Elizabeth's Genealogy Gems
It was a busy week. There was not enough time to put together a new blog post. Instead, I am sharing an article I helped research for the Daily Mail (UK) which appeared in the November 4th edition.
When I ordered my AncestryDNA test, I expected not to learn anything new. My own research showed that most of my ancestors came from Ireland and England. Indeed, the test results showed I am 43% Irish and 33% British but came with a surprise of 10% Iberian Peninsula and 7% Europe West. Several trace regions were also noted in the results. Hey! Wait a minute! Iberian Peninsula? This revelation came as a surprise, though it should have been expected.
Early on in my life I was made aware of a familial connection to Spain. My link with the Spanish appears to have originated with the Madigan line of my family. My second great-grandmother, Hanora Madigan was born 23 October 1825 in Shanagolden, County Limerick, Ireland. She and her half-sister Anne immigrated to the United States in the mid-1850s. What happened to her first husband is a mystery, but what is known is that in 1866 she married her second husband John Clark, an immigrant from Liverpool, England. Beyond those facts, there is little information pertaining to Hanora and her birth family. However, one story about the Madigan line persists. According to an elderly aunt, the Madigans were known as the Black Madigans, a reference to their dark hair and eyes. My grandmother told me they were Black Irish. There are many myths and theories pertaining to the events that gave rise to the term Black Irish. One of the theories is the Irish commingled with Spanish traders who settled in Ireland. Another story states that the Black Irish were the descendants of Spanish sailors who washed ashore off the west coast of Ireland after the failure of the Spanish Armada. The origin of the term may never known. However, DNA does not lie. Research has shown the Irish and the Spanish of the Basque region are closely related through their DNA.
Indeed, two generations ago, ethnicity of the Madigan line may have been identified as Spanish because of their appearance. My grandmother, who had very dark eyes told me that before her hair turned silvery white, she had "cold black hair." I have been told her father "Jimmy" Clark, a son of Hannah Madigan was light skinned with "cold black hair."
While researching for The True Story of the Clarks (1837-1955), I learned from draft registration cards that nearly all of the male descendants of the Madigans had black hair and brown or gray eyes.
More recently, my cousin Molly raised the subject of the Black Irish. I learned that we both heard the same story of the Madigan line. She shared examples in her family of cousins and other family members who had dark appearances reminiscent of the Spanish.
While I do not resemble my black-haired forebears, I embrace my new found Spanish ancestry and smile each time I think about it.
Additionally, a number of individuals in my father's family tree immigrated to the United States from Germany and Holland. 7% of my DNA is linked to Europe West which includes Germany and Holland.Trace regions noted in the test results included Finland/Northwest Russia, Italy/Greece, South Asia and Native American.
I have always been aware that my ancestry is diverse. When asked about my ethnicity, I would state that I am "mostly" Irish and English. However, in the future I will add that I am also Spanish. Even as I write this, I find myself smiling.
There were surprises in Geo's test results as well. I will be discussing his ancestry in my next post.
I have spent the last two weeks working on this project as time permits. At the moment I am attempting to track down the common ancestors of Charles Demers and Catherine Judith Demers. Charles and Catherine were married 18 April 1780 in Saint-Nicolas, a district in Lèvis (PQ). 
Marriage between cousins was and is not illegal in Canada. Due to the small immigrant population whose roots were in just a few areas of France, marriages between cousins was not uncommon. However, most of the populace was Roman Catholic and a dispensation from the church was required to marry.
Researching Geo's French-Canadian ancestry is not the first time I have discovered a record of a marriage between first cousins. While performing client research for a local family I found several French-Canadian immigrants who settled in Shelburne Falls and Montague, Massachusetts in the latter part of the 19th century and married first cousins. This came as a surprise to me. I always assumed that marriage between cousins was prohibited in this state and I wondered if such unions were legal? A Google search for “cousin marriage laws in Massachusetts” returned numerous websites that referred to Massachusetts as one of nineteen states that allow marriage between first cousins without restrictions. Seven states allow such unions with restrictions. The law governing marriage in Massachusetts can be found on the Mass.gov site at https://www. malegislature.gov/Laws/Generallaws/PartII/TitleIII/Chapter207/Section2.
On a lighter note, Geo and I have submitted saliva samples to Ancestry DNA. I will share that information when we receive the results.
