Wesley Johnston's Family History Main Page
Oh, what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to conceive.


When it comes to the Olympics, I can cheer for just about any country, since I have either ancestors or relatives on every continent (though it has been a while since my Canadian relative lived for a while in Antarctica and allowed that claim to be made). My apologies to those family members who have provided me with updated information: just about every one of these web pages could be updated. But there are so many different lines that it is impossible for me to keep up to date with every one of them. But gradually, all that I have gathered is being incorporated into these pages and my trees on Ancestry.com which are my master copies.


Contents

My Family History Books
Click on a book to see it on Amazon.

Beware of blindly believing Ancestry.com member family trees. Click here for more information.
And be cautious about treating DNA ethnic origin estimates as facts and not estimates. Click here for more information.

DNA: Genetic Genealogy

In 1922, the Irish Civil War led to the destruction of the Public Record Office in Dublin. The records of generations were lost forever, leaving no hope for most of us with ancestors from Ireland of ever finding a documentary trail back to our ancestors. So many of us have turned to DNA testing to find our family history. While I have tested on all three of the major sites (Family Tree DNA, Ancestry, 23andMe), I find the communities/groups for Family Tree DNA to be far superior to the others. So if you have to choose just one, I recommend Family Tree DNA. I highly recommend that everyone interested in family history does as many of the DNA tests as they can afford.

  • My public trees While all of my trees inherently relate to DNA, one of my trees aims directly at identifying DNA descendants for possible testing.
    • Johns(t)on(e)s of 1852 Pickering Township (Ontario): This is on Ancestry as my Johns(t)on(e)s of 1852 Pickering Township tree. The web site is a publicly accessible site with a frozen snapshot taken every so often of the dynamic Ancestry tree. The goal is to see if these families are related. Since the Dublin Public Record Office was destroyed in the 1922 Irish civil war, the records of most if not all of these are lost forever. So this tree is also for the purpose of identifying living direct-Johnston-male-line descendants who might do the y-DNA test to see if we are all related.

  • DNA Estimates of Ethnic Origins Commercial advertising makes much of using your genealogical DNA results to estimate your ethnic origins. Be very cautious about treating DNA ethnic origin estimates as facts and not estimates. Click here for more information.

  • y-DNA y-chromosome DNA passes intact, except for occasional mutations, from father to son. So it is an excellent tool for finding relationships both in recent and ancient times. The estimated date at which you and a match share a Most Recent Common Ancestor (MRCA) can be calculated fairly well. My Johnston y-DNA is from Scotland via Ireland; my closest DNA match is from the Shanaghan Townland in County Down in Northern Ireland. I am in y-DNA haplogroup I-CTS2392. Cousin Cliff Johnston has done an excellent job of connecting about 90 of us in this haplogroup. y-DNA tests are done for different numbers of markers: 37, 67 and 111. (There used to be 12 and 25 marker tests, but these were mostly useless and a waste of money.) I very much recommend that you test at as a high a level as you can afford; the more markers you test the more solid your results will be. FTDNA allows you to start at one level and buy an upgrade to a higher level later, without having to submit another sample.
    • I administer the Butson y-DNA Project.
    • STRs
      • I want to include here the formula for Bill Howard's RCC (Revised Correlation Coefficient), which generates a single number from the comparison of the STR results of two men's y-DNA tests. (See Bill's first and second papers and a video. He also has a FAQ and a more recent paper on calibrating RCC with approximate dates of splits in phylogenetic trees. He has more papers. So here is a file with links to all of his papers.) The RCC is a transformation of the Correlation Coefficient (CC, which is the Excel CORREL function): RCC = ((1/CC)-1)*10000 (Mathematica tool)
      • "Surname Simultations, DNA, and Large-Descent Families" - by Dr. John S. Plant and Prof Richard E. Plant - Journal of One-Name Studies, July-September 2015 (MEGA tool) -- also valuable observation about parallel STR mutations in already-separated branches as a potential for flawed assumptions
    • SNPs and STRs
      I am looking at ways to combine the results for SNPs (and to understand how to use the BigY test results) and STRs. I am very much a novice at this. So here are some papers that I have found useful.

  • mtDNA Mitochondrial DNA passes intact, except for very rare mutations, from a mother to all of her children. So your mtDNA came from your mother, who received it from her mother, etc. My mtDNA is Czech, as far back as can be documented. I am in mtDNA haplogroup J1. mtDNA is the weakest form of DNA for relationships. It is useful for excluding relationships. It is also useful for ancient connections. The problem with an mtDNA match is that your common ancestor could be 4 generations ago or 400; there is no way to tell from the DNA alone if you match exactly.

