Sticky Notes
powered by
Recent Your Stories Ask Ancestry Anne Interesting Finds Juliana's Corner

Ask Ancestry Anne: Three Andrew Blankinships. How Do I Choose?

Hi Anne,
I’ve run into a brick wall on researching my great grandfather, Andrew Blankinship.  We have very little information about him…parents and siblings are unknown.  Here is the information we do have: 

1) Born in Ohio, believed to be around Cleveland.   I had entered parents I found on my tree, but later deleted them as I found 3 sets of parents who had a child named Andrew around 1845 in Ohio.  All were born in/around Aid, Lawrence, Ohio.  Parents I found were: Madison & Delila; Beverly & Malvna; & Wesley & Hanna.  Also, my father always told us we have Native Americans in our ancestry & I’m wondering it could have been the Blankinships as they are such a mystery.  We have searched census records.
2) Andrew fought in the Civil War, believed for the Confederate Army.  He was wounded during his active duty.  Selia drew a pension after the death of Andrew. A record was found in “1890 Civil War Veterans” as follows: ”Blankingship, Andrew; Ho-95-1; Pvt H Co, 1st US Inf;  Sep 27 62 to Jun 29 65; McKinnon PO.”
3) Andrew Blankinship and Selia Caroline Cathey were married 08/03/1871 in Stewart Co, TN by J.B. Lune, J.P. & had 11 children.  Selia belonged to the Methodist Church & Andrew belonged to none.
4) Andrew & Selia moved to Napier, TN around 1889, when my grandmother, Fannie, was 5 years old.  Andrew worked at the coal pits in McKinnon TN & also Napier, Tn.  Andrew died of a heart attack at Napier, TN and Selia died of pneumonia.  They are buried at Napier Lake Cemetery in Tenn.
5) Andrew & Selia owned a home in McKinnon, TN, but rented when they moved to Napier, Tn.

— Carol

Dear Carol,

Let’s start with a review of some of what you have told me. 

According to Find-a-Grave, Andrew Blankinship was born February 23, 1845 and died on January 22, 1895.  Selia Carolyn Blankinship nee Cathey was born April 18, 1834 and died on July 17, 1901.

In the Civil War Pension Index: General Index to Pension Files, 1861 – 1934, we find Andrew Blankinship with his widow Selia Blankinship listed:

Andrew fought with the West Virginia Ninth Infantry and the West Virginia First Veterans Infantry.  He was a Union soldier, not a Confederate soldier.   You may want to consider the applications from NARA (both the Invalid and the Widow application) may hold some clues to his parents or other relatives.

You’ll notice that Selia filed for a widow’s application on February 25, 1895.  Given that we believe Andrew died on January 22, 1895, this fits.

You found 3 Andrew Blankinship’s in Ohio (all in Lawrence County, Ohio) in the 1860 census.  This is a reasonable guess that one of them is your Andrew.

 The Andrew who enlisted in 1862 did so in Pt Pleasant, Virginia (now West Virginia):

Aid, Ohio is about 34 miles away from Point Pleasant.  This is a reasonable distant to travel to enlist.  I found no other likely candidates in Ohio in 1860 and 1850, so these seem to be a reasonable group to focus on.

Family one

Family Two

Family Three

I think we can rule out William and Hannah.  The Andrew living with them in 1860, is also living with Hannah in 1870 and 1880.

In 1870, we find 5 Andrew Blankinships in the US:

We ruled out The Andrew living in Ohio in 1870.  The Andrews who are both born in Virginia and are living in Virginia in 1870 do not seem likely candidates.

Montgomery County is adjacent to Stewart County, where your Andrew’s bride to be lives. Giles County is quite a distance away.  Also, if you look at that census image the Andrew in Giles County is stated to be born in Alabama.

