Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Maine Genealogical Society - 2014 Annual Conference

Maine Genealogical Society - Annual Conference - Review

Maine Genealogical Society
I had the opportunity to attend my first Maine Genealogical Society (MGS) event last Saturday.  I joined the MGS about a month after moving to Maine but hadn’t had the opportunity to attend any of the local events.  So, I registered to attend the Annual Conference on September 13, 2014 in Brewer, Maine, as my first event.

I needed to get up early as Brewer is just over two hours away driving and I wanted to make registration before 8:30 so I wasn’t rushed for the opening session. I made it there with no problems.  Because it was my first long trip in the new Jeep, I had the opportunity to try out the Adaptive Cruise Control.  Love it!

After registering, I wandered around the vendor’s area.  Picked up one of the Society’s pins.  You can order them from their website also.  

I was kind of taken aback by the attitude of a couple of the DAR representatives that were there.  I got the sense that if my wife were to apply for DAR all the documents and work needed to be done by her and that I couldn’t do it for her.  Someone, please tell me I’m wrong in that feeling. I am yet to apply to any lineage society and figured that the DAR, on behalf of my wife, would be one of the first I attempted.  I guess it might be the SAR instead. 

The opening, Keynote address, was by Thomas Jones, PhD, author of Mastering Genealogical Proof published by the National Genealogical Society (NGS). I’m a member of the NGS so I’ve been seeing their promotions for the book and it has been on my list of “books I’d like to get,” so I purchased a copy at the MGS Annual Conference. 

Thomas Jones, PhD,
The keynote address was “Can a Complex Research Problem be Solved Solely Online?” The bottom line answer is, as you might expect, “Well, maybe.”  That said, Dr. Jones’ delivery was excellent.  He was very personable and very good at his presentation, being engaging, humorous, and clearly knowledgeable.  He was clear that not everything can be found on line but in some cases enough might be findable to answer the question you have.  He had a number of really good online resources, some of which I didn’t have before.  I loved the presentation.

After the keynote address, the conference split into two tracks. I went next door to listen to Nancy Lecompte speak about Genetic Genealogy.  The conference technical folks had some problems isolating the speakers that each of the presenters would be talking only to their room of attendees. They finally got it straightened out after a few minutes and the presentations began.

Nancy did a very good job with her presentation. In the fast changing field of genetic genealogy, she appeared to be up to date, which is a task in itself, and provided a smooth presentation with information that supported both individuals with both novice and intermediate level understanding of DNA Testing.  She provided a link to her slides, which is something I really appreciate because it means I can pay closer attention to the speaker and not spend as much time taking notes.  Although I did take quite a few notes at her presentation.

After an okay lunch I had a chance to talk with some folks and make a couple friends.  Then the two training tracks started again. In both of the sessions I attended presentations by Dr. Thomas Jones.  The first was “Debunking Misleading Records.” He did an excellent job of showing how to detect, compare, and disprove misleading or erroneous records.  In my personal practice, I have taken to keeping all records, even if misleading. I generally then identify one of the same items as “preferred.” If “prove” something as misleading, I enter a note concerning why the information is in error and I mark it private so I don’t accidentally share the error with others.

The last presentation I attended was “Proved? – Five Ways to Prove Who Your Ancestor Was (Some Reliable and Others Not Reliable).”  As you might expect three of the ways were unacceptable, one might be close to okay, but really only one was fully acceptable because it was the only one that met The Genealogical Proof Standard.  The approach is to weigh conflicting evidence and resolve the conflicts using the five cornerstones to “The Genealogical Proof Standard,”

  1. reasonably exhaustive search,
  2. complete, accurate source citations,
  3. skilled analysis and correlation of the data
  4. resolution of contradictory evidence, and 
  5. a soundly reasoned conclusion.

There was a fairly quick wrap up of the day’s activities, a short business meeting, and drawings for door prizes.  Needless to say, I didn’t win anything, I never do, but I stayed to the end.

It looks like the next big thing with the MGS is the Southern Maine Genealogy Conference to be held May 30th, 2015 in Portland.  I’m looking forward to it. I’m also looking forward to attending some of my local (Greater Portland) chapter’s meetings over the next few months.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Clifford Brown (aka Richard Earl Durand, aka Richard Earl Brown) (1903-1990)

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks - Week 38 – Clifford Brown (aka Richard Earl Durand, aka Richard Earl Brown (1903-1990)

By – Don Taylor

No Story too Small
We all have someone in our tree that is confusing. It is that person that the more you learn about them; the more you know you do not know. My grandfather was such a person. It wasn’t until I began doing genealogy that I learned his birth name. I also knew he went by another name but didn’t have a clue why. Back in the late 1990s, I asked his sister, Delores, about the name changes and again I asked her about it in the 2000s, and she avoided answering. She said she didn’t want to speak ill of the dead and that “Dick” was her “favorite brother.” I so wish I hadn’t let her take that stand. In the following years, thanks to Genealogy Bank, I learned much about my grandpa Dick, things that I would have never imagined. Through that research I think I know why the changes in name.