  • atDNA Autosomal DNA is all the other 22 chromosomes, plus the x-chromosome. Family Tree DNA calls this their "Family Finder" test. You receive roughly half of your DNA from each parent, who received half from each of their parents. So atDNA is useful for finding matches with relatives back to about 6th cousins -- though I have seen a rare case where the documented MRCA was born in the 1670's. Since the DNA you receive is not exactly the same as the DNA your siblings received (unless you are identical twins), then it is entirely possible for your MRCA's DNA to have passed down to you and your matching cousin but for your brother or sister not to show a match with that cousin.
    • I have uploaded my atDNA to GEDMatch, which allows people who tested on any of the three major sites to compare results with each other. I have found some very significant matches via atDNA: even though documentation cannot be found to prove it, the DNA proves it.
    • Here is a link to my web page on "Stumbling My Way in Genome Mate Pro". I am now trying to keep track of the matches of 28 members of our extended family who have DNA-tested, and it is especially overwhelming with the massive amount of data associated with atDNA (e.g. this segment triangulates to inheritance from my Dutch 3rd great grandmother via these matches). So I am very much hoping that GMP will help (A LOT) with this. But it definitely has a learning curve.

  • DNA Identification of the World War II Unknowns As the Historian for the US 7th Armored Division Association, I have been very much involved in the efforts to finally bring to bear modern DNA technology and bring home to their families the 8,600 WWII dead buried as Unknowns in our overseas US Military Cemeteries. The families have waited 70 years and deserve closure, deserve to know that "No man left behind" is reality and not just an empty slogan, a hollow promise.

Canadian Ancestors

  • My public trees The web sites are a publicly accessible sites with a frozen snapshot taken every so often of the dynamic master version of each tree on Ancestry. The web pages below provide additional information. So don't just look at the links to the trees; look at the other links below as well.
    • Wesley Johnston's Celtic Roots Tree: This is on Ancestry as my Gray-Gibson-Johnston-Butson tree.
    • Johns(t)on(e)s of 1852 Pickering Township (Ontario): This is on Ancestry as my Johns(t)on(e)s of 1852 Pickering Township tree. The web site is a publicly accessible site with a frozen snapshot taken every so often of the dynamic Ancestry tree. The goal is to see if these families are related. Since the Dublin Public Record Office was destroyed in the 1922 Irish civil war, the records of most if not all of these are lost forever. So this tree is also for the purpose of identifying living direct-Johnston-male-line descendants who might do the y-DNA test to see if we are all related.
    • English Corners Project / Columbus (Ontario) Families: This is on Ancestry as my Columbus (Ontario) Families tree.
    • The Saint Blazey Families Project: This is on Ancestry as my St Blazey Families tree. Many of them came to Canada.
  • Johnston-Butson-Keam-Gibson Canadian History 1800's Timeline: my attempt to understand how the world looked to my Canadian ancestors as they participated in the birth of a nation (related Canadian surnames in the timeline: Wilson, Cook, Fitchett)
  • "From Cornwall to Canada in 1841": Begun in January 2006, this page contains the text of a 1903 account of the 1841 migration of 600 people from Cornwall to Canada, focusing on the sailing of the "Clio" from Padstow and the journey that led the Pedlar family to Oshawa, Ontario
  • Descendants of Christopher and John Gibson and of Thomas Johnston - Northern Ireland to Pickering, Ontario 1840's: Begun in June 2009, this page contains my attempt to trace all the descendants and find all the living descendants of these three related men.
  • The Search for Sarah, Wife of Henry Butson: Finding Sarah's maiden name (Harrison) and family was one of the two toughest nuts that I had yet to crack in my family history research. This web page summarizes what I know about her and what records I have researched. The page does not yet include the information that I found in 2012 that confirmed her maiden name and parents, Robert Harrison and Mary Lake.
  • The English Corners Project: Columbus, Ontario 1830-1860 Families : Begun in August 2009, to connect all the 1830-1860 families of the Columbus area that had family connections. both in Cornwall and in Canada.
  • St. Blazey Families - I am gradually working my way through the 1813-1835 (plus or minus a few years) parish registers of St. Blazey, Cornwall, putting them into a database/tree. See the Cornwall section below for the status or click the link to go to the web page about the project. Many of these same families also appear in my English Corners Project (see above).
  • I administer the Butson y-DNA Project.
  • Lake Family - Loyalists from New York and New Jersey: Both an incomplete documentary trail and an autosomal DNA match have pointed me back to my ancestor Mary Ward, daughter of Sarah Lake, who was born in Canada - probably at Ernestown - about 1801 or 1802. Mary Ward married Robert Harrison, and she was the mother of my 3rd great grandmother, Sarah (Harrison) Butson. We know these two generations (Sarah Harrison and Mary Ward) only through DNA and some circumstantial records. There are no documents that definitively prove these connections, but the DNA does. The Lake family were Loyalists who came to Ernestown from New York after the Revolutionary War.
    • Initially, when I thought Mary Ward's maiden name was Lake, I set up The Search for Records of Mary Lake web page to document what I knew about Mary and how I knew it, as well as some undocumented received information about the Lake family members who may have been her ancestors. I have NOT kept that page update as the DNA evidence has revealed that Mary "Lake" was really Mary Ward, daughter of Sarah Lake. But the page has useful information -- which I hope to someday update.
    • After a somewhat disorganized effort to gather more Lake related files, it became clear that I need a web page (with more web pages connected to it) to fully cover all of the Loyalist Lake family information that I have gathered. So click here to go to the main page for all of my Loyalist Lake family information.

