I just received my AncestryDNA results (faster than the 6-8 weeks they state) and for the most part there were no surprises. To be honest, I was a little disappointed that my results were so “vanilla”.
As far as my research, the furthest I’ve gotten back is to about the mid 1600s on one of my branches. My “foreign” ancestors were all here by the 1850s, my 2nd great-grandfather Massimo Pisani was the last to come to the U.S. in 1856. Once my ancestors were here they didn’t move around much. Except for one branch that moved from Boston, MA to Baltimore, MD in the 1820s, all my ancestors lived their entire lives within 15 miles of where they were born.
I expected to see more German as my father’s side is very heavily German. But after looking at the mapped results and reading more about migration patterns, the 39% Scandinavian and 9% Europe (East and West) makes sense.
I have never encountered any Scandinavian roots in any of my ancestors but DNA goes way further back than my research. Hopefully I’ll be able to meet some new cousins who may have better answers, but for now I need to go buy myself a helmet and learn how to row a boat!
I discovered an article from an old Baltimore German newspaper at Chronicling America that mentioned a Johann Epple. My 3rd great-grandfather was named Johan Epple. This may not be him, but I do have the fact that there were not many Epple folks in Baltimore in the 1870s on my side.
Here is the original article courtesy of Chronicling America:
I was able to view the page as text and I copied and pasted the article into Google Translate and got the following translation:
Hmmmm, I’m missing some important parts I think. Was Johann the victim or the one arrested?
I’m sure that the issue is in reading the original German script.
So, if anyone out there can help with the translation or has another resource to get the full translation, I would greatly appreciate the help.
After 10 years I think I finally located my 3rd great-grandparents (Johann and Catherine Epple) before their boat ride to Baltimore. I don’t have the time I would like to spend researching, work gets in the way. But I did have some time last week to spend on FamilySearch and boy am I glad I did!!
I knew that Johann and Catherine emigrated from Germany with their 3 daughters (my 2nd great grandmother Rose being the youngest at the age of 3) in the fall of 1852.
I knew they arrived in Baltimore, Maryland on 29 Nov 1852 on the ship Bessel.
I located them in the 1860 census in Baltimore City with 2 children born since their arrival in Baltimore.
In the 1870 census it looks like Johann was not in the household and that Catherine had remarried (although her age was not quite correct).
In the 1880 census Catherine was living with one of her married daughters and listed as widowed or divorced.
I was unable to locate Catherine in 1900. She would have been about 85 so maybe she was deceased.
I have not been able to locate either Johann or Catherine in any death records. Johann probably died before Baltimore City recorded death records and I haven’t located either of them in any church records that I have looked at.
I had a clue as to Catherine’s maiden name when I found the death certificate of one of her daughters that listed her mother’s name as Catherine Heyde. A good clue as my 2nd great-grandmother’s death certificate listed her mother’s name as Katherine J Epple.
So, last week I had some time and since I hadn’t been on FamilySearch recently I decided to start plugging in names to the search box. I’m not sure why, out of all the names in my tree, I decided to search on Johann Georg Epple, but I typed his name, hit enter and stared at the 1st result. There it was, Johann Georg Epple and Katharina Jakobina Heyd, parents of Augustine Albertine Epple. Augustine was one of the daughters that came to Baltimore when she was 14. Her age matched, her parents ages matched, the town of the baptism matched the information from the immigration information.
Further searching resulted in birth and death records for 4 other children that died by age 2 or younger, a marriage record and lots of information on their parents and grandparents, I still haven’t gotten through it all.
So weeding through all this information, verifying and trying to locate the actual records will keep me busy for awhile.
Thank you FamilySearch!
Well, I finally did it. I bit the bullet, opened up my wallet and ordered my AncestryDNA kit. As if waiting for the kit to arrive wasn’t bad enough, after I worked up enough spit to fill the tube, sealed it up and trusted my package the the US Postal Service, now I sit and wait. And wait. I’m sure that this 6-8 weeks will go as slowly as the 6-8 weeks leading up to vacation.
And what will be worse I’m sure will be the time between connecting my results to myself in my tree and the first DNA match.
But what if I don’t get any matches? Oh God, what did I get myself into? HA!!!
One of the local County libraries where a lot of my ancestors lived has made newspaper archives available on-line with a library card. Previously, I had done some searching on GenealogyBank.com and thought I had found all I was going to find since the same newspaper was available there. But I realized that (I guess) the indexing and OCR process was different because I found very different information.
I found an article about my great-great grandmother falling through a sky light in the family fruit and candy store. She was not badly injured but as was the habit of the day, the article pointed out that although many others had walked on that skylight, it probably gave way due to her weight.
Another interesting series of articles also involved a woman who had the same name as my g-g grandmother. Apparently this other woman and her friend committed slander against a neighbor by stating that her children knew nothing of their father. Sounds pretty petty by today’s standards but in 1887 it was a big enough deal that several follow up articles had a clarification that the Rose Pisani in he article WAS NOT the wife of Massimo Pisani ( my g-g grandfather).
I knew that my maternal grandfather and several of his brothers drove streetcars and then later buses in Baltimore City. The youngest of the brothers had joked to me once that he also drove a bus briefly but after only a few months, several accidents convinced him that he should probably find another profession. He joined the army. I was able to verify that he was involved in several accidents but I also found that none of my transit driving ancestors apparently were very good drivers as they also were involved in several accidents. In fact, my grandfather ran over someone with a streetcar one night on a dark part of the tracks, but it was later determined that the man had already gotten killed by being run over by another streetcar before my grandfather hit him.
Going back even further to the 1850s, my 4th great grandfather spent much of his time cleaning up the chaos caused by his 3rd wife. He finally divorced, but not before a long line of people and businesses demanded repayment for goods and services that had been stolen by his wife.