Bio - Clifford Brown (aka Richard Earl Durand, aka Richard Earl Brown (1903-1990)

Richard Earl Brown always
carried a hunting knife.
Photo: about 1953 source unknown
Clifford Brown was born on 14 September 1903, in Robinson, Kidder County, North Dakota. He was the sixth child of thirteen born to Arthur Durrwood and Mary Elizabeth Manning Brown.
He spent much of his childhood in the rugged and very isolated homestead at the N1/2-NW1/4&SW1/4-NW1/4 - Section 34, Township 144 North Rang 72 West of the 5th Principal Meridian. 

Today it is a land devoid of buildings or evidence the family ever homesteaded there. Wikipedia indicates that Robinson had a population of 37 people in the 2010 Census[1]. Merkel, the other town mentioned in some of the records regarding the family indicates a population of 39 people[2]. The entire county only has a population of 2,435 and the total area is about 1,351 square miles[3], which means that there are less than two people per square mile today. Talk about isolated.

In 1917 (aged 14) his family moved back to the “civilized lands” of Minnesota. His father received a land patent, in township 138N (now Sylvan Township), Range 029W, Section 7,  NE1/4-Nw1/4, N1/2-NE1/4, SE1/4-NE1/4. (Modern GPS: 46.7911918, -94.4073918 -  NW Corner of L shaped property.)

In 1928, his father died of liver cancer[4].

Here is where things get complicated. His daughter believes that he went into the service sometime before 1931 as Richard Earl Durand. I don't think so.  There are stories that he might have been a spy and had that name as a spy. Other stories indicate he was in show business while in the military and Richard Earl Durand was his stage name. In either event, it is understood that Clifford and Madonna Mae Montran met in Panama City, Panama in 1931 while he was in the service. They had a liaison, which produced a daughter, Sylvia. Madonna was married to Samson Amsterdam at the time. The story there is that Samson remained married to Madonna until the child was born, “to give it a name” then quietly divorced. After the divorce, the oral history says that he pursued Madonna more.

Copyright 2005 Heritage Microfilm, Inc. and Newspaperarchive.com
The Brainerd Daily Dispatch
18 October 1932
The dates here get quite confusing. Sylvia was born in January of 1932, so she must have been conceived in Panama in April 1931. By October of 1932, Clifford returned to Minnesota and was apparently out of the service and was going by the name of Clifford Brown (again?). We know this because Clifford Brown got into a fight in the parking lot of a dance hall with Irwin Thompson. Irwin died and Clifford was charged with Manslaughter[5]. Clifford was held in the Walker jail until a grand jury could consider the case. I have been unable to find a disposition of the grand jury’s decision and haven’t found where Clifford was tried or sentenced so I believe he wasn’t indicted. However, I’m sure his reputation was sullied.

opyright 2005 Heritage Microfilm, Inc. and Newspaperarchive.com
The Brainerd Daily Dispatch
10 April 1935
Apparently, Clifford didn’t like how Madonna (Donna) was raising his daughter, the three year-old Sylvia, and on March 10th, 1935 he abducted his daughter from Chicago and brought her back to Minnesota. We would probably not know anything of this except Chicago police officers came to Minnesota and arrested Clifford and brought him back to Illinois without going through extradition. The Minnesota governor was upset to have a Minnesotan taken without due process. There were many articles in the Brainerd Daily Dispatch regarding Governor Olson protesting to Governor Horner (of Illinois) regarding the abduction of a Minnesota citizen by Illinois law enforcement[6]. I am still searching for case files of that case and how long he served in prison in Chicago. Family legend says that when Clifford was released from prison he contacted Donna one more time to see if she would marry him. She wouldn’t and the two went their separate ways.  I believe that Clifford's name was so tarnished from the manslaughter and the child abduction that he took on the name of Richard Earl Durand upon his release from prison. 
414 Pine Street
Brainerd, MN
Courtesy: Aunt Barbara

On 22 Feb 1936 Clifford Brown, now Richard Earl Durand, married Dorothy Louise Wilhelm in Chicago. The couple located to 414 Pine Street, Brainerd, Minnesota sometime before July, 1937, which is where they lived when their first daughter was born. They moved back to Chicago within the year after their first child's birth to be there when their second daughter, Mary Lou Durand was born. The 1940 Census finds the Durand family at 3621 Belmont (which is now a new construction building).