The following allow direct search of Ontario online sources.


Cornish and English Ancestors

  • My public trees The web sites are a publicly accessible sites with a frozen snapshot taken every so often of the dynamic master version of each tree on Ancestry. The web pages below provide additional information. So don't just look at the links to the trees; look at the other links below as well.
  • Wesley Johnston's Celtic Roots Tree: This is on Ancestry as my Gray-Gibson-Johnston-Butson tree. The web site is a publicly accessible site with a frozen snapshot taken every so often of the dynamic Ancestry tree.
  • Early Butson Research -- The link is to the introductory page. These are a group of web pages that combine the research of John Butson and Wesley Johnston on early Butson family history. (Begun 16 April 2011.)
  • I no longer do the Butson Family Newsletter and am pleased that David Butson in Texas is now carrying it forward on the Butson.net web pages.
  • "From Cornwall to Canada in 1841": Begun in January 2006, this page contains the text of a 1903 account of the 1841 migration of 600 people from Cornwall to Canada, focusing on the sailing of the "Clio" from Padstow and the journey that led the Pedlar family to Oshawa, Ontario
  • The English Corners Project: Columbus, Ontario 1830-1860 Families : Begun in August 2009, to connect all the 1830-1860 families of the Columbus area that had family connections. both in Cornwall and in Canada.
  • St. Blazey Families - I am gradually working my way through the 1813-1835 (plus or minus a few years) parish registers of St. Blazey, Cornwall, putting them into a database/tree. The baptisms book (3 Jan 1813 - 1 Dec 1829) and marriage book (12 Apr 1813 - 25 Oct 1834) are now completed. The burial book is completed for 1813-1830 and still in progress. There are thus far 3,801 people in 914 families. Many of these same families also appear in my English Corners Project (see above under Canada).
  • I administer the Butson y-DNA Project.
  • My 5th cousin, once removed, John Butson wrote a "Song of Solomon" about my ancestor Solomon Butson (brother of John's 4th great grandfather). John dedicated the song both to Solomon Butson and to me. Click here for a video of John (with wife Carol playing the banjo off-camera) performing the song. (120MB MOD file) - NOTE: John took some poetic license with the sailing date in his song. Solomon Butson's family did NOT sail from Cornwall in 1841. They sailed either in 1840 (based on Cornish records) or 1839 (what the two surviving sons gave as their arrival date in the 1901 Canada census). But the 1841 date fit the rhyming pattern for the song, so that John used that date, which was the actual date on which 600 Cornishfolk did sail for Canada in 1841, coming to join the Butsons who were by then already in Canada.

Czech Ancestors

My immigrant Czech ancestors were named Koutecky, Marek, Nevole, Subert, and Wolf. Before that I have Czech ancestors named Franče, Malypeter, Liebzeit / Librcajt, Wolf, Hildman and more. All came from central Bohemia.

