Category Archives: Brick Walls

2024 Stufflebean Family Tree History Mysteries: Still Searching!

A couple of days ago, I shared my current Sabo family tree brick walls, which turned out to focus on nine Loyalist/pre-Loyalist ancestors plus one ancestor from Genarp, Sweden.

The Stufflebean family tree is distinctly different from mine, with mostly German and Scots-Irish or English roots. However, the mystery brick wall ancestors also appear beginning in the 3X great grandparent generation.

  1. Lewis Peavler (c1805-c1881, Sullivan County, Missouri) was reportedly born in Tennessee and might or might not be the son of Lewis Peavler Sr. and Catherine (MNU). Were they his parents and does anyone have any kind of documentation? Lewis Jr. married Catherine Head, c1828. they had nine children.
  2. Samuel W. Scott (1 January 1797, Washington County, Kentucky- about August 1835, Howard County, Missouri) to the unmarried Alley Scott, who died before 1 January 1812. Samuel married Sarah Thompson, 26 February 1821, Howard County, Missouri. Who was his father and/or Scott grandparents?
  3. Sophia King (c1787-before 1839), wife of William Sturgill, born Virginia and settled in Lawrence County, Ohio in the 1830s. Family lore states that William’s first wife and mother of his children, was Sophia King, but no primary records have been found. Was his wife really Sophia King and was her father possibly Edward King?
  4. Rebecca (MNU) (c1782-after 1860, Washington County, Arkansas) was the wife of John Henry Alberty from Surry County, North Carolina. Who were her parents? I’ve disproved John Wright and haven’t been able to confirm or deny a Bryan, per online family trees. Does anyone have any real documentation?
  5. Unknown (MNU) (c1815-before 1843), wife of Henry Nation (c1814-after 1860). This family lived in Overton County, Tennessee when their son, Joseph Michael Nation, was born in 1836. They had at least two other sons and one daughter, whose names are unproved. Henry married (2) Unknown (MNU) and had children Thomas and Nancy born c1844 and 1849 (3) Mary Riddle, who gave birth to Isaac Suel, Zerilda and Sarah Emeline between 1853-1860. Henry’s first unknown wife is my husband’s ancestor.
  6. Mary Jane Adams (c1850, Tennessee-1932, Granite, Greer, Oklahoma) was the wife of Abraham Dulworth. Who were her parents? Her family structure was odd, to say the least. Were Daniel and jenny Adams her parents or am I off course here?
  7. Hepsabeth Davidson (1811, Virginia – after 1870, probably Lafayette County, Arkansas) married William Alexander Williams on 9 October 1828, probably in Marion County, Tennessee. There are other Davidson families both in Roane County, where they first lived, and in Marion County. It seems likely that Hepsabeth might have been the daughter of one William Davidson, but online trees conflate him, with no proof, into the family of William Lee Davidson, The Revolutionary War general who died at the Battle of Cowpens in 1781. Has anyone documented the Davidsons in Roane/Morgan and Marion Counties, Tennessee who could shed some light on Hepsabeth’s origins?
  8. Is Lucy Christian (c1755-after 1796) the wife of John Bandy of Botetourt County, Virginia. Pretty much all of the online trees name her as his wife, but I haven’t been able to prove that she was a Christian. Does anyone have primary records that support the idea that she was indeed Lucy Christian?
  9. Catherine Johnson (c1803, Tennessee-after 1880) was the wife of isaac Riddle, who settled in Cumberland County, Kentucky before moving across the state line to Fentress County, Tennessee. Catherine’s maiden name is stated on the death certificate of one of her children. Family lore says her father is Moses Johnson. Does anyone have further information?
  10. Mary (MNU) Broadway (c1770, South Carolina – after February 1853) married John Dulworth on 2 December 1803, Knox County, Tennessee. She was a young widow with two daughters, Peggy and Louvina. Mary divorced John Dulworth and married Revolutionary War soldier Solomon Prewitt, 4 November 1840, but had no more children. Who was Mr. Broadway and what is Mary’s maiden name?

As I stated, this list looks very different from my own family tree list, with eight of the entries seeking information about unknown wives or wives about whom very little is known. The ninth entry, Lewis Peavler, is lacking proof of his parents and the tenth entry, Samuel W. Scott, has an unknown father and unmarried mother. DNA matches might someday unlock that mystery.

