Sunday, July 31, 2016

the Sunday Soapbox | Bad Genealogy

Gotta get this off my chest. Gotta.

Been seeing this on Ancestry since I started my quest to find Faulkner. I KNEW it was wrong. Doesn't make a lick of sense. Yet, here it is. Still being shared. Still being attached to Public Member Trees. Oh for crying out loud! Look at it! Seriously. 

Look at Samuel FAULKENDER. Says he was born in Pennsylvania. Says his son James was also born in Pennsylvania. One could surmise that Samuel lived his whole life in Pennsylvania. Which would also make William FAULKENDER of Wallkill, New York most  likely NOT his father.

The distance between Huntingdon Co., PA and Ulster Co., NY is almost 300 miles. That's about a 4 1/2 hour drive at 60 miles an hour. How long do you suppose it took by wagon? 

Samuel FAULKENDER (of the William FAULKENDER will abstract) was residing on a substantial piece of farmland in 1784. (It says so, right there in the abstract!) I suppose he COULD have migrated from Pennsylvania with his parents, grew up on 1000 acres of farmland in New York, sold off the land he inherited, then migrated back to Pennsylvania, where he married and had a son.

I suppose he COULD have.

But he didn't.

It would not have been hard, at all, to simply check the census records for Wallkill. It would have been more difficult, I guess, to consider that the surname might be incorrect. Or, hey, wait! That the guy in New York was NOT the father of the guy in Pennsylvania, just because they had the same surname! After all, the guy in New York did have a son named Samuel! What more proof do we need? 

It has been linked and "sourced" to at least 10 trees on Ancestry. Most recently June 2016. Even with my note attached stating it is not correct.

Bad genealogy hurts everyone. 
Question everything. 
At the very least, keep it to yourself until you are certain!

That is all. 

©Anne Faulkner -, All Rights Reserved.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Photo Friday :: Cousins!

This series was birthed from the large old photo album I rediscovered in the back of my closet. Many of the photos are from my grandmother's side of the family. There are also unknown photos that came with the album. Story goes my dad, an avid garage saler, picked up a celluloid covered Victorian era photo album on one of his scavenges. It already contained photos of an (as yet) unidentified family. My parents put our own vintage family photos in the album alongside the mystery family's.  As children we marveled at the old fashioned clothing and settings, often wondering who these people were and what their lives were like. Of course, we thought that ALL the people in the photos were our relations! It wasn't until my mom passed the album on to me after my dad died that I learned of the mystery family residing alongside our own!

I plan to share these photos over time, sometimes they will be my family, and identifiable, others will be of the mystery family. Thanks to the world wide web, they may find their way home yet!


I had to do a bit of genealogy to figure out this group. These are the grandchildren of my 4th great Aunt. Or my 2nd cousins 3x removed! From left to right we have Margaret Dicken (1), Cecil Laura Martin (2), Bess Dicken (4), Mary Martin (6), Burt Dicken (11) and Ralph Jenkins (14). Their grandparents are A B Dickens and Esther Ashby Dickens. The photo was taken in Washington IA c.1896.

Poor Ralph! Look at that outfit! Ralph was an only child ......
Burt, on the other hand, looks like trouble.

Have a great weekend!

©2016 Anne Faulkner -, All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Finding Faulkner: Part Ten | And The Heavens Opened Up

It started, as good quests always do, with a family tale. 

Confused. Irritated. Exasperated, even.

I had come so far. Traveled the long and winding road. Compass pointed to my True North. Or was it Ithaca? Or Brigadoon? Have the years of bleary-eyed research been for naught? Did I get just so close, only to be stonewalled, again?

Samuel Faulkner was NOT French ...... was he? And, God as my witness, who the heck was Helen Murray? Somebody got some 'splainin' to do.

The original intent of the quest had been two-pronged. To prove or disprove the family tale, that our family descended from a Scottish Faulkner who immigrated to the Colonies in the early 1700's. And to link the family to the mysterious will of William Faulkender, that I felt in my bones was that immigrant, but needed to prove.

