Saturday, March 7, 2015

Louise's Lost Files - Certificate of Marriage

This is part of my Louise's Lost Files Series in which I share with my readers some of the items I am inventorying, scanning and posting that came from my great-grandmother, Louise Lasiter's house in Fort Smith, Arkansas.

The first part I tackled were two small drawers of paperwork belonging to my great-grandmother. They contained basic household mail items such as bank statements, bills, and tax statements. Intermingled in these mundane household items, however, were a few items of genealogical significance including their original Certificate of Marriage shown below.

Marriage Certificate Louise Benson and James Putman Lasiter
Marriage Certificate Louise Benson and James Putman Lasiter, from the personal collection of Ginger R. Smith

It says:

This Certifies

that on the Second day of December in the year of our Lord 1931,

J. Putman Lasiter and Louise Benson 

were by me united in Marriage 
at Tulsa, Oklahoma 
according to the Ordinance of God and Laws of the State of Oklahoma.

Witnesses: Udrah Kaemmerling and Conrad H. Grabradshi [sp?]

Otto LeRoy Curl, Ph.D., D.D.
Pastor University Methodist Episcopal Church


A little bit about the physical condition of the marriage certificate:

It is a tri-fold and has a piece of braided cord punched through one seam so that when it's folded in 3, it can be tied on the outside. There is also an outer cover which you can kind of see in the scan if you look closely at the bottom. 

A little bit about my great-grandparents: 

Louise Benson was 19 years old when she married James Putman "Put" Lasiter on December 2nd, 1931. She had been living with her family in Newby, Oklahoma in April of 1930 when the census was taken. According to the census, she was still attending school, so she must have been attending a junior college of some sort because she graduated from Spiro High School in 1929. 

An interesting tidbit of information was that Louise was pregnant with her first child Barbara when she married Put. And yes, I assure you that her first child was Put's. My grandmother and her sister Barb could have been twins, their likeness was so similar. 

James Putman "Put" Lasiter was 23 years old when he married Louise. He was living in Fort Smith, Arkansas with his parents when the census was taken in 1930. According to the census report, he was also attending school. 

I wish I knew how my great-grandparents met with one living in OK and the other living in AR about two hours away. Maybe I will find some clues in the rest of the boxes? In addition to this marriage certificate, I found their original marriage license and I also found a certified copy of the marriage license which was obtained in 1943. 

I wonder what the certified copy was required for? 

Why would someone need a certified copy of a marriage license 12 years after they were married?
They didn't buy their house until 1950, so it could not have been for a mortgage. Hmmm...interesting. 

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Running a Targeted Surname Search in my Smith Relatives' ftDNA Results

Now that I have found several Agee matches to myself on AncestryDNA, and I have entered their direct line ancestors into my Family Tree, I wanted to see which of my other Smith family members had matches to descendants of this Agee family. My Smith relatives having matches to Agee descendants would provide further evidence that our Smith family has a common Agee ancestor.

I logged in to each of my Smith family members' ftDNA accounts and searched for the surname AGEE.

This is what my list of results looked like for my cousin Shari. You can see that on the right side of the page, the Agee surname is displayed in blue bolded text. The 2nd match down does not have Agee in their list of surnames. They showed up in the results list because they have Magee in their list of surnames. I did not include them in my list of matches.

In order for the Agee surname to show up in Shari's matches' list of surnames as bolded blue text, I had to first add the Agee surname to MY list of surnames. You can do this by clicking on your name in the upper right hand corner of your ftDNA profile, then clicking the Genealogy tab, then clicking on the Surnames link. 

I added the Agee surname to the surname lists of all of my Smith cousins' ftDNA profiles and then I ran a search for matches who had Agee in their list of surnames. This is what  I found: 

My Relative Match's AGEE Ancestor
Cousin Mike 1 match to a descendant of Anthony Agee & Christina Worley via their son David
Cousin Linda 1 match who has Agee from France and VA, but no tree (related to Darrel's match who had Agee from France & VA, but no tree)
Cousin Shari (Linda's Half-Sister) 2 matches to a descendant of Anthony Agee & Christina Worley via their son Matthew (these 2 matches are related)
1 match who has Agee from SC (no tree)
Grandfather Darrel 2 matches to a descendant of Anthony Agee & Christina Worley via their son Isaac Agee (these 2 matches are related)
1 match to a descendant of Mary Elizabeth Agee & Jean Faure Ford via their son Daniel Ford
1 match who has Agee from France and VA, but no tree (related to Linda's match who had Agee from France & VA but no tree)
1 match to a descendant of Frances Agee from Wilkes County GA (same match as Tim)
My father Tim 1 match to a descendant of Frances Agee from Wilkes County GA (same match Darrel has)
Ginger No Matches to Agee in ftDNA