2024 Sabo Family Tree History Mysteries: Still Searching!

It’s been quite a while – several years – since I last shared my family tree brick walls, so it’s time for an update. This list will only cover the maternal side of the family, given that my Rusyn paternal tree is a true brick wall. Unless church books predating the c1820s are found, there are absolutely no records in existence that will shed further light on those ancestors.

In previous years, I’ve picked brick wall ancestors more or less randomly, but for 2024, I’m going to go strictly back in time, in order, beginning with the most recent mysterious ancestors (3X great grandparents) to those furthest back in time.

  1. Robert Carlisle (c1758-1834) – Robert’s birthplace is unknown, but he died in 1834 in Charlotte, Washington, Maine. He isn’t strictly a Loyalist because while he defended Fort Cumberland in 1776, there is no evidence that he ever lived in the American colonies prior to the 1820s. Who were his parents? Possibly James Carlisle who died in Halifax, Nova Scotia in the 1760s???
  2. Catherine (MNU) (c1761-after 1843), wife of Robert Carlisle – Was she from a Loyalist family or a pre-Loyalist? The few clues that have presented themselves, e.g. land deed witnesses, have led nowhere. Was she born in New Brunswick? Who were her parents and/or siblings. Catherine received a widow’s pension from the government in place of her deceased husband “an old Revolutionary War soldier” in New Brunswick, Canada.
  3. Walter Stewart, Loyalist from Dutchess County, New York (c1750-after 1820, probably Sussex, Kings, New Brunswick, Canada). Who were his parents? Was he born in New York or did he emigrate, likely from Scotland? Are James Stewart and William Stewart his brothers? Walter married (1) Elizabeth Briggs, 3 March 1774, Poughkeepsie, Dutchess, New York, but she died young leaving no children (2) Sarah (MNU), c1784, probably in New Brunswick, Canada (3) Althea Wetmore, c1802
  4. Sarah (MNU) (c1752-c1800) – Sarah is my 3X great grandmother and, aside from a land deed with her given name, little else is known about her. What is her maiden name? Who were her parents? Again, was hers a Loyalist family or pre-Loyalists? Did she have siblings?
  5. Benjamin Brawn (c1763-after 1798) is the son of Benjamin Brawn, a pre-Loyalist, reportedly, but unproven, from Massachusetts, who settled in Maugerville, Sunbury, New Brunswick, Canada. Little is known about him except that he married (1) Mary (MNU), c1785 and (2) Elizabeth Eveson, 14 March 1798, Maugerville, Sunbury, New Brunswick, Canada. Mary had three children, Sarah, born c1786, who married Thomas Adams, Benjamin Bragg, born c1788 and Mary Hunnewell, born 27 March 1791.
  6. Mary (MNU) (1765-before 1798) – wife of Benjamin Brawn. Was Mary either a Bragg or Hunnewell? Benjamin’s father, Benjamin Sr., seems to have taken in Mary’s children after she died.
  7. Jane (MNU) (c1785-2 October 1854, Upper Nelson, Northumberland, New Brunswick, Canada), wife of Daniel Astle, son of Loyalist James Astle. Who was Jane? There are clues pointing to the possibility of Jane being a Parker, but no records have been found proving a blood connection.
  8. Unknown (MNU), wife of Loyalist Jonathan Parker (c1764-after 1811) of New Jersey, who settled on Campobello Island, New Brunswick, Canada. she is probably the toughest nut to crack, as not even a given name has been uncovered. The Parkers had daughters named Frances, Mary, Rebecca and Rachel so one of them may have been named after her mother.
  9. Philip Crouse (c1716, Zeeland, Netherlands- 21 February 1857, Keswick, York, New Brunswick, Canada) is called a Loyalist, but doesn’t appear in New Brunswick records in the 1780s. He previously lived in North Carolina, county uncertain, but possibly Lincoln County. Who were his parents? Siblings? He married Sarah Burt and they were the parents of 17 children, but nothing is known about his pre-married life.
  10. Anna Stina Berggren (c1743, Hackebarga (Genarp), Malmöhus, Sweden-about 15 June 1800, Genarp, Sweden) was the wife of shoemaker Johan Caspersson Sandberg. “Mr.” Berggren was a sponsor at one of their children’s baptisms, but who were her parents and siblings? So far, no baptismal record has been found for Anna Stina, nor have any potential siblings been identified.

That’s it for my 2024 brick wall ancestor list! I hadn’t noticed that so many of my most current ancestors that have put up brick walls were Loyalists or pre-Loyalists and the remaining ancestor of the ten is from Sweden. It’s interesting looking at information from different points of view.

