Saturday, October 10, 2015

A Life Not Lived

Don’t believe everything you read on the internet.

I’ve learned a lot of lessons just in the first few years of researching my family tree.  Boy, do I wish I could zero in on all my mistakes I made….if only I knew exactly what they were.

Recently, due to one of my new favorite websites I briefly wrote about here, British Newspaper Archive, a couple of days ago, I found a big mistake. 

My 2nd great-grandfather had an eldest daughter name Selina.  I thought it was an interesting and unique name for a young girl in 1860-70’s Suffolk England.  Unique enough that if someone had built her life up around her subsequent marriage to a Thomas Steele, in those early days of research, who was I to question?  So I went ahead and added it all to my tree. Selina, her husband and all 8 of their children.   I have received hints in the last couple of years as to her continued life and those of her children.  Luckily, I was too busy looking for more direct line information to go down that rabbit hole.

Selina shows up in the 1861 census[1] in Walberswick, Suffolk with her mother Rachel (Howard) Cross and then again with her father Benjamin Cross and mother in the 1871 census[2].

When I copied her information into my tree after the assumed marriage, I never looked closely at the census records that followed. 

A couple of nights ago, while throwing search parameters at, I got a hit on Benjamin Cross and a reference to his daughter dying.  It stated, that Selina, daughter of Benjamin Cross, from Walberwick, had died suddenly at the age of 15.[3]  All the facts fit.  How could that be?
Death Announcement of Selina Cross 1858-1872

Once I went back and looked at the life Selina Steele developed with her husband Thomas, I saw in census after census, it was stated she was from Bradford Suffolk, not Walberswick.

Most probably not the same Selina in my tree.  Cross may not have even been her maiden name.

Based off of this latest bit of evidence, I removed Thomas Steele and his 8 children from my profile of Selina.  It is sad that she died at such a young age, but we also do not honor her by attaching a life she probably only hoped she would live.

Monday, September 28, 2015

72 Years Ago Today

“Aged Mexican Injured in Highway Accident”

That was the headline of the article I found on the front page of the Valley Morning Star, dated 29th September 1943. 1

A few years ago, when I first started researching my family tree, I started by asking my dad a few questions.  During our conversation, he mentioned as a side note, “oh yeah, and someone in my family was killed because he was run over by a car.”  He said it in a way as if he didn’t remember exactly who that might have been.

As I continued looking for records for my great grandfather, Ines Gonzalez, I found a copy of his death certificate on 2

There it was, listed as cause of death; “Shock due to injury, (hit by auto)”. 

I had found the person my dad remembered as having died by being “run over”.  It was his grandfather.

For months following I wished I had access to the archives of the Harlingen area newspapers.  I looked forward to the next time I was down in the Valley exploring, so I could spend some time at the library looking through old newspapers.

One day, back in February of this year, I wondered what had online for Harlingen area newspapers.  I was surprised to find it had a couple of the Valley papers available without having to join  And what luck, The Valley Morning Star, was not only one of them, but the first month and year available was September 1943!

Rather than do a search, I just opened up the paper dated 29 September 1943, the date following the accident that killed him.  And there on the front-page, a small article as titled above “Aged Mexican Injured in Highway Accident.”  The article luckily identifies Inez[s] immediately as the victim. 

I couldn’t believe I had taken so long to go look for this record online.  Once on the hunt, it was such an easy find.  If only all searches were that easy!

72 years ago tomorrow, an aged Mexican man was hit by a car while walking down the highway; an accident that subsequently killed him.

We remember Ines Gonzalez today.

[1] "Aged Mexican Injured in Highway Accident." Valley Morning Star [Harlingen] 28 Sept. 1943, p. 1. col 1., image copy, ( : accessed 21 Feb 2015)
[2] Texas, Texas Department of State Health Services, Texas, Death Certificates, 1903–1982; Citing death certificate of Inez Gonzalez, No. 71240, 1943, online image;, ( accessed 27 Sep 2015)

British Newspaper Archive

I came across this archive over the weekend while trying to find newspaper articles for my mother's family in England.  It wasn't very expensive for one month; I thought I would try it out.

The newspapers for the Suffolk area tend to be old.  It uses OCR technology to perform searches, so it isn't perfect.