 "Couple,” database, PRDH-IGB (http://www.genealogy.umontreal.ca/en/home : accessed 6 Oct 2016), entry for Charles Demers and Catherine Judith Demers, marriage, no.222800, 18 Apr 1780, Saint-Nicolas, Quebec, Canada.
The following post is a copy of a magazine article I wrote for the Sept/Oct 2013 issue of "Family Chronicle Magazine." At the end of the post you will find instructions for researching deeds to create a house history. Elizabeth
FINDING JOHN AND HANNAH’S HOUSE
One of my passions is researching and photographing the homes of my ancestors. The opportunity to see where an ancestor lived can be an extraordinary and emotional experience.
When I learned through census research that John and Hannah Clark, my maternal great-great grandparents, owned a home in the hill town of Buckland, Massachusetts, I set out to find the property.
While the 1870 federal census showed that John and Hannah were residing in Deerfield, Massachusetts in 1870, the 1880 census found them in Buckland. Apparently, the family had purchased the Buckland property between the two census years. This gave me a starting point to begin my research.
Utilizing the “old” grantor index at the Franklin County Registry of Deeds, I quickly found a deed transferring the property from the Clark’s to George Crittenden on 22 September 1879 for two hundred dollars. The deed for a subsequent transfer was executed five days later from Crittenden back to the Clark’s for $235!
The next sale of the property occurred in 1882 from John and Hannah to Christian Adler for four hundred dollars. My search for Christian Adler in the grantor index did not produce an entry for him. However, a further research of the grantor index showed that a transfer for a Buckland property from an Adler family occurred in 1927. A cursory examination of the deed showed that the children of Christian Adler transferred the property to their sibling William and his wife Grace Adler. I was certain this transfer was for the correct property since the deed noted: “The above premises were formerly owned by our father and mother Christian Adler and Anna May Adler.”
Apparently, William Adler had passed by 1951. By way of a deed executed on 9 Oct 1951, Grace Adler and Pearl Ledger became joint tenants of the property. I performed a search for Pearl Ledger’s name and found yet another transfer of title to both Pearl and her husband Harry W. Ledger. The next transfer of title was from Pearl Ledger to Robert Ledger. This deed contained a house number and street! Since street names change and numbers are reassigned, I continued to move forward in the grantor index to the current owner of the property to confirm the addresses matched. Once done, I was confident I had found John and Hannah’s place.
However, I wanted further confirmation that this was the former Clark residence. Indeed, an online search of street directories produced a result for Christian Adler residing at the same address recorded in the Ledger deed. I had found John and Hannah’s place!
Several weeks later, I made a trip to Buckland with my newly discovered information in hand. Fortunately, the old house was still standing. The house was a plain two story structure, typical of the company housing in that era. The adjacent housing was similar and appeared to be of the same vintage. It was interesting to note that the cutlery where my g-g-grandfather had once worked was located the bottom of the hill on the other side of the railroad tracks, which are mentioned in the description in the deed.
Seeing where John and Hannah lived gave me a better context in which to write my narrative history of this family and as I snapped the photo of the house, I felt as if I had stepped into their world for a moment.
Genealogy is about reconstructing families in their historical context. Knowledge of their occupation, geographical location and religious persuasion bring their story together. However, nothing crystallizes an ancestor’s life better then the home where they laughed, mourned and laid down and laid down their head at night.
WHERE TO BEGIN?
The search for an ancestor’s home is never without pitfalls. The looming question is always: Is the house still standing? The dwelling may have been destroyed or the street may have disappeared beneath a highway. Luck is the operative word when engaging in this kind of research
The most reliable method of locating a property is to create a chain of title and follow the ownership of the property to the current owner.
However, if you are researching a family, who resided in a community between 1900 and 1940, you can find the address by consulting the federal censuses, which noted addresses on the enumeration forms. Street directories and owners maps are other resources to locate a property. Again, luck is the operative word here. I recently located a family I was researching in the 1900 federal census and to my dismay the street was not entered on the enumeration form. Even when the street address can be located, the street name may have changed or the house numbers reassigned. The best course to locate a property is to create a chain of title.
HOW TO CREATE A CHAIN OF TITLE
Simply put, a chain of title is a compilation of deeds pertaining to a property arranged consecutively by the recording date. A chain of title is usually created by researching deeds for a property beginning with the current owner. However, for the purpose of locating an ancestor’s property, you will need to begin your research with the earliest deed for the transfer of property from your ancestor to a buyer.