  • My Public Trees
    These are frozen snapshots of the master versions that I keep on Ancestry. I have many other web pages, listed below, which give further information or examine additional aspects. The public trees are simply the lineage-linked families. So do look at the additional links below.
  • Koutecky - Mine came from Modrejovice (Rakovník) but there is much more here.
    • Koutecky Families in America: This page gives a condensed overview, with two very significant maps and a great deal of information, of the Koutecky families of the United States and Canada.
    • Descendants of Peter Koutecky (Petr Koutecký): Follow this link to see his 10 children and his grandchildren. (Generations after that are omitted for privacy reasons, but he has at least 3 more generations of descendants now.) Peter's descendants are spread all across the U. S., originating from Chicago, where Peter settled and is buried. This site is out of date, and I am no longer updating it, since all the information is now included in my Koutecky Families in America public tree (see link above). But it does have a different perspective and is worth a look at the old site.
  • Nevole - Mine came from Čáslav - see my Subert-Nevole public tree at the link above
  • Marek and Wolf - Marek origin Mezoun; Wolf from Luzce (5 miles from Karlstejn castle) - see my Chicago's Grand Crossing Czech Community / Marek-Wolf public tree at the link above and also my Pre-1900 Czech Marek Families in Chicago public tree
    • Josef Marek & Marie Wolf Origins - They were from southwest of Prague, near Karlstejn Castle. Marie was born in Luzce. Josef's family was from Vysoky Ujezd and earlier from Mezoun. This page compiles what I have found about them and their children in Bohemia.
    • The Very Black Sheep of our Marek Family - Josef Marek's namesake grandson, the first child of his son Emil, viciously and brutally beat and tortured 78-year-old Joseph Osborne to death on October 20, 1915, at 78th and Woodlawn. And the younger Joseph was only 16 when he did this.
    • Pre-1900 Czech Marek families of Chicago - I am descended from Josef Marek (c 1820-30 Dec 1890) and Marie Wolf (c 1826-27 Apr 1896). There were many Marek families in Chicago before 1900, and this page is an attempt to find the connections that may have existed between them.
  • Subrt/Subert - Mine came from Trebiz to Hresice to Msecke Zehrovice
    • See my Subert-Nevole public tree at the link above
  • Chicago Czechs - see my Chicago's Grand Crossing Czech Community / Marek-Wolf public tree at the link above and also my Pre-1900 Czech Marek Families in Chicago public tree
    • Chicago's Grand Crossing Czech Community - This is a reconstruction (in slow progress in intermittent spurts) of the Czech community in Chicago's Grand Crossing neighborhood (key cross streets were 79th and Cottage Grove) that began in the 1890's. Work is still in the early stages, but there is much of value already.
    • Chicago "Duch Času" - Volume 5 - 21 Aug 1881 - 20 Aug 1882 - 150 dot-per-inch PDF file of the complete volume. - This was a weekly newspaper, with no advertising, published by the "Svornost" newspaper company, edited by August Geringer. The title means "Spirit of the Time", the same as the German word "Zeitgeist". Based on the subject matter, it rasied the reader's awareness of the leading thinkers of the period, regardless of country of origin. There are some Chicago-specific articles, but I do not know enough Czech to tell whether there is anything of local or family history information for Czech-Chicago.
    • Chicago Czech Midwives in 1900 - with all for the entire city and with the south side neighborhood midwives identified
  • Czech Record Research Aids
  • Czech Parish Register Indexes by House (and some names)
    While many Czech records are now online, there are no online computer-searchable indexes yet, although some records do have hand-written indexes in the volumes. When searching a parish's records, it is sometimes very hard to decipher the names. But if you can find even one of your names that you can read, then you can see in which house number the event took place and then search for other events in that house far more rapidly than you could by trying to read the names. Of course, this is an imperfect partial solution to searching the register, but when you want to find at least some of your family records, it can be extremely helpful and fast. I have laboriously gone through some of the parish registers in the following towns and made house indexes, some of which contain some names that I have been able to decipher.

Dutch Ancestors: I have 6 Dutch immigrant ancestors -- two families, in which both parents and their child who was my ancestor came to Michigan -- Holland and Grand Rapids.


German Ancestors: I have 4 German immigrant ancestors and at least 2 more that I am tracing through marital relations: Hesse-Kassel, Old Schaumburg (area SW of Hannover), and Mecklenburg-Pomerania.

  • My Public Trees The web sites are a publicly accessible sites with a frozen snapshot taken every so often of the dynamic master version of each tree on Ancestry. The web pages below provide additional information. So don't just look at the links to the trees; look at the other links below as well.
    • My Family Trees
      • Zurück in der Zeit (Back in Time) - These are my own German ancestral lines. This tree also contains the untangling of the Chicago Consoer/Konsoer families.
      • Faupel-Schultz - These are my step-father's ancestral lines (Schultz) and those of his first wife (Faupel). The Faupel line actually includes many non-German lines, including some who came on the Mayflower.
    • Possibly Related Families - There are many Chicago families that have the same surnames as mine but which I have not yet been able to determine whether they are connected to mine. Even if they are not, I need to be able to untagle them from mine, so that I need to know who they all are, so that I know which records belong to which families.

