Saturday, June 29, 2019

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – Week 26: Legend – Do We Have Native American Ancestry?

This is my second year working on this year-long prompt, hosted by Amy Johnson Crow. I will write each week in one of my two blogs, either Mam-ma’s Southern Family or at My Trails Into the Past. I have enjoyed writing about my children’s ancestors in new and exciting ways.

There is a story through my maternal grandmother’s line that we have Native American ancestry. The story was told to many of my cousins. It is usually one of the questions I get asked from second and third cousins who find me on the internet. I have not found any paper documents that support this legend. All census and vital records support that our families were white.[1]

DNA test results for my grandmother also supports a European ancestry. Her mtDNA test shows her Haplogroup as U5 and my Haplogroup is U5b1.[2]  Native American Haplogroups are A, B, C, D, and X.[3] Of course this eliminates that the Native American ancestry on her maternal line. There could still be some trace among her other ancestors. However, her atDNA shows ancestry from Europe with a small percentage of Jewish Disapora out of Spain.[4]

FamilyTree DNA
I don’t know how the story started. Her ancestors were all from the south, coming from such states as Texas, Mississippi, Missouri, Kentucky, Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina. Because the autosomal DNA loses big chunks the further back one goes in the ancestry, it is possible a Native American could be in her ancestry two hundred or more years ago but that DNA was not passed down.[5]

I am taking the Practical Genetic Genealogy course at GRIP (Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh) next month and hope I can learn more about this part of DNA research.

[1] Well, at least back as far as the 1850 census, the earliest census that shows race, though it is very likely that if they appear in earlier census records, they were probably white.
[2] For my grandmother’s Haplogroup results see FamilyTree DNA ( : accessed 28 Jun 2019), kit no. 173637. For my Haplogroup, see 23andMe ( : accessed 28 Jun 2019).
[3] “Genetic history of indigenous peoples of the America,” Wikipedia ( : accessed 28 June 2019).
[4] FamilyTree DNA ( : accessed 28 June 2019), kit no. 173637.
[5] For more information on how autosomal DNA is passed down, see “Autosomal DNA,” International Society of Genetic Genealogy Wiki ( : accessed 28 June 2019).

Copyright © 2019 by Lisa S. Gorrell, Mam-ma's Southern Family, All rights reserved.

Friday, June 21, 2019

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – Week 25: Earliest – Lancasters Come to California

This is my second year working on this year-long prompt, hosted by Amy Johnson Crow. I will write each week in one of my two blogs, either Mam-ma’s Southern Family or at My Trails Into the Past. I have enjoyed writing about my children’s ancestors in new and exciting ways.

I always thought that my mother and her parents were the first of my mother’s family to live in California. Tom J. Johnston, his wife, Pansy Louise, and daughter, Lela Nell, came to California during World War II. Tom worked on construction projects for the US military.

However, when working on my Lancaster line, I discovered that Pansy’s great-grandmother, Martha Jane (Polly) Lancaster, died in Orosi, Tulare County, California in 1932.[1] She had been in California twenty-nine years, and six years in that town.

So how did she come to be in California in 1903 when her husband, George W. Lancaster, died in Dublin, Erath County, Texas on 14 January 1919?[2]

There was a divorce between Martha Jane and George in Pima County, Arizona Territory in 1893.[3] Five days later, Martha married Noah Flood Parks on 28 December 1893 in Phoenix, Maricopa County.[4]

Martha and Noah Parks first appeared in Imperial County, California, in the 1910 census with two of their children, Daisy and Rosy, who had been born in Arizona.[5] By 1920, they were living in Kings County, with Martha’s son, Reginald Lancaster.[6] In 1930, Martha was living in Tulare County with her daughter, Rosa White, Rosa’s husband, Harold, and Rosa’s children, Janice and Leslie.[7] Her husband, Noah, was living in the Tulare County Old People’s Home.[8]

Not only did Martha and her new husband, Noah, move to California, but four of George and Martha’s children.
  • Margaret Rose Lancaster married first, Arthur N Pauff, and moved to Los Angeles sometime after Arthur’s death in 1912 in Las Vegas.
  • George Elden Lancaster was living in Imperial County in 1910 and later moved to Tulare County where he died in 1957.
  • Reginold Lancaster was also in Imperial County at least by 1918 and he died in San Luis Obispo in 1962.
  • Jesse Polly Lancaster was living in Imperial County in 1910 and died in Fresno County.

