Motivation Monday – Genealogy Workshop with D. Joshua Taylor

Joshua Taylor on Genealogy Roadshow

Joshua Taylor on Genealogy Roadshow

If you keep up with the modern Genealogy world at all you probably know who D. Josh Taylor is.  He is the young genealogist recently starring on “Genealogy Roadshow” and also on several episodes of “Who Do You Think You Are?”.  His age and experience made sense to me once he told us he began his genealogy journey at ten years of age.  Last Saturday, I had the honor to be able to attend a full day workshop with D. Joshua Taylor, hosted by the Hardesty Library in Tulsa, Oklahoma.  Actually our little local Sapulpa Genealogy Club had about ten members in attendance.

Mr. Taylor graciously allowed me to take a picture with him.

Mr. Taylor graciously allowed me to take a picture with him.

Josh was a joy to listen to.  He conveys his excitement and curiosity about genealogical history in a fun loving way.  On one episode of Genealogy Roadshow he describes himself as “part detective, part historian and the other part extremely curious”.  It is very obvious that he loves Genealogy and the stories behind our ancestors.

Saturday he spoke on four topics:

  • Bridging the Gap: Finding Ancestors in the U.S. Between 1780 and 1830
  • Online Resources for Colonial America
  • Finding the Roots of Your Family Legends
  • Treasures in the Archives: Using Archive Grid
Syllabus for the first two sessions.

Syllabus for the first two sessions.

In Bridging the Gap he first helped us understand the reasons for gaps in record from 1780-1830.  Immediately following the Revolution the country was expanding rapidly, record keeping systems were still being worked out, and it was estimated that only 1 in 4 Americans were members of a religious group which at that time in history was the main recorders of vital statistics such as births, marriages and burials.  He then went on to give us strategies to help overcome the gap.  If primary vital statistic records are unavailable you have to build a profile using other records.  Sometimes you can use a process of elimination.  There is a “Proof Standard”: Build a case, Eliminate possibilities, Develop theories, and Draw conclusions.  He said to go back through the records you do have and look for other clues.  He said several times that it is important to try to look at original records, not just transcriptions.  There can be mistakes in transcribing but more than that there may be other information on the original records, notes written on the side, etc.  He spent some time in this session going over archives and lesser known repository research.  The kind where you have to put “feet to the ground” and do physical research.  This really got me fired up, dreaming of when I can plan another Genealogy Roadtrip.

The second session was about doing Colonial American Research online.  He went over using Google Books, Internet Archive, Early American Newspapers and American Ancestors.  All online databases that have books and newspapers digitized.  Many States and Universities also have digitized archives.

After the second session we broke for lunch.  Many in our group went to eat at McAllister’s.  Mr. Taylor ate there as well.  Which was good because we knew as long as he was there eating we weren’t late getting back.  We had a great lunch and I enjoyed getting to know the ladies in our club better.

The third session was about Finding the Roots of Family Legends.  This was a fun one.   Typically in genealogy family legends are discounted.  He encouraged us to trace the legends, develop the historical context around the legend,  using newspapers of the time along with other sources.  We should document the sources we find that disprove the legend so that others won’t have to redo the same research.  But whether we can prove or disprove the legend we shouldn’t lose the legend.  We should write the legend along with our research on it into our family books because for many family members that is the interesting stuff that connects them to genealogy.

The last session of the day was Treasures in the Archives: Using ArchiveGrid.  This was a pretty technical session, at least for me.  I had never even heard of ArchiveGrid.  This session really made me realize what a novice I still am at this genealogy thing.  I took alot of notes and I am hoping that when I have time to learn this I will understand my own notes.  If not I will just have to find another Joshua Taylor workshop to attend.

