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Family History Research Blog

I'm always poking around online and when I learn some new and interesting things, I try to email a couple of family members who enjoy hearing about what I find. This is a record of emails and/or just a record of which branch of the tree I'm researching lately.

July, 2009

It is hard to believe that my last "blog" entry was eleven months ago. Naturally, I've been up to lots of fun things since then...but I always say that the research is my favorite part of this hobby and the web update and Family Tree Maker database data entry are often neglected. Let's see if I can recap, briefly, on some of the points of research:

Skellie family research: After receiving the Marcellus Matteson pension file records in August 2008, I stepped up research on the Matteson family and also continued trying for progress on the Skellie family. I am just sure that our William Skellie Matteson has a Skellie family ancestor. I can't prove it, but I believe that Marcellus' sister Jane may have married the William Skellie whose Civil War letters are on the web. See June 2008 blog, below. Also, I found a woman named Kate, another of Marcellus' sisters' names, with a member of the household named Charley which could possibly be Marcellus' son Charley. No confirmation on these ideas.

I'm working on my book of family ancestors, and run up against things I've found that can not be substantiated - at least with only Internet research. I have a weak link in the Trowbridge (Atherton) line that I would love to firm up. In 1774 some sources report that David Trowbridge, our ancestor, married a woman named Lydia. The published genealogy shows a question mark regarding her identy, with the possibility of the last name of Holmes suggested. Online databases pick up on this and continue her line to Obadiah Holmes, a very interesting Colonial era Baptist Minister. This connection would also link the family with the Borden family...with indirect links to Lizzy Borden (took an ax...she was not guilty...I hadn't known that) and to the Borden canned milk branch of the family. I said, I can't see that anyone has found actual source documents confirming that David Trowbridge married Lydia Holmes...and who her father was...and important things like that. More research required.

Most recently, I have sent away for biographical information from the Pipestone County Museum on William Kruse. They sent some information about his first great-grandma Elsa Helen Kruse was the first child from his second marriage.They also have a photograph I requested a copy of - it turned out to be a wedding photo for Gustav Kruse (Elsa's half brother.) I have also found more Minnesota Territorial census information about William's earlier days in Minnesota. I'll be updating the website...eventually, but if you see this message and wish to contact me for an update, email me at [email protected] In conjunction with this new data, I followed up with two different women who had found my Kruse or Althoff family pages and contacted me with information. I have new puzzle pieces regarding William Kruse's first marriage and family and regarding three previously unknown sisters of my great-grandpa Fred Althoff. I also learned a bit more about where in Germany the Althoff family originated.

August, 2008

Better than Christmas...? Well, at Christmas the family I enjoy is living...but I am delighting in the second installment of paperwork from the military pension file for Marcellus Matteson. The file really chronicles his second wife's life more so than Marcellus himself, but there is much to be gleaned from all the paperwork. I'll be sorting the papers and will write up a synopsis soon. Look for it on the Matteson page. I think there will need to be an official page just for Marcellus now, since I am sure of our ancestral line at this point!

ALSO, it is always exciting when I have contact from someone who has discovered my webpages. I've heard from Ron Nichols who is involved in research on Union soldiers who were captured and held at the Confederate prison at Salisbury, North Carolina. Some men from the Wisconsin unit which Brohmer family ancestor Isaac Bingman belonged to were held there. During our brief email correspondence, Ron determined from digging further into his own papers that Isaac had indeed been held at Salisbury. Ron is a member of the Salisbury Confederate Prison Association. He is researching Wisconsin soldiers for the project and will do a write-up about Isaac that will be added to their website in the future. The project is just getting started, so look into the website periodically if you'd like to see what they're doing. The website is:  

Check the webpage for Isaac Bingman in the near future for more details I learned from my correspondence with Ron.

July, 2008

Wow! July has been a boom month for new genealogy discoveries. I received the first 100 pages of the Military Pension file for Marcellus Matteson, Perry's great-great grandfather. The file does connect this Marcellus with gg-grandma Emily Louisa (Castle) Matteson and the same record mentions the person I believe to be Marcellus' dad, William C. Matteson, making this a more-likely-yet connection. See more on the Matteson web page for details.