Now my grandmother had among her papers a letter written to her in 1946 from her aunt Margaret. My grandparents were living in Walnut Creek, Contra Costa County, and Margaret’s address was in Glendale, California.[9]  From the letter, it was obvious that Margaret kept up by mail with her brother, Carl (William Carlton Lancaster, the oldest), who was the only son who stayed in Texas with his father, George.

I had spent many hours trying to find the death date of Martha Jane Polly Lancaster. She just disappeared and no record of her could be found in Texas. It wasn’t until a cousin saw my query on an old Rootsweb site and answered that she had remarried and died in California.[10] It opened up a whole new wave of research!

These are the first of my family to live in California sometime around 1910!

Tulare Advance-Register, 8 Apr 1932, p. 1

[1] California Department of Health Services, Bureau of Vital Statistics, Standard Certificate of Death, certificate 32-024489 (1932), Mattie Jane Parks.
[2] Texas Department of Health Bureau of Vital Statistics, death certificate 536 (1919), George Wilson Lancaster, digital image, FamilySearch (
[3] Pima County, Superior Court Records, SG 8 case 2250, Lancaster v. Lancaster, decree, 23 December 1893; Arizona State Library, Archives and Public Records, RG 110.
[4] Maricopa County, Arizona, Marriage Licenses & Certificates, RG 107, SG 8 Superior Court Records, 1893, Noah F Parks & Mattie J Lancaster, p 405; Arizona State Library, Archives and Public Records, Phoenix.
[5] 1910 U.S. census, Imperial, California, pop. sched., Imperial Twp, ED 13, sheet 7b, Noah F. Park, digital image, Ancestry (; NARA T624.
[6] 1920 U.S. census, Kings Co, California, pop. sched., Corcoran Twp, ED 120, sheet 14a, dwelling 301, family 312, Reginald T. Lancaster, digital image, Ancestry ( : accessed 8 May 2005); NARA T625.
[7] 1930 U.S. census, Tulare Co, California, pop. sched., Orisi, ED 54-38, sheet 24a, Harold L. White Tulare, digital image, Ancestry (, NARA T626.
[8] Ibid, ED 54-81, sheet 4b, Noah Parks, NARA T626.
[9] Johnston Family Collection, privately held by Lisa Suzanne Hork Gorrell, [address for private use], Martinez, CA 94553, letter from Margaret Pauff to Pansy Johnston, 1946.
[10] An email from Eddi Hagemann, sometime in 2004 or 2005. We corresponded for a while, sending each other new findings. She has since passed away.

Copyright © 2019 by Lisa S. Gorrell, Mam-ma's Southern Family, All rights reserved.

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun -- A Research Problem and Lessons Learned

Randy Seaver of Genea-Musing has another mission for us:

It's Saturday Night - time for more Genealogy Fun!

Your mission, should you decide to accept it (cue the Mission Impossible! music) is to:

1)  Think back to when you first started doing genealogy and family history research.  What was one of your first real research problems?  How did you attack the problem?  Did you solve the problem?  If so, how?  What lessons did you learn from this experience?

2)  Tell us about it in a blog post of your own, in a comment to this blog post, or in a comment on Facebook.

When I started out doing genealogy, my friend, Susan, showed me how to find ancestors using the U.S. Federal Census records on microfilm. I wrote about it here. I found the first families in the 1920 census and began to work my way back.

