Saturday, December 3, 2016

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: Who Is Your MRUA?

This week's assignment from Randy Seaver for Saturday Night Genealogy Fun sounds like a great opportunity to get ideas from other people:

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

(1) Who is your MRUA:  your Most Recent Unknown Ancestor?  This is the person with the lowest number on your Pedigree Chart or Ahnentafel List whom you have not identified a last name for, or a first name if you know a surname but not a first name. 

(2) Have you looked at your research files for this unknown person recently?  Why don't you scan them again just to see if there's something you have missed? 

(3) What online or offline resources might you search that might help identify your MRUA?

(4) Tell us about him or her, and your answers to (2) and (3) above, in a blog post, in a comment to this post, or in a comment on Facebook or Google+.

I suspect I will have one of the lower numbers for this exercise.

1.  My Most Recent Unknown Ancestor is the father of my paternal grandfather, who is #8 on a standard pedigree chart and Ahnentafel list.  I do not know his first or last name.  In fact, I know nothing about him except that he must have existed.

2.  I have indeed recently looked at my research for this man.  He preys on my mind, in fact.

After several clues over many years made me suspect more and more that my grandfather's father might not have been the man my great-grandmother married, I set about to try to prove it one way or another.  I started out by sending my sister in person to the New Jersey State Archives to find our grandfather's birth record.  She was successful, but the father's name was not listed on the certificate, merely the socially disapproving "OW" (for "out of wedlock").

My grandfather was named Bertram.  My great-grandmother had another out-of-wedlock child three years after her husband died.  That daughter was named Bertolet (no, really, I didn't make that up).  My sister and I both started to wonder if Bertram and Bertolet might have had the same father, someone with "Bert" or something similar as part of his name.  The next time my sister was able to go to the archives, Bertolet's birth and death records were at the top of the list to acquire.  My great-grandmother thwarted us again:  No father's name was included on either record.

Every other record I have found for my grandfather identifies his father's name as Elmer.  Bertolet lived only about six years, so few records exist for her at all.

Now that the standard paper methods had failed me, I turned to DNA.  I was very fortunate in that the only sibling of my grandfather who had surviving children was his brother, who had sons, who had sons.  I tracked down several of my male cousins and convinced one to take a Y-DNA test that I paid for.  I already had my father's Y-DNA test results.  After my cousin's results came in, the inescapable conclusion is that my grandfather and his brother did not have the same father.  Based on the talks I have had with several family members, I am certain that none of the children in the family (my grandfather, his brother, and their two sisters) knew this, so family gossip will not be able to help me either.

My father matches one gentleman in the Family Tree DNA database at 107 markers on his Y-DNA, so I have been pursuing that lead.  The family name there is Mundy.  In addition, a woman contacted my father recently because her husband, also a Mundy, matched my father at about the same number of markers.  So currently I am working on tracing the FTDNA match's family back, and our new contact is doing the same with her husband's family.  For the number of matching markers, the estimated relationship is about 6th cousin, so we have a lot of work to do.  Interestingly, the man on FTDNA identifies as Irish, while the woman's husband's family seems to be English.  The goal is to try to find a man on one or both of these Mundy lines who was in the area of Burlington County, New Jersey or Philadelphia in the summer or fall of 1902.

I have tried searches for Mundys and for variations of "Bert" in the area, but they have had scattershot results at best, as I know nothing about this man other than possibly his last name and part of his first name.  I haven't found anyone named "Bert" Mundy in the area, that's for sure.

3.  I need to do more work on researching the Mundy family identified by the Y-DNA match on FTDNA.  I've only gone back three generations so far, and I need to go further back and then bring all those lines forward, tracking every man.

I have had both of my surviving aunts, who along with my father are my grandfather's children, do DNA tests.  I need to transfer their results to GEDMatch to help the research along.  Based on what I have seen for matches so far, however, I am beginning to suspect that this great-grandfather might not have had any other children, or at least none who had surviving progeny.  Neither my father nor my aunts have any matches closer than 3rd cousin in their autosomal results.

I'm also considering ponying up the fee on GEDMatch to try the Lazarus tool.  I now have DNA results for my father, my aunts, my brother, my sister, and myself.  That might be enough to give me some kind of credible profile for this mystery man.

If anyone has other suggestions on how I can try to learn who my great-grandfather was, I will be happy to hear them!


  1. This was a very interesting post, Janice!

    The first name that I would be looking for would be Bertram...maybe she named your grandpa after his father. But, other names to consider are: Robert, Herbert, Hubert, Gilbert, Norbert, and Albert. Also, maybe even Bertrand.