  • Hesse-Kassel to Hannover: My immigrant ancestor Adam Schaumburg was born at Großenenglis in 1846. During World War II, his grandson went within 12 miles of Großenenglis in 1945 -- 99 years later -- as a member of the U.S. 7th Armored Division and was a member of the first American squad to walk on the Edersee Dam. My immigrant ancestor August Gelis came from Deckbergen, and his wife Dorothee Hasemann came from Beckedorf. Their daughter Wilhelmina Gelis was born in Chicago in 1846 and married there with Adam Schaumburg.

    • The Archion.de Kirchenbuchportal has the Großenenglis baptisms for 1879-1911 (although labeled 1879-1999). Although Adam Schaumburg had already left by then, he had two sisters (Elise and Caroline Schaumburg) whose children and related families appear in these baptisms. Click here for a spreadsheet in which I list all of the relatives who I have thus far identified in the baptism book images. (main surnames: Schaumburg, Martin, Most, Griesel)

    • Here is my page on our Faupel / Vaupel and Schaumburg families, who came to America from towns only 38 miles apart in Hesse-Kassel, Germany (Grossenenglis and Niederjossa). The page also has information on ancestors from Old Schaumburg in Niedersachsen: Gelis of Deckbergen and Hasemann, Pape, Wulf, Meyer, Heine, Wilkening, Bartels, Hartman, Tielking, Auhagen, Ebeling from Beckedorf, Luedersfeld, and the surrounding area. NOTE: In the Großenenglis 1879-1911 Evangelisch baptisms (see prior bullet), there were two Vaupel children baptized.

  • Old Schaumburg: Here is a downloadable 93K ZIP file of Haseman and related Beckedorf/Luedersfeld family groups (that unzips to 1M file "Karen GF 015.gd3"). I created the file, using GreatFamily to create a graphical tree that separates out the various families and shows their multiple inter-relationships. The bulk of the information in this file comes from Karen Rowe and her outstanding web site on this region. Someday I hope to do a similar tree with the Probsthagen families from Kurt Hitzemann's outstanding web page of the Probsthegen records, since some of the families in Beckedorf/Luedersfeld came from nearby Probsthagen/Vornhagen. It turns out that the 419 people are in 8 so-far-unrelated groups, with a few stray individuals also. I have been trying to find some means of graphically showing the complex inter-relationships of these families that lived in the same area for centuries and are thus related to each other in many different ways. So far GreatFamily is the best thing I have found. You can download GreatFamily for free and then unzip this file and open it with GreatFamily to see and navigate the trees. It is not a lot of work to do, and it is worth the effort once you see the families laid out visually. FYI, GreatFamily does a fairly good default layout, but I find that it takes a couple of hours to properly untangle all the lines into a nice visual separation. So with my health limitations right now, I am not going to be doing these very often -- but the charts are worth the work, once you can see things so niceley.
    • Probsthagen: Kurt Hitzeman (we are 9th cousins) in Illinois has done a heroic job of transcribing and pulling together into families all of the Probsthagen church vital records from 1600 to 1870, a huge job that took him years of work. The most up-to-date version on the web is his text version (click here), and he also has a GEDCOM database (click here) based on an earlier version. It took me 7 years, but in 2008 I finally completed the up-to-date database of all families in Probsthagen and the surrounding towns within that parish ... and this is the "easy" work, so that you can imagine how much effort Kurt put in to do what he has done. I did this in Legacy, which I highly recommend. But the entire database is now downloadable as a GEDCOM file which can be imported into any family history software.
      Click here for the web page on the Families in Probsthagen GEDCOM database.

      I eventually plan to attempt to try to undertand the complex inter-relationships of the families over the centuries. I expect to use at least these different tools to do this:
      1. My own non-blood relationship search software (click here) and Legacy Family Tree's new non-blood relationship calculator (click here for Legacy)
      2. Legacy's Relationship Report (click here for Legacy) -- NOW DONE: See immediately below
      3. Great Family's complex graphical ancestral trees (click here for Great Family and see "Old Schaumburg" below)
      4. Blood-related spouses (requires that I write a visual basic program to do the analysis)

      #2 - Legacy's Relationship Report
      The Legacy Relationship Report shows everyone in the database who has a blood relationship to or is the spouse/co-parent of a blood relative of my 4th Great Grandfather, Johann Heinrich Hasemann (1782-1861). I have placed this Probsthagen Relationship Report in a PDF file (click here to see it -- you will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to read it). Note that in the PDF file, "wife" and "husband" include unmarried co-parents as well as married husbands and wives.

