My Forty-Sixth Birthday Anniversary, 15 November 2018

Today is Saturday, 16 November 2018, and I started the morning off with some cartoons Bela wanted to watch (“Camp Lakebottom” and “Rabbids”), followed by some reading from “James Island, Stories From Slave Descendants” by Eugene Frazier Sr. (Charleston, SC, History Press: 2006), some writing, a bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios, and black coffee with sugar. I started watching a good old 1970s horror movie from Dario Argento, “Deep Red” (translated from Italian, 1975).

Soon Bela and I are off on another adventure to continue celebrating life. I’ve reached another birthday anniversary, my 46th year! Happy Birthday to me!

My parents had both just reached their 46th year twenty-six years ago, when I reached the age of twenty. My father reached 46 first on 14 September 1992. My mother reached 46 in 15 October 1992. I reached 20 on 15 November 1992.

My father, Jim, and his second wife Georgia had been married for ten years. They were raising two daughters, Carol Strietman (Rivers) Lattouf (1987, 5) and Sarah Seal (Rivers) Smith (1989, 3) in Leland, Michigan, Leelanau County, near Traverse City. They had left their home of Marblehead, Massachusetts two years before, where Jim had been working for maybe two or three years as Vice-President of an investment management firm called Prospect, in Boston. Before taking the job at Prospect Jim worked for Putnam (Boston) for almost twenty-five years.

My mother and I lived in a house near Charlottesville, Virginia, in Albemarle County, over by the Rivanna Reservoir. I had been back from my year at music school in Hollywood, California for a little over a year. I worked in the Fashion Square Mall in a retail music store called Sam Goody, part of a chain of stores owned by the Musicland Group. I taught private guitar lessons to a few students. I had taken a few courses at Piedmont Virginia Community College. I was dating a girl named Misty Childers. In four months I would make my move to Columbus, Ohio.

And so it was about 26 years ago, when I was 20 years old, when I made my home in Columbus. That’s more than half of my life so far.

Founding of Falling Creek Baptist Church, Lake City, Florida, 1859

In 1859 Mr. Thomas Manker gave two acres of his land for a cemetery and a small log church which became known as Falling Creek Baptist Church. At the time the Village of Alligator was nearby in what is now known as Lake City in Columbia County, and that area was in Suwannee County. He built the church himself, perhaps with some help from other members of the community. The structure he built was used until the church became defunct near 1872. The first and only pastor of Falling Creek Baptist Church was Reverend Kinsey Chambers from around 1859 until 1872.

Project Update: Captain Robert Rivers II (1677-1742)

My method is pretty basic. I prefer to work on my tree from what I know to what I can prove from documentation to what I can presume from documented facts I uncover myself to what I speculate from what I know. However, it’s not always a straight linear method like it sounds. Sometimes it is helpful to consider the work of other researchers or the personal knowledge of informants, such as cousins, other relatives, associates of relatives and ancestors, historians, or knowledgeable elders while doing my own work. It can be really helpful because sometimes it allows me to steer myself, going from pieces of knowledge I didn’t have before, finding and collecting the documented facts that support that knowledge, and then going from there. Sometimes I’ve found myself stuck. Having a solid network of fellow researchers and informants is essential to doing genealogical research, and I imagine it is essential in doing research for books, films, news stories, and other pursuits, as well.

I started entering data on Captain Robert Rivers II, my seventh great grand uncle, after learning that a cousin of mine, we’ll call her Lagertha, is a living descendant of him. Exciting! Capt. Robert (“Master Mariner”, as he is often titled) was the half-brother of my seventh great grandfather George Rivers, Sr. I wanted to add Lagertha to my tree on Ancestry, so I started with Capt. Robert and went on down the line to Lagertha.

Lagertha had shared with me a screenshot of a page from her mother’s tree on Ancestry that diagrammed her relationship to Capt. Robert on through his descendants.

Also, using Joseph D. Rivers Pedigree Chart #1 I can use the screenshot that Lagertha shared to guide me through all the names to clarify the line to which she belongs.

Robert Rivers I, my eighth great grandfather, had at least two sons from two different marriages. Captain Robert Rivers II and George Rivers, Sr. were half-brothers.

Robert I was the son of Lt. John Rivers, IV, my ninth great grandfather.

DescendantChartLtJohnRiversIVp1

Robert I’s siblings included William Rivers, Daniel Rivers, John Rivers, and Nehemiah Rivers.

Four of the Five Children of Lt. John Rivers IV and Ann (Newman) Rivers, including Robert Rivers I, my eighth great grandfather, father of Capt. Robert Rivers II, Master Mariner and George Rivers, Sr., both of James Island, South Carolina

Two Children (From two different marriages) of Robert Rivers I, Capt. Robert Rivers II and George Rivers, Sr.

Robert I was probably born on Bermuda, where his parents settled and where the four other brothers of his I know about were born also.