July, 2008

The package of forms for Fred Atherton's three different admissions to the IOOF (Independent Order of Odd Fellows) home in Walla Walla, Washington have arrived! These confirm Fred's parents as Milton Atherton and Delia "Benschoter" as well as mentioning all five of his children, first "our" ancestor Guy W. Atherton and also the children from his second marriage. The administrator at the IOOF home also recommended following up with the local cemetery to see if he is buried there - and he is! Fred was laid to rest at the Mountain View Cemetery in Walla Walla, WA, in the "Odd Fellows" section. See the web page for Fred for more detail.

July, 2008

Ancestor Fred Atherton mysteriously drops out of his family, off of the census radar, beginning in 1920. A record was found for a "Frederick" Atherton on the 1930 census that I had set aside for further research. This Frederick was living in Walla Walla Washington, a "member" at an "IOOF Home" there. His statistics lined up with our Franklin/Frank/Fred Atherton. I recently received an email from a descendant-relative from Fred's second family. I emailed back my finding on this "Home" and she indicated that there was some recollection of Fred having been in a home in his later years. With this little encouragement, I thought I would at least see if Fred could be found in 1920 as well. An search of Walla Walla Washington in 1920 did indeed turn up a record - he is listed as "Fred Attertone" and [Fred Att?]. The IOOF home is still in operation today, so an email has been sent to see if any records are available to help us to confirm Fred's family connections. Also, if Fred died in Washington, I have asked where he may have been buried. Stay tuned for the answers! (I've noted some of the census details on the webpage for Fred.)


In “Googling” an ancestor, Moses Teague, to see what I might find, I found a website1  that described how the ancestry of Barack Obama, Jr., Presidential candidate, was also linked to Moses. The Wood family ancestry also links to Moses Teague, as outlined on the table below.

Comparative table: Barack Obama ancestry and Perry Brohmer ancestry: 

Common Ancestors:


Edward Teague, of Tegg’s Delight, Cecil Co., MD. (d. 1697), m. Susanna


William Teague (b. MD c 1693; d. NC), m. Isabella (Loftin or Pennington)


Moses Teague (b. 1718; d. c1799, Chatham Co., NC), m. 1st, Elizabeth Loftin


Isabel Teague, m. James Welborn/Wilborn:

1, 2

Barack Obama’s Ancestors:

Perry Brohmer’s ancestors:

Ruth Welborn/Wilborn, m. John Wilson

James Welborn, Jr., m. Rebecca Younger

3, 4


Christine Wilson, m. Edward McCurry

Thomas Jefferson Welborn, m. Susanna H. Matkin

First cousins

Harbin Wilburn McCurry, m. Elizabeth Edna Creekmore

Elizabeth Caroline Welborn, m. Noah Reed

2nd cousins

Thomas Creekmore McCurry, m. Margaret Belle Wright

Rebecca Ann Reed, m. Franklin Wood

3rd cousins

Leona McCurry, m. rolla Charles Payne

Carson Edward Wood, m. Laura Jean Gray

4th cousins

Madelyn Lee Payne, m. Stanley Armour Dunham

Nadine Lavelle Wood, m. George E. Mausshardt

5th cousins

S[tanley] Ann Dunham, m. Barack Hussein Obama

Joan Avenelle Mausshardt, m. Paul Otto Brohmer, Jr.

6th cousins

BARACK HUSSEIN OBAMA, JR., b. 4 Aug. 1961, U. S. Senator (D-Ill.) and Democratic Presidential candidate, 2008

Perry Edward Brohmer, m. Alison Ann (Raveling) Stevens

7th cousins


1)      The web link titled, “The Teague ancestry of Barack Obama” can be found at:

2)      Also called Mary Isabel Teague

3)      Also called Rachel Ruth Welborn/Wilborn

4)      Some genealogy records did not include Ruth (Rachel Ruth) as a daughter of Isabel Teague and James Welborn, Sr.


Some other web links of interest. These include Ruth (Welborn/Wilborn) Wilson:

1.) Some Noteworthy Southern Genealogies…And More:

2.) The Original Arkansas Genealogy Project:

June 2008 - More Matteson investigations:
As mentioned in the April/May blog update, I've been looking further at possible connection of our William Skellie Matteson to William Skellie. This William wrote letters home during the Civil War which are posted online at:  The website relates the history of men from French Creek, New York in the Civil War. This rang a bell, as my research into our William Skellie Matteson placed a possible grandfather in that same small town in 1880. See more on the research into the Chautauqua county Mattesons on the William Skellie Matteson page.