Not much is known about Richard during the 1940s and 1950s. We are not sure where he was or what he was doing. Family history indicates that he returned to Minnesota and located with his mother in Motley. Photos that appear to be from the late 1940’s and early 1950’s show him with his mother, Mary Brown. Certainly, during this time he became known as Dick Brown.

Dick's daughter Barbara outside
Hanson Minnow Tackle Worm shop
Motley, Minnesota circa. 1960
Courtesy: Aunt Barbara 
I remember going up to Grandpa Brown and Ma Brown’s house from the early 1950s. There is a photo of me and one of my Great Aunt Deloris’ kids sitting on Ma Brown’s lap about 1953 or so. For me, Grandpa Brown was the major male role model in my life. Dick was an avid hunter and fisher. He worked at the Hanson Minnow Tackle Worm shop with his cousin Meretta. (I’m not sure who owned it Meretta or her husband Fred or if Dick was a part owner or not.) In any event several years later, he ran his own minnow shop next to the El Ray Truck Stop. It was with Grandpa Brown that I tagged along when he went deer hunting and saw my first deer kill. I went duck hunting, partridge hunting, and was privy to his special place for fishing out on Lake Shamineau where he could always catch fish. I went wild ricing with him and gained an appreciation for the great outdoors. Hunting and fishing were Grandpa’s primary source for protein. 

I have so many stories about Grandpa Dick and his mother, Ma Brown.  One story that comes to mind occurred sometime in the mid 1960s. Dick’s old beater of a car broke down and wasn’t worth repairing, so he bought a “new” $50 clunker. His mother saw the “new” car and started ragging on him and “Those crazy kids and their motor cars -- that’s all they think about is cars, cars, cars!” The exchange pointed out that even my grandfather, who was in his 60s, was just a kid to his mother. I will forever be a kid to all my ancestors.
Sylvia, Matt, Don, & Grandpa Dick - Circa 1977
Source: Don Taylor Photo Collection

I went into the service in 1969 and didn’t see Grandpa Brown but a couple of times during the 1970s. He married Cecelia Ann Squires in 1975. Sometime after he married Cecelia, I visited them with my mother and my son and had a “four generation” photograph taken. Not very good quality, but we were all there.

I am not sure when he went into the United District Nursing Home in Staples, MN, which is where he died on 19 Jan 1990. He was buried at Gull River Cemetery in Sylvan Township, Cass County near his mother and many other family members.

I remember Grandpa Dick fondly. My appreciation for the outdoors comes from Grandpa Dick. Grandpa Dick instilled the importance of eating what you kill into me. In remembrance of his birth 111 years ago, I will raise a toast to him.

Further Actions:
·      Make a concerted effort to network with other descendants of the Brown Family.
·      Develop a closer relationship with my half aunt and her children, my half first cousins.

List of Greats
1.     Arthur Durrwood Brown
2.     Henry Brown
3.     Benjamin Brown

Please comment below if you have anything you would like to add to the story of
Clifford Brown, Richard Earl Durand, or Richard Earl Brown.

---------- DISCLAIMER ----------


[4] Minnesota, Death Certificate, Arthur D Brown.; Don Taylor, Maine.
[5] Brainerd Daily Dispatch - 1932-10-18, Manslaughter filed against Clifford Brown.
    Manslaughter charge is filed against Brown in Thompson Death
[6] Brainerd Daily Dispatch - 1935-04-10, Appeal to Illinois Governor Illegal Removal of Brown. --   Minnesota
    Governor Olson protested to Governor Horner be wouldn't fight to have Clifford Brown returned.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Bio – Reuben Fowler (1753-1832)

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks - Week 36 – Reuben Fowler (1753-1832)

By – Don Taylor

It is important to check the dates and check the facts you find in other peoples work.  My fifth great grandfather, Reuben Fowler, is a perfect example of that.  I first learned of Reuben when looking at other people’s family trees. According to all six of them on Ancestry.Com family trees, he was born 9/9/1753 and died 2/2/1832.  Then I started looking at the sources that were described. Only one had any kind of source, a Find-a-Grave source, the rest all cited other people’s family trees. A quick look at the Find-a-Grave source showed the death date to be inconsistent with the actual marker. 
In memory of REUBEN FOWLER
who departed this life
Feb. 1, 1832, aged 78 years
4 months & 28 days.
Thanks to Find a Grave
The marker clearly shows he died on February 1, 1832[1]. It is only a day different, but still…  Then I took a look at the birth date.  It just didn’t seem right. The calculator at Timeanddate.com would let me know for certain.  Sure enough, the date for his birth that everyone else had was inconsistent with his marker. He should have been born on September 4th (or possibly the 3rd, depending on how you calculate the date). It is only five days off, but I strive for accuracy.  I’m also interested in how and where the other trees found the locations for his birth and death.  I understand that the marker is not contemporary; but, I feel that whoever erected the marker was closer to the event than I am and most likely knew a lot about Reuben’s life. So, I’m going to use the dates on his marker as my preferred dates until I can find a credible source to overrule them.