Let's lay out the facts. It's the only sound way to look at this conundrum.

We don't have to go back too far. And, perhaps we should just eliminate both Elizabeth Wilkin and Helen Murray since they were noted in books with no supporting documentation. Certainly another avenue of research, but not empirical to Finding Faulkner.

  • Samuel Faulkner's wife was Elinor.
  • Samuel Faulkner's sons were David, Robert, James and John M.
  • Samuel Faulkner lived and died in Wallkill, New York. 
  • There was only ONE Samuel Faulkner (spelled Falkener) in Wallkill in 1790, 1800 and 1810. (There was NO Samuel Faulkner in Wallkill in 1820 - lining up with the 1811 date of death)
  • The only Faulkners (spelled Falkener) listed in Wallkill in 1790 were a James, a William and a Samuel.
  • William Faulkender's will (abstract) dated 1783 listed sons: James, William Jr and Samuel.

I know. At this point it looks like I've done it. Right? It all looks good on paper. It all seemingly lines up. How can William Faulkneder NOT be the father of my Samuel? It could be that easy. Just say it is so, say I proved it, and walk away.

But I didn't prove it. There was still the question of the last name. Faulkender vs. Falkener vs. Faulkner. And really linking the whole thing together. You know, wrapping it up. Bringing it home.

Now, I know spelling was quite random in the 1700's. Many people were illeritate. There were a number of different languages being spoken in a small land area. Wallkill residents spoke Dutch, English, Irish, Scottish and French. That's a lot of different accents, even if they all learned to speak English. Which circles back to my original theory. Say "Faulkner" in your best, thickest Scottish accent. Sounds a lot like Faulkender, doesn't it?

So, who actually wrote the will? The original one. Not the abstract. Was it William? Mary, his wife? A neighbor, or some town official? If it was William, he'd certainly know how to spell his surname. And teach his children how to spell it too.

I needed to find that will. The original. Dang it. I needed to get to Albany, New York.

Shelving the quest, yet again, I began to hatch a scheme to get myself to New York......

Then it happened.

Sometime mid-March 2016 (you'd think I'd remember the exact date, wouldn't you?) I decided to tool around on Ancestry and see if I could find something new. They had uploaded "New York, Wills and Probate Records, 1659-1999"  a few months earlier (I was between subscriptions at the time) and I wanted to take a peek. When I opened William's profile in  Ancestry there was a new hint! From the wills collection!

Hands sweating, I held my breath and clicked on the image.

Disappointment. Again.

It was merely the handwritten transcript. Cool, sure, but not THE will. Intrigued, I knew I needed to do a good search of the records on my own, a better way to dig up records, anyway.

But wait ..... what was this? Off to the right, in the "suggested records" box? Another listing in the "New York, Wills and Probate Records, 1659-1999" One for a William H Faulkender.

Two questions ran through my head, William had a middle name? And, why hadn't this hint showed up as well? 

Clicking on it opened the Heavens and rained down the song of the Angels. (well, maybe not, but that's how I remember it) It was THE will and probate packet. The ACTUAL packet. Eight glorious pages of original handwriting, signatures and all.

Along about page three of the packet, 'Alice's Restaurant' lyrics came drifting into my head. "and there, there on the other side, in the middle of the other side, away from everything else on the other side, in parentheses, capital letters, quotated, read the following words:"

There it was. The signature. Or, should I say, the lack of signature. William was illiterate! (How often do you get excited about something like that?) He signed with an "X". The will was written in the hand of James Caldwall, one of three witnesses. Oh, and it got better. The probate documents contained the signatures of the sons William, James and Samuel. They were not great spellers, but they could write. And guess what? Each man spelled his name differently!

William Faulkender "X" signature on will

Wm Faulkner, James Faulknor, Samuel Fau?lner signatures on probate documents

Notation - not an "H"
Additionally, only the body of the will proper contained the Faulkender spelling. The probate papers recorded William's last name as Faulkner. And "H" was not his middle initial. It was a notation used throughout the will at the end of a line of text - perhaps a fancy hyphen. Transcription error!