May 2008 - A new Van Benschoten discovery:
In rereading a record for one of our Van Benschoten ancestors, I saw something I hadn’t made much note of the first time through. The pertinent part is as follows:
    “In 1833 Sarah, Jeremiah’s first wife died. Afterwards he married a Mrs. Walcott, widow of the former Light-house keeper at Marblehead, across from Sandusky, who     had died while keeping the Light and she had been continued in the office. Whereupon Jeremiah forsook his old haunts for the Light-house which he kept for a             number of years.” And later, “After some years absence Jeremiah returned to Huron.”
Perry looked up some information on the Lake Erie lighthouses and found this website with a nice map. This website also has some links to additional historical information about all of the lighthouses. Jeremiah kept the “Marblehead” lighthouse:
I didn’t see any mention of the lighthouse keepers on those sites, so I dug a little further and found this site which mentions Jeremiah and “Mrs. Walcott” in the fourth and fifth paragraphs:
For the historical/genealogical record, we now know “Mrs. Walcott’s” first name and have a better idea of how long Jeremiah kept the lighthouse!

April/May 2008 - Odds & Ends:

March 2008 - Kimble/Kimball connections in the Wood family line. Also NEHGS "Great Migration" finds:

Researching Kimbles beginning with ancestress Frances Kimble married Clancy Duncan Gray. Her father was Elmus Wheaton Kimble, his father was Walter Kimble. This is where family group sheets stop. Researching Walter Kimble opens up Kimble/Kimball line through to Colonial era with multiple subsidiary lines. Several published works describe Walter Kimble's early years in settling Pennsylvania, originally with settlement through Connecticut. His father Jacob and brothers Able, Benjamin, Jacob, Moses and Stephen are mentioned in documented records of the settlement of the Wyoming Valley and the Indian massacre of many of the families that settled there. See website for some of the new things learned. Will order some of the published works including Walter and family. Other family lines to research are Parke, Whitter, Whipple, and more.

Also, reviewed NEHGS website resource material on The Great Migration, which first phase identifies and describes Europeans who settled in New England prior to the end of 1633. Per website, "about 15 percent of the immigrants to New England arrived in the fourteen years from 1620 to 1633, with the remaining 85 percent coming over in half as many years, from 1634 to 1640." As several of the ancillary family lines from the Kimball family reach back to this period, a review of all familiar names in this first 15 percent was done. Four Brohmer family ancestors were found in this group: Thomas Hatch and Henry Rowley (through the Degolier line), John Whipple and William Parke, brother of Robert Parke-our ancestor, whose inclusion in this first group is suspect, but arrived by 1639. These last two connect through the Wood/Kimball family line, as noted above. Four names were also found associated with the Althoff/Atherton family line: William Chase, Philip Sherman, Sarah Odding,  and John Sanford. There is also a John Eddy, but references state that this is not the John Eddy related to our family.

2/15/08 - Durfee line connects to Samuel Gorton:

I was inputting data on the Durfee family, linked to us through Grace (Abbott) Atherton, and one maternal ancestor was noted to be the granddaughter of Samuel Gorton. I didn't think too much about it, but on a subsequent trip to our local library, I happened to see a book on the shelf about Samuel Gorton of Rhode Island. After checking the Durfee genealogy again, I determined that this book indeed seemed to be about the very same Samuel Gorton. I have since learned that several books were written about him, as he was something of a force to be reckoned with in the early colonial era. I thought I'd plug the name into Google and found a website with biographies. You can read Samuel's biography at:
Maybe you recall another Durfee relation that was instrumental in the early Rhode Island colony - Phillip Sherman. I guess they all came together due to their similar beliefs!
I found information on another website that confirmed that the "Gorton's of Gloucester" of processed fish fame (I can hear the commercial in my the Gorton's fisherman!) is from this family line. I'll have to check the freezer section at my local store and see if any of the fishsticks or fish fillets are from this company!
Anyway, it is interesting to have the balance of our Germanic ancestors with these that go all the way back to the colonial era.
Fun note: While I have not made any progress in connecting the Atherton family beyond Guy Atherton's grandpa, Milton Atherton, in Civil War era, I have read Atherton histories that give a blanket proclamation that one immigrant ancestor, Humphrey Atherton is the progenitor of most of the Athertons in America. So, that said, the book I found in the library contained a statement that Humphrey Atherton was among a group of men who came to force Samuel Gorton to a hearing in the Massachusetts Bay settlement. On opposite sides then, yet descendants (potentially) would years later marry.