Bio – Reuben Fowler (1753-1832)

Reuben Fowler was born on 4 September 1753, probably Winchester County, New York. His parents were Reuben and Jane Valentine Fowler.

He had at least one older sibling, a sister, who was about 11 years older than he.  When he was only nine years old his mother Jane Valentine Fowler died.

In 1773 he married Martha Drake. They would go on to have at least seven children that I know of. 

In 1777, his father Reuben Fowler (1720-1777) passed away.

He died on 1 Feb 1832 and is buried in the Old Van Cortlandtville Cemetery in Westchester County, New York[2].

List of Greats
1.     Arthur Durrwood Brown
2.     Henry Brown
3.     Eliza Fowler
4.     Phoebe Fowler
5.    Reuben Fowler
6.     Reuben Fowler
7.     Jeremiah Fowler
8.     William Fowler
9.     Joseph Fowler

[1] Find a Grave, digital images (http://www.findagrave.com), Reuben Fowler - Memorial# 34837264. http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=34837264.

[2] Ibid.

Friday, August 29, 2014

100 Years Ago - 1 September 1914 - Madonna Mae Montran

100 Years Ago – Madonna Mae Montran – (1893-1976)

We do not know for certain where Donna was on 1 September of 1914, but we can reasonably guess where she might have been.

According to the 1910 Census, The 17 year-old Madonna was going by the name of Madonna Holdsworth and was living with her mother, Ida Holdsworth, who was divorced, and her grandmother, Sarah Barber, who was widowed. They lived at 418 Clay Ave. Also living with them was a “boarder,” Harvey Knight. Donna worked as a Saleswoman in a dry goods store[1]. By the way, 418 Clay Ave. does not appear to exist today. Either the streets have been renumbered or Clay was cut off and became an alleyway.

In 1911, she married Chester Fenyvessey in Canada[2]. They probably lived in Rochester, New York where he was a theater manager. Clearly things didn't work out between Madonna and Chester because we never see or hear about him again.
Birth of a Nation theatrical poster.jpg
distributed by Epoch Film Co. - 
Chronicle of the Cinema. (London: Dorling
 Kindersley), p. 111.. 
Licensed under Public domain 

We also know that she was in D.W. Griffith’s Birth of a Nation that released in February of 1915. Griffith began production of Birth in secret in the fall of 1914. Therefore, Donna had to have been in California to be in the movie in the fall of 1914.

Additionally, we know that Madonna/Donna went to California and worked as one of Mack Sennett’s bathing beauties. However, he did not assemble his Bathing Beauties until 1915, so she would not have done that until somewhat later.

On September 1, 1914, the newspapers of the time were all about the Great War. The Washington Times reported that 3,000,000 Austrians and Russians were in a brutal clash. It was said to be the greatest battle of the war (at that time) was going on in Poland; meanwhile, the French and Germans were battling it out along the Meuse River[3]. The world was at war, but the United States had not entered the fray yet.

With all these tidbits in mind, it is likely that Donna had left Detroit by 1911 and met Chester Fenyvessey in Rochester and married him on holiday to Canada. The marriage with him apparently didn’t work out; she left Rochester and headed to California before September 1914.

Madonna (Donna) wanted to become an actress. I am sure it was a time for auditions and just trying to find work. She was talented (she could sing, dance, play the piano, and look good in a bathing suit), young (21 years-old), and willing to take it on the road. Exciting Southern California was definitely the place for her to seek fame and fortune.