10 Record Sets I Used to Break Through Genealogy Brick Walls

Everyone finds some brick walls in their family trees. While some can never be knocked down because records just don’t exist (like for my Rusyn ancestors living in Slovakia before 1827), many brick walls can be obliterated whether in one or with several steps.

I’ve written about many of my successes in marching through my family tree brick walls, but this post will be a bit different. I could just list the types of records I used and leave it at that. Instead, there will be a short description of the problem with a link to the post (or first post if it was a series) that will provided the details of how, where and why the record solved the problem.

The link in the research question goes to the post where the problem is discussed.

1. Oliver Shepley was born in 1734, Groton, Middlesex, Massachusetts. He married Mary (MNU), but no record was found for their marriage. Oliver died 11 August 1757 in Pepperell, Middlesex, Massachusetts while Mary pre-deceased him by five days, dying on 6 August 1757. Both died of “fever” and the deaths are recorded in the town records. Mary was aged 23 years, while Oliver was 22 years, 6 months, 23 days. They left one daughter, Sibbel, my ancestor, who was born 19 September 1755.

Research Question: What was Mary’s maiden name?

The record sets that answered this question was include Middlesex County, Massachusetts guardianship records. Since Sibbel was barely two years old when her parents died, someone took her in and raised her until 15 June 1775 when she married James Scripture.

Ambrose Lakin was Sibbel’s guardian for many years, as he repeatedly updated the court. Ambrose wasn’t paid from an estate to raise her – Oliver was too young to have accumulated much. That meant he was likely related to the young family and was able to take on the financial burden of another child.

My Shepleys had other ties by marriage to the Lakins. In fact, I am descended more than once from the immigrant Lakin brothers.

A Lakin family history book placed Ambrose in the family of James Lakin and Elizabeth Williams who lived in Groton, where Oliver Shepley also grew up.

Ambrose Lakin was one of nine siblings, which included the 8th born child Mary Lakin, born 26 April 1734 in Groton, about whom little was known, and the 9th child in the family, Sibbel, born 2 January 1737.

I posited the theory that Mary, who married Oliver Shepley, was, in fact, Mary Lakin. It was then her brother who raised little Sibbel Shepley and Sibbel might have been named in honor of Mary’s own sister. Sibbel, to whom she was closest in age.

Ambrose was willing to take on a 19 year guardianship because the child was his niece, the only child of a sister who died very young.

There was no “smoking gun” that clinched the relationship. However, I shared my theory and preponderance of evidence with a staff researcher at NEHGS, who agreed 100% with me.

To summarize, Example #1 used guardianship records and a family history book.

2. Loyalist Robert Carlisle was born c1758. He served in the Revolutionary War defending Fort Cumberland in today’s Canada. Whether he was born in Europe, Canada or the American colonies is unknown, but I have no evidence that he ever lived in America until his sons James and John appear in the Washington County, Maine 1830 census, living side by side in the village of Charlotte.

James’s household included an elderly man 70-80 years old and woman 60-70 years, who were probably Robert and wife Catherine.

The 1840 census for James Carlisle, still in Charlotte, shows only an elderly woman in her 80s. Robert apparently had died, but when? Charlotte town records still survive from the 1820s, when the town was formed. However, there is no death record for Robert Carlisle. Did he die in Maine? Did he return to New Brunswick, where he had other children living? It’s possible he died in Canada and Catherine returned to James’s home after her husband’s death.

This missing information wasn’t a huge brick wall, but it was a piece of information that should have been recorded in the town records, but wasn’t.

Research Question: When and where did Robert Carlisle die?

There is no post that specifically discusses finding his death date, so in its place will be an image from the record in which it was found.

Catherine actually lived into the 1840s and, while we all know about American Revolutionary War pension records, did you know that (today’s) Canada also provided small pensioners for soldiers who defended its land in the war?

The Provincial Archives of New Brunswick has digitized many records, including the database set Records of Old Revolutionary Soldiers and Their Wives.

Look what Catherine’s pension statement included:

Last three lines: that he died at the Town of Charlotte in the United States of American in the year 1834. . .

In fact, when I found this database, I wasn’t focused on finding Robert’s death date/place. When I found Robert and Catherine in the index, I was hoping it might include her maiden name and information on his war service. It did say he was in the Royal Fencibles, but, unfortunately, Catherine didn’t state her maiden name or when/where they married.