Captain Robert Rivers II, Robert I’s first son as far as I know, named one of his sons Mallory, which was the family name of his Uncle William’s wife, Elizabeth. William was the first Rivers on James Island and one of his daughters married a man from the Stanyarne family and they had a son named Rivers Stanyarne. But as you’ll later read Capt. Robert married a Mallory woman. We’ll see. Joseph D. did not add that into his charts, which is a little odd if it’s documented.

The Capt. Robert Rivers II, Master Mariner line of the Rivers family is the line that produced Capt. Elias Lynch Rivers, Lucius Mendel Rivers, John Laroche Rivers, and many other prominent Rivers family individuals and families. I had not worked on this line as much because I descend from his half-brother’s line, George Rivers, Sr., who was born I believe about thirty years after Robert was born. Capt. Robert was old enough to be George’s father and Robert I, his grandfather. Nevertheless, George Rivers, Sr. was a grandchild of Lt. John Rivers IV and Ann (Newman) Rivers also, and although I do not descend from Capt. Robert II Lagertha and I both share common ancestors beginning with Robert Rivers I, my eighth great grandfather and her eighth great grandfather, I believe, as well as son to Lt. John IV, my ninth great grandfather.

Another woman who I started chatting with on Facebook, we’ll call her Polly, more recently who is also a cousin related to Cousin Lagertha revealed that she and Polly “both descend from Amelia Rivers and William Brown” and that her great grandfather and our other cousin’s grandfather were brothers. Polly also told me that Lagertha’s grandmother was a Rivers cousin as well.

Both cousins also shared information I did not have about the spouse of my eighth great grand uncle (Captain Robert). I didn’t even know her name, Keziah (Mallory) Rivers (1689-1739), born in Bermuda, died in Charleston, South Carolina. She married Capt. Robert in 1710, when she was either twenty or twenty-one. Her groom was thirty-two or thirty-three, which signals to me that Keziah probably was not his first wife. According to Polly the marriage of Capt. Robert and Keziah produced two children.

So now I’m excited to hopefully have the chance to examine the research of Lagertha and Polly so that I may fill in the details of the descending lines from our common ancestors to these two cousins of mine and fellow family history enthusiasts.

Children of Lewis William and Susan Amanda Walston Rivers, My Great Great Great Grandparents

Today I started getting back into my family history research and genealogy work by looking at the children of my third great grandparents, Lewis and Susan Rivers, and recording facts about them into my Ancestry family tree and into virtual cemeteries on Find-A-Grave.

Why did I start here?

Lewis and Susan, if I go backwards in generations from myself to my parents, to my paternal grandparents, to my paternal great grandparents, to my paternal second great grandparents, were the first generation to have more than two children for which I don’t already have a good amount of information recorded. I’m an only child of my parents. My dad was one of three children. My grandfather was one of two sons. My great grandfather was one of two sons. But my great great grandfather, Dewitt Oscar Rivers, was one of nine sons!

I started with David Gillum Rivers, the oldest of the children of Lewis and Susan. He was born in 1858 and died in 1937. He married Mary Elizabeth “Lizzie” Hancock and they had seven children. I’ve been looking them up in census, marriage, death, birth, burial, and residential records, and adding data to my family tree on Ancestry.

It’s been a day of uncovering bones in a bulldozed pit using only a toothbrush and a whole lot of patience.

The Gifts DNA Testing Can Bring

Ancestry.com

Ancestry.com

It’s been about thirteen years ago when an old friend of mine looked me up on Facebook and in reconnecting with each other I discovered one of my greatest passions: unpuzzling my family history. My friend built a family tree for me on Ancestry and it was incredible to go through it. I was amazed at all she had uncovered, all from entering in a small bit of information here and there and pointing and clicking with the mouse. Seeing all the different names and the different branches and lines of the tree, seeing all the locations where my ancestors and relatives had been, and seeing actual images of documents and photos and maps started a fire inside me. I had to have my own subscription to Ancestry and I had to learn how genealogist use evidence to make the claims that they do. Some of the claims made in my tree were really hard to believe and I had to find out for myself.

So in 2006 I started learning how genealogists look at primary and secondary and tertiary sources to identify facts that can be used to rule out certain possibilities and support others. I started up my own family tree doing what professionals do, and I looked at documents, mostly images of documents that were scanned and uploaded to the internet. I looked at documents created by researchers who used primary sources in their research. I also looked at documents created by researchers who used secondary sources for their research. It’s been a fascinating journey but it’s been a journey of small steps, and one with lots of breaks in between.

FTDNA Logo

FTDNA Logo

After several years I was able to delve into genetic genealogy when I was able to have my DNA tested. I used a company called FTDNA and they provided a great number of services for genealogists to be able to use their genetic test results to compare and match with other test results and connect with other researchers and relatives.

 

Through FTDNA I’ve been able to learn about my Haplogroup for Deep Ancestry research, learning about ancestors who existed on this planet long before the origins of civilization, long before humans settled down to plant, long before the origins of written human languages, long before the origins of spoken human languages. I’ve also met plenty of cousins through FTDNA, fellow family history fans and researchers.

