22 June 2016

Muriel Ince Michaels, Age 42

Muriel Ince Michaels, Age 42, photo in collection of Ernest Ince, in possession of Regina Ince Michaels, ca. 1955, image created by Dave Michaels, 2016.

08 June 2016

Homecoming: A Complete List of Doyle Siblings

Life as a genealogist really has not been the same since I took my AncestryDNA test. The connections I'm making to other relatives, including distant cousins, is proving to be so invaluable. We're able to solve mysteries better together than we can apart. Nowhere has that been more apparent than when I reached out to a distant Doyle cousin of mine named Mary Wynn Haupt.

By the time she and I connected, we understood plainly that our common ancestors were James P. Doyle (1851-1936) and Cora A. Lovelace (1861-1901), both of North Carolina. I was able to share quite a bit of information, as well as original source documents and photos, which I'm always happy to do. She in return has provided invaluable insight regarding many missing children from this family, including the daughter of James and Cora from whom she descends.

The confusion begins with the missing 1890 census. Because this was the only census on which James and Cora would have appeared together with the majority of their children (especially their daughters) at home, finding the names of all the children has been a continual research project of mine for many years. I've known I was missing several children for that long because of columns 11 and 12 on the 1900 census.

1900 U.S. census, Rockingham County, North Carolina, population schedule, Huntsville Township, p. 17-A (stamped),  dwelling 302, family 303, James P. Doyle and Cora Lovelace family; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 8 June 2016); citing NARA Microfilm Roll: T623_1215.

You'll see that James and Cora appear on this census record with four of their children: Margaret, Cora, William, and Calvin. According to column 11, by 1900 Cora had given birth to 8 children. Column 12 reveals that 7 of these children were still living at that time. As Mary Wynn and I pieced together the children for whom we had records, the breakdown was as follows:

  1. A C Doyle (1878- ?)
  2. Charles Miller Doyle (1879-1942), my ancestor
  3. Frances Doyle Moore (1882-1961), her ancestor
  4. Sarah Margarett Doyle (1888-1901)
  5. William James Doyle (1892-1969)
  6. Cora Alice Doyle (1893-1973)
  7. Calvin Dewey Doyle (1899-1979)
  8. Lula Mae Doyle (1901-1976)

Because Lula Mae Doyle was born in 1901, she doesn't count towards the children enumerated in the 1900 census. Between us we were able to find seven of James and Cora's children. We were still missing one. And based on the information we had, we also didn't know which one was deceased before 1900. With what we were looking for clearly defined, we outlined some things we could try to find the information we needed.

Mrs. Fannie Moore obituary,
undated clipping from unidentified newspaper,
papers of  Grandma Becky, ca. 1961,
image created by Mary Wynn Haupt, 2016.
Life got busy for both of us, as it so often does. Until today, when I heard from her again via email. She had great news to tell me.

She had found the missing Doyle sibling! Listed in her ancestor's obituary from 1961 were the names of her five living siblings:

  1. Mrs. Walter Puckett of Martinsville, VA
  2. Mrs. Ben Hundley of Leaksville, NC
  3. Mrs Ernest Smith of South Boston, VA
  4. Will Doyle of Greensboro, NC
  5. Dewey Doyle of Greensboro, NC

Mrs. Ernest Smith was a name she hadn't recognized, and she did some digging. Before long, she discovered that the full maiden name of the sibling we were searching for was Etta Florence Doyle (1891-1972). My cousin sent me a copy of the obituary in question, as well as a record of Etta's marriage she had found online at Ancestry.com. 

From there, we were also able to find a Find a Grave entry, a Virginia death certificate, and her appearance on the 1940 US population schedule of the census.

After adding the information for Etta into my Ancestry tree, I also added it to the universal tree on FamilySearch. As I did so, the duplicate screening revealed that someone has already created a record for Etta Florence Doyle Smith. She was not connected to her parents, and the descendant in question appears to have dead-ended with her. And thanks to the FamilySearch messaging system, we'll be able to reach out to whomever it is and let them know that we've made this connection.

All of this began with a single DNA test. I'd reached the end of what my research experience and information would allow me to piece together. I needed additional information that was not to be found. By reaching out to my cousin, we've been able to find the lost siblings of this family.

In a very real way, it feels like a very sweet homecoming--a triumph over the dispersed, forgotten, and unknown. 

30 May 2016

Remembering the WWI Service of Lester Edgar Ince

The wait for Lester Edgar Ince's military service file has finally ended! I downloaded it and have done my preliminary examination to its contents. If you're waiting for these records to come available, you'll know when they have for your ancestor when this link appears on the page for their previously published attestation papers.

The compiled service file is published as a PDF, so you'll need Adobe Reader or some other PDF software to view it. They're free to download, but the process of doing so can take several minutes because the files are quite large. Lester's service file was a total of 180 images, and took between 3 and 5 minutes to download completely.

What you find in your ancestor's service file will depend completely on what their World War I service was like. What you'll find in the file of a decorated officer will vary greatly from what you find in the file of an enlisted man. Because Lester was a black man serving in a predominantly white unit, at a time when whether black men should participate in Canadian military service was hotly contested in society, it shouldn't have surprised me to see no awards of any kind in his file.

Instead his file consists predominantly of medical records. I can see that piecing together his military service will likely rely on creating a timeline of his injuries and hospital stays, and then filling in the action that would have caused them. For the average enlisted man, this process will likely be identical, and tell much of the same story.

The first of his injuries are reportedly shrapnel wounds on his thigh and leg, that were superficial in nature according to his treating physicians. Lester spent time in France, and was at Ypres, where a shell landed approximately fifteen feet from him. As a result he experienced prolonged "shell shock," which caused him great distress throughout the rest of the war. He struggled with noises, was easily irritated, had nausea and loss of appetite, and dizziness. He had disturbing dreams and woke frequently from sleep. He was unable to ride in vehicles without becoming incredibly uneasy, and encountered a great deal of anxiety now associated with post-traumatic stress disorder

Based on his treatment records, I'm also postulating that he experienced first-hand the chemical weapons engaged by the Germans. Lester was treated for severe conjunctivitis, likely the result of contact with poison gas. He also was tested and treated for syphilis, a common ailment among all participants in the European theater. Venereal disease became such a crisis among the British armed forces in Europe, state sponsored prostitution began. After the introduction of this program, all soldiers were required to use contraception. Those who developed any type of preventable disease faced disciplinary action. I'll be interested to take a closer look at the timing and implementation of those measures, to see how they coincide with the enforcement (or lack thereof) within his unit.

I am endlessly glad that I watch Jan Peter's Great War Diaries docu-drama while it was still on Netflix. Even though I watched it several months ago, the thoroughness with which it handled the subject of World War I is incredible. The context includes each of the fronts of WWI action, and civilian life with respect to each, as told through the words and diaries of those who lived there. By the time I finished the documentary, I had the distinct notion that the only way I could have gotten better insight into the war would have been to have spoken to Lester Ince myself. 

I look forward to studying his service file in the weeks and months ahead, especially in relation to a book I'm still reading on his unit.