Barring the discovery of the actual land deed Samuel signed in 1807 (ha!), whereas to compare signatures, or a time machine (I wish!), I feel this is as good as it gets. There were no birth certificates, no family photographs in the 18th century. No paper trail, as we know today, to prove lineage. I feel (mostly) satisfied, for now, to say that I have found what I was looking for. I have found Faulkner. And concluded the quest on American shores. Perhaps one day I will be able to continue the quest in William's homeland, Scotland. And maybe even learn why and how he came to immigrate to the Colony of New York over 300 years ago.

And just exactly how the family name was spelled!

Looks like it's time for a new quest!

Friday, July 22, 2016

Photo Friday :: M A Potwin and Cyrus

This series was birthed from the large old photo album I rediscovered in the back of my closet. Many of the photos are from my grandmother's side of the family. There are also unknown photos that came with the album. Story goes my dad, an avid garage saler, picked up a celluloid covered Victorian era photo album on one of his scavenges. It already contained photos of an (as yet) unidentified family. My parents put our own vintage family photos in the album alongside the mystery family's.  As children we marveled at the old fashioned clothing and settings, often wondering who these people were and what their lives were like. Of course, we thought that ALL the people in the photos were our relations! It wasn't until my mom passed the album on to me after my dad died that I learned of the mystery family residing alongside our own!

I plan to share these photos over time, sometimes they will be my family, and identifiable, others will be of the mystery family. Thanks to the world wide web, they may find their way home yet!


This is Monroe Augustus Potwin c1895. On his lap is his young son Cyrus Burt Potwin .... and a cat!

Have a great weekend!

©Anne Faulkner -, All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Synchronicity? Happenstance? A Little Help From My Ghosts .....

 Yesterday morning, for no particular reason, I was thinking about my great-grandmother, the one I am named after. I got to wondering what she looked like as a young woman. I have one or two photos of her as an elderly woman, but that's all. I was wishing there was some way to make a photo "young", the way technology can make a person "age".


Random thoughts on a random day.

The thought left my head almost as quickly as it had appeared.

Later, I sat down to scan some photos for my new series Photo Friday. I had recently {re}discovered an old album my parents had put together. There are some real gems in it that I wanted to share.

In the back of the album was an envelope. An envelope I had not seen before. (Or perhaps simply overlooked?) In the envelope was THIS photo.

Holy ....... moly!

Why had I never, ever seen this before??

The photo is ragged, waterstained, faded - but quite possibly will claim a place in my Top Ten best finds.

Not only was this a photo of my great-grandmother, Anna, at about age 30, but (score!) a never before seen image of my 2nd great grandmother, Mary Dempsey! And, and, and siblings!! AND the back was labeled!

I can place this photo sometime around 1890, taken in Minnesota shortly after the family moved from New York. The whereabouts of Katie post-1880 had been a mystery, but here she is! The men? Why they are not labeled is odd, but I suspect they are Hugh O'Connell in the upper left, and little brother Thomas, they had both moved to Minnesota with 'Mother O'Connell' and the rest of the clan.

The synchronicity of it all did not dawn on me until this morning. I had planned to use this photo on Friday as my inaugural Photo Friday post when I was reminded of yesterday's thought. How odd, really, that scant hours after I was wondering about Anna I should find this photo? I'm sure I've thought of her before and wondered.

Maybe it has something to do with my decision to return to my "Why". Maybe it was the full moon? Maybe it was merely a coincidence, or maybe ........

©Anne Faulkner -, All Rights Reserved

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Field Notes: Returning To My "Why"

I started this blog as a way to document my family stories. To share my research and discoveries, my ancestors and their stories. I inherited a big box of research from my grandmother that I wanted to sort and document. Included in the box were old letters, photos, obituaries clipped from newspapers and my grandmother's own 'story'. I thought about the different approaches I could take. I ruled out the online family tree choices, I wanted more control and I wanted to tell a deeper story than trees allow. I pondered a family website but that didn't feel right either. I had blogged in the past and enjoyed the intimacy the platform allows. I did want an intimate connection. I was writing and researching people that had lived real lives, gone through real struggles and hardships. Experienced great joy and sorrow. Many left everything behind to answer the call of adventure, the possibilities of a better, more rewarding life. Others led quite lives, leaving nary a trace, never imagining their normal, day-to-day living would one day be thought upon as anything more than ordinary.

