits provided by other services.

 

History Leading to Finland’s Independence in 1917

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This year, 2017, is the centennial year of Finland’s independence. This has peaked my interest in learning more about the history of the country of my paternal grandparents. It is timely therefore that the March 2017 issue of Finnish American Reporter published an article about that history. According to an Editor’s Note accompanying the article, it was compiled from several entries about Finland on the website Wikipedia. The Note also points  out that Compiler Kaj Rekola modified some of the material to enhance readability and flow.

Following Finland’s Path to Independence

Historical evidence shows that Finland became the eastern part of the Swedish realm around the year 1250. The term Sweden-Finland has been coined to indicate that Finland was an integral part of the kingdom, not a colony or a separate province as some nationalistic historians have claimed. The Baltic and the Gulf of Bothnia did not separate but rather connected the western and eastern part of the Kingdom ol Sweden.

Already in the 1500s. Turku was the second-largest city in the kingdom. The king’s subjects in both parts of the realm had exactly the same rights and responsibilities. The 600-year Swedish rule ended with the so-called Finnish war in 1808-1809.

Under Tsarist Russia

In 1809. Russia attacked Sweden at the behest of emperor Napoleon, to punish Sweden for refusing to join Napoleon’s continental blockade against Great Britain, a conflict that became later known as the “Finnish War.” In 1809, the lost territory of Sweden became the Grand Duchy of Finland in the Russian Empire when the Finnish Diet, assembled in Porvoo, recognized Czar Alexander I as Grand Duke of Finland, thus replacing the Swedish king as the ruler.

For his part, Alexander confirmed the rights of the Finns, in particular, promising freedom to pursue their customs and religion and to maintain their identity, saying: “Providence having placed us in possession of the Grand Duchy of Finland, we have desired by the present act to confirm and ratify the religion and the fundamental laws of the land, as well as the privileges and rights which each class in the said Grand Duchy in particular, and all the inhabitants in general, be their position high or low, have hitherto enjoyed according to the constitution. We promise to maintain all these benefits and laws firm and unshaken in their full force.”

This promise was maintained by all successors to the Russian throne (as Grand Dukes of Finland); indeed, Czar Alexander II even amplified the powers of the Finnish Diet in 1869. The status of Finland as an autonomous Grand Duchy was unique within the Russian empire. It enjoyed its own government, kept the Swedish-era laws, Lutheran religion, had its own army, and, since 1864, its own currency, and a customs border against Russia. The Russian czar was the head of state as the Grand Duke of Finland, resembling the role of the English sovereign in relation to Canada or Australia.

The policy of Russification of Finland

The “Russification of Finland” policy (1899-1905 and 1908-1917) was a governmental policy of the Russian Empire aimed at limiting the special status of the Grand Duchy of Finland and possibly terminating its political autonomy and cultural uniqueness. It was part of a larger policy of Russification pursued by late 19th-early 20th century Russian governments, which tried to abolish cultural and administrative autonomy of non-Russian minorities within the empire. The two Russification campaigns evoked widespread Finnish resistance, starting with petitions and escalating to strikes, passive resistance (including draft resistance) and eventually active resistance. Finnish opposition to Russification was one of the main factor that ultimately led to Finland’s declaration of independence in 1917.

The February Manifesto of 1899

The February Manifesto was an imperial decree which Czar Nicholas II issued on 15 February 1899. It was the starting point of the implementation of the Russification policy. Having enjoyed prosperity and control over their own affairs, and having remained loyal subjects for nearly a century, the manifesto was cause for Finnish despair.

The manifesto was forced through the Finnish senate by the deciding vote of the senate president, an appointee of the tsar–and after the governor-general of Finland, Nicolay Bobrikov, had threatened a military invasion and siege. While ostensibly affirming the Finns’ rights in purely local matters, the manifesto asserted the authority of the Russian state in any and all matters, which could be considered to “come within the scope of the general legislation of the empire.”

Russification policies enacted included:

– The February Manifesto asserted the I imperial government’s right to rule Finland without the consent of local legislative bodies, under which:

– Only Russian currency and stamps were allowed;

– Russian was made official language of administration (in 1900, there were an estimated 8,000 8,000 Russians in all of Finland, of a population of 2.700,000).The Finns saw ‘this as placing the Russian minority in charge;

– The Orthodox Russian Church was the church of state, including, for example, criminalizing the act of subjecting a follower of the Orthodox Church to a Lutheran church service;

– The Press was subject to Russian censorship;

– The Finnish army was made subject to Russian rules of military service.