After a few years of toying around on FTDNA, looking at GEDMatch, Y-Search (which is, sadly, no longer online), Mito-Search (also, sadly, no longer online), and various DNA projects, I had a much more interesting experience.

 

AncestryDNA logo

AncestryDNA logo

About two years ago a man contacted me who claimed to be related to me according to genetic testing, and he had done his testing through Ancestry, which didn’t exist when I had my DNA tested. This man didn’t know how we were related, but his DNA profile told him we were a match.

 

Soon after this “cousin” explained that he was also related to a woman who I had already met through Ancestry, another cousin, so this indicated we shared a common cousin. I was related to this woman through my mother. She is either the Great granddaughter or the granddaughter of my mother’s mother’s mother, my great grandmother. I knew and still know very little about my great grandmother or this line (my mother’s maternal line).

So I learned a bit about my great grandmother, the mother of my grandmother who I was very fortunate to get to be around quite a bit, especially after I moved close to her right before I started high school. I learned about my great grandmother from my new cousin, the female cousin, who knew my mother, my grandmother, my great grandmother,  and my great grandmother’s sister, who was this cousin’s grandmother, I believe. My cousin also knew the mother of our great grandmothers, our great great grandmother.

The male cousin who contacted me also contacted my female cousin, but none of us really knew exactly how we were related. I figured it had to be through my mother’s mother’s line because of the connection with my female cousin. What it turned out to be was far more amazing.

I started asking more questions of this new cousin — where was he living, was he married, kids, what was his age, what was his occupation, what were his hobbies? I learned that he was in his early 50s. He lived in Connecticut. He was married. No children. He worked with grants for organizations, a financial job. He played guitar in jazz combos professionally. He liked to cook. I also learned he was adopted.

This new cousin of mine was adopted, and his parents, after he reached a certain age, told him about his biological mother and gave him the name of the “home for unwed mothers” where she gave him up for adoption. He went on a search, and part of that search involved having his DNA tested and attempting to contact his matches, like he did with me.

I looked at photos of my new cousin. I saw him with his guitars. I saw him in a kitchen, sautéing something on the stove. I pondered his age and figured out his birth year and possible time when his mother would have known she was pregnant. I thought about myself: I love music and love playing guitar. archtopjazzguitar.jpgI love to cook and have worked in restaurants nearly all my life. In his photos it seemed to me he looked like my grandfather, Simmie, who I didn’t really get to know because he wasn’t around much when I was a child and died before I reached the age of eight. I thought: what if he was the son of my grandfather with another woman? He was married five times. But some things didn’t fit.

My cousin and I discussed our searches through messages, and I was flipping through photos. I started pulling up photos of my uncle, my mother’s brother, Simmie’s only son that I knew of. Donnie was beloved by my mother. She thought of and spoke of him often in her life. Before my parents were married Donnie was killed in a horrible car accident in his MG.

I looked at the photos of Donnie and the photos of my new cousin. I thought about Donnie’s age before he died and noticed that my new cousin was born before or around the time Donnie died. Donnie was a musician too, according to my mother. He played drums real well. And it seemed to me that my new cousin looked even more like my Uncle Donnie than he looked like Grandpa Simmie. I sent my cousin photos of Donnie and shared my suspicions after he took a look at them and said “That is my father!”

Well, soon after this conversation my new cousin had introduced himself to many other family members on my mother’s side through Facebook friends I assume he found through my page. And soon we both learned from Simmie’s sister as well as his second wife that Donnie did, indeed, father a child before he died. The child’s mother was sent away to that “home”, gave birth, and had to move on. We now had her name and heard the whole story. I had no idea that Donnie had fathered a child. My mother never told me. My aunts never told me. None of my cousins ever told me, and I don’t think they knew about our cousin.

DNA testing had (“re”?)connected me with the son of my Uncle Donnie. DNA testing had (“re”?)connected my new cousin with family he didn’t ever really know for sure he ever had. He eventually met our other DNA cousin on my mom’s side. He even eventually found and met his biological mother and then was happy to meet his newly found biological sisters, daughters of his own mother. It’s truly an amazing gift that this technology brought to all of us: the gift of knowing who we are after knowing where we came from and the gift of knowing our family and our pasts.

Now this, of course, is a special outcome of DNA testing. Not everyone can have their DNA tested and immediately discover lost worlds like our new cousin did. However, what are you missing out on by waiting to have your DNA tested or deciding it’s not that important or just putting it off as something silly or extravagant or a waste of time? Other than the cost of having your DNA tested, or perhaps you are worried about security and privacy, what is it that concerns you?

I’m curious to know.

R1a1a/R-M512, My Y-DNA Haplogroup

Although I have found genetic genealogy to be interesting and enriching I use a much different approach with the use of DNA testing than with standard and traditional genealogy, using paper and digital image documentation. Genetic genealogy, using the science and technology behind DNA collection and analysis, looks at deep ancestry over tens of thousands, sometimes millions or billions of years, while standard and traditional genealogy looks at ancestry over generations of people, over hundreds of years, sometimes several hundred years, and even, in some rare cases, sometimes thousands of years. Continue reading