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Where did our Tracey line come from? Research in progress.

dna2 Recently I have jumped into the world of genetealogy.  That is DNA genealogy research.  My second cousin, Marshall, offered to take the YDNA test through familytreeDNA.  The results were kind of surprising.  When my husband took the same YDNA test he got pages and pages of matches, when I took the autosomal DNA test I also received pages and pages of matches.  I had come to expect it from the entry level dna tests.  You have to upgrade tests to narrow down matches.  The entry level YDNA test matches 12 markers on a DNA strand, you can then upgrade to 25, 37, 47, and on.  For each level you should get less and less matches but it should narrow down your matches to closer relations.  So you should expect to get quite a few matches with an entry level test.

dnacubeslSo back to Marshall Tracy’s YDNA-12 test results.  He had 7 matches!  That is 7 matches total, not pages!  I am a rookie at this DNA research but even I knew something was up with that.  I reached out via email to the Tracey Surname project administrator, and a few other researchers.  Thankfully, the project administrator, Declan, got back to me pretty quickly and here is what he had to say:

“I had a look at the results and you are right that there are very few matches, which for 12 markers is very unusual. I see that you are upgrading to 25 markers but I think that this will not change the number of matches.

Your cousin belongs to an unusual group of individuals that are Rb1 and have the DYS392=11 mutation. There is one person who lives in DubIin Ireland, but he thinks that his family are descended from the English family [see Tracy Peerage Case]. This is what I wrote a number of years ago:

In the ancient Irish genealogies of the Uí Bairrche tribe, the Uí Treasaich and Mac Gormáin families belonged to the royal family and were related. Some members of the Tracy and Gorman DNA Projects contain a very rare mutation, DYS392=11. According to Seán MacGorman Powell, the Gorman Project Administrator, after a careful analyses of all DYS392=11 mutation bearers in every major geographical DNA project examined, he identified a total of 79 people worldwide within the R1b haplogroup (and subclades) who bear this mutation. Considering that tens of thousands of R1b people have been tested, it is clear that this represents an extremely rare mutation for R1b, occurring in less than one-half of one percent (< 0.5%) of that major haplogroup. As such, this may be a strong indication of a DNA relationship and may explain the reference to “Macraith, son of Gorman, son of Treasach” in the Annals of the Four Masters for the year 1042 AD. Seán has also compared the Gormans and Tracys who have the DYS392=11 mutation and in his opinion, there is no relation between the two groups outside of the mutation.”

So our Tracey branch is part of a very small DNA group of Tracey’s and Gorman’s.  Knowing this, I’d like to find some other Teague Tracey descendants that have taken the Y-DNA test and compare results and also some Tracey’s still living in Ireland and/or England.  I did notice that of those seven matches several of them listed their paternal ancestor and it was one that I believe was a descendant of Teague – I still need to confirm these.  There were also two from the UK – one from Edenfield, England and one from Ireland but those two had different surnames…curious.?  My goal is to find where our Tracey line was transported from way back in 1679 (or before).  And DNA may be able to get me where records alone could not.

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Tracey Immigration – Surname Saturday

Rosanna Ward:

I am reblogging this as a preview to my next post about what I’ve learned about the Tracey line through YDNA tests so far.

Originally posted on Rosanna's Genealogical Thoughts:

Teague Tracey (Trassey?)

Our Immigrant Ancestor

by Rosanna Ward

May 22, 2012

There are a few genealogists who have been trying for years to figure out how our branch of Tracey’s came to America and where they came from.  We have pretty substantial evidence when tracing our line back to Teague Tracey born 1674 whose first appearance in Maryland, America was about 1679.  There is also record of a Teague Trassey being transported to Virginia in 1655 who may be Teague jr.’s father as there is much to suggest that his father was also named Teague.  Whether or not these two Teague’s are related has yet to be proven.  Teague is an Irish form of Timothy.  There are other records of Timothy Tracey in the area around the same time and these may have been one or both Teague’s or possibly a totally different person.  Most of the records we…

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Thankful Thursday – Genealogy friends

Wow!  I have so much to be thankful for, in life in general, but specifically in my genealogy hobby.  I took some time away from the blog this summer and away from research as well.  But I have still been busy in the genealogy world: I have had several people send me information and pictures that were such a joy to receive,  I have started dabbling in the DNA world more, and I joined a local genealogy club.

First book done!

First book done!