– The Language Manifesto of 1 900, the decree by Emperor Nicholas II, which made Russian the language of administration of Finland.

– The conscription law, signed by Nicholas II in July 1901 incorporating the Finnish army into the imperial army. This triggered a surge in the emigration of conscripting age young men who feared being sent to the Russo-Japanese war, which raged in 1904-05.

From April 1903 until the Russian Revolution of 1905, the governor-general was granted dictatorial powers. In June 1904 Eugen Schauman assassinated Bobrikov, the incumbent governor-general. The imperial government responded with a purge of opponents of Russification within the Finnish administration and more stringent censorship. However the resistance campaign also had some successes, notably a de facto reversal of the new conscription law.

The Russification campaign was suspended and partially reversed in 1905-07 during a period of civil unrest throughout the Russian empire following Russian defeats in the Russo-Japanese War. In Finland, a unicameral democratic parliament elected through universal suffrage (the first in Europe), replaced the Swedish era Diet comprising the four estates (the nobility, clergy, burgers, and peasants). The Russian government’s reversal calmed the revolutionary fervor – for a while.

The turmoil during the initial period of Russification probably contributed to my grandfather’s decision to sell his farm in 1902 and move his family to America. Evert Huuskonen probably didn’t face conscription, but other elements of Russification probably would have bothered him.

The more we learn about the times of our ancestors, the more we understand why they did some of the things they did during their lifetimes.

One more note: Kaj Rekola is a professional translator specializing in translating Finnish and Swedish to English. He lives in Mountain View, California.

Using Google Translate To Understand Email in Finnish

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On Saturday (04 Mar 2017), I sent an email in English to a cousin in Finland wishing her a happy 70th birthday.

On Monday, I received the following reply:

Rakkaat sukulaiseni Wally Huskonen js James _______ siellä Ameriikassa.

Suuret kiitokseni 70 vuotis päiväni muistamisesta ja onnentoivotuksista. Varmaankin sisareni Heli on siitä Teille viestitellyt.
pyydän välittämään tervehdykseni kaikille sukulaisilleni sinne meren taakse.

Asun mieheni Mikon kanssa kulttuuripitäjä Tuusulassa. Laitan Teille juhlapäivän kuvia, kunhan ne valmistuvat.

Vielä kerran lämpimät kiitokseni kun muistitte minua.

I don’t read Finnish, so I turned to Google Translate to understand what my cousin was saying in her message.  Here is the Google Translate translation:

Dear relatives Wally Huskonen js [and] James _______ there for [in] America.

Big thanks to [for] the 70-year remembrance of my day and good wishes. Probably sister Heli is about you viestitellyt [has corresponded]. I call forward my greetings to all my relatives in the back of the sea [across the Atlantic].

I live with my husband Mikko [who is the] cultural officer in Tuusula.

I’ll put you [post to you] feast day images, [birthday photos] as long [as soon as] as they are completed. Once again, my warmest thanks to you remembered me.

Not a perfect translation, but understandable.  And it is available as fast as typing Google Translate into your browser, then copying and pasting the Finnish or other language text into the translate window.  When you hit return, up pops Google’s best effort at translation. It’s that quick and easy.

Wait! There’s more! If you use web-based Gmail, there is a button to click on to instantly translate your foreign language email message into English.

Thank you Google Translate.

Now Online: Meyer’s German Gazetteer

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Meyer’s German Gazetteer, long an important tool for geographical research, is now online, indexed and fully searchable! That’s good news, but here is even more good news: While original book is in German, this interface is translated into English.

If you are seeking a geographical place in the old German Empire (1871-1918), check out this new online resource: “Meyers Orts- und Verkehrs-lexikon des Deutschen Reichs.” Go to: http://www.meyersgaz.org/

This resource will give you the location of the village, state, civil registry office, and parish e (if the town had one), as well as other useful information.

I’ve already started to use this valuable new resource. It is very user friendly.