      The results are astonishing.

      • My 4th Great Grandfather, Johann Heinrich Hasemann (1782-1861), is blood-related to 1,696 people, 22.3% of the 7.609 people in the database.
      • If first-order non-blood relationships (wife or husband of blood relative) are included, then 2,272 (29.9%) are related to Johann Hinrich HASEMANN.

      I had expected a great deal of inter-relationship, but the reality is even greater than I had expected. Once I include the non-blood relationships (#1 on my list above), I would not be surprised to find that any one person is related to at least half of the others, on average. But that will have to wait.

    • Lindhorst: After completing the Probsthagen database, I am now working on a many-year project to enter Kurt Hitzeman's "Families in Lindhorst" records into a family history database, once again using Legacy, which I highly recommend. I hope that this project will not take me until 2015, but it very well might. So I am putting interim versions of the incomplete database (exported to a GEDCOM file) which can be downloaded and imported into any family history software.
      Click here for the web page on the Families in Lindhorst GEDCOM database.

    • Beckedorf: On January 1, 2009, I began the effort to create a rudimentary "Families in Beckedorf" list and family history database, once again using Legacy, which I highly recommend. There are significant limitationx to this project, but at least it has begun.
      Click here for the web page on the Families in Beckedorf list and GEDCOM database.

  • Mecklenburg-Pommerania
    • STAACK - The 10 siblings from Spantekow and Rebelow to Chicago and area Click here for my entry on the Ancestry.com STAACK board about my ancestor Fred Staack and his nine siblings. All were baptized at the parish church at Spantekow, in what is now the far northeast corner of Germany. I have traced almost all of them to Chicago and to Iroquois County, south of Chicago. And I was very surprised to find that the last two, my Fred and his sister Bertha, were brought to Chicago by their widowed mother, who I had not previously known had come to Chicago (I still don't know anything about her life and death in Chicago). I may eventually have my own web page on them, but for now I am using Ancestry's board. Be sure to read the updates and not just the original message, since I found more information after posting the original message.
    • STAACK Immigrants Spreadsheet The National Archives' Access to Archival Databases (AAD) web site has a pair of connected searchable online databases called "Data Files Relating to the Immigration of Germans to the United States, created, ca. 1977 - 2002, documenting the period 1850 - 1897". You have to search the names in one database and then use the manifest numbers found in that search to find the voyage in the other database. I have searched all of the STAACK / STAAK / STACK passengers and put them into a spreadsheet and then added the voyage information to each passenger, so that all of the information is in one place. Since it is a spreadsheet, it can easily be searched or sorted. So I made a worksheet in manifest number order and another worksheet in order of date of arrival. In both cases, I added a computed field to give the estimated birth year, and I also used horizontal borders to more easily distinguish the specific voyages (on the manifest) list and year of arrival (on the arrival date list). Click here to view and/or download the spreadsheet. In the spreadsheet, STAACK surnames are on white background, STACK on magenta and STAAK on yellow.
    • Kreis Anklam Church Record Images This is a web page that grew out of my own research trip to Greifswald and out of the Kreis Anklam Cousins Yahoo! Group, as a way of pooling the images that we have of records from Kreis Anklam churches.
    • Spantekow and Rebelow Videos On June 29, 2011, I visited Rebelow and Spantekow and made three videos. Click on the links below to see them (MP4 files). These are all large files, as indicated.
      • Driving through Rebelow (677MB): It was like going back in a time machine. The town does not seem to have changed much since they left in the 1880's.
      • Rebelow Cemetery Grave Stones (532MB): I am not sure when Rebelow came to have its own church, maybe about 1900. It is my understanding that they all went to the church in Spantekow. Rather than take still photos of each stone, it was faster to just walk through the cemetery with my flip video camera, though some stones may be harder to read. It was a balance of time and completeness and accuracy.
      • Spantekow Cemetery Grave Stones (1.2GB): The Spantekow cemetery is much larger than the Rebelow cemetery. (We were also able to go into the church, where there are three burial slabs in the aisle floor. I have still photos of those which I will eventually post.
    • Untangling the Chicago KONSOER / CONSOER families I am NOT a descendant of the Konsoer families of Chicago. But the immigrant mother of one of the families was Wilhelmine Caroline STAACK, sister of my ancestor Fred STAACK. They were two of ten siblings, of whom at least six came from Spantekow to Chicago. There were at least two KONSOER families in Chicago -- and they had an inter-marriage to complicate things further. So this web page is intended to present my findings on untangling these two different Chicago Konsoer families.