First, I finished the Rusler and Erxleben blogs and then edited them to flow together, added some source records, printed and bound about fifteen of them and sold them to interested relatives.  I also sent a few copies to genealogy and history libraries in the counties where my Rusler and Erxleben ancestors lived.  One of the copies I sent to the York, Nebraska County Historical Society and the lady there (who has helped me in the past) read it right away and seeing that I still had questions about some of the relatives, immediately sent me an obituary for one of them.  This is was such a great

George Rusler's Obituary

George Rusler’s Obituary

find! (although the obituary was quite sad).

Second, about a year ago I had taken part in the’s beta DNA test.  It came back that I was 99% Scandinavian which just seemed kind of crazy to me.  So this summer I transferred the raw data over to  Their family finder test gave me the results that I was 94% Orcadian of Western Europe and 6% Middle Eastern.  The Orcadian population was indigenous to the Orkney Islands north of Great Britain.  So basically I am descended from Vikings and people from that region.  Since this went along with ancestry’s findings I decided to start believing.  Last week I transferred the data to a medical DNA company called ($5) and they gave me a fun breakdown of my medical DNA.  Turns out that most of my DNA would suggest that I would have blonde hair and blue eyes.  (I actually have brown hair and



hazel eyes).  This was funny but really starts to explain why we have two children with blonde hair and blue eyes.  (my spouse also has brown hair and hazel eyes)  There was alot of other information about what kinds of diseases I was more likely to get, the fact that I can taste bitter, I was lactose tolerant, etc…  It is definitely a fun little website and really helped me understand DNA a bit better.

I also had my spouse do a Y-DNA test, when I received the results I didn’t understand them much so I went ahead and did the family finder on his also, the results of which I am still waiting on.  It does says that he is Western European and gave him a haplogroup number (not sure what to do with that yet).  And my Tracey cousin did the Y-DNA test also and we are waiting on his results.  Maybe they will be easier to understand.  I learned alot about DNA this summer.

I have also recently had two researchers that connect to my ancestors 3-4 generations back send me pictures that I had never seen before.  It is like Christmas every time I receive pictures or stories from other researchers.  Just this week another descendant of my great great Gotcher grandparents sent me two pictures of the family.  While neither picture included my great grandpa it was great to see what my Gotcher ancestors looked like and after I posted the pictures to our family group on Facebook we all agreed that there is definitely family resemblance in many of us to these grandparents – especially my brother with great great grandpa Daniel.

Daniel, Delilah and Ledford Gotcher

Daniel, Delilah and Ledford Gotcher

Gotcher Family - Daniel Delilah and Girls

Gotcher Family – Daniel Delilah and Girls

My intent this summer was to take a break from my paternal genealogy and work on my husband’s paternal genealogy but I ran into a roadblock right away.  Oklahoma has changed their rules for ordering death certificates making it especially difficult for a genealogist to get them.  Now you have to send in evidence that you are related to the person you are trying to get a death certificate for.  Since I was trying to get a death certificate for my husband’s great great grandma, Texanna Dyer Ward, I had to show how Texanna was related to her son Elmer (census report, which I have), then how Elmer was related to Mike (census report, which I have), then how Mike was related to David (?), then how David is related to Jason (Jason’s Birth Certificate, which I have), and how Jason and I are related (Marriage Certificate, which I have).  The only way I can bridge the gap between Mike and David is to ask my father in law for a copy of his birth certificate…awkward?  Anyway, it is a maddening rule.  I mean, that is a lot of paperwork and it’s not like she even had a social security number that anyone is going to steal, which is their excuse for these new rules).

But the best thing I have done this year is join a genealogy club.  I am a dedicated introvert but it is so fun hanging out with a group of people who share the same passion as I do and speak the same language.  Their eyes don’t glaze over when I talk about genealogy adventures and finds.  They understand the joy of the hunt and of finding a piece to the puzzle.  I have had a great summer, I have much to be thankful for and I am ready to get back to researching and blogging.  Stay tuned for more of Rosanna’s Genealogical Thoughts.

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Church Records Sunday – Council Church in York County, Nebraska

Council Church

Council Church

Last summer at the Tracy Family Reunion we visited the old family church on Sunday Morning.  We had a brief informal service where we sang some old hymns, shared memories of the church, my mom spoke about “legacy”, then we prayed and took pictures before we visited the cemetery out back.  Many of our relatives are buried there and many of them were members at the church.

