When Detective Clayton Tyler is tasked with reviewing the formidable archives of unsolved homicides in his police department’s vaults, he settles on one particular cold case from the 1980s: The Chester Creek Murders. Three young women were brutally murdered—their bodies dumped in Chester Creek, Delaware County—by a serial killer who has confounded a slew of detectives and evaded capture for over thirty-eight years. With no new leads or information at his disposal, the detective contacts Venator for help, a company that uses cutting-edge investigative genetic genealogy to profile perpetrators solely from DNA evidence. Taking on the case, Madison Scott-Barnhart and her small team at Venator must use their forensic genealogical expertise to attempt finally to bring the serial killer to justice. Madison, meanwhile, has to weigh professional and personal issues carefully, including the looming five-year anniversary of her husband’s disappearance.
Below is a client’s fascinating story on how the past connects to the present.
Back in August, my cousin’s wife contacted me. Her mother and her aunt had been trying to replace their naturalization papers for years. They have also been trying to renew their driver’s licenses and get passports since the attacks on 9/11.
They were not able to write checks or travel anywhere, etc. The problem has been the lack of documentation of their immigration from Latvia to the USA in 1949. Their names were missing from the ship’s manifest and courthouse clerks who she contacted told her they did not have a record of them, they were not listed at Ellis Island. It was like they didn’t exist.
It all started in 1940. The first Soviet occupation started after this immigrant’s marriage and when she was just 19 years old. It ended a month after her first child was born. With her mother-in-law and young family in tow, they were forced from Jelvaga, Latvia to Schneidemühl, Germany in 1944. The Schneidemühl Labour Office sent them to Landsberg, Germany. In December of 1944, they had their second daughter. It was so cold where they lived that the 6 weeks old lost all her fingernails and toenails.
In January of 1945, they fled Landsberg, approaching the front, towards Bamberg, Germany, and were sent by the labor office to work on a farm in Stucht, Germany, receiving food and an apartment. She and her husband worked there until June 18, 1945. That same month they went to Erlangen, Germany and she worked for an American family. That’s where their fortunes turned.
In 1946 she began work in a US Army Officer’s Mess as a waitress. Through the sponsorship of a Lutheran Church Council, they were able to make the trip to America where the Lutheran minister arranged for the grandfather’s employment in Illinois. All in all, they moved 27 times until reaching the United States. They arrived in New York in 1949.
My cousin contacted me for help. All they really asked me to do was to verify the ship the family was on and what port they arrived in. However, I was able to do so much more. I was able to locate 25 perfectly clear documents: scanned copies of the original immigration cards for her entire family, the amended ship manifest with their names on it, her grandparent’s work application, written notes about the camp in Germany they were in, and how they had to flee Latvia, even the list of items their suitcases when they arrived. One such picture is
My cousin-in-law’s mother has since received her naturalization record and we now have the information we need to help her aunt obtain a passport.
See my bio, profile, or website for more information on how I can help you connect your present to the past.
It has been a gorgeous weekend here in Florida. As I write this, it is 10:00 am EST and 75 degrees outside. I spent the earlier part of the morning on the porch with coffee, my mom, and my dog. The breeze was blowing and the birds were singing their tunes.
Mom and I both started cleaning up a bit outside, clearing out weeds and dead brush. It was great being in the fresh air and moving the body! I repotted and planted some of the hardier plants and had to refrain from doing any more. Our last frost date isn’t until March 15 so I am wary about putting out anything more. Although, this weather makes it seem like Spring has sprung!
This weekend was the RootsTech 2021 conference. RootsTech by FamilySearch is an annual family history/genealogy and technology event held at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City, Utah. This year, it went virtual! And, free! That means that I could join and join I did.
I took a personal day Friday to attend. I was able to join lectures and add on-demand items to my playlist. There are classes in several different languages, even sign language.
I watched live presentations and learned all kinds of tips and tricks. Interacting with others who share my passion was an awesome experience. Keeping on top of the ever-growing technology is constant. This conference is the best at helping you do that. The things I learned will definitely help me with my research, for myself, and for others.