I then pulled up each relative's Agee match in their chromosome browser and downloaded the chromosome data to excel.  I combined all of the ch data into one excel file and sorted by chromosome number and then by starting location (on the chromosome). The descendants of Anthony Agee's son Isaac and the descendants of Anthony Agee's son Matthew have a lot of overlap on ch 3. My grandfather's match who descends from Mary Elizabeth Agee, sister of Mathieu Agee, did not match up with anyone on more than 5 cM. He did match up on a small segment on ch 11 from 63-67 mil, 4.61cM, 900 SNPs with the descendants of Anthony Agee's son Isaac (not shown).

Darrel Eugene Smith Descendant-1 of Anthony Agee & Christina Worley via their son Isaac Agee 3 169205391 184359986 19.34 3200
Darrel Eugene Smith Descendant-2 of Anthony Agee & Christina Worley via their son Isaac Agee 3 169205391 184694720 19.35 3300
Shari Jo JENKINS-Free Descendant-1 of Anthony Agee & Christina Worley via their son Matthew 3 171575778 180390543 13.09 2000
Shari Jo JENKINS-Free Descendant-2 of Anthony Agee & Christina Worley via their son Matthew 3 171575778 180390543 13.09 2000

To be honest, I've kind of actually given up on looking at chromosome data to evaluate my matches, but I thought I would include a summary of my cursory findings here just in case anyone was interested. Also, I would need to run a comparison of the matches who are descendants of Anthony Agee & Christina Worley via their son Isaac Agee against the matches who are descendants of Anthony Agee & Christina Worley via their son Matthew to see if they, too, overlap on these same DNA segments. Assuming that Darrel and Shari also overlap on these same segments of DNA, then there is a 3-way match which would indicate a common ancestor shared by Darrel, Shari, and these matches.

If you are also wondering why I did not do this in my last post with my AncestryDNA results, it is because AncestryDNA does not offer the ability to look at your chromosome data. I used to use a 3rd party tool called, but that service is no longer reliable, so I just don't bother messing with the chromosome data much anymore.

Next Steps:

  1. My next step will be to add the direct line Agee ancestors of these matches into my family tree and cite them as coming from ftDNA online gedcoms. I will then create an abbreviated family tree chart that I can reference quickly to see what matches came from what Agee Ancestors
  2. My half-brother's AncestryDNA results just came back so I will run a surname search for Agee matches in his results; if there are several, I will organize them by patriarch and add them to my list of matches. Then I will add their Agee ancestors to my family tree if they have not already been added. I will also compare his Agee matches to mine to see if there are any overlaps. 

Friday, February 20, 2015

Louise's Lost Files - Scanning Best Practices for Documents

If you have been participating in Thomas McEntee's Genealogy Do-Over, then you know that one of this week's goals was to digitize your photos and documents. Thomas gave a great overview of scanning best practices for photographs. I had a few of my own ideas to add regarding the scanning of documents - especially pertaining to Louise's Lost Files - my great-grandmother's files I've been working on for weeks. I've outlined my best practices below. How do you scan your documents?

Last week I went through some of the financial records of the last two years of my great-grandmother's life that I found in the two drawer small file box. I also found in this box all of the documents pertaining to my great-grandmother's house - the mortgage note, the deed, and related insurance papers. In order to share these documents with my readers and to further preserve them, I decided to scan them into my computer.

My scanning software offers several options:

  • black and white document
  • black and white photograph
  • color document
  • color photograph

Deciding on a scanning method depends on what I want to do with my scan. If I want to scan an exact copy of the document as it looks to MY eye, then I probably want to scan in color in order to preserve the appearance of the aged and faded paper. However, this scanned copy does not make for a very good template to print copies from. Printing copies with a colored background, even if it is off white, will use up a lot of your ink. So it is a good idea to also scan each item in black and white, especially if you ever plan to print copies of it.

This is the deed of trust scanned in color. If I were to print from these scans, the printer would print a beige color to the entire page. Although this scan is nice because it represents the true color and original appearance of the document, it does not make for a good copy to print from. Also, the top image was scanned as a color document and the bottom image was scanned as a color photograph. The photograph picked up the text from the other side of the page which is not good.

The other option is document versus photograph. Scanning as a photograph would also help to preserve the original appearance of the aged paper, however, it will pick up a lot more of the paper's blips and blemishes, including bleed through of text from the other side. You can reduce the amount of bleed through by placing a piece of black card stock on top of the paper being scanned. Or you can scan as a document and get a much clearer and crisp scan. Sometimes the typed text might not show up as dark with the document setting as it would with the photograph setting, but this can be adjusted in your graphics program using your brightness, contrast, and gamma controls.