Test at MyHeritageDNA is in Lab

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Today, got word that my test at MyHeritageDNA is in the lab for processing. That means there are only three more steps before I will see the results from this new testing service (introduced in late 2016). Here is the schedule so far and continuing:

Here is the explanation provided by MyHeritageDNA for the testing process:
DNA extraction in progress
Your DNA sample is a collection of your cells, and your DNA is tucked away into the nucleus of each of these cells. In order to analyze the DNA molecule we first need to extract it from the cells contained in your sample.

We begin the extraction process by transferring your sample onto a deep well plate containing a total of 96 samples. We inject the samples with a special substance that eats away at any contaminants on the sample, leaving it clean and ready for extraction. Finally, our extraction robot separates the DNA from any other materials in the sample.

If both vials of your DNA sample are readable, we will now store one in our robotic freezer in case it’s needed later, while the other will continue to the next steps of the lab process.

I’m looking forward to seeing my MyHeritage test results and comparing them with my AncestryDNA results.

Is Fayetta’s Death Date Wrong on Her Headstone?

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If you want an example of a unique combination of given and family names, I would offer Fayetta Salome Flaugh as a good example.Nearly 20 years ago, I attended a meeting of the Computer Assisted Genealogy Group Greater Cleveland (CAGG for short) to learn about genealogy database programs. Several members were demonstrating features of the programs they were using for building their family trees.

One member, Dianna Jo, showed a slide involving two of her ancestors, Fayetta Salome Flaugh and her husband Andrew Betts, from Mercer County, Pennsylvania. The names really jumped out at me, because only days earlier I had seen Fayetta and Andrew on a family tree drawn by my mother.

After the meeting, I introduced myself to Dianna Jo. It turns out that we are fourth cousins, once removed. She had collected considerably more information than I had on our common ancestors and she was very generous about sharing information.

Now, back to Fayetta’s death date. In trees on Ancestry.com, several researchers, including Dianna Jo, have used 1913 as Fayetta’s death date. This makes sense because Find A Grave has a page for Fayetta with her headstone added by another cousin, Lois. The headstone says very clearly that she died in 1913.

Other researchers have stated that she died “after 1910” because Fayetta was last enumerated in the Federal Census for 1910.

I set out to find the proper year, and if possible, the month and day as well.

A couple years ago, Ancestry.com introduced a database of Pennsylvania death certificates between 1906 and 1964. I have searched this database in the past, and found dozens of death certificates for relatives from Mercer and Crawford counties in Pennsylvania. No such luck with Fayetta Betts.

A Google search revealed the website of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, which includes indices of deaths in Pennsylvania from 1906 through 1966. I thought I would try there, thinking that Fayetta might have been overlooked somehow when the Ancestry death certificate database was compiled.

I found nothing listed in the index for 1913, so I looked through 1914, and even 1912. Again nothing.

My next move was to check historical newspapers. I have had considerable success learning about the life and times of my ancestors in Mercer County in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. I tried searching on NewspaerArchive.com (a subscription site) with the name Fayetta Salome Betts, and various combinations of her initials and given names. Nothing.

Sometimes, you have better luck if you search with fewer search terms so I tried searching for Betts in Greenville between 1912 and 1915. I struck pay dirt with this search. There she was under “Mrs. Andrew Dingman.” Here is a screen capture of the relevant search result:
When I saw “Mary of Simons” (she was my great grandmother) and “Frank on the old ts homestead” (he was a great uncle) I knew that I had found what I was looking for. Clicking on the image brought up the newspaper page with Betts highlighted in an item under the heading Death Rolls. The death notice appeared on page 3 of  The Record-Argus (Greenville, Pennsylvania) for Monday, July 13, 1914. While Fayetta’s given name is not included in the article, all of her children line up perfectly, confirming that this item is about her.


This is a contemporaneous record of Fayetta’s death, hence I consider it to be reliable. I checked another paysite, Newspapers.com, and it had exactly the same item.

The headstone might have been created years after Fayetta was buried, and maybe relatives didn’t remember accurately the year she died.

Someday, I would like to visit the cemetery office and see if there is a burial record on file that has Fayetta’s death date. If so, I’m betting it will match the newspaper account, and the relative arranging for her headstone didn’t check with the office for a death date.

I am planning to circulate this post to cousins and see what they might report back about this little mystery.

Incidentally, I used a perpetual calendar website to check the days and dates in the newspaper (see above) and they squared up perfectly.