This method worked very well by finding most of my father’s and mother’s ancestors, at least back to 1850. Earlier census records had only the head of household shown on census records with tick marks indicating the sex and age of other members of his household, who could or could not be family. Not really very helpful to this beginner.

I had found my 4x-great-grandfather, Ellis W. Lancaster in the 1850 census in Lewis County, Missouri. This census told me he was born in Virginia about 1803, his wife, Elizabeth was born in Kentucky about 1811, and the children living in the household were all born in Missouri. The eldest was Sarah at age 17.[1]

He was also in the 1840 census in Lewis County, Missouri, as well.[2] That has still not gotten me back to Kentucky or Virginia.

At this point, the beginnings of FamilySearch came online and their site had mostly indexes of their Ancestral File, the IGI, and some other sources. It was pretty exciting to see these indexes online because then I didn’t need to look at CDs at the local Family History Center.

I found a mention of Ellis Lancaster marrying Elizabeth S. Neel in the IGI. This record gave the date of the marriage as 10 Jun 1831 in Shelby County, Kentucky. Ah, a new place to look for the Lancaster and Neel families.

So I checked the 1830 census indexes for Lancasters in Shelby County, Kentucky, and found James Lancaster on page 265 and Robert Lancaster on page 276.  Robert’s entry had a male between 40 and 50 and another between 50 and 60, either old enough to be Ellis’ father, and a male between 20 and 30 who could be Ellis.

James Lancaster (indexed as Hanry Lancaster on Ancestry now), was a male 50 to 60 with boys 5 to 10 and 10 to 15. His wife was 40 to 50, and had girls under 5 and 5 to 10. Although he had no son the right age of Ellis, I couldn’t rule him out because he was old enough to be Ellis’ father.

So I brought this up at dinner while we were all at the Family History Library for the 2002 research trip. I wanted to figure out which Lancaster man might be the father of Ellis Lancaster. Susan suggested I look at probate and land records.

Oh wow, I’d not looked at those types of records yet, but I was willing to try. I was at the best place to try. Lots of records were available on film and there were others in our group to help me if I got stuck.

I checked the deed index for grantors first. I found one dated October 27, 1840 between Mary Lancaster and the heirs of Robert Lancaster. It was in Book G2 on page 231.

Oh what a jackpot! The deed was between Mary Lancaster, widow of Robert Lancaster of Shelby County of the first part and Ellis Lancaster, John Lancaster, Creath Neill & Lenis Ann his wife, Robert N Myers & Mary E his wife, Josiah Lancaster and Eliza Jane Lancaster of the second part.  Robert had died intestate (without a will) and one third was to go to his widow, Mary and the parties of the second part agreed to pay Mary $2800 in cash and give her a negro girl named Tusan (or Susan, hard to read), along with furniture she brought to the marriage. She was relinguishing land (on Bullskin Run) and property (livestock, slaves, and personal property)  to the parties of the second part.[3]

From this deed, I had clues about a possible parent for Ellis. I also had possible siblings for Ellis: brothers John and Josiah, and sisters Lenis Ann, Mary E, and Eliza Jane.  I was very excited.

Of course, I continued collecting more deeds, which included a land partition that really spelled out the heirs, and then looked at Robert’s probate.

I think that evening at the Family History Library was really a turning point in my genealogical research efforts. I had been keeping notes as I researched, but now I was using more advanced records that can help solve more complex problems.

[1] 1850 U.S. census, Lewis Co, Missouri, pop. sched, p. 707 (355 stamped), dwelling 355, family 415, Ellis W. Lancaster, digital image, Ancestry ( accessed 20 Jan 2011), citing NARA M432, roll 404.
[2] 1840 U.S. census, Lewis Co, Missouri, pop. sched., p. 186, Ellis Lancaster, digital image, Ancestry ( : accessed 20 Jan 2011), citing NARA M704, roll 225.
[3] Shelby County, Kentucky, Deeds, Bk G2, p 231, Mary Lancaster to Lancaster heirs, 1840, FHL 259241.