    I hope that you'll be able to get this figured out. What an interesting adventure. :)

    Have a blessed weekend.

    1. Bertram is definitely at the top of my list, Suzanne! But thanks for the other names to consider.

      I'm pretty persistent. I won't give up easily.

    2. I figured you wouldn't. I'm a stubborn researcher, too. haha

      What was your great-grandmother's name? Or the last name that your grandpa grew up with?

      I was just searching through some 1902 Philadelphia newspapers and found some Mundys, one being named George R. Mundy. There was a Reverand also with the last name Mundy.

      Maybe with your great-grandmother's last name or your grandpa's last name, I could find something to help make a connection through these old newspapers.

    3. My great grandmother was Laura Armstrong, who married Elmer Sellers. My grandfather was Bertram Lynn Sellers. If you find a Bertram Mundy, let me know!

    4. I just did!

      I found a wedding announcement for a Bertram Munday to a Miss Sarah Johnson in the 20 February 1896 issue of The Courier-News out of Bridgewater, New Jersey. How close is that Burlington, NJ?

      Maybe this is the person you're looking for. Please tell me how I can email this clipping to you.

    5. Maybe you're a good luck charm! Bridgewater is in northern New Jersey, whereas Burlington County is southern Jersey. But maybe they moved by 1902. You can send the clipping to my e-mail address, Thanks!

    6. That should have said "Mundy". I mistyped it up there. The article has it spelled "Mundy". :)

    7. Remember, in genealogy, spelling doesn't matter! :)

    8. You're welcome. It should be to your email box now. :)

    9. You're welcome. :) I sent you another email with five more articles. Have a great night.

    10. I received them all, thanks! Did you notice that he seems to have had two wives?

    11. Yes, I noticed that.

      I wondered if Sarah had died, or if she found out about infidelities and they divorced. Maybe she found out he was leading a double life...working on a family here and elsewhere.

      One of the articles indicated that he traveled to another town for "business purposes", so maybe he had a job that made this type of thing easy for him to do and the wife at home might never know. Maybe your great-grandma didn't know there was a Mrs. Mundy already.

      There are some moments of monkey business in David's great-grandparent line, too. His great-grandpa through his maternal grandma married his first wife and had a bunch of babies with her. Then he took up with a young girl (some say 15 years old, other info says early 20s), had a baby with her, married her and had a few more. THEN, he went back to the first wife and remarried her...but hadn't divorced wife #2. For wife #1, the remarriage was completely a business arrangement and he paid quite a bit (financially speaking) for his indiscretion and humiliation of her. However, this did not keep him from continuing to have multiple girlfriends.

      These things are the dark side of genealogy, I guess, but they sure make it a lot more interesting, don't you think?

    12. I also wondered if he and Sarah divorced because he was fooling around. He might be a good candidate with that traveling.

      That's why I warn people who are thinking about researching their family histories, if they don't like surprises, this might not be the right hobby!

    13. If they got a divorce, there should be a legal record somewhere. Of course, there's always the possibility of them separating and not leaving a paper trail...and him remarrying anyway, like David's great-grandpa did.
      If Sarah died, maybe there is an obituary and I will do a search for that and send it to you if I find it. If they split up and she remarried, it is possible that the Mundy name would show up in her obituary still because of her children (if she had any).

      Oh yeah, definitely. This is not the game to play if you don't like surprises. Not everything is going to be sunshine and roses.

      Have a great week!

    14. I've found some of those bigamous second marriages also, but so far not in my own family. Thanks for your help with the newspaper articles!

    15. You're very welcome. I just sent you another one. It shows that Sarah was granted a divorce from Bertram for desertion in the fall of 1916.

    16. Well, desertion isn't as good as philandering, but he still looks like a viable candidate.

    17. It is bad either way, but we're really only seeing one side of things through the newspaper articles.

      One thing to note while you are researching this area, there was also another Sarah Mundy. Your (apparent) Sarah is Sarah C. (Johnson) Mundy. The other Sarah Mundy was Sarah Elizabeth. I think her husband's name was Robert Mundy. One of these Sarahs worked in the tax collecting department, but I haven't determined which one yet.

      Also, regarding your great-grandmother, do you have any pictures of her? I ran across an article last night of four great-grandmothers and two grandmothers in a photograph with three grand-daughters. One of the great-grandmothers was named Laura Sellers.

    18. There had to be two Sarahs, just to make life more entertaining, right?

      When is the newspaper with the photograph of Laura Sellers dated? I have several photos of her, but the year will help.