On a positive side, I found articles written about my great grandfather and his brothers helping to save people and property during the Great Fire in 1904. All 3 of them were teenagers at the time.
I have been happily engrossed in searching the papers for stories of my ancestors, it sure beats going to the library and having to know what dates you wanted to search on microfilm. Also, lesson learned, there may be the same resources on different sites but the way those resources are indexed and OCR’ed could be different, resulting on very different findings.
All of us that do genealogy research have those “huh?” moments.
In my case, a lot of my “huh?” moments are related to locations and why I find people where I find them or how our paths have crossed in random places generations later. Most of my direct ancestors were born or immigrated to, married, died and were buried within 5 bordering cities/counties in Maryland and Pennsylvania. Sounds like my research would be a piece of cake then doesn’t it? Pffft!
Anyway…I can usually take a pretty good guess where to find people when I’m looking for them, but a few have popped up in some unusual places. Unusual because they are places that I did not expect.
My craziest ‘huh?’ moment involves my Aunt Florence Henry and Uncle Francis Penn. I never met Aunt Florence and Uncle Frank, nor does my mother have a strong memory of them. Aunt Florence, along with my maternal great grandmother Ruth Henry Pisani and their sister Aunt Bessie Henry Cantville were born in Baltimore City, MD. They grew up in Baltimore City and they met and married men who lived in Baltimore City. Aunt Florence and Uncle Frank moved to the Eastern Shore of Maryland (I still haven’t gotten an explanation of why they moved there), a couple hours away from Baltimore after marrying and lived out their days there. I hadn’t done a lot of research on them because, well, I just hadn’t. All I had where some census records and basic birth and death dates I had gotten from a distant cousin. I figured when it came time to research them I’d find them on the eastern shore. And then…
One day a few years ago I was meeting a friend for dinner who lived in an area that I had never encountered any family connections. I arrived way early and next door to where we were meeting was a public library. So I decided to “waste” the extra time in library. Of course I headed straight to the local history section and just started browsing through some cemetery transcription books they had. I wasn’t looking for anyone in particular, and wasn’t expecting to find anyone in my family, like I said, no connection to this area. But, still I looked in the index for my main research surnames. I came across a listing for ‘Henry’. OK, granted Henry isn’t as common as Smith but, there are Henrys out there that aren’t related to me, although I have Henrys on both sides of my tree that I have not connected. I turned to the page and found “Florence Henry Penn, w/o Francis S Penn”. Wait, what? It can’t be MY Florence Henry and Francis Penn. Why would they be buried in a cemetery here? I looked at the dates and found they were the same.
Oh course at this point I wanted to ditch my friend, I was losing daylight. If I hurried I could get to the cemetery with a sliver of light left! I took a breath, came to my senses, the cemetery wasn’t going anywhere, I could visit the next day. I did, it was them and I found out that had I researched them earlier, although Uncle Francis wasn’t born and didn’t live in this town, his family has a strong connection to this area.
So I learned to never pass up an opportunity to poke around in a “random” location, you may just be surprised.
Let me introduce you to Massimo Hazeltine Pisani. Massimo is my 2nd great grandfather in my maternal line. Massimo and I have a love/hate relationship…he loves to hide from me and I HATE it! The picture below was taken at the Pisani house in Govans, Baltimore City, Maryland (year unknown). The location of the house was close to the intersection of York Road and Winston Avenue.
|Original photo in possession of Barbara L Henry.
Massimo was born in 1847 in Tuscany, Italy and immigrated to the United States in about 1858. He was a fruit dealer in Baltimore City, Maryland until the early 1900s. He married a German immigrant (Rosa Margarethe Epple) in Baltimore City, Maryland in 1871 and they had 5 children.
I believe that he had at least one brother, Egisto Pisani b. abt 1843. Egisto served in the Civil War. He may have also had a brother named Antonio b. abt 1830.
If anyone has any Pisani ancestors that lived in Baltimore in the 1800s-1900s (there were not many), please let me know. Maybe we can piece this family together.
I think when anyone starts researching their family history they have hopes of being related to someone famous. As of yet I have found no famous or historically important ancestors in my tree. I’m fine with that. Famous or not, I have ancestors that have come to this country to start a new life, helped establish churches, helped form communities, and defended our country, all important contributions.
My direct line is made up of mostly working class folk, including more than a handful of farmers. I also have several blacksmiths (who later became wheelwrights), bakers, fruit dealers and candy makers (oh, those Pisani caramels).
Whether or not I ever stumble upon a famous ancestor, I am still proud that I come from a line of (mostly) hard working people just trying to make a living.
For me, starting a genealogy blog is a little like starting genealogy research. I have lots of different ideas for my posts, just like I had lots of ancestors that I wanted to find out about.
So as not to make the same mistake I made with my research, let me take a deep breath, not get ahead of myself and introduce you to “Aunt Barb’s Papers”, and well, Aunt Barb.
Why “Aunt Barb’s Papers”?
When my niece Courtney was younger and I just started researching, I couldn’t seem to be around any of my family without showing off a print out of something I found, a census record, a death certificate or a newspaper article. She started making comments such as “here comes Aunt Barb and her papers”. Well, not so long after, Aunt Barb’s papers helped Courtney with a school assignment (although I supplied her with far more information than was needed for her assignment).
So who is Aunt Barb?
Although I have been doing research on my family for 10 calendar years, I still consider myself a beginning amateur genealogist. I am a casual researcher, putting in about 10 hours a month. I have about 9,000 individuals in my tree but many without reliable sources because when I started I wasn’t very good at recording where I got my information. So now I’m trying to go back and correct my rookie mistakes.
So, I hope that you will enjoy following along with me on my journey.