14 November, 2016

Back to Salem and Marblehead

While researching my disputed Valpey line, which I first wrote about here, I came across an organization that I wasn't aware of. It is called the ADEAW, or Associated Daughters of Early American Witches. Since it is my belief that my
Marblehead, MA - Old Postcard
ancestor, Elizabeth Valpey (b abt 1761), was a direct descendant of Elizabeth Carrington Paine (b 1639), accused witch, I was immediately intrigued and wondered if I could come up with enough documentation to prove my lineage to her and join the association. What a cool association to belong to!


I've already struggled mightily with the Valpey/Valpy/Walpee connection, but figured I'd give it another go. I started with my assumption that Elizabeth Valpey, mother of Nancy Lilley (or Lillie), was the daughter of Abraham Valpey (b 1737) and Lydia Clough. However, going back over it, I cannot figure out how I settled on this, since I don't have any original records to indicate that the Valpey couple even had a daughter Elizabeth. The only daughter I can find records for is Lydia. (This is where it's a good thing to keep research notes!)

I concluded that I must have gotten the Elizabeth Valpey daughter based on three or four other trees on  ancestry who list this daughter. However, when I checked those trees, they had no documents to support a daughter Elizabeth. I took another look at the family of Abraham Valpey, supposed father of Elizabeth, and found that one of his brothers, Benjamin, DID have a daughter Elizabeth. At least ..... I think he did.

The records are not very complete from this time period, in that they don't tend to list parents' names on marriage records, which would be very helpful. I did find evidence for Benjamin as the brother of Abraham in their mother's will, which lists her four sons. There is a Benjamin Valpey of his age group who marries an Abigail Pittman in Marblehead (neighboring village to Salem), and they have three daughters, one of them Elizabeth. But the marriage record doesn't say if this Benjamin is the son of Abraham Valpey and Elizabeth or not! And then Elizabeth's marriage record doesn't say if SHE is the child of Benjamin and Abigail! Benjamin's death record does show that he died in Marblehead, an indication that he did marry Abigail of that town, but far from proof.

So I have two links that are missing here, and not at all sure if it is even possible to resolve them, as the information may not be on record at all. I am wondering if perhaps there were also marriage intention records made, which may have parents' names. In the absence of this, I may have to go to Marblehead/Salem and research property records to figure out who is who.
Marblehead Property Map

Apart from these two links, I have proof and documents to support the line on either side of the disputed generations. I have contacted a few sources to inquire as to how I might proceed, including seeking advice from a genealogist through NEHGS. 

One other side note that may represent a monkey wrench in this whole thing... many of the dna matches, which I mentioned in that previous post, are in Lydia Clough's line! The woman who presumably only had a daughter named Lydia! If I descend from her family and NOT the Valpeys, then my line to the witch is non-existant.

Not giving up! If the answers are out there at all, I will find them.

21 April, 2016

A Possible Surname Comes to Light!

Glasgow, Scotland
Well, my results from FTDNA came back much sooner than expected! I was so excited to get the email! However, the results have not been as conclusive as I'd hoped. I paid for testing out to 37 markers, which is the lowest you can choose. (they also do 67 and 111 markers) Apparently, at that level of comparison, there are matches on Dad's list that are close enough to register as a match, but are not, in fact, direct paternal relatives. There were many surnames on the matches list, which totaled 58 people at 37 markers matched.

However, I do have a good idea now of what the surname likely is. I will have to go further to confirm it, but out of 58 matches, 13 of them are named McLaughlin or a derivative thereof! So, the surname of John Reid's father was most likely McLaughlin. AND, most of those on the match list named McLaughlin trace their ancestry back to Ireland! So I may be more Irish than I thought.

I joined the McLaughlin dna group through FTDNA, but that group appears to have been abandoned by the group owner, since his email address bounces. I also joined Dougherty, since the second most frequent name on Dad's matches list is Dougherty, or some variation on it. The owner of that group sent me an email and suggested another test I can have done that checks SNPs, and will give us more info on how closely he matches each individual on his list. I don't know what SNPs are, but I am taking his expert advice and have ordered the test. It costs $99, but since I have a $30 credit on my account, it will only cost me $69.

I have done a census search for McLaughlin men in and around Paisley in 1871. I have a list of possible suspects! The best one, so far, is a man named Robert McLaughlin who was boarding with a family in Neilston and working as a worsted weaver, which could have been in the same factory that
Caroline worked in. In 1871 he was 43 years old, and his birthplace is listed as Tyrone, Ireland. He was apparently a single man, unless he had family back in Ireland.

There are several others who are possible suspects too, but I will wait for this new test to come back before spending a lot of time on McLaughlins, in case the results point in another direction. Fingers crossed that this test will be the charm!




29 February, 2016

Waiting on Y

Well, I haven't gotten terribly far in my search for my mystery gr-gr-grandfather, but I have made some marginal progress. Going through the dna matches for my Dad turns up a list of surnames that are NOT on my family tree, but DO occur with some frequency on his matches' trees. The names most commonly found include: Gemmell, Anderson, Johnson, Wilson, Robertson, Allison, Smith, Campbell, Kerr, Paterson, Walker and Marshall. There are another two dozen or so that are seen less frequently, but enough to be possibilities for the mystery man's surname.

I have also found two of my Dad's dna matches who live still in Scotland and in the same area where gr-grandad John Reid was born. One lives in Paisley and the other in Glasgow, which are only a few miles apart. I have also learned quite a bit about life in mid-19th century Paisley by reading through the city directories from that era, which can be found online

Within the pages of these books I have discovered occupations I never knew existed, businesses long obsolete, social and charity organizations, even a street index which has also been of help. One of the poor relief institutions I found is called "Female House of Refuge". 

I did some further reading on these and apparently they were homes instituted to get "fallen women" off the streets and into honest work. To that end, they usually ran a laundry out of these homes where the women were employed. I found this very interesting, as I had long wondered why, on Caroline Reid's death record. her occupation was listed as "pauper, formerly washerwoman". It got me to wondering if perhaps my Caroline had been desperate enough to ply her wares on the streets of Paisley as a means of earning money to feed herself and her one year old son. (Gramma, I'm sorry if this speculation is in error, no offense intended!)

Even if this was the case, that does not stop me from identifying the man who fathered her son John. 


When I first got Dad's dna done, I went for an autosomal test for a few reasons. First, it covers both paternal and maternal dna, and I wanted to find matches for both sides of Dad's family. Secondly, I wanted to be able to match his results with my tree, which I could only do on ancestry .com, and they only do autosomal tests.

However, autosomal is limited in its broad coverage too. So, on Saturday last I mailed in another dna test that my Dad took for me. This one is a Y-dna test, which will return results ONLY from Dad's direct paternal line! This means that, if I get some matches, I should be able to identify the probable surname of my mystery man! 

There may be some matches with a different surname due to what genealogists call NPEs, or non-paternal events. This would include testers who were adopted or, as in my case, who received the maternal surname somewhere along the line. But most of the matches would likely have the surname that my mystery gr-gr-grandfather carried.

Unfortunately, this test takes 12 weeks to complete! I figure I can expect to know by June. If I do not get enough matches to identify a surname, I can pay more to have more markers tested.

I had emailed my brother about how sad it was that we didn't have any photos of John Reid, our great-grandfather. Next
John Reid 1872-1904
thing I know he sent me a photo of him that I'd had no idea he even had! I was more than thrilled to see his face. Note the tartan tie! While this photo would have been taken a while after he arrived in New Jersey, he evidently didn't forget where he came from! A handsome man, in my opinion, and eerily comparable to my younger brother.


Twelve weeks and counting!