Creating a chain of title will probably require a trip to the registry of deeds/county recorder in the county your ancestors resided. It is also advisable to query the county registry/recorder office to determine when the office began keeping records and what information is available on-site and online. Once you have established the office holds records for the time period you are researching, you are ready to begin.
You will find that, in most cases, deeds prior to 1949 are unindexed online and while it may be possible to search for and to retrieve an image of an old deed online, you will still need to perform your research onsite to access the old indices to obtain a book and page number.
Your first task at the registry/recorder office is to locate the old grantor-grantee indices. The grantor indices are arranged alphabetically by the name of sellers, while grantee indices are arranged by the names of buyers. For the purpose of locating your ancestor’s former home, you will be utilizing the grantor indices
Begin your research in the grantor index to locate the first transfer of the property from your ancestor to a buyer. Once you have located their name in the index, retrieve the deed and note the name of the buyer, along with the book and page number and date of transfer on a worksheet. This will keep you organized and facilitate the process. You will then begin a new search for the next transfer of the property using the name of the buyer to whom the property was transferred. Once you have located that buyer’s name in the grantor index, repeat the process. Be sure to note the book and page, as well as the date of transfer and retrieve the deed. Once you get the hang of this process, your research will move along fairly quickly.
While early deeds may reference the location of a property with a vague description, such as “past the oak tree at the end of the stonewall, next to the property of Tom Smith,” more recent deeds will yield an address. However, just to be certain you have found the current house number and street, it is best to follow the chain to the current owner.
AN EXAMPLE OF A CHAIN OF TITLE
Here is an example using John Smith, a fictitious ancestor, who owned a property in East Oatville in 1879. In this case John Smith’s property was transferred to buyer Thomas Brown on 1 Dec 1871. Your worksheet will look like this:
John Smith to Thomas Brown 22 Sept. 1860 Bk. 33 Page 78
Thomas Brown to David Hawkes 1 Dec. 1871 Bk. 43 Page 22
David Hawkes to Roger Smith 15 Apr. 1902 Bk. 60 Page 120
Once you have completed the chain of title, you can cross reference the information you have compiled with other sources such as owner’s maps, assessment records, 1900-1940 federal census records and street directories. It is also time worthy to write a proof summary which includes the chain of title and all of the sources you consulted to support your conclusion that the property you have located belonged to your ancestor.
RESEARCH TIPS AND HINTS
Verify where your ancestor lived. Family members often refer to a larger geographical area or a metropolitan area, rather than the village or the smaller contiguous community an ancestor resided. This can be accomplished by way of census research.
If your ancestor’s residency was more recent, a search of owner’s maps may yield a location and/or an address. A collection of land owner’s maps can be found on Ancestry.com, as well as some state sponsored sites. Other resources to consult for land owner maps are the local town hall, historical societies, and libraries, to name a few.
Bear in mind that street names may have been renamed or even disappear over time and house numbers reassigned. If you are unable to locate a street, a call or email to the local historical society or collections department of the library most local to the town your ancestors resided may help resolve this issue.
If your ancestor owned more than one property in the same town, compare deed references to set one property apart from another.
Be sure to make a note of the book and page numbers of all of the deeds; Print out the deeds and arrange them by date of transfer. Some deeds were not recorded for months and years. Rely on the date the deed was executed.
Cross reference the owners of title with street directory listings, owner’s maps and federal census records for supporting evidence. Most federal censuses for 1900-1940 listed the street address and house number of residents.
Historical societies, libraries, and local archives may hold materials such as inventories of older homes in the community, as well as photographs of old houses, which may include your ancestor’s home.
CREATING A HOUSE HISTORY
House history research is not much different from performing research to locate the address of an ancestors home except that you will be creating a chain of title by starting with the current owner's deed. You will work backwards toward the earliest deed on record.
Once you have assembled the chain of title, you can perform additional research in census records, newspapers, tax lists and the resources mentioned in Finding John and Hannah's House to learn about the former owners and their lives.
House history research is fun and full of surprises!
If you have a question about house history research, you can post it on the "comments" page. You will find the link at the end of this post.
If you would like to join my mailing list, you will find a form on the sidebar.