On the left is a document scanned as a black and white document - as you can see the text is pretty light. The one on the right is the same scan with gamma correction applied - now the text is much darker. Click the image to view a larger image. 

Regardless of the scanning option you decide on, you should always check your scans to make sure everything shows up nicely - especially anything that was written in pencil.

Also, with regard to resolution, always scan in either 300 or 600 dpi resolution. To me, the biggest advantage is readability. If I need to zoom in to a document in order to decipher its handwriting, I can do so easily with a 300 or 600 dpi scan and still see a clear and crisp image. If I zoomed in on an image that was scanned at 100 dpi resolution, the image would be grainy and the handwriting or text unreadable.

It is best to save your images in both JPG and TIF files types. The TIF files types can be used for preservation purposes and as in the example above, TIF files can be easily zoomed and still maintain their clarity of text and handwriting. Saving images in JPG files is also a good idea, especially if you plan to publish the images on the web, on your online tree, or email to cousins. Most photo and document upload services have a maximum file upload size that can only be adhered to in a JPG format. My scanning software also allows me to save my images into either individual or multiple page PDF files. I often use this to my advantage: PDFs can be easily emailed to cousins, they offer a nice way to keep multiple pages of the same document together, and the text is often searchable (mine is!).

How do you scan your documents and does it differ from scanning photographs?

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Looking for Agee Ancestors - Building my Match Trees

In my last post about the Smith and Agee family, I discussed how I was able to connect my Smith family to the family of Thomas Smith and Leah Agee of Tennessee and Kentucky. By running a targeted surname search through my DNA matches for the Agee surname, I was able to determine that my family was connected to Mathieu Agee, the Huguenot who fled from France and moved to Virginia around 1700. Mathieu was the grandfather of Leah Agee who married Thomas Smith. Two descendants of Thomas Smith and Leah Agee have had their Y-DNA tested and they were a match to my grandfather, Darrel. The results of the Y-DNA test combined with the autosomal DNA test have led me to believe that Thomas Smith and Leah Agee were the common ancestors of my Grandfather and his two Y-DNA matches. My goal is to determine exactly how my Smith ancestors tie in to the family of Thomas Smith and Leah Agee.

I started off by entering all of the information I learned from my AncestryDNA matches. I entered all 11 of my matches' direct line ancestors into my Family Tree Maker software, starting with themselves and going back to their Agee ancestors. As I entered their direct line ancestors, I added a citation pointing back to their online trees to every name and fact I copied from their tree to mine. This is what my citations look like:

Citation Title: Public Member Tree Submitted by 5haags
Citation Detail: "Rapp/Knutson Family Tree," submitted by 5haags, accessed 02 February 2015; AncestryDNA match to Ginger Smith. Possible Common ancestor is Mathieu Agee.
Citation Text: This is where I enter the ancestor's name, place and date of birth and death and any other information pertaining to the data being cited.
Web Address:

The full citation is as follows: "Rapp/Knutson Family Tree," submitted by 5haags, accessed 02 February 2015; AncestryDNA match to Ginger Smith. Possible Common ancestor is Mathieu Agee.

Next time I will run a targeted surname search for the Agee surname in my ftDNA matches and also I will do the same for my Smith family members who have tested with ftDNA.

Posts related to this topic:
Looking for Connection to Agee ancestors via Autosomal DNA
Running a Targeted Surname Search in my Smith Relatives' Results

Friday, February 13, 2015

Louise's Lost Files - Cancelled Checks

This is part of my Louise's Lost Files Series in which I share with my readers some of the items I am inventorying, scanning and posting that came from my great-grandmother, Louise Lasiter's house in Fort Smith, Arkansas.

Last week I sifted through the two small drawers of paperwork belonging to my great-grandmother. They contained basic household mail items such as bank statements, bills, and tax statements. Almost everything was in their original envelops. The bank statements were from the two years prior to her death: 1995-1997. Inside the envelops containing the bank statements were also her cancelled checks. Among the cancelled checks I found this one:

It was addressed to me. My great-grandmother had sent me this check in 1995 when I was in my 2nd year of college in Burlington, Vermont. It was very nice of her to remember me.

This check is significant not only because it had been addressed to me, but also because it contains valuable genealogical information.

