Saturday, August 11, 2018

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: How Many of Your Ancestors Are in the Social Security Death Index?

Randy Seaver is back with a Saturday Night Genealogy Fun challenge that has you searching for your ancestors in a database:

Here is your assignment if you choose to play along (cue the Mission:  Impossible! music, please!):

(1) Michael John Neill wrote a blog post this week listing his ancestors who have entries in the Social Security Death Index (SSDI).  He had seven ancestors in the SSDI.

(2) This week, review your files and determine which of your ancestors has an entry in the Social Security Death Index (free on; see  How many do you have?

(3) Tell us in a blog post of your own, in a comment to this blog post, or in a status line on Facebook or Google Plus.  Leave a comment with a link to your blog post if you write one.

Ok, here's my list:

• Grandfather:  Bertram Lynn Sellers (1903–1995)
• Grandmother:  Anna Gauntt (1893–1986)
• Grandfather:  Abraham Meckler (1912–1989)
• Grandmother:  Lillyan E. (Gordon) Meckler (1919–2006)

• Great-grandmother:  Laura May (Armstrong) Sellers Ireland (1882–1970)
• Great-grandmother:  Sarah Libby (Brainin) Gordon (~1885–1963) (maybe)

So I have five, possibly six, ancestors who appear in the SSDI.  My father is still alive.  I'm not sure if it's my great-grandmother Sarah Gordon or not in the SSDI, and that person does not appear in the claims index.

On the other hand, I do have three ancestors who appear in the Social Security Claims Index.  Both of my grandfathers, Abraham Meckler and Bertram Lynn Sellers, are in there.  My great-grandfather Joe Gordon (~1892–1955) is also in the claims index, although he does not appear in the SSDI.  None of the rest of my great-grandparents is in either database, and my most recently deceased great-great-grandparent, Gershon Itzhak Novitsky, died in 1948 and also does not show up.

And I had my own strange search result with the SSDI on FamilySearch.  I looked for my grandmother Lillyan Meckler under those names with her year of death and did not find her.  When I searched for Esther Meckler, however, she was the only good matching result, with the full name of Lillyan Esther Meckler.  So I had the same kind of weirdness that Randy did while searching for his mother.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: How Many Generations Did Your Parents or Grandparents Know?

I skipped last week's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun because it was a repeat, but this week's is one of those that's interesting because it makes you think about parallel timelines.

Here is your assignment if you choose to play along (cue the Mission:  Impossible! music, please!):

(1) Miriam Robbins wrote a wonderful post today about her grandson playing with a toy first used by Miriam's great-grandfather.  See Seven Generations for the details.

(2) So how many generations of family did you know, or your parents or your grandparents know?  Ancestors and descendants.  

(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 post with a link with your response.

Ok, here's mine:

1.  I (born 1962) knew:
• My paternal grandparents, Bertram Lynn Sellers, Sr. (1903–1995) and Anna Gauntt (1893–1986), and my maternal grandparents, Abraham Meckler (1912–1989) and Lillyan E. Gordon (1919–2006)
• My parents, Bertram Lynn Sellers, Jr. (1935– ) and Myra Roslyn Meckler (1940–1995)
• My siblings
• My two stepsons
• My five grandchildren

2.  My father, Bertram Lynn Sellers, Jr., knew:
• His paternal grandmother, Laura May Armstrong (1882–1970), and his maternal grandparents, Thomas Kirkland Gauntt (1870–1951) and Jane Dunstan (1871–1954)
• His parents, Bertram Lynn Sellers, Sr. and Anna Gauntt
• His siblings
• His four children
• Seven of his grandchildren
• At least two of his great-grandchildren

3.  My mother, Myra Roslyn Meckler, knew:
• Her paternal great-grandfather, Gershon Itzhak Nowicki (~1858–1948)
• Her paternal grandfather, Morris Meckler (~1862–1953), and her maternal grandparents, Joe Gordon (~1892–1955) and Sarah Libby Brainin (~1890–1963)
• Her parents, Abraham Meckler and Lillyan E. Gordon
• Her siblings
• Her three children
• Three of her grandchildren

4.  My paternal grandfather, Bertram Lynn Sellers, Sr., knew:
• His paternal grandmother, Catherine Fox Owen (1949–1923), and possibly his maternal grandmother, Sarah Ann Lippincott (1860–after 1904)
• His parents, Cornelius Elmer Sellers (1877–1918) and Laura May Armstrong
• His siblings
• His five children
• At least nine of his grandchildren
• Probably seven of his great-grandchildren
• Probably three of his great-great-grandchildren

5.  My paternal grandmother, Anna Gauntt, knew:
• Her paternal grandmother, Amelia Gibson (1831–1908)
• Her parents, Thomas Kirkland Gauntt and Jane Dunstan
• Her siblings
• Her four children
• Her six grandchildren
• Her two great-grandchildren
• One of her great-great-grandchildren