Look for an update on my research of French-Canadian genetic disorders
Good luck with your research!
Franklin County, Massachusetts, Unindexed Property, 85:748, William Adler et al to Charles and Grace Adler, deed,7 July 1927, digital image, Secretary of the Commonwealth-Registry of Deeds, Franklin District Registry of Deeds (http://www.franklincountydeedsme.com/: accessed 28 Aug 2012); this 1927 deed was not recorded until 1928.
A Rare Neurological Disorder: Is there a Canadian Connection?
“I’ve lost hope in the human body.” Geo Banas
It’s hard to believe that more than a year has passed since my last blog post. My absence from my website was not planned nor was it intentional. I have been on a very long and exhausting journey with my husband, a journey which I wish I didn’t have to make.
Geo was diagnosed last year with a rare neurological disorder known as, “Multiple System Atrophy (MSA)”. MSA is so rare that most of the physicians have never heard of it.
Our nightmare began early one morning in the Spring of 2015 when Geo walked into our bedroom and began to recap a news item he read online. I noticed that his speech was slurred. The problem seemed to dissipate as the day wore on and I assumed that he was tired. However, the next morning, once again his enunciation was noticeably slow and slurred. I told him that he should see a doctor. He adamantly denied anything was wrong with his speech. He told me later that he thought it go away. However, the slurring became more obvious and frequent over the following months. The problem worsened and the family members close to us began to mention that he didn’t “sound right.”
Other symptoms began to manifest as well, which included a tight feeling in his throat when he was stressed, intermittent trouble swallowing when he ate, a persistent cough and an overwhelming sense of sadness. I worried that he had a brain tumor or had suffered a minor stroke. Whatever was the cause of his symptoms, I knew something was seriously wrong.
After many attempts to cajole him into seeing a doctor, he finally acquiesced and called his doctor’s office to make an appointment. The doctor was on a vacation and could not see him until the following week. As far as I was concerned, we could not wait another week. I took the matter into my own hands and contacted my doctor, who agreed to see him later that day.
She was stymied by his symptoms. She ordered an MRI and referred him to a neurologist.
His appointment with the neurologist was stressful. Geo has always been a gregarious person. He loved to talk. However, the doctor was not a “talker.” She had a quiet somber demeanor. She told us that the MRI results revealed some abnormalities in his cerebellum. However, she could not make a diagnosis. She concluded that he should see a speech therapist. Geo’s response was “no.” I didn’t argue with his stance on this issue. I was not convinced that the problem could be solved with a speech therapy. We were not satisfied that his symptoms were something he would just have to learn to live with.
The following week Geo consulted his primary physician, who referred him to a neurologist in Springfield whom he knew to be excellent in his field. After a series of tests, the doctor concurred with the observations of the first neurologist. More testing was ordered, which included genetic testing and blood work to screen for cancer. The tests were negative. The doctor wrote a prescription for medication that he thought would help ease his symptoms. However, we saw no difference in his speech or in the pervasive sense of despair that was dragging him down. I asked for a referral to another doctor. He told us he would refer Geo to the doctor of his choice. I began to research neurologists in our area.
Several weeks later, we met up with our cousins Tim and Susan Goodhind for lunch. They had been observing Geo’s speech difficulties for some time. Tim suggested we make an appointment at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, New Hampshire. He said that Dartmouth-Hitchcock would be his choice if he had the mystifying symptoms Geo was experiencing.
Two months later, we were on our way to Lebanon, New Hampshire for an appointment with a movement specialist. Our experience at Dartmouth-Hitchcock was more positive. Admittedly, Geo’s symptoms did not appear to be the kind of problems a movement specialist could diagnose. I was wrong. She had a long list of patients with neurological disorders under her care. She had a handle on his symptoms. After an in-depth consultation, she requested a nuclear test to rule out Parkinson’s disease. The test results were negative. Her diagnosis was Multiple System Atrophy, a rare progressive neurological disorder. Geo was prescribed medication to ease his symptoms and we were told to prepare for the worse. He was facing an incurable debilitating condition, which included loss of mobility and the assistance of a feeding tube to stay alive. We left DHMC in a silent shock. Over the following months, we attempted to continue our normal routine, still hoping for a positive change in his condition.
By now you are wondering how genealogy research and Canada came into play in this situation.