Having this three-day weekend has been wonderful at keeping me in touch with my two loves. From the outside trees (gardening) to the inside trees (family history). It is good for my soul and great for mental health.
Don’t forget, I now offer Family History Packages to help you with your family history. Whether you want a little help to do your own research or need someone else to research for you. I can assist. There are packages for everyone. If you cannot find one that suits your needs, email me, and let’s come up with a package custom-made for you.
Hello followers! It has been many months since I have written. I could blame it on the virus, and I will. It did start because of Covid-19. When the students from my school were sent home in March, I had additional admin duties. Yes, I was blessed because I was considered “essential” and was able to work many hours from home, but I was swamped.
Being home, I spent a lot of time in my yard and garden in between having to be on the computer. I started concentrating on the garden as it reduced my stress level. I have blogged about this before; gardening helps you forget the world’s problems and be in the moment. If you want to follow my trials and tribulations with my “yarden”, follow me at @marleesyardening on Instagram.
I also wrote an article for Family Tree (U.K.), and it was published this month. You can read it here (although it looks much better in the magazine itself!) My Wolcott Family, I hope you enjoy it. You can also follow my Loganalogy posts at @Loganealogy on Instagram or @Loganealogy on Facebook.
Recently, I was able to help my cousin’s wife’s family with her mother’s history. Here is their story.
“Both my mom and my Aunt have been trying to replace their U.S. naturalization papers for years. After 9/11, they haven’t been able to renew their driver’s licenses, which means they can’t write a check, travel anywhere, etc. The problem has been the lack of documentation of their immigration from Latvia to the U.S. in 1949. Their names were missing from the ship’s manifest, the courthouse clerks I contacted told me they didn’t have a record of them, they weren’t listed at Ellis Island. It was like they didn’t exist. We consulted an immigration attorney, worked with Senator Bill Nelson’s office and spent countless hours on the phone with USCIS and the local USCIS field office. Aunt Roz was going through the same nightmare in California… she hired an immigration attorney, etc. Nothing.
A few weeks ago, we decided to ask Matt’s cousin Marlee, a genealogy consultant, for help. All we asked her to do was to verify the ship the family was on and what port they arrived. Last week, Marlee sent us 25 perfectly clear documents: scanned copies of the original immigration cards for my entire family, the amended ship manifest with their names on it, my grandparent’s work application, written notes about the camp in Germany they were in, and how they had to flee Latvia, even the list of items in my mom’s suitcase when she arrived. My Aunt and I were both in tears when we received it all. We are kicking ourselves for not seeking Marlee’s help sooner, but we are so thankful we finally did.”
I am happy to say that you’ll be hearing from me more often as I help others discover their roots and find connections, especially my own. If you know of anyone who would like help building their family tree, let me know.
Hello Followers. I wanted to check in with you since I have not written a blog in quite some time. The last real blog was March 19, so almost a month now. Like you, my family has been self-isolating. Not only from the virus but the crazier people who do not think it is a serious threat.
My son and I are both essential works so we have been working except for my Easter vacation. I am working four hours in the office and four hours at home. My son works all day in the warehouse. Neither of our companies allows outside visitors. We are both very careful as my mother, who is in her late 70s, lives with us.
Since I am working from home I have not had a lot of the extra family history time I see a lot of people talking about. But, I have tried to take advantage of the free sites and free records that have become available. It’s funny, some of the records I have run across have names that I could have used a couple of years ago. But, now I at least know I am on the right track.
I did have success with my 80 year old uncle’s tree. Back on Thanksgiving he was telling me about his brick wall with his grandparents on his mother’s side. Her father seems to have disappeared after deserting her and her brothers. The name he always went by with this family seems to actually be a nickname. In tracing the date of birth and his birthplace, we tracked down what we think is his real name.
With the help of the West Virginia Archives and History Library, we followed these coincidences and found all kinds of information on his family. But, until we find a document where he uses his nickname along with his real name, we cannot be 100% sure it is him. Or, until we can find some DNA matches. Once we entered his real name into our database, a whole slew of information and family members popped up. Including others on their public trees who seemed to have come to the same conclusion. And, here’s the kicker, it seems there is another family who this man deserted…under his real name. We hope to connect to this family to find some answers.