January/February 2008 - Matteson family work:

Working on scanning photos and papers, transcribing William Matteson personal journal, updating website.

June to December 2007 - Blinn/Bowman and Patrick extended families:

Researching for Christmas ancestry gift.

4/21/07 - Brohmer/Bingman:

Discover Tintype collection of Civil War Soliders from Reedsburg, Wisconsin public library. Brohmer relative Isaac Bingman has a tintype photo in the collection! Will order.

2/27/07 - Atherton/Durfee/Andrus Lines:

Well, I am excited to share news of a breakthrough in the search for information about your Grandma Atherton. About all I knew about her was her maiden name, Abbott, and that she was born about 1878, from census information. Also, census listings show that she was born in Minnesota . I told you awhile ago that I had learned that her given name was actually Pauline Grace Abbott. (From Grandpa's WW I draft registration card.) And I found a family that was a likely match, with a girl named Paulina G Abbott, whose father was, guess what, a printer. (Thus giving a possible connection with Guy.) Well, the latest find was a listing in the California Death Index database for Grace Abbott Atherton, born in Minnesota , died in San Diego in 1950. This record gives her mother's maiden name as "Durfee." And some records I found for that "possible" family list the mother's maiden name as Durfee...a match! I consider this a very solid match, so did a little more poking around in this family line. The Mormon Church has a website called Family Search which lists everyone on the 1880 census. It also contains some records from contributed family trees. There is extensive information about Grace's father's ancestors and a few generations back for her mother. The most interesting character I found was Grace's great uncle Milo Andrus. (Her dad's uncle.) According to one website, Milo was a leader in the great "Mormon Migration" from Ohio to Salt Lake City , leading at least 2,500 people there. His genealogy reports 11 wives and 57 children. How's that for interesting! His sister, Sarah Minerva Andrus (or Andress) is our ancestor, and there is no mention, specifically about any involvement in the Mormon Church on her part. I am not sure how many family members may have been part of this movement. I have just scratched the surface on this whole possibility. As you can tell, it can be pretty easy to match up the wrong people, so this is purely based on the information posted by others. I found one genealogy file that gives a little bit of data along with the names and dates, and also a reference to a website especialy created to celebrate Milo 's accomplishments. Of course, there appeared to be a lot of current Mormon Church activity reported as well. I just glanced at it myself. Perry and I watched a documentary on the Mormon migration which we may just need to rent again! I've listed the two websites mentioned above in case you have time to poke around. The family lines from the first website go back, some records, to the 1300's if I recall correctly. The first American ancestors came from England to Massachussetts, after the first wave of "Pilgrims," and evenutally most settled in Connecticut . In the late 1700's they moved to Ohio , and in the mid to late 1800's came to Wisconsin and Minnesota . (Homestead Act era.)

 This webpage lists Sarah Minerva Andrus. You can look at pedigree charts showing her parents and sibs or charts showing her husband and kids and grandkids.

This website is mostly about Milo , but there is a picture of the hotel run by his parents in the early 1800's (Ruluf's hotel). Ruluf Andrus would be your great, great, great grandpa.