Family picture out front

Family picture out front

While there we realized that when our children were singing songs in the church they were the 6th generation to do so there. 6 generations!!!  Council Church was established in 1872.  By 1880 my Tracy and Rusler ancestors were living in the area.  From that point on most of them were buried at Council Cemetery.  And many of them were members of the church.  I have fond memories as a child attending church there where my grandma would play the piano.  There

Reunion at Council Church

Reunion at Council Church

was no air conditioning and all the ladies had those paper fans attached to wooden “tongue depressors”  There was a picture of Jesus as the shepherd behind the pulpit and we sat on old hard wood pews.  As a child it never hit me that my ancestors sat in those same pews, played the same piano, etc…  But as an adult it sure means alot.  I love that there is a little church in the middle of Nebraska where 6 generations of Tracys’ and Rusler’s have worshipped God – It feels like we are building on each others faith.  My Faith foundation is firm because of that church and my family.



Last summer I also found some records that partially pertained to Council Church.  My Great Great Grandpa Michael Anthony Rusler’s older brother Charles J. Rusler left provision for the church in his will.

Section 6: “I , give, devise and bequeath to the trustees of the Council Church of Lushton, Nebraska the sum of Twenty Thousand Dollars in trust to keep the principal sum invested in good securities; and the income to be expended by them. less necessary expenses, for the upkeep of the said Council Church, so long as it maintains its organization and maintains church services.  this trust to be administered by the present trustees of Council Church and their successors.  When the said Council Church shall cease the organization and maintenance of its church services the said sum of money Twenty Thousand Dollars to be divided equally among my said two brothers, my sister, my niece Mary Tracy, my niece, Minnie Burton and my Niece Pearl Wagner share and share alike, the share of any of my said sister, brothers and nieces to go their heirs if they are not living at that time.”

Grandma Gotcher's favorite hymn.

Grandma Gotcher’s favorite hymn.

Charles J Rusler died April 12, 1930 and this will was filed May 4, 1931.  I have no idea where this Twenty Thousand Dollars is as of now but I hope that it is what helps keep this precious church standing and in good shape.  I know they still hold intermittent services there.  I just hope that whatever money is held in trust for this church that it keeps the church standing and the doors open.  I hope there are other wills like this one that left the church a little bit of money.  I wonder if Charles had any idea the church would function for so long after his death.  If that money was to be taken out and

Gotcher Kids at Council Church 1953

Gotcher Kids at Council Church 1953

distributed to all the heirs of the original heirs we would not really get any great amount of money.  There are alot of Rusler descendants.  I for one believe the money is being put to good use where it’s at for now.  I pray that one day my grandchildren have a chance to worship there as the 7th generation to do so.

Kids singing on stage

6th Generation singing at Council Church

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Mary Sophia Rusler – Surname Saturday

Mary Sophia Rusler

Mary Sophia Rusler

I have saved the oldest daughter of Augusta Wilhemina Erxleben and Michael Anthony Rusler for last because she was my great grandmother.  Many of my relatives have shared memories and stories they have about her so this post may be a long one (for me).

Mary Sophia Rusler

Mary Sophia Rusler

Mary Sophia Rusler was born December 3, 1874 in Rockford, Ogle County, Illinois.  When she was a young child her family moved to York County, Nebraska where she lived the rest of her life.  At the age of 19 she married John Wesley Tracy.  They were married by the County Judge at the York County Courthouse on March 21, 1894.  She was the child of German Immigrants, his family had been Americans since the colonial days.  They had seven children: Bryce Dilworth (1896), Ivan Wesley (1898), Pearl Olive (1900), Ray Lewis (1902), Mabel Rosanna (1904), Mary Augusta (1908), and James Everett (1913).