I’ve also been doing a lot of gardening, my other great passion. We had some umbrella palms start to take over so we had them pulled out, by the root balls. Little did I know a few years after I planted them, they would become evasive! They loved the wet clay soil, too much! I’ve since been filling the spaces in with some organic matter from my compost pile. I’ve also added a few pieces of cardboard and will mulch and soil over that. It’s like having a blank canvas to start planting in.
And, my flowers are blooming. Always a welcome sight and lifts the spirits. My garden is defintely a great boost for my mental health.
I cannot seem to concentrate enough to pull an ancestor story together for a blog, but I did want to check-in. I hope that you and your family are safe and well. As our ancestors did from their pandemics, this too shall pass.
The last couple of weeks have been busy! Sure, I am busy working my full-time job, but my dabblings with my family history, as well as other’s family history, have kept me hopping.
However, this makes it all worthwhile.
This young girl is my true young protégé! She is so very excited, as are her mother and grandparents. Showing her documents and how to read them has been amazing. It helps that she is smart as a whip.
We use Zoom, video conferencing, where I can annotate, share our screens, and make notes on a whiteboard. She has genuinely picked up on chasing the leads and picking apart the information in the records.
Johann Henrich Heilig is my 6th great grandfather. He was born in in 1700 and married Susanna De Wees Rittenhausen in 1729. I wrote about the Rittenhouse family and their papermills here. Also, join the Rittenhouse Family Descendants and Friends Facebook page and learn about all the wonderful things they are doing to preserve the Rittenhouse legacy. There is a Rittenhouse Town Board of Directors. They also manage the Homestead House (1707) and the other houses in the village, as well as a Barn that was built during WPA and the grounds.
Some historians place Henrich’s birthplace as Hannover, German. But, other more recent historians say it is Baden-Wuerttenburg, Germany. Johann arrived in Philadelphia in 1720 on the ship “Polly.” Ships were not required to furnish a list of passenger names until 1727. Since their names are not shown on any lists after 1727, they must have arrived prior. Most information I have found says 1720.
Records state his Naturalization was on 11 Apr 1747. According to the Pennsylvania Archives. The requirements at the time were that they had to be a resident of the colonies for 7 years.
Henry, as he was now called, was by trade a clockmaker. It was a skilled and respected profession. At that time, clocks were for navigation and surveying, as well as time keeping.
Henry and Susanna lived first in Cheltenham. And, bought parcels of land in 1749 and 1750. It was on the boarders of Pennsburg and Upper Hanover Townships in Montgomery County. This land was from William Parsons who was a surveyor for the Penns. The homestead passed from Henrich to his son George. George passed it on to his son George Jr. and finally passed to the Hoch family in the 1860s. The house remains in the Hoch family today.
Prior to 1684, the Lenape Indians roamed the hills and fished the streams of the land on either side of the Perkiomen Creek. In 1684, the Indians lost this land when William Penn purchased it for reportedly “two watch coats, four pairs of stockings and four bottles of cider”. In time, Pennsylvania Germans settled in the area. Around 1840, the area now know as Pennsburg began to take on the appearance of a village. The hub consisted of a general store, a carpenter and blacksmith shop and several houses.
Most of the land was owned by the Heilig Brothers. They owned and resided in the oldest house in Pennsburg located at Seminary and Fourth Streets. The Heilig Brothers took it upon themselves to refer to this village as “Heiligsville”. Residents had their own ideas, and out of loyalty to the then Pennsylvania Senator, James Buchanan, wanted to name the area Buchanansville.
As the village grew in size, a meeting was held in 1843 at the Hilleg’s family store to decide on a permanent name and lay out boundary lines. After a week long bitterly contested battle, it was finally decided to name the village “Pennsburg” after William Penn.
Henrich and Susannah had five children:
i. Heinrich Heilig, b. 1722 , ii. Jurg George Heilig, b. 1720; d. 1796, Upper Hanover Township., iii. Johannes Heilig (Source: Willbook I – 1796, 149-150.). iv. Anna Maria Heilig (Source: Willbook I – 1796, 149-150.), m. Michael Slonaker., v. Susanna Heilig (Source: Willbook I – 1796, 149-150.), b. 1726; m. Henry Deany.