Andrew and Selia were married in 1871 in Steward County.  I searched for Andrew in Stewart County in 1870, and could not find him there but I did find an Andrew in neighboring Montgomery County who may be your Andrew:

He is the correct age, he is a Collier which is someone who worked in a Coal Mine, which was Andrew’s occupation in later years and he was born in Ohio.  This is hardly definitive proof, but the best guess is the Andrew living in Montgomery County in 1870.

But is he the son of James and Margaret or Beverly and Lovina?

Here is what I recommend:

  • Check the names of Andrew and Selia’s children and compare to the names of James and Margaret’s children and then Beverly and Lovina’s.  Are there similarities?
  • Contact the Lawrence County, Ohio Historical Society and see if they have any information or suggestions on where you might look for Birth announcements and Obituaries that might have clues.
  • Order a copy of Andrew’s pension application.  Even if the parents are listed, there may be brothers and sisters listed that will help you identify the parents.
  •  Track the parents and brothers and sisters in the two families in successive census.  Do any move close to Andrew and Selia? 
  • If you can find death dates for the parents you might be able to find probate records or obituaries that lead you to the answer.

This one is not easy.  But that will make the answer that much sweeter when you find it.

Happy Searching!

— Ancestry Anne

Kris Williams: Three Days by Horse

In the last five years I have seen more than half the states in our nation, plus 22 countries and counting. In that time, I have bounced from one hotel to the next with everything I own packed tightly inside two 25” pieces of luggage.

My downtime has been spent with family in New England, visiting good friends all over the United States and visiting my boyfriend in Australia. Even when I am not working, I somehow manage to stay on the road. Through all of this, there are times where I have taken the technology to travel and stay connected for granted, and there are other times where I’ve been completely amazed by how far we have come. With every generation’s advances in technology our planet continues to get smaller and more connected.

The first time I remember being completely blown away by our progress was while talking to my great-grandmother’s cousin. My great-grandmother passed away when I was only four years-old. Through my genealogy work I was able to track down her cousin, Albertine, about 10 years ago.

I remember her surprised look when I explained to her who I was, and I will never forget her response when I told her it only took me two hours to drive to Vermont from New Hampshire: “It only took you two hours?! It used to take us three days by horse!”

In those days you didn’t just hop in a car. There were no short visits, no phone calls, texts or emails. They would send out letters announcing their visit with the intention of staying a week or more after traveling for days by horse or foot.

Today, having to rely on a horse, and not having a car, is unimaginable. Then again, it was only six short years ago that traveling the world – never mind dating a man who lives in another country – also seemed unimaginable. It all seemed so impossible and, just a few generations ago, it would have been.

Now, as I write this, I’m waiting to board a plane in Australia to head home to the United States. I will have woken on one side of the planet, and will be climbing into bed on the other side – all on the same day!

All around me people talk, some complaining about the long flight ahead. I will admit, the idea of a 14-hour flight stuck in coach isn’t my idea of a good time.  But five generations ago, my second great-grandparents boarded boats in Europe that were headed for America. Following two weeks at sea in cramped quarters, they finally reached their destinations.

If Albertine was surprised by my two-hour drive, how would those great-grandparents respond to my 14-hour flight across the globe? Then again, how would my ancestors from the Mayflower react to my great-grandparents’ “short” two-weeks at sea?

Yes, I had relatives on the Mayflower! Setting sail from Plymouth, England, on Sept. 6, 1620, it took the ship a total of two months to cross the Atlantic Ocean. Two months! There were a total of 102 passengers packed into cramped, cold and damp living quarters. Most found themselves seasick and some passengers died due to illnesses. At least one man was lucky enough to be rescued after being thrown overboard by rough waters.

As a female, I am most amazed by the pregnant women who made the voyage, one of whom gave birth on the ship. Through all of this, the passengers of the Mayflower wondered if they would even make it to the shores of America due to damage that was done to the ship from storms.

They spent two months at sea, and here we are, in our coach seats being served food and drinks. We’re flying in a relatively safe, large metal object and we are complaining about a 14-hour trip from Australia to America.