John Wesley and Mary Sophia Rusler Tracy

John Wesley and Mary Sophia Rusler Tracy

Tragedy struck this young family in October 1905 when they lost their son, Ray, in an accident (The Death of a Child).  I have heard that this tragedy was a turning point for John Wesley, before this he was happy go lucky fun-loving guy but after this he became a serious man and a church leader.  There is a picture taken soon after Ray’s death and I see  sadness in all of their faces.  James Everett wasn’t born until 1913 (5 years after Mary the next youngest) and when she was 38.  I can relate to this.  I don’t have 7 children (4) but there is quite a gap between my youngest (6 years) and I was 39 when he was born.  I can’t imagine being a mom at this age without the modern conveniences I am thankful for today.  I have noticed that many of my female ancestors had children somewhat late in life.  In fact, my Grandma Mabel was 45 when she had twins – one of which was my dad.

Tracy Family about 1905 I think they look sad.

Tracy Family about 1905
I think they look sad.

In 1931 a second tragedy fell upon Mary Sophia; her husband, John Wesley died of a heart attack while out hunting. By the time of his death the farm consisted of nine 80 acre sections – each of the six children were given a section in the will and Mary was given three sections with the homestead.  Mary continued to run the large farm independently.  This was an amazing thing as the 1930s were a tough time what with the depression, the grasshopper invasions, the dust storms, etc…  She was a strong woman.  In fact, John Wesley had raised Shorthorn Cattle and had a bull he was quit proud of.  She kept that bull (and maybe his son) and made money breeding him.  People came from all over to pay for the use of that bull.

John Wesley Tracy Family about 1916

John Wesley Tracy Family
about 1916

My dad’s cousin Jeanette lived with Grandma Mary Sophia for a few years when she was a young child.  She had a lot of memories to share.  Jeanette describes Grandma May as “pure as the driven snow.  Kind and nurturing and she loved God more than anything.  Totally independent after Grandpa died, ran the farm literally by herself, hiring hands to plant and harvest.  There were hired hands to feed during those times.  She kept the farm in top condition.  All the buildings painted and repaired.  I never saw Grandma Tracy angry.  She had the patience of Job.  She talked softly to God all day through the chores – milking, gathering eggs, dusting the chickens for mites, whatever.  On her lips was always, “Thank you Lord”.  Sometimes I would hear, “Help me Lord” but rarely.  She was very frugal, but never wanting.  She had electric lines running down the road and I asked her why she did not have electricity to the house.  She told me she gets up with the morning sun and goes to bed at dark.  Truth

4 Generation Augusta, May, Ivan, Lloyd

4 Generation
Augusta, May, Ivan, Lloyd

is, we did need a coal oil lamp some evenings in winter.  She was a fabulous cook and baker.  We baked bread, cinnamon rolls, parkerhouse rolls, one day a week.  She made noodles one day.  We did laundry one day. ” She said grandma had a lot of clutter stacked on the huge buffet behind the kitchen door.  She had her sewing machine under the kitchen window where she could see all of her beautiful flowers while she sewed.  Grandma loved her flowers.

The oldest two boys, Bryce and Ivan, farmed nearby but Olive and Mary married and moved to the northwest.  When Mary and her husband initially went west they left their oldest four children with Grandma May until they settled in Washington.  And once, Aunt Olive and her husband, John Larkin, visited in a huge truck that they used to haul fruit in Oregon, but this time it had a bed, drawers, chairs and stands like a motor home for the trip across country.  Mabel and Everett lived in the northwest for several years but moved home, later Everett moved to Louisiana.  Grandma Mabel and Grandpa Leo Gotcher took over the home section of the farm and moved into the farmhouse after Great Grandma Tracy’s death.

Grandma May Tracy with Gotcher Grandkids

Grandma May Tracy with Gotcher Grandkids

Jeanette tells another story, “Sleeping soundly in Grandma’s deep delicious featherbed, a storm was brewing.  But we slept peacefully.  Morning came, we went down to breakfast and walked out the back door to take the long walk to the outhouse.  (Oh yes, Grandma had a lovely bathroom with a grand porcelain tub and a pedestal sink and a separator.  No toilet.)  SURPRISE!!  Chickens running around the farm – naked, defeathered.  the chicken house was long gone!  Tornado had come through and taken it far into other fields.  Quite a number of chickens remained, as we gathered all we could find, many along the creek bed, some in the barn, many helpless and boy, did we have alot of chickens to prepare for canning.  Could not save too many.  But Grandma made the best chicken and noodles in the world.  So, we did have some of that too, and fried chicken – the rest we canned.”