Copyright © 2019 by Lisa S. Gorrell, Mam-ma's Southern Family, All rights reserved.

Friday, April 19, 2019

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – Week 15: Out Of Place – What Happened to Martha Jane Polly

This is my second year working on this year-long prompt, hosted by Amy Johnson Crow. I will write each week in one of my two blogs, either Mam-ma’s Southern Family or at My Trails Into the Past. I have enjoyed writing about my children’s ancestors in new and exciting ways.

Martha Jane Polly, the daughter of Nathan H.O. Polly, married George W. Lancaster on 25 October 1871 in Kaufman County, Texas.[1] George was nearly twenty years older than Martha.

They were together in 1880 in Rockwall County, which had been carved out of Kaufman County in , with three children: William Carlton, Lonnie O, and Maggie R.[2]

Then, Martha disappear. I assumed that she died, but there were no records of her death, nor records of her burial in Kaufman, Rockwall, or Erath county, where George W. ended up.[3]

For many years, she was a mystery. The lack of the 1890 census made it difficult to discover what had happened to the children, except for William Carlton, who married Martha Jane Coor in Erath County, Texas on 19 March 1892.[4] William Carlton was my second great-grandfather.

Then one day I received an email from Eddi Hagemann. Unfortunately, I don’t have those first email correspondences from her saved.[5] But she pointed out that Martha Jane Polly had married Noah Flood Parks and lived in Tulare County, California, where she died on 7 April 1932. She had the names of the children of George and Martha, the same ones I knew from the 1880 census, plus the children born after the census, George Eldon, Reginold F., and Jesse Polly.

We continued corresponding as we learned of what happened to George and Martha’s children in California. Since then, I have discovered even more records of George and Martha that helped unravel the mystery of the time of their marriage until the divorce in 1993 in Maricopa County in the Territory of Arizona.[6] I am still finding records of their time together before the move to Arizona.[7]

Her obituary tied her to the Martha in Texas. The Carrie mentioned in the obituary was William Carlton Lancaster.
"Mrs. Mattie Parks To Be Buried Here Saturday Morning" Interment of the body of Mrs. Mattie Jane Parks, 75, of Orosi, mother of J. P. Lancaster of Pixley and G. E. Lancaster of Tipton, will be made in the Tulare cemetery following funeral services in Dinuba at the Dopkins parlors Saturday at 11 a. m., according to word received here today. Mrs. Parks died Thursday morning in Orosi at the home of a daughter, Mrs. Rose White. Three other children also survive. They are Carrie Lancaster of Texas, R. F. Lancaster of Atascadero, and Mrs. W. J. Harper of Los Angeles."[8]
A descendant discovered a query on a genealogy website and answered my mystery of what happened to Martha Jane Polly Lancaster. She just wasn’t where I had expected her to be. To see a photo of Martha and her husband Noah Parks, see her memorial on Find A Grave.

[1] Kaufman Co, Texas, Marriages, 2: 51, Geo W. Lancaster-Martha J. Polly, 1871; FHL microfilm 1302500.
[2] 1880 U.S. census, Rockwall Co, Texas, pop. sched., Rockwall Village, ED 30, George W. Lancaster, digital image, Ancestry ( accessed 13 Jul 1995), NARA T9, roll-1324.
[3] He was listed as single in the household of Sarge Hickey in the 1900: 1900 U.S. census, Erath County, Texas, pop sched, Stephenville, ED 65, sheet 5, Geo. W. Lancaster, digital image, Ancestry ( accessed 13 Jul 1995), NARA T623.
[4] Erath County, Texas, Marriages, Bk F, p 65, W.C. Lancaster & Miss Mattie Coor, 1892, FHL film 1026025.
[5] In the early 2000s, I was using a stand-alone email program and was not able to save the emails in a form that was usable. I regret not printing out the emails.
[6] Pima County, Arizona, RG 110, Superior Court Records, SG 8 case 2250, Lancaster v. Lancaster, decree, 23 December 1893; Arizona State Library, Archives and Public Records, Phoenix.
[7] I have found land records in Johnson County and Dallas County, Texas.
[8] "Mrs. Mattie Parks to be Buried Here Saturday Morning," Tulare (California) Daily Advance Register, 8 Apr 1932, p. 1.