2/25/07 - Atherton:

I was poking around online looking, actually, for more information about your grandma Grace Abbott Atherton and ran across something on Guy that I hadn't known, so thought I'd pass it on to you.
I found a record of the 1912 "City Directory" for St. Paul which had two listings for Guy. One was under a business listing for "Newspapers and Periodicals" and specifically for "Weekly, Monthly, Etc." papers. Guy's listing reads as follows:
East Side Star (weekly) - 834 Payne Av.  G W Atherton, Editor and Pub; $1 per year.
FYI, I ran the calculation (on inflation calculator, online) and they said, "What cost $1.00 in 1912 would cost $20.87 in 2006." We actually pay just $15.00 per year for our little Los Altos Town Crier paper.
The other listing for Guy gives the family's home address (per the 1910 census) but puts in a little advertisement for the paper:
Atherton, Guy W pub East Side Star r 1111 McLean av
The 1910 census had noted that Guy was a "Printer" working on his "Own Account." I hadn't known that he put out a weekly newspaper, let alone the name of it. I did some followup on the name of the paper and found that the Minnesota Historical Society (MHS) has some or all of the copies on microfilm, which I can obtain through interlibrary loan. I plan to do that and I can make a copy for you or anyone else interested. (At least of a "representative" issue.) The MHS record notes that the paper began in 1900 and went through Sept. 22, 1916, at which time it was "absorbed by" the East Side Leader paper. It is not clear whether Guy established the paper or bought an ongoing enterprise. Also, the MHS record detail says the publisher of the paper is "St. Paul, Minn. : Star Print. Co., -1916." So, it is not clear when Guy might have sold it either. All we really do know is that he was the editor and publisher in 1912.

11/09/06 - Atherton/Van Benschoten families

I got a new burst of enthusiasm for working on the family history website. I recently put up pages for grandma (Enid) as well as a page for Guy and his father Fred Atherton. (The most work was on Guy's info.) I will work next on the page for Fred's father (your great great grandfather) Milton Atherton. I have been rather tentative about whether I had enough data to support my research, but now feel the connection is very sure. Here is some "teaser" information on Milton:
The family history of Milton's wife, Cordelia Van Benschoten, writes that Milton had resided in West Virginia after the war. It noted that he had been injured by "Mosley's guerrillas" while bringing in a herd of cattle to the Union army in 1864." Well, I looked up "Mosley's Guerrillas" on google, to no avail. It was suggested that I type in "Guerrilla warfare Civil War." When I did that, I got information about a man named John Singleton Mosby.  Aha! The websites about this man confirmed that his "Rangers" were very effective in wreaking "havoc among the Union supply lines." He (Mosby) and his ranger bands worked mostly in northern and western Virginia. While I found no evidence of Milton Atherton being in the military at that time, a write-up about his son Fred mentioned that Milton was a "farmer by occupation" but during the war was a "government contractor." I found census listings for Milton Atherton in West Virginia, a farmer. In researching the county/counties where he lived, it appears that West Virginia, and especially these counties, were practically split as to Union and Confederate loyalty. In other words, things were pretty hot right in the neck of the woods old Milton was living in! I also saw that a museum honoring John Singleton Mosby is set to open in 2007. Talk about tying US history, family history and current affairs! Well, I have found this "hobby" to be quite entertaining. I hope you don't mind indulging me periodically in sharing.
And that reminds me. As you read the page on Guy Atherton, notice that there may be a "breakthrough" about his wife, Grace. (Pauline Grace!!) I found a possible match for her family, which includes father William, Mother Clara, and siblings Mira (Myra), William, Bessie (Betsy) and Susan. In one of your mother's letters to her mother (Grace), your mom mentioned seeing "Mi" - I don't remember offhand if she referred to "Aunt" Mi, but I recall thinking this was family. Maybe that rings a bell? Possibly Aunt Mira/Myra? Let me know. Also note that this "Paulina G. Abbott" has a father who was a printer. That caught my eye. William and Clara and the first three kids lived in Wisconsin, where he was also noted to be a printer, so I will follow this lead and see if I can learn any more, in the event that I can find a tie.