Around the time of Geo’s diagnosis, I was hired to research a local family with French-Canadian roots. It was purely by chance that I visited Maple Stars and Stripes, a website dedicated to all French-Canadian things. A summary of a podcast pertaining to French-Canadian genetic diseases caught my eye and that is where I first learnt the founder’s effect. What is the founder effect? “The founder effect is the loss of genetic variation that occurs when a new population is established by a very small number of individuals from a larger population.”  A long list of hereditary disorders occur among the French-Canadians. Pioneering immigrants from France, who clustered together in isolated locations and married within their small settlements resulted in a small gene pool. Intermarriage among the population also contributed to the founder’s effect.
Most of the settlers came from only a few areas of France, such as the port cities of Dieppe and La Rochelle. Eleven hundred settlers came from Normandy. Almost 1100 came from the Îles de Paris... Two hundred seventeen settlers originated from an area of Normandy called Perche and are responsible for about two-thirds of the gene pool. 
A large number of settlers came from Poitou.
Genealogists have traced the ancestry of the individuals who are afflicted with the same genetic disorders and have found that common founders appear in all of the family trees. A common founder is: “…one who was present in all of these disorders. In Lac-Saint-Jean/Chicoutimi, thirty-eight of the forty-four founders from Perche show up in almost all of the genealogies.” 
Geo has a French-Canadian line through his maternal grandmother, Ann Melanie Gagne. The thought crossed my mind that his condition may be due to the founder effect?
Months passed and there was no further deterioration in Geo’s physical health. The only obvious symptom was his slurred speech. I thought once again about the French-Canadian genetic disorders and I decided to research his ancestry.
I am not a doctor nor do I have any experience with genetic research. However, there are resources that identify some of the early pioneers who brought the mutant genes to Canada. If my research resulted in the discovery of a pioneer family or families, then I could compare my findings with the names of individuals listed as “founders.”
I began my research with Geo and traveled back through the records of births, deaths and marriages in his direct line to Louis Gagne, an immigrant from Perche, France (baptized 13 September 1612), and his wife Marie Michel. Louis or his wife, Marie, are the founders of one of Tyrosinaemia type 1, a rare genetic disorder found among the French-Canadians. Tyrosinaemia type I is a complex disorder which I am at a loss to explain adequately. However, Tyrosinaemia type I does not appear to be related to MSA. This does not mean that Geo does not carry the genes responsible for Tyrosinaemia type 1.
It is unfortunate that the company that performed the genetic testing for Geo did not test for French-Canadian disorders.
My work has just begun. Over the next few months I will be looking into the family trees of Geo’s maternal grandmothers to attempt to discover through their ancestry whether or not they are connected to genetic disorders that may have some relevance to his condition and perhaps to some of the conditions that are present in his immediate family. This is a work in progress.
I will continue to update this blog as my research progresses.
Visit Maple Stars and Stripes to learn more about French-Canadian genetic disorders: http://maplestarsandstripes.com/shownotes/mss-047-french-canadian-genetic-diseases-part-1/.
 Normand, Muriel. "MSS-047-French-Canadian Genetic Diseases- Part I : The Founder Effect," interview by Sandra Goodwin, host, Maple Stars and Stripes, 26 Apr. 2016, MP3 file, Maple Stars and Stripes (http://www.maplestarsandstripes.com : accessed 18 Aug 2016), minutes 41:29. From Sandra Goodwin's program notes.
 “Dictionary,” database, PRDH-IGD (http://www.genealogie.umontreal.ca/Membership/en/PRDH/Recherche/idIndividual : 24 Aug 2016), entry for Louis Gagne, 13 Sept 1612.
 Ibid. Louis’ entry names Marie Michel as his wife (m. 11 Jun 1638).
“Acadian Genetic Diseases.” Article. Rootsweb. http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com : 2016.
“Dictionary.” Database. (http://www.genealogie.umontreal.ca/Membership/en/PRDH/Recherche/idIndividual : 2016.
Normand, Muriel. “French-Canadian Genetic Diseases-Part I: The Founder Effect.” Interview by Sandra Goodwin, host. 26 Apr 2016. MP3file. Maple Stars and Stripes. http//www.maplestarsandstrips.com : 2016.
Wikipedia. http://wikipedia.org : 2016.
Elizabeth Banas-Author/Genealogy Researcher
E.A. Banas Genealogyservices.com
Belchertown, MA 01007
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