Friday, December 4, 2015

Finding Frederick: Who and where were you before 1841?

Frederick Courtney was my 2great grandfather on my mother's side. He is one of my brick wall ancestors. What I know of him is what I have gleaned from records and documents and a few family lore type clues. After years of searching I know how he lived as an adult in the sleepy little community of Bayou Chicot, Louisiana, but not the full story of his origins. The sum total of what I know of his origins can be summed up by this obituary that we were fortunate to find on a recent research trip to Louisiana.

In an attempt to get some answers, some very gracious male descendants of his male children volunteered for the ydna test through the Courtney surname project. Finally, we would get some answers....or so I thought.

Here in lies my overdue attempt to account for the results we have so far to those who graciously volunteered and those interested cousins standing on the sidelines waiting to hear "the rest of the story."

(click the pic to view a readable version)

The data in the picture above shows our test group on the ynda project managed by Stan Courtney. These are the ydna test results for the 2 kits that I manage, both male descendants of Frederick. One is descended from Henry Davis Courtney, Sr. The other is a descendant of the oldest son, Dr. Franklin W. Courtney.

Think of the series of number like the edges of a set of keys.* Some match up really closely, some don't match up at all. The two in our group match each other really well. If  you review the number sequence carefully you will see that they are only off by one digit at two points along the sequence.

Silhouette vector designed by Freepik

These "keys" clearly are from the same bunch. This analogy will become more clear as you look at these two and compare to the two larger test groups that I share with you below.

Back when we first started to pursue this testing, Stan expected us to fit into the descendant line of Jacob Courtney based on where he settled. His group shows as: 
Group 13 - R1b: U106 > L48 - Descendants of Jacob Courtney b 1761 Germany d 1835 Morgan County, WV

Notice that he was in the vicinity of Shepherdstown in his later years and at his death. Also he was old enough to be Frederick's father. That sounded nice to me and would make a tidy conclusion to our mystery. The results were negative for this conclusion.

If you look at group 13 and compare our data above with the data for Jacob's descendants, you can see there is not a match there at all. In fact, if you take that little strip of data above and compare it to the results of all the Courtney ydna tests, you can see that there is no clear or strong match to any of the groups. We are a little cluster of 2 off by ourselves.

What I did get with the results of the kits that I manage is a jaw-droppingly strong match to the Trout/Traut surname ydna study. On both kits, at least 2/3 of the kits reported to match our 2 "y's" claim a connection to an ancestor with the surname Trout, with Johann Wendel Georg TRAUT (1689-1760) being the most common ancestor stated. He was born in Germany and quick research has hinted that some of his children were in the right area of Va/WV at the time. Those male children would have been around the right age to be Frederick's father.

If you take the data strip above and look at the results on the Trout page, esp those of B group, you can see there is no more "square peg, round hole" problem, but a nice smooth fit like the last piece of a jigsaw puzzle falling into place. There is definitely a link there. 

There is some esoteric connection between Frederick, his mysterious Shepherd ancestor, JWG Traut (and or his sons) and maybe even Jacob Courtney (an adoption or just taking in an orphan boy or an out of wedlock baby somewhere). It all centers around that fairly remote part of Va/WV. I don't know if it will ever be revealed and I am beginning to think maybe Frederick wanted it that way...

It is sad that all we have of his beginnings is what he told his children that they managed to remember. Too bad he didn't leave any written records of his origins - a family bible, letters from home, an ancestor's will, something, anything that would give us a concrete clue to work from.

If these clues exist, I have not found them and I have been researching this puzzle since at least 2003. If you know of some existing clue to the early part of his life (1815-1840 in Virginia/West Virginia) or someone who is searching for Frederick, please, contact me so we can collaborate. It is anybody's guess at this point.

Flimsy clues are all we have right now. This is a mystery that will probably take years or lifetimes to solve. Hopefully as more people test, more will be revealed. 

*The learning curve for understanding genetic genealogy study is very steep. The key concept is a drastic oversimplification to help with first time exposure to these concepts. I am still learning...and this stuff is hard, y'all.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

My family tree feels more like family spaghetti!! I need some goals.

Well, I have been soaking up genealogy facts for more than 10 years now. I have stuff in my Legacy file, on Ancestry, in paper folders and photo boxes and albums. Whew!

I have hit the point that I need to know what I have and know where it is. I can't really share my stories right now. There is so much stray data in my head that I can't talk about most of my ancestors without my large file open in front of me. Right now, I don't really feel like I have a family tree - it is more like family spaghetti!!  I know I remember that bit from somewhere......but where??

My goal for now is a complete genealogy reorganization of what I have and how I use it. I must get a better handle on it for several reasons.
1) I want to make more of this blog - it will help me with my other ultimate goals.
2) I have to get all I have learned into small comprehensible nuggets to share with family - otherwise, what is the point of all the time I have spent. I doubt my kids will wade thru all the files that I have accumulated. I need to make sense of it so they will see it is important.
3) I hope to take a genealogy trip in the fall and better organization now will result in better use of time while on the trip.

I have been following along the process of the Genealogy Do Over. It is an organized approach to a massive undertaking and I respect all their efforts. I have learned a tremendous amount about process and organization from the discussion group, but I have also learned that to accomplish my desires above, my process has to take a different path.

So my starting goals are as follows:
  • Rename, and relocate genealogy files already on my computer and attach to the appropriate person in my Legacy file.
  • Save the documents and images I have found on Ancestry as digital files on my computer and attach to Legacy appropriately.
  • Clean up sourcing notations as I work thru the new features of Legacy 8.
  • Get my non digital materials scanned, digitized and linked appropriately.
  • Create more blog post from the organized files that I create.
  • Prepare for the upcoming trip in the fall.
  • Find some apps/tools to make it all portable.
That sounds doable, right?
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