Grandma May

Grandma May

“Grandma Tracy love oyster stew and chocolate covered cherries.  Every year on her birthday the family would gather for fabulous oyster stew – delicious with fresh cream and butter and oysters in season, special ordered, and for dessert, wonderful chocolate covered cherries.  Grandma did like her candies.  She always had some on hand.”

Which brings up a memory my dad and his twin sister had of Grandma Tracy.  They both remember that Grandma lived with them when they were little and sometimes during the day, the adults would leave them with Grandma and admonish them to watch Grandma in case she got into the sugar.  By this time Grandma.  My dad wasn’t sure what they were supposed to do about Grandma getting into the sugar, they were just told to watch her.

Cousin Mary Elizabeth Tracy (Everett’s youngest) says she remembers her dad telling her that Grandma’s chickens were taken from her so that she wouldn’t have to bother with them in her old age and it was after that that she died.  He was trying to teach Mary that people need a reason to wake up every day.

Grandma Mary Sophia Rusler Tracy died October 19, 1961 in Henderson, Nebraska.  She had a stroke three days before her death, but her longtime fight with Diabetes was a contributing factor to her death.  She was 85 years old and had lived a full life.  She was a strong pioneer lady who loved God, loved her family, loved her church and her community.  She lived through great tragedies and was surrounded by loved ones until her death.  Hers is a legacy of strength, steadfast faith and love and I am proud to be a descendant of Mary Sophia Rusler Tracy.

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Tuesday’s Tombstone – Liol Rusler

May Rusler Tracy youngest bro Liols grave 8 8 42 in Hollister

Okay, So I don’t have a tombstone picture of Liol Rusler but I think I have a picture more rare – a gravesite picture.  Somehow my grandmother acquired this picture of Liol’s gravesite in Hollister, California in 1942.

Liol Rusler

Liol Rusler

Liol Otto Rusler was the youngest son of Michael Anthony Augusta Wilhemina Erxleben Ruser.  He was born August 6, 1895 in York, Nebraska when his mom was 40 years old.  He was the 10th child but he never knew two of his siblings as they died before he was born.  He was only eight when his dad died while they were living in Custer County, Nebraska.  He moved with his mother back to York – Bradshaw where they lived in a little house in town.  In the 1910 census he lived here with his mom and sister Pearl and a boarder named Manly Barr who was a horse dealer.  Liol’s WWI draft registration give his description as medium height and build with brown eyes and dark brown hair.  Liol married Anna Viola Anderson in 1915.  She was born March 4, 1899 in Iowa City, Iowa.  They bought a small piece of property in Bradshaw from his mom for $500 and were living there in the 1920 census.  At this time they had two daughters, Helen (1916) and Violet (1918).  By 1930 the family was living in Mason City, Custer County, Nebraska and Liol was a truck driver – hauling freight.  His mother had died in 1927.  His family had grown quite a bit: Marvin (1920), Erma (1923), Elsie (1925), Darlene (1926), and Martin (1928) had joined Helen and Violet.   I figure at some point while he was hauling freight he visited California because by the 1940 census the family was living in Pajaro, Monterey, California on Highway 101.  At this point Liol is working for the WPA doing flood control.  They have also added to the family bringing their total to 14.  Donald (1930-1930), William (1931), Barbara (1932), Jean (1935), Patricia (1937), Frank (1938), and Richard (1940).  Liol died August 3, 1942 in Hollister, San Benito, California just three days shy of his 47th birthday.

Ideas for further research:  What did Anna do after Liol’s death – she had quite a few young children to take care of.

Liol Rusler, Olive and Bryce Tracy, and Pearl Rusler

Liol Rusler, Olive and Bryce Tracy, and Pearl Rusler

Pearl, Liol, Will (in back) and  Bertha Rusler

Pearl, Liol, Will (in back) and Bertha Rusler

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