These people were calling to me. To be heard. To be found. To be remembered.

Soon, the glamorous world of genealogy blogging had pulled me away from my original intention. I was following the blogs of some of the big names in the field. I was reading what other's were writing. I joined groups, chat rooms, societies. I followed these darlings of genealogy on social media, subscribed to newsletters, got on everyone's email list. My mornings lapsed into afternoons as I struggled to keep up with the influx of information.

And, as you might imagine, I quit writing. I began to question my "silly little blog" and wondered if it mattered. I wasn't sharing tips, how-to's, 5 step plans or ebooks. And {gasp} I wasn't making money!! Apparently monetizing your blog was what you needed to do! Otherwise, why bother? (My husband would tend to agree with this school of thought.)

I spiraled into Loserville.

I kept myself busy sharing other people's blog posts on my Facebook page. I learned about affiliate marketing. I watched a ton of webinars. I started an email list, worked on some logos, pondered my brand. But I didn't write.

I began to observe that some of the notables I was following, by blog or by email, seemed to be just posting to post. How many times a day do I need to be informed about the newest records on Ancestry? Or My Heritage, or FindMyPast? I already get email updates from the "horse's mouth". It seemed any news, big or otherwise, in the genealogy community was picked up and blogged about. The latest DNA deal? Everybody was blogging about it! FamilySearch to be upgraded and offline for 24 hours? Wildfire.

I started to see the light. And, began to unsubscribe.

I knew I did not want to blog, just to have 'something out there'. Yes, I wanted a big following. (Don't we all want to be loved?) I wanted subscribers and comments on my posts, I eventually wanted to figure out how to earn a living doing this which I love to my core.

I love to research and I love to write. Yet, I was doing neither.

I was frustrated, a little angry, lost and uninspired. Ruminating on what direction I wanted to take, an email appeared that became the catalyst for my return to my 'why'. The author of the email is a blogger I admire. She had been going through a very similar experience. She was frustrated, burned out, and losing sight of her 'why'. As I read her declaration I wept. It resonated so deeply with how I was feeling, it was almost as if she were writing to me, personally.

In that moment I remembered my direction. My course had been corrected. My 'why' once again in sight.  

In the coming weeks I plan to introduce some new themes. I will be focusing on my ancestor's stories, my grandmother's letters and the photograph collection I have inherited. I will wrap up Finding Faulkner, explore my Mayflower and my Tidewater Virginia families. I will continue to document the 1880 Fraser family tree that hangs in my hallway. There are a great many stories that still need to be told, and once again I feel the call to write them.

As for the email list and the affiliate marketing, I'm still pondering the purpose and necessity of sending seperate email. If you'd like to receive the occasional email from me, please let me know in the comments. I will keep some affiliate links on the blog - if I can make a little money it will aid mightily in maintaining marital harmony. (Just keeping it real!)

Thanks for joining me on this grand adventure. I appreciate each and every one of you!


"Genealogy - the greatest hobby on Earth!"

©2016 Anne Faulkner -, All Rights Reserved

Sunday, July 10, 2016

the Sunday Soapbox | Weighing In On Those Shaking Leaves

Michael John Neill started it all with his post: Should You Leave the Leaves Alone? Randy Seaver answered with a post of his own: Shaky Leaves and All - Are They Useful? I've been thinking about this myself. I did a post a while back titled Ancestry Dot Com Made Me A Lazy Genealogist. There are benefits, to be sure, with the program-generated hints, but like most of genealogy itself - this is simply the tip of that iceberg!

I do look at the hints. I have found some useful, some redundant, some just flat-out wrong. I have been happier with the results I've gotten at Ancestry, than at MyHeritage or FindMyPast. For me, the MyHeritage hints have been a complete waste of my time. But that's me. I have heard other's tout the wonders they have found there. I've had a bit of success with FindMyPast - when I need to "jump the pond" their records have proved useful.