  • It contains my great-grandmother's address
  • It has my great-grandmother's Signature on it
  • It has my name on it
  • It has my signature on the back of the check along with the name of the bank I used in Burlington, VT (and the date it was cashed by me)
  • It also has the name of the bank my great-grandmother used
I think the signatures are the big things that interest most genealogists. How many of your ancestors' signatures do you have?

The rest of the genealogically relevant information gleaned from this cancelled check ties in to the lives of both myself and my great-grandmother. It goes beyond just the genealogical facts that we are first interested in. It helps to build a picture of what life was like for those involved. 

So my tip of the day is, don't throw away things just because they don't tell you when someone was born, died, or married. Some day, this document might be the one piece of evidence you need to prove something! 

Friday, February 6, 2015

Louise's Lost Files - Week 1 - The Inventory Process

This is the first of my posts outlining the inventorying process of my great-grandmother, Louise Lasiter's files. Louise Benson Lasiter was born January 1st, 1912 in Avant, Osage Co., Oklahoma and died December 27th, 1997 in Fort Smith, Arkansas. I came into possession of some of her files and photos last December while visiting Fort Smith. I have outlined the inventory process I am using while going through her files below:

For my first project, I tackled the two-drawer paper box (the smallest of the 3 boxes).

It wasn't that full and the items inside were mostly papers (and not photographs). All of these papers were folded and some were even enclosed in their original envelops.

I started by pulling one stack of papers out of the first drawer.

I looked at each item, one at a time, taking it out of its envelop.

I wrote down what the item was, who it pertained to, and the date in my lined notebook.

I then put the item back into its original envelop, indicating on my sheet if it came in an original envelop.

Once I filled up one page of my notebook, I bundled those items on the first page and put a rubber band around them; then I put a sticky note on the first item with the number corresponding with the notebook page.

If I found something interesting in the stack, I put a sticky note on the item so that it sticks out of the pile. I also put a sticky note on the first item of the stack to indicate there is something of relevance within the pile. I also put a big star beside the item in the inventory list

In this bunch of papers, I found several documents of interest - the marriage certificate of my great-grandparents, the deed to their house, an old deed to some cattle that was sold in the 1800s, and my great-grandmother's cancelled checks. I thought these items were significant, so I put a star beside their entries in my inventory list. 

When I finished going through the two file drawers, I had accumulated four bundles. I then placed the banded bundles into a numbered oversized photo box.

Later, when I'm ready to start writing about and sharing these documents, all I have to do is consult my inventory list to see what bundle it was placed in, then pull that bundle out of the photo box and retrieve the document. 

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Looking for Connection to Agee ancestors via Autosomal DNA

My grandfather has several Y-DNA matches to men with the Smith surname.[1] We have not been able to figure out how they all connect to each other, however, we have been able to separate them into three distinct groups. I wrote about them previously here.

My grandfather, Darrel, descends from David Editon Smith, born about 1789 in Tennessee. [2][3] David was probably living in Jackson County, Alabama between 1830 and 1840 [4] and by 1850 was living in Johnson County, Arkansas. [3] His father was listed as James Smith on his daughter's Cherokee Citizen's Application. [5]

My grandfather's closest Y-DNA match, M Smith, descends from Patrick Smith, born about 1788 in Alabama. M Smith's daughter believe's Patrick's father might have also been James Smith. [6]

Two additional Y-DNA matches descend from Thomas Smith and Leah Agee, although there is some squabble about them being the ancestral couple of both of these matches and is therefore not conclusively proven. One of these matches descends from this couples' son Richard Smith who married Diana Braswell. The other match descends from Richard's brother, James Agee Smith. Both Richard and James were born in Tennessee, then followed the Mormons to Utah where they settled.[1]

The family of James Agee Smith was involved in polygamy which was outlawed at the time, but was still being practiced in the community where he lived in Utah. As you can imagine, this has made it difficult to define the exact genealogy of James Smith's family, not just because a man was allowed to have and live with multiple wives, but because it is nearly impossible to differentiate between the children of one wife from those of another. The multiple wives often co-habitated with their husband, "sisters," and their combined children. This is actually represented on the census reports. Here is an example of a polygamous family living in Saint George, Utah in 1880. You see Warren Hardy is the head of house and he has two wives listed with a bunch of children. [7]

1880 Saint George Utah Census of Polygamous Hardy family
1880 St George, UT Census record showing 
Polygamous family of Warren Hardy

The remaining two matches also squabble about who their ancestral couple was. I will list them individually here and link to previous posts I've written about this family. Their squabble is inconsequential to today's post, so I won't dwell on it.

