Saturday, January 28, 2017

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: Three Degrees of Separation

I looked at the title of this week's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun, and I thought it looked familiar.  I was right!  Last year about this time Randy Seaver did "Two Degrees of Separation."  This year he has extended it a generation:

For this week's mission (should you decide to accept it), I want you to:

1)  Using your ancestral lines, how far back in time can you go with three degrees of separation?  That means "you knew an ancestor, who knew another ancestor, who knew another ancestor."  When was that third ancestor born?

2)  Tell us in a blog post of your own, in a comment to this blog post, or in a status line on Facebook or a stream post on Google+.

Well, this is frustrating already!  Two of the three examples I used last year for this challenge can't go back another generation:

• My great-grandmother Rose Dorothy (Ruchel Dvorje) (Jaffe) Brainin probably knew at least one of her grandparents, but I have no idea who any of their parents were.

• My grandmother Anna (Gauntt) Stradling almost definitely knew her grandmother Amelia (Gibson) Gauntt, but I don't know who Amelia's parents were.  Her paternal grandfather, James Gauntt, died four years before she was born.  And she never knew her maternal grandparents, because her mother was from England and they never came to the United States (or vice versa).

1.  I guess I'm lucky that I can still work backward from my paternal grandfather, Bertram Lynn Sellers, Sr.  Here's the information from last year:

"Bertram Lynn Sellers, Sr., born in 1903, the son of Laura May Armstrong and Cornelius Elmer Sellers (if my grandfather was actually a Sellers, but that's still research in process).  He may have known his maternal grandfather, Joel Armstrong, who was born about 1849 and seems to have died about 1921 or so in Burlington County.  Grampa also probably knew his paternal grandmother, Catharine Fox (Owen) Sellers Moore, who was also born in 1849 and died in 1923."

Since that post, which was made in January 2016, I proved through DNA testing that Grampa was informally adopted by Cornelius Elmer Sellers, so his paternal grandmother was through the adoptive line.  But Grampa's maternal grandfather, Joel Armstrong, knew his paternal grandfather, also Joel Armstrong, because he lived in the latter's household when he was young.  Joel the elder was born about 1798 and died in 1854.

2.  I can go through a different line to get another three degrees, even though that line stays in the 19th century.  I knew my maternal grandfather, Abe Meckler (1912–1989), who knew his maternal grandfather, Gershon Itzhak Nowicki (~1858–1948).  Gershon most likely knew his father, Abraham Jacob Nowicki.  I don't know when Abraham Nowicki was born, but it pretty much had to be 1837 at the latest (and was probably earlier), because Gershon had an older brother.  I know Abraham died before about 1896, because his granddaughter named a son after him that year.

So Randy can go back to 1711, and I'm stuck at 1798, a difference of 87 years.  I feel . . . stunted.

This is simply as far as I can go on my biological lines.  If Randy does make next year's challenge four degrees, I'll be SOL, because I don't know the names of Abraham Nowicki's or Joel the elder's parents!  Apparently I need to find time to take a trip to New Jersey and do some serious archival research, so I can at least go farther back on the Armstrongs.


  1. I think the fact you made it into the 1700s at all is great! Good job!! I have had trouble with my New Jersey lines too. If you go there and figure out any ideas of where I can write let me know.

    1. Thanks for the support! I know that the big reason for the trouble with my New Jersey lines is that the documents are in the archives. Like I said, I need to make time to go there and do some serious research.

    2. I can assure you, I had a lot of trouble completing this challenge, too:


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