6.  My maternal grandfather, Abraham Meckler, knew:
• His maternal grandparents, Gershon Itzhak Nowicki and Dora Yelsky (~1858–1936)
• His parents, Morris Meckler and Minnie Zelda Nowicki (~1880–1936)
• His siblings
• His three children
• His five grandchlidren
• Probably one of his great-grandchildren

7.  My maternal grandmother, Lillyan E. Gordon, knew:
• Her paternal grandfather, Victor Gordon (~1866–1925), and her maternal grandparents, Morris Brainin (~1861–1930) and Rose Dorothy Jaffe (~1869–1934)
• Her parents, Joe Gordon and Saray Libby Brainin
• Her siblings
• Her three children
• Her five grandchildren
• Three of her great-grandchildren

So, as in Randy's family, the most I seem to have is seven generations, but in my case for two ancestors.  Both of my paternal grandparents knew seven generations in their families (and I have five-generation photographs of each of them with a child, grandchild, great-grandchild, and great-great-grandchild).  My parents and my maternal grandparents each knew six generations, and I know five.  There's a chance my father will get to meet a great-great-grandchild.

I did find it interesting that among my parents and grandparents, only my mother knew a great-grandparent.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: How Many Persons in Your Biggest Family Tree?

Tonight's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun topic makes me sad.

Here is your assignment, if you choose to play along (cue the Mission:  Impossible! music, please!):

(1) Look in your preferred genealogy management program (e.g., RootsMagic, Family Tree Maker, Ancestry Member Tree, etc.) and determine how many separate "trees" (or "bushes", or "twigs") you have.

(2) How many persons are in your biggest family tree in your collection?  What persons are in your biggest tree (e.g., your ancestors, a person's descendants, etc.).

(3) Share your answers in your own blog post, in a comment on this post, or on a Facebook post.

1.  Well, the reason that this topic makes me sad is that I am still in "genealogy management program" limbo.  I was told that my computer that crashed has a nonrecoverable hard drive.  I know I had added many, many more people to my Family Tree Maker database since the last time I saved the file off that computer.  So I can't access my preferred program (and at some point I will need to re-enter all the information that was lost).

I am still using Reunion as my interim program.  I have six separate files, each of which has only one tree.

2.  The biggest Reunion family tree file has a mere 9,052 individuals in it.  Those persons include my ancestors and collateral lines coming down to the present day, along with ancestors and collateral lines of my aunt, my half-sister, and my cousin, plus a few other people.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: Ahnentafel Roulette

This week's challenge for Saturday Night Genealogy Fun gives, unfortunately, a predictable result at the beginning for almost everyone, but improves after that.

Here is your assignment if you choose to play along (cue the Mission:  Impossible! music, please!):

(1) What year was one of your great-grandparents born?  Divide this number by 100 and round the number off to a whole number. This is your "roulette number."

(2) Use your pedigree charts or your family tree genealogy software program to find the person with that number in your ancestral name list (some people call it an "ah
Your software will create this; use the "Ahnentafel List" option, or similar. Who is that person, and what is his/her vital information?

(3) Tell us three facts about the person in your ancestral name list with the "roulette number."

(4) Write about it in a blog post on your own blog, in a Facebook status or a Google Stream post, or as a comment on this blog post.

(5) NOTE:  If you do not have a person's name for your "roulette number" then "spin" the wheel again.  Pick someone else — a grandfather, a parent, a favorite aunt or cousin, yourself, or even one of your children!

1.  I think most people's great-grandparents will have been born in the 19th century; some will have great-grandparents born in the 20th century.  So that means the roulette number is limited to 18, 19, 20, or 21.  I suspsect most participants will end up with 19 as their result, and 20 will be second.

No matter which of my great-grandparents (whose birth years I know) I choose, the birth year is in the late 1800's (ranging from 1870 to 1892), which means dividing by 100 equals something between 18.7 to 18.92, which rounds up to 19.

2.  Number 19 produces the same result for me that it did for Randy, my paternal great-great-grandmother.  For me, that person is Sarah "Sally" Anne [Deacon] Lippincott.

• Sarah was born August 23, 1860 in Burlington County, New Jersey (probably in Moorestown or Springfield) to Abel A. Lippincott and Rachel R. Stackhouse.
• She married Joel Armstrong on October 5, 1878 in Burlington, Burlingotn County, New Jersey.
• I don't have a confirmed date of death for Sarah, but she died after 1904, because I have found her in the 1905 New Jersey state census.  Some family trees list her death about May 13, 1928, but with no documentation.

3.  Three facts about Sarah Anne (Lippincott) Armstrong:

• Sarah had three known children:  Rachel Anna, who married three times and had seven children; Stacy Biddie (a boy), who married a widow and fathered six children; and Laura May, my great-grandmother, who married at least twice, had about eight children with her first husband, and bore two children out of wedlock (including my grandfather).

• Sarah and Joel appear to have divorced prior to 1900.  Each of them was enumerated in the 1900 census and listed as widowed.

• I have a photograph purported to be of Sarah and Joel, but I'm not sure it's actually them.