Genealogy Do-over

Its been almost 6 months since I posted on this blog.  I have been so overwhelmed by my family research over the last year that I have at some points avoided doing anymore. Initially when I started my genealogy quest I was what is termed a “name collector”.  If it sounded right it would go into my database.  Some sources are documented, some not…  I even have people in my database who I have no idea where I got the information!  Luckily Thomas MacEntee, who has been extremely helpful to all of us in the blogging world by providing us Geneabloggers,  is providing us all with what he terms the “Genealogy Do-Over“.  We will be putting aside all our previous research and hit the reset button.  We will take 13 weeks and each week we will be building and refining our research abilities, re-examine our processes and start creating a through and concise plan of action for research.

gendover wo date

My hope is that this process will allow me to re-claim my passion for genealogy and take my somewhat stale database and start fresh with new eyes and insight into creating a more organized, properly sourced database that will be easily passed on to the next generation.  The 13 weeks starts this Friday, January 2, 2015.  Wish me luck!


52 Ancestors: #3 Katharine Taff O’Neill

Katharine Taff O’Neill (1925-2003) was my mother-in-law.  She was one of those rare special people who come and go in your life.  Having never met me until a few days before I married her son, she was able to embrace me and make me feel a part of her wild and crazy little family.  I could probably write a book about her.  But, I thought I would let me son do the writing this week.  When he was in 3rd grade he had to write a paper about the life of one of his relatives.  He chose Kate.  Below is the paper he wrote:

graham and grandma

Graham and Grandma

A Spoiled Child
By Graham – written in Spring 2000.

“My Grandma, Katharine Taff O’Neill, was born May 8, 1925 in Philadelphia. She was the only child in her family. The house she grew up in was a 3 story rowhouse. Next door to her lived her Uncle. Her Uncle had 6 boys. She was a spoiled child. In elementary school she was taught by nuns in a parochial school.  She liked the subjects of history, reading and math. She remembers when she was little going to Atlantic City to walk on the boardwalk, swim at the beach and play in the amusement park. They did not  have sunscreen back then. She also remembers traveling to Boston to visit relatives.

My grandmother went to an all girls high school called Little Flower. She tried out for choir and she made it. She also had to study hard. She enjoyed hanging out with her friends, Anna and Jeannie.  They liked to go to parties and movies together. She doesn’t communicate with them anymore because they have passed away.

She didn’t go to college because her mother couldn’t afford to send her. She got married in 1952 at the age of 27 to my grandpa, William Francis O’Neill. She raised three boys, which was the joy of her life. My dad, Bill, was one child, Uncle Dave was another. Uncle Donald was born a  couple of years later in 1963 when my dad was in the 4th grade. My grandma worked in a department store, Wanamakers, and she enjoyed meeting and helping people.

My grandma is now 74 years of age. She is kind and nice to everyone. I like to visit here in Philadelphia. She lives with my funny Uncle Donald. She stays at home now because she has been sick.

My grandma enjoys seeing me and spending time with me. She is very loving to me and everyone else. I really like my grandma. My grandma is  nice to  everyone she knows.”


52 Ancestors: #2 William Pyatt

William Pyatt was my 3rd great-grandfather on my Dad’s side. He was born about 1790 in Virginia. He migrated to Ohio around 1812 where he met and married Catherine Glass. William and Catherine Pyatt are found on the 1820 census of Clark County, Ohio along with their eldest son, Benjamin and their two daughters Mary and Sarah. William is listed on this census as a Farmer. They later lived in Indiana and Tennessee (where Catherine died prior to 1841). William and Catherine had 7 children; Benjamin b: 1813,  Mary b: 1815, Sarah b: 1817,  John H. b:1822, Elijah b: 1823, James Glass b: 1824 and Elizabeth b: 1831.

Around 1841 William along with most of his children, including James Glass Pyatt and James’ young wife, Rachel and 2 small children, moved to Crawford County, Missouri. William married a widow with children, Elizabeth Bennett on January 3, 1850 in Crawford County. William and Elizabeth had no children of their own. William Pyatt is on the 1850 census where he is listed as a basket maker who cannot read nor write. He died shortly thereafter in Crawford County, Missouri.



52 Ancestors: #1 Perry Stewart

This post is the first in a series of posts about my ancestors.  Amy Johnson Crow issued this genealogical challenge (to write about one ancestor each week for 52 weeks) on her blog No Story Too Small.  Having accepted the challenge here is my first post!


Perry Stewart was my second great grandfather on my mother’s side.  He was born October 9, 1845 in Washington Township where his father, David Stewart, was a farmer.  By 1860 the family had moved to Paris, Illinois where Perry and his older brother, Marion, helped their father with the family farm.  After the Civil War broke out and Perry had turned 19, he enlisted in the  66th Illinois Infantry, Company E, on February 4, 1864 as a Private.  This company was part of the Atlanta Campaign under Major General William T. Sherman who was charged with preventing the Confederate troops from moving northward.  After capturing Atlanta, these same units proceeded on the March to the Sea and the capture of Savannah.  In May 1865 the 66th was part of the Grand Review in Washington, DC and later Perry was mustered out on 7/12/1865.  He met Mary Ettie Guthrie and they were married in 1873.  They continued to live in Paris, Illinois and raised 11 children.  Perry worked as a farmer and also in a cigar store.  Around 1911 he was admitted to the U.S. National Homes for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers, in Milwaukee.  He remained there for 8 years.  After 1911 Perry and Ettie both listed themselves on census records as either widowed or divorced.  Perry left Milwaukee in 1919 and proceeded to Oakland, California where he died on November 24, 1924.  His remains were returned to Paris, Illinois for burial.