I spent the evening doing basic searches of family names, "William Chinery" and "John Chinery".  I found of things; one being an add for my 2x great grandfather's bakery, and the other, a marriage announcement for my great grandfather's first marriage.

Bury and Norwich Post and Suffolk Standard, 
19 December 1893, p. 4, col 4

It was just a short blurb, but it help me fill in a date and a place for the event.   I am not descended from this first wife, so I had not pursued this information fully yet.  But it is always fun to find new records!

The website is

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

101 Years Old Today

Today was the101st birthday for Uncle Albert, the youngest sibling of my grandfather Arthur Chinery.  He was the 11th child of a blended family of my great grandparents William Henry Chinery and Lydia Matilda (Boreham) Chinery. 

I recently wrote to the Ipswich Borough Cemeteries as I heard that if you contact, and give them information of the name of your family member, and the approximate date of their death, they will respond with a map of where their graves are located.   I sent the names of both sets of my UK g-grandparents, my Uncle Dennis, and Albert’s information. 

I was treated to a map with “X” marks the spots and the plot information for each.  I was adding all this into my tree and tonight, when I noticed it was Albert’s birthday.

It is especially sad as he died at only 22 years old.  I know little about him, but I do know this much to at least give him a tribute on this 101 anniversary of his birth.

He was born the 9th of September 1914 in Ipswich, Suffolk, England.  I have a copy of his birth registration that was issued on 22nd of May 1935.  I believe it hints at the tragedy to come.  It states that its use is only “for the purposes of “Unemployment Insurance Acts’ and no other use or purpose whatever.”

His occupation was “a Pastry Cook Bakers and Confectioners”.  This was following in his grandfather John Chinery's footsteps. John was listed as a "Baker" in Bury St. Edmonds from 1861 through the 1911 England census'.

Though 1935 was during the depression, Albert died less than 2 years from the issue of the copy of his birth registration.  You have to wonder whether he was ill and could no longer work. 

His death certificate states that he died the 27 March 1937; cause of death was bladder cancer.   There is no indication that Albert ever married.   Losing a child is always difficult, and with his death, William and Lydia lost their "babe", as the British are fond of calling their youngest.  I have in my possession his funeral cards.  His mother saved them along with the birth certificate mentioned above. Those items were passed on to his older half sister Ethel until her death.  He must have been much loved by his family.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

The Death of Tiburcia Casares in 1826

It is never exciting to come across a death record of a young mother.

I recently blogged about clipping a branch from my tree as I had begun thinking I was on the wrong track for my 3rd Great Grandfather, Juan de Dios Gonzalez.[1]  I found some additional records of a person I already had in my tree but under just the name “Juan” Gonzalez.  When I started coming across records that referred to him as “Juan de Dios”, I realized there was another candidate for my 3th g-grandfather.  This new Juan I have been looking at is a 1st cousin 1x removed from the first Juan.

This Juan, like the first Juan I was fixated on, was also married. He married Tiburcia Casares, the 15-year-old daughter of Ramon Casares and Ignacia Mendez on 12 February 1809.[2]  At this writing, I have found records that they subsequently had a least 2 sons, one who died when he was 12 years old. 

In order for this Juan de Dios to be a good candidate, I thought it was important to prove that his wife Tiburcia, died prior to the suggested birth year of 1841 of my 2nd g-grandfather, Nestor Gonzalez. 

Unfortunately for Tiburcia, I found a record for her burial on 29 January 1826.   She was just 32 years old.[3] 

The possibility of this Juan de Dios being my 3rd g-grandfather just increased slightly.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Trimming a Big Branch

Will the real Juan de Dios please stand up!

It is one of my biggest brick walls, and I thought I had it all figured out.   Given the limited amount of Mexican genealogical records you can research from the US online, I thought I had enough to make the case who exactly is my Gonzales 3rd great grandfather.

His name is well documented; Juan de Dios Gonzales.  That is the name given as the father of my 2nd great grandfather Nestor.  This name has shown up in so many records, I have no doubt, as it is the name given repeatedly by the family over a couple of generations.

Nestor starts showing up in records around the 1870’s in Santander Jimenez, Tamaulipas. He names his parent’s as Juan de Dios Gonzales and Petra Botello.  He gives his parents names in multiple birth records of his children.[1]  His children name their grandparents as the same in their marriage records.[2]  But…..