Match No. 5, Mr. H. Smith, claims to descend from William Smith and Elizabeth Eunice Ritchie via their son Richard Smith who married Alicia Combs. There is a LOT of information about this family on the internets, but word of caution here - don't believe everything you see as fact! [8]
Match No. 6, Mr. A. Smith, claims to descend from Samuel Smith and Eunice Joliff. He has documentation to support Samuel was his ancestor and not William, as well as Eunice Joliff, instead of Eunice Ritchie.[9]

As I mentioned earlier, we have not been able to figure out the connection between these three sets of Smith families. We assume that David and Patrick were somehow related because they were both in Alabama around the same time, and they both came from Tennessee. [3] [6] Thomas Smith and Leah Agee's sons Richard and James Agee Smith were also born in Tennessee prior to moving to Utah. [10] [1] William / Samuel Smith and Eunice Ritchie / Joliff were actually from Kentucky and their family stayed in Kentucky - so 3 distinct Smith families with no known apparent connection. [8][9]

We wondered about how useful the autosomal DNA test would be in narrowing down our list of common ancestors. My grandfather's closest match took the Family Finder test by FamilyTreeDNA (ftDNA), so we compared them. Unfortunately, although they were a match on the Y-DNA, they were not a match on the Family Finder test.

In case you are wondering, there is an Advanced Matching feature in your ftDNA homepage, that allows you to compare to your match across multiple test types (ie, Y-DNA, atDNA, mtDNA). To access this feature, I logged in to my grandfather's DNA results, hovered my mouse over the My DNA link at the top left of the page, and when a drop down box appeared, I hovered my mouse over the My Y-DNA link and then when a new drop down box appeared, I clicked on Advanced Matching.

Advanced Matching feature of FamilyTreeDNA website
How to access the Advance Matching Page

From the Advanced Matching page, I put a check mark beside the Y-DNA67 and the Family Finder test options, then I clicked "Yes" beside the "Show only people I match in all selected tests" option. I then clicked the Run Report button to see my results.

Advanced Matching feature of FamilyTreeDNA website
No Results

As I said earlier, unfortunately, my grandfather's closest Y-DNA match is NOT a match on the Family Finder test. You might be wondering why or how this could be? There could be a few reasons for this. 1) The common ancestor is too far back to be picked up by the Family Finder test. The Family Finder test is only guaranteed to work back to 5 generations. [11] David Smith is my grandfather's 5th generation back. If the common ancestor was beyond David, which I'm positive it was, then it is possible it is too far back to be picked up. 2) It is possible that my grandfather and his match did not inherit the same DNA segments. DNA gets mixed up or "recombined" when it gets transferred from a parent to offspring. Oftentimes, siblings do not receive the same exact DNA segments, so one sibling may match a cousin but the other sibling does not.[12]

Since I could not do much more with my grandfather's closest Y-DNA match, the descendant of Patrick Smith from Alabama, I decided to work with the second set of matches - the descendants of Thomas Smith and Leah Agee. I could try to do a search in my Family Finder matches for anybody with Smith in their list of surnames - but that would results in a high number of matches and a lot of Smiths to go through! Instead, I focused on the AGEE surname.

Background of Leah AGEE:

The Leah Agee who married Thomas Smith was born about 1755 in Manakin, Goochland County, Virginia. [1] She was the daughter of Anthony Agee and either Christian Worley [1] or Nancy Jane Benin or Binnion. [13] Anthony Agee was the son of a Hugenot named Mathieu Agee who fled France and came to Virginia.[14]

One of the most successful ways I have found to work with my autosomal DNA results is through a targeted surname search. I have tested with both FamilyTreeDNA and AncestryDNA. I've had better luck working through my AncestryDNA results because more matches have trees posted than they do in ftDNA.

I started by doing a surname search for AGEE in my AncestryDNA results.

1.  Click the View all DNA matches button on my AncestryDNA homepage.
2.  In the Search Matches box, I entered Agee and clicked the search button.

AncestryDNA Surname Search box
AncestryDNA Surname Search box

3.  AncestryDNA returned a list of 14 matches
  • 1 of them was a 4th cousin, but his tree was private, so I couldn't see anything
  • 2 of them had private trees (I would contact them later)
  • 1 of them did not have a Agee in their list of surnames at all
4.  I reviewed each of the remaining 11 matches one at a time. 
5.  This is where most people look through their matches' tree for a connection to their own tree, don't find it, give up and throw in the towel. I have a different methodology that is much more helpful. 

My Method: 

1.  I open a notepad file, or an Evernote note, or break out a lined notebook and I record the user name of the first match. I will use this file to take abbreviated notes about how my match descends from their oldest known Agee ancestor. 
2.  I review the first match. The Agee surname does not show up in the little green "Shared Surnames" box because I don't have the Agee surname listed in my tree - I don't actually know how I connect to the Agee-Smith family (yet). A bunch of other names DO show up in the Shared Surnames box, but I will ignore them for now (remember we are focusing only on the Agee surname! - Just Say NO to the Shiny Bobbly Objects!)