    19. Yes, there's always got to be a little adventure in this research. haha

      The newspaper with the picture is dated 20 Jan 1956. It is the News-Chronicle out of Shippensburg, PA. The grandchildren in the picture have the surname Forrester.

      I will send it shortly.

    20. Unfortunately, not my Laura Sellers. She was in Jersey, and she wasn't yet a great-grandmother in 1956. And no Forresters in the family. I suspect there are a lot of Laura Sellerses out there.

    21. I'm sorry that it wasn't your Laura. It's a great picture, though, isn't it? Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could all have photos like that? Only two of my great-grandmas were still living when I was born, both on my mama's side. None of my great-grandfathers were alive at that point. All four of my grandparents were still living though. :)

      I have found more Sarah Mundys, too. Some Miss, some Mrs. And another one that was a Sarah Campbell Mundy (so she'd be a Sarah C., too!), but so far only one Sara C. Mundy married to someone named Bertram.

      It is amazing how there are so many people with the same name, and in the same area. We did a search on my name years ago and found that there was another Suzanne G. McClendon that lived in Spartanburg, SC, a town where David had lived once as a little boy and once as a young man in college. I would love to know what her "G" stood for.

      Well, at least we both have some adventures to carry us into old age with this genealogy work. :)

    22. Only one of my great-grandparents was alive when I was born. Rumor has it I was taken to meet her, but no one recorded the event with a photograph.

      I know there's at least one more Janice M. Sellers, but I don't know if that's her maiden or married name.

      I definitely think genealogy will keep us off the streets and out of trouble. :)

    23. How unfortunate that no one photographed you meeting your great-grandmother.

      Off the streets, maybe. Out of trouble? Who knows. haha

    24. I know! It is so frustrating. The photo would have been of four generations. Ah, well!

      I try to stay out of trouble, but it doesn't always work. :)

    25. It doesn't always work for me, either. I think I have a trouble magnet on me somewhere. :)

      I have a picture of me with some of my other cousins, my aunt (their mama), and my grandparents from when I was about 3 years old. I also have one with my granny, my daddy, me, and mine and David's two oldest children. I don't have many pictures at all of the great-grandparents, but have several of my 2nd and 3rd great-grandparents. And I just happened to luck up on finding those on the Internet while looking for something else. That was a very happy day. :)

    26. That sounds like a good collection of photographs. How nice to have them!

    27. Thank you. I agree. I am very blessed to have them, even those they are just in digital form at the moment.

      Not too long ago, David's paternal aunt gifted us with a collection of family photographs. Lots of good ones in there. :)

      Have a great night...or rather, morning now!

    28. As I mentioned in my post, I hadn't found any "Bert" Mundys in Burlington County or the Phillie area. When I went back today and looked at the Mundys I did find, I discovered I had already found this Bertram Mundy with his family in the census! I saved all the documents I found, but because he was in northern New Jersey, I hadn't considered him that strong of a candidate. Unfortunately, he apparently didn't have any surviving children, and his brother had one daughter. Their father had a brother, but the brother's son and his wife don't appear to have had any children. Argh! So much for tracking down a man in that family for a Y-DNA test . . . .

    29. Thank you. Yes, we thought it was a lovely gift, too, a real family treasure to us.

      In regards to "Bert", there always has to be something to jumble up the works. How frustrating. I try not to rule folks out solely on location. People move and/or travel, so I figure even if the place doesn't match what I've been told, it still might be the person I am looking for. I have to dig deeper for other clues. Just a longer adventure. :)

      Good luck as you continue your search for info on your Mundy family. Have a blessed night.

    30. Don't worry, I'm not giving up! It just may take even a little longer. But I'm feeling pretty optimistic now.

    31. I'm glad that you're not giving up and that you're feeling optimistic. I think we've both got a good adventure ahead of us with our 2017 research goals. :)
      If you have anything else you want me to look for in the old newspapers, just email me. I'll be happy to do it!
      Have a blessed week.

    32. Thanks! For now I'm going to concentrate on researching the family, but I may take you up on your offer later.

  2. Good luck, Janice! Quite a mystery, your MRUA.

    1. Ah, the joys of unofficial adoptions! Thanks for the good wishes.

  3. I'm number 4 - my grandfather - Bernard Joseph Dorney was born April 21 in Oil City, PA. He is in a couple of federal censuses, and even worked RR Retirement, but no birth, death (1948) or marriage documentation.

    1. No death info in 1948? Where was he supposed to have died?


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