  • Chicago German Records
    • In September 2012 and October 2013, I digitized about 43,000 images (actually about 45,000 but about 2,000 had to be redone) of Chicago German church and cemetery records. Click here to see the web page where all these images can be seen.


Scottish and Scots-Irish Ancestors

My Johnston and Gray ancestors and related Gibsons were Scots-Irish who came to Pickering Township, Ontario County, Ontario, Canada from Northern Ireland (Ulster) in the 1840's. Due to the destruction of the Dublin Public Record Office in the 1922 Irish civil war, a great many of the public records of Ireland were lost forever. So I have not yet been able to trace them back from Canada to records in Ireland.

The only clue that I have is that James Gibson's 8 Sep 1870 marriage record in Pickering Township (Ontario County) gives his birthplace as Armagh, Ireland (apparently about 1839-1840). I had an exhaustive search done of all surviving Armagh registers, but no record of the Gibson family was found.

I have had Y-chromosome DNA testing done, in hopes that I might be able to link up with relatives in that way, since the paper trail is gone. The DNA yielded a 36/37 match (64/67) to a family known to have come from Shannaghan townland in County Down - not far from the border of County Armagh. The results for this match at 111 markers are still pending. But I also have matched 103/111, 102/111, and 101/111, for those Johnstons originating in Scotland in the area of Moffat, Wamphray, and Poldean. Since I have no solid documentation in Northern Ireland or Scotland, I have to go with the documentation of my DNA matches.

Here are related web pages.

  • Wesley Johnston's Celtic Roots Tree: This is on Ancestry as my Gray-Gibson-Johnston-Butson tree. The web site is a publicly accessible site with a frozen snapshot taken every so often of the dynamic Ancestry tree.
  • Johns(t)on(e)s of 1852 Pickering Township (Ontario): This is on Ancestry as my Johns(t)on(e)s of 1852 Pickering Township tree. The web site is a publicly accessible site with a frozen snapshot taken every so often of the dynamic Ancestry tree. The goal is to see if these families are related. Since the Dublin Public Record Office was destroyed in the 1922 Irish civil war, the records of most if not all of these are lost forever. So this tree is also for the purpose of identifying living direct-Johnston-male-line descendants who might do the y-DNA test to see if we are all related.
  • Johnstons of Shannaghan, County Down, Northern Ireland
  • Johnston-e-Memorial-Inscriptions-in-Dumfriesshire.pdf: This is a 379 page PDF file of a document annotated by Cliff Johnston. The legend for the color highlights is:
    • Yellow: Died on Scottish soil
    • Blue: Died other than on Scottish soil
    • Green: Something of interest
    • Grey: Died in war

Mexican Relatives' Ancestry

The Mexican records that I have seen are among the best in the world for genealogical research, for example baptisms giving not only the mother's maiden name but the grandparents' names, including the grandmothers' maiden names.

I was very quickly able to trace back so many lines so far that it became overwhelming in such a short time. I have a great deal in two trees on Ancestry.com but have yet to figure out the best way to present it here. So for now, here are the links to the two Ancestry.com trees for those of you who have Ancestry accounts. These families converged in Chicago in the 1940's.


Lebanese Relatives' Ancestry

Working in Arabic records certainly is a challenge, which has required extensive help. The Dedde Families Project has been quite challenging and yet also a reminder of just how much the people who lived in a small town lived within the richly woven fabric of generations of inter-connections, which they knew without documents. Genealogic DNA is an important part of this effort.


Cambodian-Laotian-Chinese Relatives' Ancestry

All of what I have been able to gather of these relatives' ancestry is relatively little, due to the death and destruction (including intentional destruction of records) in the time known to most Americans via the Academy Award-winning movie "The Killing Fields". Genealogical DNA is an important part of this effort.

  • Families: What I have gathered is included in my Celtic Roots Tree, where most of the people recorded are still living and thus not shown by name in the tree.
  • Mai Bunla has written a very important book "Shoulders to Freedom: A Cambodian Diaspora Memoir" about her family's escape from the Khmer Rouge, which includes important historical information about the family in Laos before coming to Cambodia.