Finding Robert’s death information was a side benefit!

To summarize, Example #2 used an online database of New Brunswick, Canada Loyalist pension files.

3. Sometimes breaking down one brick wall brings the discovery that another has quickly appeared, which is what happened with my husband’s ancestor, Martin Miller (1785-1863).

I am not the only one who searched for years AND years for the parents of Martin Miller, born in Pennsylvania, married in Botetourt County, Virginia and died in Muhlenberg County, Kentucky. This family was German and Martin has hundreds of descendants. No one had any clue about his parentage or even proof that he was born in Pennsylvania, aside from the 1850 and 1860 censuses saying so.

This brick wall was multi-step and helped by the passage of time and new records becoming more easily accessible.

Research Question: Who were Martin Miller’s parents?

I hoped that Martin’s father served in the American Revolution, given his birth year of 1786. Virgil White published Genealogical Abstracts of Revolutionary War Pension Files in 1990. While at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, I had an idea. Since Martin’s life path began in Pennsylvania and continued through Virginia, if he wasn’t orphaned, then his father likely shared that same path. IF, and this was the catch, IF Martin’s father served AND received a pension, then he would be in White’s book. I already knew that there were multiple Miller families in Botetourt County at the time Martin married there.

Well, I found one excellent candidate: Jacob Miller, who served from Pennsylvania during the war, removed to Botetourt County afterwards. About the same time that Martin (with his wife’s family) headed to Kentucky, this Jacob moved to Franklin County, Tennessee.

A search of land deeds in Franklin County after Henry died in 1833 provided proof positive of the father-son relationship. Martin Miller of MUHLENBERG County Kentucky gave power of attorney to brother-in-law Philip Williams in regards to Martin’s portion of the estate of his deceased father!

The new brick wall that appeared? Martin’s mother was Jacob’s first wife, Sarah, and her maiden name is unknown so that branch of the family tree is at a dead end for the time being.

I didn’t mention there was a second new brick wall – Jacob Miller’s war service was from Northampton County, Pennsylvania, but no proof has been found connecting him to parents either.

To Summarize, Example #3 used the reference book Genealogical Abstracts of Revolutionary War Pension Files and Franklin County, Tennessee land deeds.

4. My next brick wall was a huge one that took DECADES to unravel and my very first blog post in 2014 explained the complicated route needed to prove the birth place and parentage of my 3X great grandfather, Johannes Jensen, born 27 April 1810 in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Research Question: Who were the parents of Johannes Jensen?

The short answer is that Johannes was born out of wedlock. Proving his parentage required many record sets, including one only available by in person access at the Danish National Archives in Copenhagen.

To summarize, Example #4 used Danish vital records, Danish  military lists (microfilm at the Family History Library) and corresponding records for mother and baby born at the Unwed Mothers’ Hospital in Copenhagen and only available by in-person access at the Danish National Archives.

5. Some brick walls have to be approached from the American immigrant downward instead of working back in time and sometimes, no clear answers are readily found. Such is the case with my husband’s ancestress, Elsie Larrison (c1764-after 23 June 1848) who married John Stufflebean.

Larrison is a somewhat unique surname in that most of them appear to be related in colonial days and the family originated in the New York-New Jersey area. Previous research indicated that one George Larison, living near the Stufflebeans in Kentucky, was probably Elsee’s brother, given the closeness of their ages and rarity of the surname in Kentucky.

Searching for Larrison parents for Elsee and George by backtracking was fruitless.

Instead, research was done by tracing descendants of immigrants John and James Larrison, in New York by the middle of the 1600s, forward in time.

Research Question: Who were the parents of Elsee and (probably) George Larrison?

In this case, the line could be brought forward to the missing link connecting Elsee and George to their forebears – their father remained the missing link. However, indications are that he was the George Larrison, born c1716 in New Jersey, who married Abigail Moone and is written out of the family histories with the sweeping statement that he “went to Pennsylvania.”

To summarize, Example #5 required the use of multiple digital online books that abstracted land, tax and court records as well as Larrison family histories.

The goal of this post was to point how out throwing a wide net is often necessary to solve difficult problems in the family tree.

Not one of my own brick walls would ever have been solved if I used the basic search features on the major genealogy websites. In many of my attempts, records I consulted weren’t even indexed – it meant moving along page by page.

It takes work, determination and thinking outside the box, but many brick walls can be broken down.