The list of Agee ancestors of my first DNA match
The list of Agee ancestors of my first DNA match

3.  I then scroll down below the green box and click on the Agee surname. On this first match, there are 4 Agees listed - Anthony, Jesse, Mary Polly, and Mathieu Isaac Agee. I click on the oldest one, Mathieu Agee, born 1670 France, died Virginia and it brings up a profile.

the profile of Mathieu Agee
The profile of Mathieu Agee

4.  I then click on Mathieu's father, Anthony Agee, born 1639 France, died 1735 France, married Judith Chastain. There is a father listed for Anthony, but I ignore him for now. 
5.  In my notebook, I list the abbreviated descendancy as follows: Anthony Agee, b. 1639 France, d. 1735 France & Judith Chastain > Mathieu Agee, b. 1670 France, d. Virginia & Cecelia Ann Godwin 
6.  I then go back to Mathieu and I click on his son, Anthony Agee, b. 1719 Goochland, VA, d. 1799 Goochland, VA & Christian Worley and I record him in my notebook. Then I click on their son, Jesse Reuben Agee, b. 1757 Powhatan, VA, d. 1837 KY & Elizabeth Childress, and I add him to my notebook. My notebook entry now says: 
Anthony Agee, b. 1639 France, d. 1735 France & Judith Chastain > 
Mathieu Agee, b. 1670 France, d. Virginia & Cecelia Ann Godwin >
Anthony Agee, b. 1719 Goochland, VA, d. 1799 Goochland, VA & Christian Worley >
Jesse Reuben Agee, b. 1757 Powhatan, VA, d. 1837 KY & Elizabeth Childress...
7.  I  repeat steps 1-6 for the next 10 matches. I color code the ancestors of my matches in my list. Every time Mathieu is listed, I color him blue. Every time his sister Mary is listed, I color her pink. Doing this allows me to look at my list quickly to see what matches descend from which ancestors and it allows me to organize my list quickly and efficiently. 

My notes on the ancestors of my Agee matches
My "Notes" on the ancestors of my Agee matches

  • I end up with 4 matches whose oldest known ancestor is Mathieu Agee & Ann Godwin and 4 matches whose oldest known ancestor is Mary Elizabeth Agee. Both Mathieu and Mary Elizabeth are children of Anthony Agee and Judith Chastain
  • 2 of the descendants of Mathieu descend from his son Anthony and 2 descend from his son James. 
  • I also end up with three matches who have female Agee ancestors who have not yet been traced back to this family. 
I have pretty good evidence, based on my AncestryDNA results, that I probably do in fact descend from the family of Thomas Smith and Leah Agee. Leah was the daughter of Anthony Agee, who was the son of Matthew. This would mean that my closest autosomal DNA matches would be to other descendants of Mathieu's son Anthony. There were at least two of them who descended from Mathieu's son Anthony. According to AncestryDNA, one of these matches was a 5th-8th cousin, with High Confidence and the other was a 5th-8th cousin with Good Confidence.  

How does this help me Interpret my Smith Y-DNA results? 

The other thing that these results tell me is that the common ancestor is an Agee (not a Smith). Since my proposed ancestor Leah Agee was the daughter of Mathieu's son Anthony, I can conclude the following: 
  • With the four matches who descend from Mathieu Agee, the common ancestor between me and the descendants of his son Anthony is Anthony himself. 
  • The common ancestor between me and the descendants of Mathieu's son James is Mathieu. 
  • The common ancestors between me and the descendants of Mathieu's sister, Mary Elizabeth Agee are their parents, Anthony Agee and Judith Chastain.
Now that I have identified a new common ancestor, I can start tracing him and his children down the line to see if and how my Smith line might fit in. I already  know that Leah Agee was the daughter of Anthony Agee and she married Thomas Smith. So my next goal is to determine how my Smith family descends from one of Leah and Thomas' children; Interesting enough, I learned that Leah and Thomas died in Kentucky, which is where the third group of Smith Y-DNA matches are from - so that might be their connection as well.

Next Steps: 

In my next post, I will start looking at Leah and Thomas Smith's children to see if and how my Smith family might have fit in. Because I don't know any of my Smith ancestors past David and his supposed father, James, I do not know which son of Leah and Thomas Smith we descend from. I will have to employ the same surname search technique I employed above to go through each of Leah and Thomas Smith's daughter-in-laws' surnames to see if any matches pop up. That will at least enable me to narrow down which son of Leah and Thomas I might descend from.