I have found some interesting documents that did not show up as hints, but DID show up when I reviewed a hint. Have you noticed, off to the right on Ancestry when you choose to review a hint, there is a box with other suggested hints? It is here I have made some good finds. Why didn't these hints show up to begin with? I don't have an answer for that.

My choice is to review the leaves and consider the hints that are being presented. I (gasp!) never just attach, willy-nilly, all hints that show up. So may are wrong. Or from questionable sources. In a perfect world I would love the ability to turn off not only tree hints on Ancestry (which is a given), but also millennium files, family data collections, US and international records, US and Canada, passenger and immigration list indexes, and all photos. That would leave a much narrower field of hints, but also a much more useful field of hints.

There are a lot of duplicate records across all the major players. It can get quite wearisome to sort through the same things times and time again.

I can see both sides to this. Using the hints, and only the hints, you will miss things. You are not performing a reasonably exhaustive search, by any means. Never using the hints adds a layer of challenge, but the results of doing a manual search may be more rewarding.

As for me, I chose to use the hints to confirm the basics, the bones of a timeline. Then I dig deeper with a manual search, across multiple databases, to ferret out the gems, the nuggets that only a deeper look will uncover.

It's never one and done.  And new records are being added all the time.

The hints are tools for me, sometimes they are sharp and work well, other times they are dull and need to be passed over. As Michael said: "Your mileage may vary."

How do you use hints? Do you find them useful, or do you leave them alone? Share your thoughts below.

©2016 Anne Faulkner -, All Rights Reserved

Friday, July 8, 2016

Finding Faulkner: Part Nine | A Pinhole Of Light

It started, as good quests always do, with a family tale. 

Patience hat firmly camped upon my head, I set my sights on Samuel. His children had gotten me nowhere. His wife, still a mystery. With no documentation to back up the claim in the Blue Book, I felt I had to entertain other possibilities.

I took another look at the land records, and reviewed the county boundary map. I platted the land using this deed platter tool. I was able to give a reasonably good guess as to the location of Samuel's land based on landmarks and other, more recent, maps of the area. I knew that the land was originally situated in Ulster County, that it was annexed to Orange County in 1798, and by 1809 when Sullivan County was carved out of another piece of Ulster County, Samuel's land lay right along that boundary. I mean right along. Time to venture into Sullivan County!

First, I supposed that Samuel may have died, or was buried, in Sullivan County and not Orange County. I combed FamilySearch and Ancestry. I was disappointed to quickly discover that Sullivan County probate records were not listed among the offerings, even the unindexed, image only records. Plan B. Or was it X by now? Nothing had been easy on this quest, why should now be any different!

I contacted the Sullivan County Historical/Genealogical Society, the search fee was a non-refundable $40.00. None of their records were online. IF I was in New York I could visit the museum where the records are housed and search to my heart's content. If.

Well, that wasn't happening any time soon.

I decided to look elsewhere first, not wanting to spend $40.00 on an imagined hunch, at this point.

Digging ever deeper, one crumb led to another .......

On the Town of Wallkill ("where happy babies are born") website I found a nice write-up on the town's history. There I read this on the subject of churches, particularly presbyterian churches (Samuel was a presbyterian, remember?): A fifth church was organized in 1799 in an area between the present Fair Oaks and Bloomingburg. the meeting house was known as "The Old Union House." Oh!  Looking up Bloomingburg(h), I learned that it is just, I mean JUST inside the county line of Sullivan County. A crumb!

Back in the OCGNY yahoo group, I asked about this church. And further stated I was seeking Samuel Faulkner.

The answer?

Samuel was a church elder in 1799! According to the History of Orange County book, page 460  (which I had not previously seen) the church was called Union Church at New Shawangunk. The book also says that "This church had a house of worship known as the "Old Union House", on the present Shearer place, near the Bloomingburgh Mills, The cemetery still indicates the site of the early meeting-house."