Copyright © 2019 by Lisa S. Gorrell, Mam-ma's Southern Family, All rights reserved.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun -- Birth Order in Your Line

It's Saturday Night,
time for more Genealogy Fun!!

Randy Seaver of Genea-Musing has another challenge for us this week. 

For this week's mission (should you decide to accept it), I challenge you to:

1)  Pick one of your ancestral lines - any one - patrilineal, matrilineal, zigzag, from a famous ancestor, etc.  Pick a long one if you can.

2)  Tell us which position in the birth order that your ancestor was in each generation.  For example "third child, first son."  Also list how many children were born to these parents. 

3)  Share your Birth Order work with us on your own blog post, in a comment to this blog post, in a comment on Facebook, etc.
My longest lines are on my mother’s side, since my father’s ancestors were pretty recent immigrants. I have yet to find the immigrant ancestors on my mother’s side except for the Lancaster line.

1. Lisa Suzanne Hork (1954–…), I am the oldest child, first daughter, of William J. Hork and Lela Nell Johnston (2 sons and 4 daughters).

2. Lela Nell Johnston (1934–1992), she was the only child of Tom J Johnston and Pansy Louise Lancaster

3. Pansy Louise Lancaster (1913–2013), she was the oldest child, only daughter, of George Warren Lancaster and Lela Ann Loveless (2 sons, 1 daughter)

4. Lela Ann Loveless (1896–1951), she was the youngest child (no. 11), fourth daughter, of A
Ebenezer Loveless and Eliza A. Rodgers (7 sons, 4 daughters)

5. A. Ebenezer Loveless (1851–1929), he was the youngest child (no. 10), sixth son, of Jesse Loveless and Elizabeth Nixon (6 sons, 4 daughters)

6. Jesse Loveless (1806–1873), he was the eighth child, seventh son, of James Loveless and Linna Hughes (8 sons, 4 daughters)

7. Linna Hughes (1772–??), she was one of eight children of George Hughes and Jemimah Timmons (3 sons, 5 daughters)

For both George and Jemimah, I only have the names of their fathers, and no names of siblings, so I won’t count this generation.

My averages are:
  • Child number: 5.2
  • Number of children: 7.3

 The first three generations were first born. The next three generations had very large families and my ancestor was near the end of the family. The last generation skews the numbers because I don’t know the position of Linna in her family. She is the only one that I have with a birth date. I have not yet worked on this line thoroughly.

Copyright © 2019 by Lisa S. Gorrell, Mam-ma's Southern Family, All rights reserved.

Monday, February 25, 2019

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – Week 9, Courthouse Research in Erath County, Texas

This is my second year working on this year-long prompt, hosted by Amy Johnson Crow. I will write each week in one of my two blogs, either Mam-ma’s Southern Family or at My Trails Into the Past. I have enjoyed writing about my children’s ancestors in new and exciting ways.

My first trip to a county courthouse was in Stephenville, Erath County, Texas. It was at the beginning of my genealogy research experience and I was not very careful about where I obtained information or what was the best method to use.

I had made the trip to Stephenville with my grandmother, Pansy Louise (Lancaster) Johnston, whom I called Mam-ma, in order to visit the places in town where my mother, who had passed away three years before, grew up. We stayed with her brother, R.D. and sister-in-law, Barbara Lancaster, who lived outside of town.

