dee_burris: (WDYTYA)
2011-02-13 09:15 am
Entry tags:

Who Do You Think You Are?

I haven't blogged yet about my thoughts about Who Do You Think You Are? because they make me feel a bit unpatriotic.

Don't get me wrong. I watched every single episode of the first season and have seen both the first and second episodes this season. My phone alerts me 10 minutes before viewing so I can get comfy.

And I too am glad the producers heard the masses crying out in unison that we *don't* all have ADD and forget where we left off after coming back from the bathroom during the commercial break...

I also agree that the show may skew the impressions of newbie family historians and genealogists about how easy/difficult it is to find your roots.

But this is show business, and what we have here is about 48 minutes (sans commercial breaks) to find the family history of the celebrity of the evening. WDYTYA is to genealogy as CSI is to forensic law.

So this entry is a little late in coming, because my all time favorite WDYTYA hasn't ever aired on NBC. And it won't.

Because it aired on the BBC...

The Brits had it going on with this one...Stephen Fry was just wonderful - genuine and very down to earth.

And he did a lot of his own research.
dee_burris: (Default)
2011-02-13 03:18 pm
Entry tags:

Rewriting history as you go...

It's inevitable when you start looking at family history, you encounter varying levels of dysfunction. I don't think there really is a family with no dysfunction at all. The very nature of humanity begs dysfunctional responses and behavior.

From the tragic life of one of my Williams grand-uncles (which ended in suicide and was spun by his survivors as an automobile accident a heart attack) to the decades long wandering of my g-g-grandfather James L Burris (which resulted in two separate families), my family history is replete with surprising twists and turns - many of which have created hurt and confusion that linger to this day.

But it wasn't until I started taking a harder look at Essie Chapin that I was able to witness - for the first time in the decade I've been searching - the rewriting of history as you go.

Essie Chapin was my great great grand-aunt. Because of this blog, I "met" three of her direct descendants.

One of them is seriously seeking answers to questions about his roots. I am committed to helping him find those answers, if I can.

The other two believe they already have all the answers, and their primary source of information seems to be a family Bible, plus the oral history that was handed down to them. They do not wish to share any written documentation in their possession. Neither is convinced I even descend from "their" Chapins.

Fair enough.

I just hope they are not equally wedded to a refusal to look at other written documentation that cracks the veneer of what they believe to be true, and lets sunshine in.

Because they might gain new perspective.

Essie Chapin had four husbands and two children that I have been able to document. One of the "family secrets" is the issue of the father of her son, Elbert C Shephard, known to his family as "E C."

If Essie's first husband, George Franklin Shephard, was not E C's father, then Essie started lying about it very early on. My understanding is that Frank left the family in 1893, when E C was 2 years old. If Elbert W Carr (whom I am having *great* difficulty locating) was E C Shephard's father, and Essie continued to live with Frank Shephard all that time, well...

In the 1895 Kansas state census, she said she was a native of Kansas - hadn't come from anywhere else. At that time, her daughter Broshia was 4 years old, and E C was 3. Essie's brother Cyrus was also living with them. She said both children were born in Kansas.

In the 1900 census, Essie said the father of both her children was born in Iowa. Frank Shephard was born in Iowa.

So where did the two cousins with the Bible records get the idea that Frank Shephard *was not* E C's father? Their comments on my blog entries seem to indicate it was from the family Bible and E C's sister, Broshia Shephard.

So, that stuff was written down in a Bible? That didn't make it gospel.

The more I learn about Broshia Shephard Boorman, the less credibility I am able to put into anything she allegedly said.

Broshia went through at least 12 years of her life saying she was a widow before her husband actually died.

Joseph Aloysius Boorman was born on 23 Jan 1892 in Altoona, Blair County, PA to David C Boorman and Sarah E Monaghan. According to census records, he and Broshia Shephard (who, according to the cousins with the Bible, preferred to be known as Broshia Lebolt - the surname of her mother's third husband) married in 1914.

They had 3 children - Broshia, Adaline and David. In the 1930 census, Broshia Boorman was listed as the married head of her household, and Joseph was not enumerated in that household.

By 1941, the Polk's City Directory for Altoona, PA had a listing for Broshia Boorman, widow of Joseph.


Ditto 1945...


1948/49 City Directory...


I have no idea what happened between Joseph and Broshia Boorman. Maybe they were divorced. Why not just say that?

Saying "He is dead to me," is one thing.

But saying "He. Is. Dead." is a whole 'nother deal.

One of the ironic twists in that lie was that even during part of the time Broshia was holding herself out to be a widow, Joseph Boorman lived 98 miles from his children in York, PA.

His World War II draft registration card listed his address as 316 South Duke Street in York.


He signed the card on 27 Apr 1942.

According to his obituary in the Altoona Mirror on 24 Jul 1953, Joseph Boorman died on Wednesday, 22 Jul 1953.

He was buried in Calvary Cemetery in Altoona.

If any of the Chapin kin want to produce some documents, I'm happy to look at them.
dee_burris: (Default)
2011-02-13 09:18 pm

Matrilineal Monday: Margaret Letcher Williams, 1861-1922

They called her Maggie.


She was the next younger sister of Minnie Williams, and lived with her sister and brother-in-law until her marriage to James Webster Wells on 2 Jan 1885, at "the house of J H Shinn" in Russellville, Pope Co., AR.

She and James had five children I have documented.

Maggie Williams Wells died on 19 Jul 1922 in Benton Co., AR. She is buried next to her husband in Bentonville Cemetery, Bentonville, Benton Co., AR.