31 March, 2014

DNA Comes To The Rescue!

The dilemma below is largely resolved, thanks to some dna detective work.

I had done a dna analysis with a while ago. Recently I uploaded the raw data to FamilyTreedna which is really cool. First, it offers access to a different pool of matches, so there are more people who share chromosome strands with me than just those on ancestry. Secondly, FamilyTree has some really awesome features. With those who have uploaded a family tree, you can click on their tree to see what possible ancestors you have in common. To make it easier, there's a search box where you can plug in a surname to see if it appears in their tree, then click on the results to view them. These are just some of the features of FamilyTree that make it worthwhile to test there, or to upload results from other tests to it.

Anyway, I was browsing through the family trees of those on my dna matching list. I noticed the name Ebenezer Humphrey of Hingham on two of them. Ebenezer was the father of Mary Humphrey who married.... you guessed it! Zerubbabel Hersey! One of these 2 members who had him on their tree shared other ancestors with me, but the other one had only that line in common with me, so I thought that bolstered my theory that Zerubbabel was in my direct line.

I shared this revelation with my brother David (who had done a lot of research on our family genealogy years ago and continues to be involved), and he dug out an old sketch of a family tree for the Herseys, made back in the 1800's.

Hersey Family Tree, created 1895
(this is just part of the tree, it's quite large!)

And he confirmed that on this old family tree, Zerubbabel Hersey appears as a great-grandfather of ours! Victory! And, in this case anyway, the dna data helped to confirm a theory. 

28 March, 2014

A Possible Hersey Breakthrough

Working on my maternal grandmother's side today, and I think I have made a breakthrough. We knew that Benjamin C Hersey (1802-1863) had married a Sarah, but did not know her last name, nor did we know the parents of Benjamin C. This couple was a dead-end in the Hersey family!

Hersey Family circa 1915
Doing a wide net search for Benjamin Herseys with sons Benjamin in Massachusetts, I came upon one from Hingham who had married a Sarah Punchard and had a son Benjamin at about the right time. But this was all according to another member's tree, there was no citation there to prove this couple were ever married. But, Sarah was from Salem, which is where our Benjamin C was born, so I dropped a note to the owner of the tree and asked how he knows that Benjamin and Sarah Punchard were a couple. Hope to hear back from him soon. 

I explored a bit further to find that Sarah's parents, Benjamin Punchard and Priscilla Beckford, were both born in Salem as well. Her husband Benjamin Hersey's parents were (are you ready?) Zerubbabel Hersey and Mary Humphrey. Zerubbabel! Who wouldn't want a great-grandfather with a name like that? So, then I was really rooting for this Benjamin to pan out. Then I took a closer look at Benjamin C's death record, which is posted on His parents are listed as Benjamin and Sarah OF HINGHAM! Woo hoo!! I may be on the right track with Zerubbabel after all! That still doesn't mean that Sarah Punchard was his wife, but the fact that Salem wasn't listed as where his parents were from isn't a detraction from the theory. There was only space on the form for one city name, so I'm sure they would have put the father's home town, Hingham.

We shall see what the other member has to say about Benjamin and Sarah. I hope he has some reason for putting them together. As for now, I have her plugged in on my tree on ancestry to see what hints might pop up. Will update soon! 

27 March, 2014


Starting this genealogy blog for three purposes:

1) to have a place to organize my thoughts and set goals, etc for my genealogical research
2) to provide information for others who may be researching the same lines and
3) to meet other amateur genealogists who may choose to contact me and/or follow my blog

My family history is mostly from England, Scotland, Ireland and Western Europe. My ancestors emigrated to Canada and Plymouth Colony and, later, the states of New York and New Jersey. I have several Mayflower ancestors, and plenty of fascinating characters on the many branches of my family tree.

I am primarily using for building my family tree online. My mother and brother had done a lot of research before I got into it, and that is also in hard copy format.

I tend to work in spurts, going full tilt for a few weeks at a time, and then perhaps not at all for a month or so. For this reason, this blog won't have regular posts, but I will attempt to keep up with it during the periods when I am actively working on my genealogy.  
                                                       Cape Cod, MA

SOO.... tonight I am working on a branch of the Thacher line on my mother's side. I'm trying to nail down  John Gray (1628-1674) and his supposed wife Hannah Lumpkin (1624-1717). Their son William Gray (1650-1723) married Rebecca Dillingham (1656-1723) and their daughter, Rebecca Gray married Samuel Berry Jr. There are some questions as to this line that I'm trying to firm up.

The problem is that Hannah Lumpkin is not listed with her parents and 2 sisters in the record of their voyage aboard the "Rose" to Plymouth in 1637. Was it an omission? Or was Hannah someone else's child? Problem is, I can't find any other Lumpkins who could be her parents. Could the surname be wrong and she was maybe not a Lumpkin? Most people seem to have her as Hannah Lumpkin, so my working theory is that she was accidentally left off the record of the family's voyage.

The other problem is that Hannah's mother is cited as being both Tamesin Constable and Tamesin Mayo. I imagine the answer to this contradiction can be found in a book reference somewhere, but I haven't looked too hard for that yet.

So, please follow my blog and feel free to message me at