Once I land Los Angeles, I will be spending the next three weeks looking for an apartment. For me, leaving everything I know in New England is both exciting and scary. In some ways it’s a fresh start; the first time in my whole life where I will be completely responsible for myself and I am excited about it.

However, I still can’t quite shake the fear of leaving what is familiar, and the guilt that hangs over me about leaving my family. What if this move turns out horribly? What if something happens back home and I’m not there? Can I handle being that far from my family? I am willing to bet these same fears and questions haunted my ancestors from the time they packed their bags until years after they settled in New England.

Taking into consideration the day-to-day challenges they continued to face as soon as they touched land, I feel a bit foolish. Once my ancestors made the voyage from Europe to America, that was it. Those who were lucky enough to make the trip alive found themselves in a foreign land having only the limited possessions they brought with them. Chances are they would never see the friends and family they left behind again, and their only communication would be through an occasional handwritten letter.

Today, people regularly move from state to state and I continue to meet many who have moved from country to country. Although we may experience the same fears, we have options. If we are missing home, we can jump in a car, catch a bus, hop on a train or book a flight. While missing our family and friends in-between trips, we have the luxury of making a phone call or sending out a text message.

Not enough? Then there’s always the convenience that comes with the Internet from emails, video chat and social networking sites that allow us to post and read regular status updates or share pictures.

From the days of uncharted lands to the days where you can look up any location on the globe by satellite, I have absolutely no idea where life is going to take me. I may decide to stay in California. I could eventually head back to the east coast or maybe even find myself living outside of the country.

Wherever I am, I hope to always be thankful for how far we have come, and make use of everything we have available to stay connected with my family and friends. As I now sit here on my flight, I also can’t help but wonder what stories I will someday share with my grandchildren that, to them, will seem unimaginable.

By Kris Williams

Twitter: @KrisWilliams81

Ask Ancestry Anne: Search Tip #20: Look for Family Members

Can’t find George Smith but his brother is Hezekiah Smith?  Well go look for Hezekiah.  Looking for the uncommon names in a family can be more fruitful than those pesky common names.

Who were your ancestor’s siblings and parents?

Maybe there are living with Grandparents, Cousins, or Aunts and Uncles.

And if that doesn’t work, try searching for Neighbors in the previous or successive census.  Maybe they are there, but the transcription is not matching your search.

Previous tip: Search Tip #19: Last or First Name

Happy Searching!

Ancestry Anne

Ask Ancestry Anne: Search Tip #19: First or Last Name Searches

This particular technique is most useful on a single data collection, and if it is a large one you might want to limit it to a specific place.

Let’s say you’ve looked for your ancestor Joshua Chamberlain and you just cannot find him.  Enter all of your data and then omit the first name and search.  This will help you find candidates that might be him but have really poorly transcribed first names.  Then you can enter the first name and enter the last name.  Same idea.

You can also try this if you are looking for a wife and you don’t know her maiden name.  This will give you a list of candidates that might possibly be here.

Next tip: Search Tip #20: Look for Family Members or review the previous tip: Search Tip #18: Review the Search Form

Happy Searching!

Ancestry Anne

Ask Ancestry Anne: Search Tip #18 - Read the Search Form

Sometimes it is best to start searching form the search form for a specific data collection.  The form tells you what has been indexed which is critical in understanding what to enter.

 Take for example the US Federal Census 1850 search form:

Relationships are indexed, because they are explicitly stated, so you can’t use that as a search strategy.

On a census form, if you enter a county and stage from our type ahead for places and then choose exact, you will limit all of your searches to that county.  Or you can choose adjacent county if you are not finding who you are looking for.

Also, you can set other fields to exact to limit your searches as well.  By looking at the form, you understand what is actually indexed and this will help you choose what is appropriate to use as parameters in your search.

Next tip: Search Tip #19: First or Last Name Searches  or review the previous tip: Search Tip #17: Search from Your Tree

Happy Searching!

Ancestry Anne