Before I do that, I have to do some housekeeping. I will enter the direct line ancestry of these matches into my online tree (but not connect them to myself because I do not yet know how they connect). I will then go through the process of looking for Agee surname matches in my FamilyTreeDNA Family Finder test results for myself and all of my Smith family relatives (my father, grandfather, and 3 6th cousins). 

[1] Smith DNA Project, Website,, accessed 01 February 2015.
[2] The middle name of Editon was found on a land grant patent no. 1953, Clarksville, Johnson County, Arkansas, filed 01 March 1855, issued to David Edison Smith, of Johnson County, Arkansas. Bureau of Land Management, General Land Office Records, Http://, accessed 08 December 2008.
[3] The birth year and place of David Smith were derived from the 1850 Johnson Co., AR census which listed David Smith as head, 61 years old, which estimates his year of birth to be 1789, born in TN. 1850 US Federal Census, Johnson County, Arkansas, population schedule, Horsehead, taken 11 Nov 1850, page 139, Dwelling 98, family 100, David Smith; digital image, ( : accessed ); NARA Film M432, Roll 27.
[4] David Smith's son Richard Smith was born 1838 in Jackson County, Alabama per my grandfather, Darrel Smith's personal notes given to me in 2006. The notes say this information was provided on Richard's enlistment papers, but I have not been able to find such papers. Richard's son William was listed as born about 1832 in Alabama on the 1850 Johnson County, Arkansas census (enumerated with his father David Smith); also David's daughter Sarah Smith was listed as being born in Alabama about 1826 on the 1850 Johnson County, Arkansas census. I have not been able to definitively locate David Smith on the 1830 or 1840 census report in Alabama.
[5] Cherokee Nation Citizenship Application of Sarah Grider, 1898. Obtained from the National Archives by Mike Freels. Sent to Ginger R. Smith by Mail, 2009. Scanned to digital Files by Ginger R. Smith, 07 August 2014.
[6] Briana Felch,, to Ginger R. Smith,, "Smith y-DNA Test Results / Genealogy," 06 June 2014.
[7] 1880 US Federal Census, Washington County, Utah, population schedule, Saint George City, Page 11 (penned), dwelling 79, family 82, Warren Hardy; digital image,, ( : accessed 25 September 2013;
[8] Hilliard Smith, III,, to Ginger R. Smith,, "FW: Family Tree DNA match," 18 March 2014.
[9] Al Smith,, to Ginger R. Smith,, "Smith DNA Match," 13 April 2011.
[10] Dana Ekins,, to Ginger R. Smith,, "Information Request for Kit #47033 from Smiths Official DNA Project at FamilyTreeDNA :," 23 September 2013.
[11] Family Tree DNA Learning Center Beta, Website, FamilyTreeDNA, ( : accessed 01 February 2015, "How many generations does Family Finder analyze or predict?"
[12] Judy Russell, "Looking at Recombination," The Legal Genealogist, posted 10 November 2013, ( : accessed 01 February 2015).
[13] Agee, Paul Myrtillo A record of the Agee family, Independence, MO, 1937, p. 322; Digital Image of the book downloaded from Family History Books, 01 February 2015.
[14] Public Member Tree Submitted by 5haags, "Rapp/Knutson Family Tree," submitted by 5haags, an AncestryDNA match to Ginger R. Smith, accessed 01 February 2015.

Posts Related to this Topic:
Looking for Agee Ancestors - Building my Match Trees
Running a Targeted Surname Search in my Smith Relatives' Results

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Louise's Lost Files - Taking Stock

Provenance Image

I love going through boxes of "old stuff" as much as any other genealogist out there. And I could spend hours doing so, especially if I am looking for that elusive brickwall-busting document or photo. However, I am also aware of the importance of being able to go back and locate an item I thought was interesting without having to rummage through the entire box's contents all over again. This is why I have decided to inventory and subsequently preserve, or in more practical terms "file" these items away for easy access and with little risk of degradation or damage. 

Although I was trained in the arrangement and description of archival material while obtaining my Library of Science Master's Degree, I'm not going to go THAT FAR. I do not intend to preserve these materials for the next 150 years. Let the actual archives take care of that when I'm gone (because of course I'm going to donate ALL of my genealogical materials to the Archives before I die!) What I do intend to do, however, is to inventory the boxes' contents, organize (and describe) the materials, and arrange them into a manner in which they can be retrieved and shared as necessary. 

