It is Bigger Than Ourselves!

Plate of pasta

Photo Credit: brokenarts at

My husband, daughter and I had a delicious meal this past Sunday. We attended the “CIAO” dinner that’s hosted every year on Palm Sunday at our city’s civic center. “CIAO’ stands for Charitable Italian American Organization. For 27 years the group has served thousands of meals with proceeds going to scholarships for area high school seniors and other worthy causes.

As my little family enjoyed our pasta and meatballs my husband mentioned how everyone in the CIAO community was working to make this event the overwhelming success that it was. From middle school and high school kids that were busing and washing tables, to the kids’ parents who had cooked and were serving the meal, and the grandparents that were selling tickets and cannoli. The Italian community had come together to host another outstanding event.

You know the first thing that came to my mind at my husband’s observation was our genealogy community. Even though we seek and search on an individual basis it’s the work of the entire genealogical community that allows us our great genealogy finds. From those who have diligently scanned and digitized records for online publication, to those who acquire and maintain valuable information at repositories we could not achieve any measure of genealogy success without their hard work.

There’s the seldom noticed efforts of our local genealogy societies. Many volunteers spend lots of personal time managing a society from minutes, to dues, to programs all in an effort to bring attendees pertinent research info. More so I can’t begin to imagine the volunteer work that goes into the state and national workshops held over several days on a yearly basis.

Then there’s those who research and write books with detailed explanations to help any level of researcher. Whether we’re researching a military ancestor or our Irish heritage. There’s a book for that! Their expertise is invaluable to the new or avid researcher.

I’m thankful for the information and tips I’ve acquired from family historians and genealogists who take the time and make the effort to maintain blogs and websites. I know firsthand the work that goes into each and every blog post!

So as I appreciate a local civic organization coming together working as a whole to benefit my community, I know I’m a part of something bigger too. A community of individuals teaching, sharing and encouraging anyone with an interest in genealogy. It’s a wonderful, diverse genealogy community we belong to and whether we choose to take our passion to a higher, professional achievement level or enjoy it as a hobby, all genealogists and family historians bring something to the table. We always need to respect each individual’s choice in how they approach their personal research.

So in the words of my genealogy friend Dante Eubanks, “Collaboration, communication, & support!” It’s essential in our genealogy community as we move forward together and support each other to reach our common goals.

Charles H Lowery #52 Ancestors

Charles Henry Lowery

Charles H Lowery

This week’s 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks is about my great-grandfather Charles Henry Lowery. Charles is the son of my Civil War veteran George Washington Lowery and Barbara Ann Lowe. Charles was born 2 Sept 1872, in Sandusky County, Ohio. He married Sudie Louisa Barron on 30 Oct 1892 in Henry County, Ohio.

Charles and Sudie had ten children. My grandfather Basil was their third child.

Charles worked on the railroad which caused the family to move from Henry County, Ohio to Allen County, Ohio and finally Lenawee County, Michigan. By the time the family moved to Michigan a couple of the older children had married. My grandfather Basil was one of them. He didn’t make the move to Michigan and stayed in Allen County, Ohio with his young family.

(You might be interested in a quick look back at wife Sudie’s #52 Ancestors post. It tells a tale about Charles and their family life!)

Charles H Lowery and goat

Charles H Lowery and goat

Charles was my mother’s paternal grandfather. She would remember how her grandfather Charles boasted of his Ohio grandchildren whenever they made the trip to Michigan for a visit. He’d buy them penny candy and it would be waiting their arrival in a brown paper bag. My mom remembered him fondly.

I know my family attended Lowery family reunions in Michigan way back when. I wish I had been there. I’d love to know all of those stories today.

Charles passed away 13 Mar 1946 in Washtenew County, MI. He was 73 years old.

Sudie Louisa Barron #52 Ancestors

Sudie Louisa Barron

Sudie Louisa Barron

This is my great-grandmother, Sudie Louisa Barron. She was born 11 Jan 1874 in Marion Twp., Henry County, Ohio. Her parents were Rachel Golden (Golding) and Thomas Barron. Sudie was the second youngest of nine children. I’ve found her referred to as Susan in censuses but she’s always Sudie in our handwritten family histories.

She married Charles Henry Lowery 30 Oct 1892 in Henry County, Ohio.

This is my maternal grandfather’s mother. The only story I have ever been told about Sudie is one of decisiveness, she was a strong-minded woman.