Johannes or John changed the surname to Highley. The other children kept the German spelling of Heilig.
Henry is even listed in the U.S., Craftperson Files, 1600-1995.
Henry was buried along with this wife in the mostly Rittenhouse family cemetery, Methacton Mennonite Cemetery. Click here for a partial list of burials with links to tombstone photographs. Henrich’s and Susannah’s are below. This cemetery is located in Worcester Township, Montgomery County, PA.
There is a wonderfully thorough history written by Linton E. Love, a descendant of the Rittenhouse family. In it are the descendancts of Henry and Susannah. Linton has created a database and another database extending from the 17th century up to the 21st century from Claus to his 12,810 descendants as of March 2005!
Finding Abigail has proven to be a significant challenge. As I wrote in Finding Abigail… Part 1, her last name has been elusive. I have been tracking my research about her through the research logs, and here is what I have.
Date Contacted-Who Contacted-Why Contacted- Response
12/2/2019 City of Danbury, CT Abigail Soper They wrote back and said, “Certifiable records began in 1840.”
12/26/2019 Dorset Historical Society Proof of Abigail’s assumed last name of Soper My email: I was hoping you could please do a preliminary search and let me know if you have any information on the Soper family. My main search is for an Abigail Soper who married Daniel Logan, about 1780, my 4th great grandparents. It is stated, but not sourced that Abigail’s father was Samuel Soper. Supposedly a Hugh Logan married Abigail’s sister, Jemima, about 1784. And, Lucy Logan (Hugh’s sister) married their brother, William, about 1797. I have contacted a few county clerks, but they do not have these earlier records. Any help or direction is much appreciated.
12/27/2019 Dorset Historical Society His response: I checked through our archives, and could not find any information to tie Samuel Soper to Abigail Soper Logan. I did find some tidbits which may be of use.
According to the History of Danby, Joseph Soper was the first settler of Danby, in 1765, and two of his (unnamed) brothers settled in Dorset. They came from Nine Partners, New York.
According to a genealogy of the Allen family, “Seth Allen was born 16 Jan 1733/34 in Dartmouth, Bristol, Mass., and died Aft. 1801. He married Anna Soper Abt. 1752 in Dutchess County, N.Y., daughter of Peletiah Soper and Martha Soper. She was born 06 Feb 1734/35 in Windsor, Hartford, Ct. and died after 1801.” Seth and Anna bought land in Danby in 1769, which they sold in 1770, when they were in Manchester. They bought land in Manchester in 1773 from Peletiah Soper. After that, things get murkier, but they probably lived in East Dorset around 1800, and in Bromley, Vt. after 1800 (Bromley later changed its’ name to Peru).
“The Marriage Records of John Strong” records the wedding on September 5, 1782 of Robert Allen and Patty Soper of Dorset.
Several records say that the Soper Tavern was in South Dorset, at the intersection of modern-day Route 30 and Cross Road. None of the records give the first names of people who operated the tavern.
The Dorset Church records record the baptism of “Mrs. Samuel Soper 1803-04.”
Last, Rev. Parsons Pratt, in his genealogical records, noted that other Soper family members settled in “Brandon and other northern [Vermont] towns.
Like I said, nothing specific to your request, but I hope some of this scattershot information proves useful in your quest.
12/25/2019 Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness https://raogk.org/ Any Soper info Raymond Toolan from raogk emailed me back (his words)
I have done some looking and have found at least one extended family of Sopers from the mid-18th century in the towns of Dorset and Manchester in Bennington County. Your Abigail creates a bit of a problem. Remember the brief history lesson I gave you? In 1765 the French and Indian Wars had only ended two years previous. This means that England had new land it needed to quantify. The colonies of New York and New Hampshire felt that each of their grants gave them most or all of this former French territory as part of their landholdings. Each colony sent surveyors in to lay out grants. An early Vermont land speculator, Ethan Allen and his brother Ira preferred to deal with the governor of New Hampshire and so they formed The Green Mountain Boys, an ad hoc group of vigilantes whose mission was to force the New York surveyors and tax collectors out in favor of New Hampshire. There is some argument as to how successful they may have been. History remembers this group regarding their taking over Ft Ticonderoga in NY. The point in this is that in 1765 those towns were most likely considered part of NY as Vermont, per se, did not exist at that time. Middlebury, Vermont, is a bit north in Addison County, also on the west side of the Green Mountains, and also was most likely considered part of NY before 1777. I will see if I can find anything that connects Abigail to this family in Dorset and Manchester. You might see if you can get the contact information for the town’s historical society in Dorset and Manchester, Vermont. Every town has a historical society, and some are more active than others.
