2015 was a great year for my genealogy and family research. For starters I didn’t disown anyone and that is really good news! One of the things I do at the end of the year is look back over the prior year to refresh my memory on the newly identified ancestors and any disowned ancestors (aka ancestors I thought were mine but were not). Each research year is filled with a lot of little successes and disappointments, however, I like to take stock of my big discoveries.
In the disappointment area, I haven’t made any progress on determining the parents of John Silvius husband of Anna Maria Yeagger, despite spending quite a bit of time in the Westmoreland County Courthouse. I am a member of a group that is researching the Silvius/Silvis/Silvies/Silfies/etc family and they have determined parentage for John. However, there are some issues (no offense to anyone in the group, but, I have unanswered questions). DAR has information on John and Anna Maria, and unfortunately, I’m not certain that all of that information is correct either. As a DAR member, I know the database is not infallible, especially for Patriots proven early in the DAR history. The standards of proof were not as rigorous as today. The parentage of John and Anna Maria just got the big reset button. The more I research, the more I uncover additional John/Jonas/Johannes/Jonathan Silvius’s in the same area leading to a lot of documents and thus conflicting conclusions. My long term task will be to go back to Greensburg and pull everything for any male Silvius with the names John/Jonas/Johannes/Jonathan and start sorting.
Now for the great news! This year I welcome the parents of Agness Snyder/Schneider to my family tree: John Snyder and Agnes Finkbeiner. Agnes is my 3rd great grandmother and she was married to Nicholas Reefer (or Rëfer/Reifer/Riffer/Refert), my 3rd great grandfather! The Reefer’s and Snyder’s have been a dead end for me for quite a few years. However, using a brute force method of genealogy research (read all wills of all men with a certain last name in a county during time period to be parent of someone hoping to uncover a clue), I hit the jackpot! I found a will for one John Snyder/Schneider in Westmoreland County, where Agnes & Nicholas were from, whose wife was Agnes and who had a married daughter Agnes Rifford. While the spelling isn’t a 100% match to any of my “known” variants, it is close enough that I leaped on the find. The more I dig, the more information I have uncovered. At this time while I don’t have “the smoking gun”, I do have a lot of circumstantial information supporting this conclusion, but wouldn’t it be nice that with my next visit to the courthouse I could uncover definitive proof?
That’s my summary for last year’s big genealogy finds, what are yours?