Charles Lowery, Sudie Barron and grandkids

Charles Lowery, Sudie Barron and grandkids

Charles worked for the railroad, which brought Sudie, Charles and their eight children to Allen County, Ohio. They lived there long enough to have a couple more children and two of the older children married. My grandfather Basil being one of them.

As it happened, Charles’ railroad work took him to Michigan. Sudie stayed in Ohio with the children and Charles would send money back to her. As time went on Charles’ visits as well as the paychecks decreased.

Sudie heard rumors of Charles and some carrying-on in Michigan and decided to pack up the children and head north. I guess Charles was more than a little surprised to see Sudie and their passel of children on his boarding house porch when he came home from work that day. I can only imagine their conversation that evening.

Yep, she was a decisive strong-minded woman. I’ll bet Charles thought so too that day!

She died 19 Mar 1943 in Adrain, Lenawee County, MI. She was 69 years old.

Margaret Junkins is Not Getting the Love #52Ancestors

Margaret Junkins Holmes

Margaret Junkins Holmes

Yeah that’s my first thought about my chosen ancestor for this week’s #52 Ancestors. I’m staying with honoring my female ancestors during March’s Women’s History Month theme and chose my 3x great grandmother Margaret Junkins (Jenkins) to write about this week.

What I know about Margaret will keep this a short post. She was born 25 October 1810 to Joseph Junkins (Jenkins) and Elizabeth Walker somewhere in Pennsylvania. She was almost 20 when she married William Holmes 2 September 1830 in Tuscarawas County, Ohio. In a county biography about her husband William, I’ve found that her father was a farmer and the family moved to Ohio when she was six years old. (1)

Margaret and William were a prolific couple with nine children. My 2x great grandmother Rebecca Holmes was their second child. Now this mammoth group of people were the folks I referred to last week that caravaned from Tuscarawas County to Allen County, Ohio in the early 1860s. In fact that county biography says about William (and family), “In 1862, he was in Allen County, where he remained until 1874, when he came to this county and settled on Section 7, Liberty Township,” Hardin County, Ohio. Continue reading

What’s DNA got to do with it? Or how I found James Downing!

Question Mark

Photo Credit: hisks from Stock.xchng

Let me tell you a little DNA story. My genea-buddy sister took the opportunity and submitted a DNA sample through Ancestry. Given that we share the same parents I look at her test as nearly being my own.

Once the results came back they weren’t surprising and didn’t differ from what we have already documented in our family tree. We are 99% European.

Then to break that down further:
Great Britain 32%
Europe West 20%
Ireland 19%
Italy/Greece 12% (I was mildly surprised this % was that high)
Scandinavia 9%

Trace Regions – The % was so small it’s possible it showed up by chance
Iberian Peninsula 4%
Europe East 3%
West Asia 1%

As I said there really weren’t any surprises here. I will say it did answer conclusively that we do not have Native American ancestry. Like everyone else we had a couple of those stories passed down through the generations about a great great grandmother who was Native American. So this cleared that up but overall nothing of great note. You know that’s pretty much how I looked at DNA testing. So you get the results. Cool. Now what?

James Downing

Stark County Cemetery
Photo Credit: Rick Platt

Well let me tell you now what. My sister gets a few messages from people on Ancestry regarding possible matches. The matches meant we shared surnames and some DNA with these folks. There was the possibility we could be 5th to 8th cousins. One person my sister communicated with is Rick. He happens to be the author of the blog Ohio Ancestors.

After a few emails back and forth it turns out Rick’s 5x great grandfather and my (our) 5x great grandfather were brothers. In fact Rick had recently written a blog post about a cemetery visit where he found my 5x great grandfather James Downing’s headstone. Holy Moly! You can read Rick’s post about it here.

James Downing Headstone

James Downing Headstone
Photo Credit: Rick Platt

If that isn’t enough Rick did a little research and found more photos of James Downing and his wife Sarah Laughlin in a 1972 application for the First Families of Ohio adding all the pics to Find-A-Grave. Wow!

I’ve done very little research on the Downing surname but this certainly catches my interest and fires me up. This man has a story in fact he fought in the American Revolution. There is some research to be done here and it’s sure worth a summer road trip!

You know the chances of finding Rick, his blog, these Downing photos without the DNA test are pretty slim. Just think this additional info came from a little swab of saliva. Hmmm . . . maybe I’m not giving DNA enough respect . . . .

If you happen to have a James Downing or Sara Laughlin Downing in your family tree I’d love to hear from you. Please let me know in the comments.

Also I’m interested in your story about finding a cousin or any family history through DNA testing. Please tell me how it came about in the comments. I’d love to hear your story!