There is no marriage record for Nestor.   The online marriage records for the years Nestor would have gotten married are missing in  So, it appears a missed opportunity to further strengthen a case for his lineage.  I can’t even safely assume Nestor is from Santander Jimenez (SJ) originally.

Here is what I do know;

Nestor was born around 1841;

Up until now, I have found no marriage record for Juan de Dios and Petra

There are no other children by this couple whose birth or baptism was recorded in SJ;

There was a Juan de Dios Gonzales of the right age to be Nestor’s father born in SJ around 1806 and married a woman name Lucia Rodriguez in 1831.

There was a Petra Botello in Santander Jimenez.  She was married to a man named Salome Equia.  There is no record of their marriage in SJ.  They had two children.

Petra’s husband, Salome, died in 1838. 

I found that a Petra Botello baptized a son without a father named in 1841; the year all of Nestor’s records point to his birth.[3]  The child was named as Jesus de San Jose.  He is listed as a H.N. (hijo natural).  (The fact it wasn't Nestor does concern me but not enough to completely discount the record. )

I first thought, if I could prove the death of both Juan di Dios and Petra's spouses, then I would have a good case that they had a relationship and Nestor was the result.

A few other things continued to draw me in this direction though.   I have had my yDna tested, and it matches with many other Gonzalez’.  Also, it was family lore, my great grandfather’s second wife was his second cousin, Paula Gonzalez, and I could easily tie Paula’s line to Juan de Dios.  So feel confident that Nestor’s father was a Gonzales.

Given the lack of other records, I fully accepted the Nestor was probably illegitimate. 

But, I have always assumed this meant illegitimate in the fullest sense of the word.  I have since seen two references that in old Spanish records, “hijo natural” doesn’t actually mean a illegitimate.  One reference states it means, “Natural Child, a child born of unwed parents who could have been legally married”.[4]  There is another term for what we think of as illegitimate; “Hijo/ja bastardo/da”.’s course on transcribing Spanish records suggests the same thing. I would highly recommend this for help deciphering these old Spanish language records.[5]

What I found was Juan de Dios continued to have children with Lucia until 1844.  He died in 1847. [6]

If the father of this 1841 baptism were this Juan de Dios, then the baby would have been considered illegitimate, as Juan would not have been ineligible to marry Petra.

Full disclosure, by this point, I had thoroughly researched this Gonzalez line in Santander Jimenez.  I traced it back to the 1740's in Montemorelos.  I am cautiously confident I am related to this line via (a) Juan.  So, short of an actual document, I had linked Nestor to both of these people and then decided to make my online tree private.  I didn’t want anyone copying something I was assuming.

Enter the 2nd Juan de Dios…..

The good news, he is the Uncle of the first Juan.  Att least means I haven’t researched this line for naught. 

I knew of this Juan, but I never included him in the possibilities.  He is a little older.  A couple of years ago, I was combing through SJ records page by page.  I had jumped around, but kept track of where I had been.  In his early records, he is only referred to as Juan.   Just this weekend, I started looking at a block of baptism records I had not looked through yet.  First, Juan showed up in a record with his known wife as a Godparent.  He was referred to as Juan de Dios.  Then, I found a baptism record of their  own son.  I knew about the record but had never looked at it myself.  Again, he was referred to as Juan de Dios. 


I did the math.   If Juan’s wife were to have died, this new Juan would have been about 54 when Nestor was born.  Completely doable. 

Now I am on the search for other evidence.  I need to go back and review a few things.  Who was the Godparents of Petra’s son born in 1841?  What is the location of his birth, if listed?  Is it a ranch this new Juan is recorded as being associated with?  The ever-famous FAN acronym; Family, Associates, Neighbors will hopefully provide me clues.

I think I will never know for sure until I find a will, or a document stating exactly the identity of Nestor’s parents.  The civil registry records online are just copies of the original book.  Perhaps the original is still SJ.

Santander Jimenez is supposed to have an archive of many records from this era.  Oh, what I would give for the opportunity to pay a visit down there and comb through the archive. 

Until then, I will start trying to make a case for the other Juan.  Last night I used my “Delete Relationship” button on my genealogy program.  It took a whole researched line with it.  It was a hard to do, but I know it was the right decision…..for now.