R.D. drove Mam-ma and me all around Stephenville, with me sitting in the back seat. It was not the best place to see where you were going. Looking out the side window was like seeing where you have been. As I look at the photos I took, I didn’t take any of the houses they lived in. I didn’t take many photos at all. This was before digital cameras. I know I had two cameras with me, because I have found both color slides and black and white prints. My color images were mostly of the people we met and the tombstones in the cemeteries we visited. The black and white prints were of framed photos people had and I took shots of them. I did record in my notebook what I took photos of.

Anyway, on the last day of our short visit, Barbara took me down to the courthouse. She knew everyone in town because she had been a reporter for the newspaper. I was allowed to look at record books in the vault of the recorder’s office. I dutifully copied down vital records I found of Loveless, Lancaster, and Welch families.[1] No photo copies. No photos. Just my handwritten notes.

 Later I found that these books had been microfilmed and available at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City. I was able to get copies of the actual records.

So what do I regret from that road trip taken to Texas in 1995? That I hadn’t
  • taken a lot more photos of everything we saw
  • looked at all of the books in that vault, because many were probably not microfilmed
  • paid more attention to the people we met, and
  • stayed longer so I could have researched on my own[2]

I had been such a rookie at researching, but I did keep notes and I recorded some of R.D. and Mam-ma’s conversations in the car with a cassette recorder. I better get those transcribed soon!

Oh, what I could accomplish today with my twenty plus years of experience, but I would have missed out on meeting the elderly cousins. So I am at least thankful for what I did manage to record on paper and on film of that eventful trip in 1995.

[1] “Trip to Texas, October 1995,” bound notebook recording notes and photos taken, Gorrell Family Archive, privately held by Lisa S. Gorrell, CG, [address for private use], Martinez, CA.
[2] I spent thirty minutes in the public library which was not long enough. I would have also gone to Comanche County to see where my grandfather grew up. We didn’t discuss much of the Johnston family on the trip.

Copyright © 2019 by Lisa S. Gorrell, Mam-ma's Southern Family, All rights reserved.

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun - How Did Your (Grand) Parents Meet?

Calling all Genea-Musings Fans: 
It's Saturday Night again - time for 
some more Genealogy Fun!!

Our mission from Randy Seaver of Genea-Musing is to:

1)  One of our family stories for our descendants should be how we met our spouse.  Another one should be, if we know it, how did our parents meet each other?

2)  This week, let's tell our "parents meeting" story if we know it.  If you don't know that story, tell us another one about one of your relatives meeting their spouse or significant other.

3)  Tell us in your own blog post, in a comment to this post, or in a Facebook post.  Please leave a comment on this blog post to lead us to your answers.

Way back in October 2015, we wrote about this same subject. My post from then is here.

Instead, I’ll write about how my grandparents met.  Pansy Louise Lancaster and Tom J Johnston were married on 15 December 1933 by the Comanche County, Texas, Justice of the Peace.[1] Tom got the license in Hood County but they were married in Comanche County, where Tom’s family was from.

So how did they meet? I asked my grandmother once and she said,
“Tom’s father worked in town as manager of the lumber company. Tom was working as a carpenter and would see me from his perch up on a roof as I walked along the sidewalk to school. He’d whistle at me or talked to me wanting a date. I didn’t agree yet. One day I was walking home (we were living on West Green Street) with two bags of groceries and he offered a ride in his Model T Ford with no roof. I said I didn’t have far to go but he gave me a ride anyway. Later I got a letter in the mail from Tom asking me out on a date for Saturday night. It was the sweetest thing in the world! After several dates Tom also brought me a cat—a yellow-spotted kitten.”
They lived together until Tom’s death in 1973.

What a cute couple!

[1] Hood County, Texas,  Marriage Record, v. I, p. 161, Tom Johnston and Pansy Louise Lancaster (certificate copy). 

Copyright © 2019 by Lisa S. Gorrell, Mam-ma's Southern Family, All rights reserved.