Another crumb!

Where next? Why Find A Grave, of course! Guess what!? There is a Bloomingburg Rural Cemetery! Exactly where it should be, just inside the county line. Oh, and it gets better ....... guess who's buried there? Yup. And next to him? Helen. Could easily be Elinor, right?

But I needed to be certain.

I emailed the memorial creator to find out more. Funny story. She was doing research on another family linked to the Bulls and discovered this cemetery. She befriended the cemetery record keeper, (the woman who lives across the street from the cemetery, I kid you not!) and started helping log the names on Find A Grave. She had no more information but did give be the record keepers info., suggesting I try contacting her.

I did. It was a hoot!

She acquired the records when she bought the house. They were stored in the basement. She thought about giving them to the historical society (she may have by now, this was back in 2013), but people kept stopping by and I guess she liked to help out. Anyway, she had no more information.

But I had another three names. Next to Samuel are buried Helen Faulkner, Margaret Faulkner Horton and Gabriel H Horton.

Another crumb!

The Horton family and I had crossed paths previously. They are also woven into the Bull family genealogy and are another founding family of the Wallkill area. Perhaps a stroll down the Horton path might prove illuminating, I thought.

Illuminating ........ and confusing! (because, why not)

I found Gabriel H Horton in the Horton Genealogy  book. Page 131 - 132. It was a sketch on Harrison Faulkner Horton, Gabriel and Margaret's son. The author goes on to throw a monkey wrench into all my research: "Margaret Faulkner, the mother of Harrison, was the daughter of Samuel Faulkner and Helen Murray, who were early inhabitants of Orange Co, NY, and pioneers in Wallkill Township. Samuel Faulkner was of French origin. (what!?!) His wife Helen Murray came from Scotland. Samuel Faulkner and his brother Col. William Faulkner were staunch Whigs in 1776."

Oh now, come on. Just come on. French? And now there's Helen Murray. What happened to Elizabeth Wilkin? The part about Samuel's brother was encouraging, that's what I suspected as well. And it does line up with the will of William Faulkender, the quest is still pointing in the right direction.

I take this new information with a grain (boulder) of salt, the book was not sourced. However, in the interest of getting it right, I will need to investigate further.

To be continued .........

Saturday, July 2, 2016

PATRIOT WEEK! A Roundup Of Patriots

Finishing off Patriot Week 2016 with a roster of Patriots I have in my family tree. Most were included on the DAR register for Patriotic Service. I have a lot of Quakers in my ancestry, living in the Colonies during the Revolution. Some make the list for their aiding of the troops or providing supplies. None fought.  Other ancestors have only slight mention, being listed as nothing more than "Private", length of service and other information unknown. Still others are not recognized DAR or SAR patriots, but I have begun to find documentation that they participated.

As I bring my Finding Faulkner series to a close, a new area of research has opened up with so many founding families in my lineage. I will focus next on these men, their families, and lives. I hope to have new, exciting information for next year's Patriot Week!

Today, July 2, is the anniversary of the day the resolution to sever ties with Brittan was approved.

"Resolved: That these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States, that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved."

John Adams imagined an America where this day would be celebrated forever more:

"The Second Day of July 1776, will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America.—I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more."

Well, we know that didn't happen - but to honor Mr. Adams vision, I will close with a roster of ordinary men, my ancestors, who participated in creating these united states we live in today; a democracy not a monarchy.

A Happy Independence Day to you all!

With thanks:
William Ashby (Maryland) 1744 - 1803
Samuel Beach (Connecticut) 1759 - UNK 
Oliver Burt (Massachusetts) 1738 - 1807
Samuel Faulkner (New York) 1740 - 1811
Jonathan Hays (Maryland) 1729 - 1793
Thomas Loveland (Connecticut) 1726 - 1811
Thomas Potwine Jr (Connecticut) 1756 - 1824
Thomas Terrell (Virginia) 1736 - 1804
Mathias Wisner (Maryland) 1745 - 1821

©2016 Anne Faulkner -, All Rights Reserved