Navajo Relatives' Ancestry

My Cornish 4th great grandmother was Jane Keam (1792-1874) from Luxulyan. Her ancestral line traces back to St. Mewan, where the line of Thomas Varker Keam (1842-1904) also traces. The St. Mewan records do not go back quite far enough to document the connection of the two lines, but if my conclusion from the current evidence is correct, Jane Keam was the 3rd cousin, 3 generations removed, of Thomas Varker Keam.

Thomas Varker Keam came to San Francisco, where in 1862 he joined the 1st Cavalry of the California Volunteers in the U. S. Civil War. The unit spent most of the war in New Mexico, which is where TVK chose to settle after the war. He eventually married a Navajo woman and established a trading post at what is now Keams Canyon, Arizona. His extensive Navajo collection at the Royal Cornwall Museum was my first awareness of him (in 1981) and of his Navajo connection. In tracing many different lines of Keam descendants, he is the most famous. And tracing his descendants has led to a significant effort in the records of the Navajo people.

  • TVK's descendants: What I have gathered is included in my Celtic Roots Tree.
  • Dr. Laura Graves' 1998 biography "Thomas Varker Keam: Indian Trader" is a very well researched book, which is must-reading for anyone working on his life and family. (There is also a 2015 paperback edition.)
  • Click here for my web page about the Navajo research that I have done, including access to records that I have gathered and analytical compilations that I have made.

Genealogical Computing Topics

I have worked with computers since 1963, retiring in 2003 from a Dow 30 company. I have been a computer programmer, a systems analyst, a database analyst, and an artificial intelligence expert -- all at industrial strength level. So I have a vast amount of experience with computing.

Relationship Searches: Blood and Non-Blood

I applied this expertise to genealogy in the earliest days of genealogical computing, writing articles for "Genealogical Computing" magazine over the years, with two in particular that focused on database search, from ideas that I first had in 1965:

  • May 1984: Blood Relationship Searches in Genealogical Databases
  • July 2003: Non-blood Relationship Searches
    • Click here for a link to the article on Ancestry.com's "Genealogical Computing" archive. (Ancestry bought GC after my 1984 article. So Ancestry does not have the earliest issues in their archive.)
    • Click here to see the downloadable program and instructions associated with my article, although these are now obsolete since after my article all of the top genealogical database software products now include both blood and non-blood relationship searches.
I am not claiming that my articles were what the commercial products implemented. But my articles demonstrated -- at a time when such searches did not exist in commercial products -- how easily such searches could be written in a manner that ran very fast and efficiently. So I definitely raised the bar. And I am glad to say that the products took up the challenge.

Re-designing GEDCOM

I am particularly distressed by the failure of the genealogical computing community to deal with the complete re-design of the GEDCOM database format. GEDCOM is really two things in one:

  1. It is a database design.
  2. And it is a means of transferring databases, preferably without loss of information, either to another database of one's own or of someone else or to create a web page.

The second aspect really depends on the first: the design of the database is the most fundamental aspect of GEDCOM.

The reality is that the database design of GEDCOM is based on the limitations of the technology of the early 1980's -- almost 30 years ago. The resulting design sacrificed the principles of good database design (especially third normal form) in order to make things work within the limits of the technology of that time. We all did our database designs that way in those days: we had to live within the limits of the technology, or our systems would not work, no matter how perfectly their design followed good database design principles. So we de-normalized and made things work. Various commercial genealogical computing products have added features on top of the GEDCOM design, but the fundamental flaws of the underlying GEDCOM design doom any on-going add-on efforts to frustration and also violate the transferability of the information that is the second goal of GEDCOM.

But that was then and this is now. Those days and their severe technological limitations are gone. And yet we are still using essentially the GEDCOM database design that was developed for the technology of the 1980's. And we are paying for it in ways that we should no longer have to. Until there is a fundamental redesign of the GEDCOM database structure, we will continue to be unable to exploit modern technology fully for what it can do for genealogical computing, and we will continue to be unable to share our databases fully, without significant loss of information, especially of added media.

So I have put together a web page that addresses the topic in detail. Click here to see my GEDCOM redesign web page.

Fall 2011 addendum: I have begun contributing to the Better GEDCOM project, which I hope will become the independent standards body for GEDCOM and all things related to it (e.g. standardized place name hierarchies over the course of time, standardized handling of fuzzy dates, etc.). So I am no longer going to add to my own web page.


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Last updated January 31, 2017 - Add Lake Family Records link
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