[1] 1910 Census, Ancestry.com, http://www.Ancestry.com, 1910; Detroit Ward 7, Wayne, Michigan; Roll: T624_683; Page: 8A; Enumeration District: 0106; FHL microfilm: 1374696.
[2] Ontario, Canada Marriages, 1801-1928, Ancestry.com, http://www.Ancestry.com,Birth date: abt 1892 Birth place: Marriage date: 1 Oct 1911 Marriage place: Welland, Ontario, Canada
[3] The Washington times. (Washington [D.C.]), 01 Sept. 1914. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn84026749/1914-09-01/ed-1/seq-1/>

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Bio - John Huber (1880-1948)

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks - Week 35 – John Huber (1880-1948)

By – Don Taylor

John is a great example of how further research of a person’s friends can prove that you have wrong person all along. I wanted to increase my understanding of John’s immigration and how he ended up in Wisconsin when I thought he was headed for Oregon. I had him arriving in 1901 aboard the SS St. Paul with two friends. I decided to follow his friends and see what happened to them. I found them in Oregon in 1910 and then I found another John Huber (born about 1880) in Oregon as well. Oops. I know that my John Huber was in Alabama in 1910, so the immigration aboard the SS St. Paul was clearly incorrect. I scrapped the information I had about his immigration and will start anew.  Sigh…

Bio - John Huber (1880-1948)

John Huber was born 9 September 1880 in Windlach, Kanto, Zürich, Switzerland. He was the oldest of five known children of Jacob and Kath Stuckinger Huber.

Nothing is known of John’s childhood. However, in 1901 he immigrated to the United Sates[1]. He appears to have headed to the Swiss Colony area of southern Wisconsin where he met Bertha Barbara Trumpi. 

The two were married on 2 March 1905 in New Glarus, Green County, Wisconsin, probably at the Swiss Church, in an ecclesiastical ceremony by Rev. A. Roth. The 1905 Wisconsin Census finds the couple living on a farm that they rented in Primrose, WI[2], about 8 miles north of New Glarus.

In spring of 1908, they had their first child, a girl, Florence Wilma Huber.

Sometime between then and December 1909, the young family moved to Alabama where their only son, Clarence Eduard Huber was born. The family is seen farming their own farm in Elberta and Josephine, Baldwin County, Alabama in the 1910 Census[3]. The 1910 Census also indicates that John had submitted his First Papers for Naturalization.

It is likely the Hubers succumbed to advertising directed towards Swiss immigrants in Wisconsin and Illinois, which promised cheap land, without snow and cold, in a Swiss Colony in Alabama. In any event, they bought a farm in Alabama and worked it for seven to eight years. Then they bought a farm from Jacob Spitz in James Township, Saginaw County, Michigan in 1916.

It doesn’t appear that John became a naturalized citizen. The 1910 census indicates that he submitted first papers. In the 1920 Census, he was listed as an alien. The 1930 Census indicates that he was naturalized. However, the 1940 census, once again, indicates he had only submitted first papers. It is the recollection of his granddaughter that in the mid 1940s he indicated he was still a Swiss citizen and “didn’t like America much.” That is not to say he hated America, rather, he spoke of Switzerland as if it were heaven. My suspicion is that he never became a citizen and only went through the process enough to have submitted first papers.

In 1929, his daughter, Florence, was married to Robert Harry Darling.

The 1930 Census shows John, a poultry farmer, with his wife and son, Clarence, living on the Farm on St. Charles road in James Township.

In 1934, Florence died leaving a granddaughter to be raised by her widower. 

The 1940 Census finds John, Bertha, and son, Clarence, living in the same house as they did in 1935 (and 1930). John owned the farm worth about $4000 in 1940[4].

The daughter of Florence (their granddaughter) would come to live with him and his wife in the 1940s.

John died on 5 Oct 1948 from a lingering illness at St. Luke’s Hospital in Saginaw, MI. At the time of his death, he was a member of the Evangelical Church.

He was buried at Lot S464, Section 116, in Oakwood Cemetery, Saginaw, Michigan.

  • Do not confuse with Johann Huber from Switzerland who immigrated in Nov 1901 aboard the USMS St. Paul and settled in Oregon.
  • Do not confuse with John Huber who owned 40 acres in Bridgeport Township, Saginaw County, Michigan.

Further Actions:
  • ·      Find John Huber’s immigration information.
  • ·      Further research John’s Parents & Siblings 

List of Greats
1.    John Huber
2.     Jacob Huber (Jr. ?)
3.     Jak Huber (Sr.?)

I regularly use Mocavo. Check them out at:

[1] 1910; Census Place: Elberta and Josephine, Baldwin, Alabama; Roll: T624_1; Page: 5A; Enumeration District: 0013; FHL microfilm: 1374014. – Huber, John

[3]  1910; Census Place: Elberta and Josephine, Baldwin, Alabama; Roll: T624_1; Page: 5A; Enumeration District: 0013; FHL microfilm: 1374014. http://search.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/sse.dll?db=1910USCenIndex&h=9295177&indiv=try

[4] Year: 1940; Census Place: James, Saginaw, Michigan; Roll: T627_1811; Page: 9A; Enumeration District: 73-18.