12/24/2019 The period in history that is involved here is a tough one for research in Vermont. Initially, the area, including Vermont, was under French control. After the battle on the Plains of Abraham in Quebec [ending the French and Indian wars], the area became part of the English holdings. Both the colonies of New York and New Hampshire claimed all or part of the land between them. While they were still arguing, the War of Independence broke out in 1776. IN 1777, the residents of the land area between Lake Champlain and the Connecticut River declared themselves an independent republic. This lasted until 1791 when Vermont was admitted as the 14th state. All record-keeping was done at the office of the town clerk. It still is. The recording of births, marriages, and deaths varied from town to town and really was not codified until around 1865. Copies of the various records were not collected at a central archive until around 1911. I will see if I can find any sort of documentation for you, but, honestly, the odds are very slim.
FYI, the clerks of the courts cannot really assist you as other than records of divorces or other court-related issues they have no records. Births, deaths, and marriages are all with the town clerks and at the archive in Middlesex. There are 254 towns, cities, gores, and grants in Vermont, each with its own clerk.
12/26/2019 Manchester Historical Society Vermont Soper Emailed them, have not received a response as of 1/4/2020
1/18/20 Marlin Logan Emailed Marlin and asked if he had sources on his information for Soper.
1/19/20 Manchester Historical Society Vermont Soper and Logan Emailed them again
1/19/20 Dorset Historical Society Soper and Logan Emailed them on information for Soper
1/22/20 Email from Marlin Logan
Went back to all my old records and so sorry I don’t have anymore information than is on my Family Tree.
Tried unsuccessfully to check other resources also and I come up with a blank.
You have sparked my interest again so will keep your request as I update and find new information. Hopefully we can find a little more data than we have.
As you can see, I do not know much more than I did when I started. But, tracking my inquiries on this log will keep me from repeating quests.
I may look into the other Soper’s mentioned and see if I can find any Abigail’s in their lines.
As you can see, we all have brick walls in our family history. I may be able to help with yours. Contact me for your some virtual family history tutoring.
What is Virtual tutoring? * Individual screen shares- a virtual whiteboard to work on: * Family tree creation. * Records search for documenting your family history. * Get help to break down brick walls on a particular ancestor. http://loganalogy.com/genealogy-classes/
Virtual Family History Classes through Zoom (Video Conferencing much like Skype or Google Hangouts).
Virtual tutoring individual screen shares a virtual whiteboard to work on:
Family tree creation.
Records search for documenting your family history.
Break down brick walls on a particular ancestor.
30 minutes of free consultation to discuss your needs, prior to the paid session.
Schedule your session today by selecting the appropriate picture below.
FAMILY HISTORY DETECTIVES
VIRTUAL BASIC FAMILY HISTORY CLASS
Basic Family History Class covers how to research your family tree, step-by-step. Please note, after the second Basic Family History Class — you will be sent access to the materials to review and refer back to, at your leisure. The class was designed with children in mind, but anyone is welcome to take the class.
The class is divided into five sessions and teaches how to start to trace an ancestor.
How to start a family tree and where to look for clues for who your ancestors were, leading to who you are.
How different people in your family are related, and how to make a pedigree chart.
Using Zoom, I will guide you along the way and help you to organize your findings, locate different sources, and learn how to cite your research.
There are many genealogy activities on the internet, but this class will allow you to ask questions in a virtual classroom.
We use Google Classroom for this class. Be sure to add the extension DocHub (free) to your Google Chrome in order to open and edit certain assignments.