10/08/06 - Van Benschoten Connection:

Have I told you about this Althoff/Atherton ancestor? He is not a direct line ancestor, so is a distant cousin, and several generations back from us. Henry Bergh is the founder of the ASPCA - American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to animals. I obtained the book titled "The Van Benschoten Family in America." Your grandpa Guy Atherton's grandmother was Cordelia, or Delia, Van Benschoten. (The Bergh family is a maternal line also originating from the Van Benschoten's.) At any rate, I have enjoyed reading about our direct line ancestors as well as some of the other terrific relations in this family line. One of the more interesting ones is Henry Bergh. When I read the biography in this dusty old book about him being the founder of the ASPCA, I went online and it was confirmed! His name is all over the national ASPCA website, his birthday is even on a calendar they publish each year. One cool tidbit I learned is that the ASPCA is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year. Their organization uses the color orange, and was founded in New York city, so I read that some of the New York skyline buildings were lighted orange for a time earlier in the year to acknowledge the anniversary. They sell pencils (orange of course) showing Henry Bergh marching with a line of animals behind him - or so says the description!
Henry came to found the ASPCA largely as a result of being left comfortably well off after his father died. He then became an ambassador, or "Secretary of Legation" at St. Petersburg. Following his term there, he went to England and formed a friendship with Lord Harrowby, the President of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
Henry's father was Christian Bergh, a self taught ship designer. The write-up on him says that he enjoyed making toy boats in his boyhood, the precursor to talents which "were destined to have such a marked influence on the maritime relations of the world." The bio. in the Van Benschoten book states that "he concentrated himself with rare singleness of purpose on his chosen profession and fast won his way to the front in the designing and building of ships."
Our favorite story about Christian Bergh is about one of the ships he designed, as Chief Naval Constructor, called the President. The book states, "This vessel proved the fastest of any afloat and her reputation was such that early in the war of 1812 'special orders were issued from the British Admiralty to spare no efforts for her capture.' Toward the close of the war this was accomplished." It goes on to say that after capture of the President, the ship was "conveyed into the English docks and, like the goose that laid the golden egg, was taken entirely to pieces in order to discover, if possible, the secret of her superiority. Another vessel, called the New President was constructed as nearly as possible to her lines but to the mortification of the Admiralty, the results were quite unsatisfactory." The Navy department offered Christian the opportunity to take charge of the navy-yard at Brooklyn, but he declined, having already purchased space for his own ship yard. During the war of 1812 - 1815 he was engaged in constructing vessels for the fleet which "fought on Lake Erie under the command of the imortal Perry." And one last quote, "The Berghs through their ships on lake and sea played a very prominent part in the war of 1812, for the Navy it was which brought us through that war with honor, the land forces effecting little save in the over-late battle of New Orleans."

6/29/06 - Atherton Branch:

I've recently made some confirmations as to your Grandpa Guy Atherton's parents and grandparents on his father's side. Once again, I've bumped into a published genealogy going back to the 1600's which ends (for our family's purposes) with Guy Atherton. So, now I can rest assured that I am reading about the right people. Here is a brief summary of the closest relatives to Guy that are mentioned:
Guy's father, named as Fred M. Atherton, is noted to have "lived with his grandfather, Curtis [in Ohio], from his seventh to his fifteenth year, when for two seasons he went on the lakes with Capt. Luther Wilcox of Huron. Thereafter he tried his hand at many things in many places and in 1883 settled at Columbia, S.D., where he has since resided, first as druggist and publisher of "The Waubay Clipper", later and at present exclusively as a newspaper man. He belongs to the Odd Fellows, K. of L., K. of P. and Knights of the Golden Cross societies; a member of the Republican State Central Committee, owns and runs a Republican paper and is closely identified with state politics." He remarried in 1872. (It was by his first marriage to Martha Elizabeth Trowbridge that "Fred" sired Guy. As I have mentioned in previous emails, there is a published Trowbridge genealogy also, going back many generations. I wasn't positive until now that this was the right lead though. Fred and Marth Elizabeth also divorced, when Guy was quite young.)
Fred's mother was born Cordelia Van Benschoten, who married Milton Atherton. They divorced, apparently when Fred (named Franklin, or Frank on other listings) was very young. The published genealogy I found is for the Van Benschoten family, going back to the 1600's, as I mentioned. I'll send you some stories over time - some are quite interesting.
I found it interesting to see the printing/publishing thread running from Fred, to Guy, to Clive and then to Charlie. I wonder if the trade had its start in even earlier Atherton generations. I haven't researched the lead on Milton Atherton, but will in future.

6/16/06 - Translation of Wood/Mausshardt/Janits letter from German:

Friends helped me get a letter translated from Albert Janits, ancestor, written in German, upon birth of mother-in-law Joan.