Saturday, January 2, 2010

Top 5 Family Tree Discoveries of 2009

5. I always knew that my great-great grandfather Casper came over from Germany around 1870. What I did NOT know was that apparently, Casper was the illegitimate child of a wealthy German man and his maid. Casper was forced to sleep in the barn, was never acknowledged, and oddly enough, never received a last name. When he moved to America, he took the name of one of his carpentry tools as his last name - Maul.

4. Casper, evidently, could be pretty abusive. I think it was all that neglect as a kid in Germany and having daddy issues. One time, when he was trying to hit his wife, his daughter (my great-grandmother) stood up to him and smacked him in the head with a frying pan. She was quite the firecracker. She also was active in women's suffrage!

3. The word around the Kelly family tree was that my grandmother's grandfather was born in a tent in the midst of the Civil War. All this time, we never knew who his parents were. Not only did I find out that his father was James O'Boyle from Ireland, but I also found out that he lived in Philadelphia with his family until the war, then moved to Maryland to fight for the confederacy, then moved back to Philadelphia! Cue the white guilt.

2. John Kelly and Helen Davis got married in Philadelphia in 1882 and had two sons - Martin and William (my great-grandfather). We can't find anything else out about them and they're the ones we need so that we can prove our paternal link to Ireland. What I did find out is why they're so hard to track down. When their sons were probably both under 7 years old, John and Helen died within a very short time of each other and the boys went to live with unknown friends or relatives. We cannot find them in any census records.

1. I traced my father's mother's line all the way back to 1570, including specific birth, death and marriage dates. They all come from Weil im Schoenbuch, Germany and I bet there are some Brennenstuhls still living there!

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