There is one aspect of training that I will adhere to called RESPECT des FONDS. You may recognize the two main components of this pricinple: PROVENANCE and ORIGINAL ORDER.[1] 

  1. PROVENANCE: refers to the individual, family, or organization that created items in a collection
  2. ORIGINAL ORDER: refers to the order in which items in a collection were organized by their creator
An example of why this is important was evident in some of the photos I quickly looked through prior to starting the inventory process... There was a small box about 3x5 that contained photos of my great-grandmother and her school friends, her siblings, her aunts and uncles. Some of the photos had writing on them. The photos of my great-grandmother were labeled "Louise" because that was her name. The photos of my great-grandmother and her mother were labeled "Me and Louise." Do you know what this box of photos was, but more importantly, who they belonged to? They belonged to my 2nd great-grandmother, Eva Benson! I mean it's pretty exciting to have photos of my 2nd great-grandparents, but even more exciting that my great-grandmother had a little something that was her mother's. Her mother did not live with them. In fact, she lived in Oklahoma and she had 7 children and umteen grandchildren and she visited every single one of them. My Benson cousins in Oklahoma have a ton of photos of my 2nd great-grandmother and I'm sure they have all of her possessions and personal items. And now I do too. 

I feel that it is important to identify these photos as those having belonged to my 2nd great-grandmother - they were collected by her; they were written on by her; they were important to her. I therefore want to keep these items separate from my great-grandmother Louise's personal items. They will probably get their own photo box. In this manner I am preserving the provenance of the collection by ensuring that the materials that belonged to my 2nd great-grandmother are kept separate from those belonging to my great-grandmother. 

I will also try to keep the original order of the things as I find them. I am not sure if they are in the original order that their creators initiated; but the least I can do is keep them in the order that I found them in. This can be important if and when I run across a photo that is not labeled. Sometimes, the photos it is grouped with can be helpful in identifying the unlabeled and unidentified photo. 

Here is my bulleted list of goals for this project: 

1.  Inventory
  • Who, What, When, & Where?
  • Lined notebook
  • Materials bundled with rubber bands and post it notes
  • Materials bundled in envelops
  • Stored in numbered photo boxes
2.  Organize
  • Photo boxes (stage 1)
  • File folders (stage 2?)
  • Letters, Documents, Bills, Photos, Memorabilia, etc
3.  Preserve
  • Scan Items in Collection
  • How many file folders or boxes are required? 
4.  Extract Genealogical Data
  • Marriage, Death, Birth Certificates
  • Photos, etc
I hope to do a little with these boxes each week and report back to you on what I found, what I did with it, and what I learned from it.

[1] Society of American Archivists, Website, Glossary,, accessed 17 January 2015.
[2] Image of Provenance Text Box created by the author, Ginger R. Smith, 21 January 2015. Feel free to use for noncommercial purposes with attribution back to this website. 

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Louise's Lost Files

In December of 2014, my mother and I returned to Arkansas to clean out my grandfather's house. While we were there, my mother's maternal cousin brought over 3 boxes of family files that had come from my great-grandmother Louise Lasiter's house.

Louise Lasiter, 1955
My great-grandmother was born Thelma Louise Benson, January 1st, 1912 in Avant, Osage County, Oklahoma. She was the first child born to Barney Benson and Eva Dennis and became the oldest of eight children. She was a strong and independent young woman who graduated from Spiro High School in 1929. In the early 1930s she married James Putman Lasiter and they had 3 children: the oldest was Barbara Jean Lasiter, the middle child was James Putman Lasiter, Jr, and the youngest child was my grandmother, Sue Carolyn Lasiter. Unfortunately they have all passed away now. Louise and James "Put" Lasiter raised their three children in Fort Smith, Arkansas. They lived in the same house their whole life at 3720 Park Avenue. My great-grandmother lived in this house until she died in 1997. "Put" had already been gone for 20 years by then.

When my great-grandmother died, I was away at college. There had just been a big Christmas celebration and then she passed shortly after on the 27th of December.  After her death, her estate was divided between her three children, her personal belongings distributed or sold, and the house was sold and the profits also distributed between the three children. When my grandmother died in 2003, I helped my  mother clean out her house. Surprisingly I did not find anything from her mother, my great-grandmother's house. I assumed at the time that my grandmother had simply thrown everything out.

I did not become interested in genealogy until many years later. Then my mother showed me a couple of boxes of family photos that she had retrieved from my great-grandmother's house. She gave them to me in 2009. I inventoried and scanned all the contents and was able to extend the Lasiter tree out one more generation based on some writing on the back of a photo. But there were things missing. These boxes contained photos of my grandmother when she was young and of my mother and I throughout the years, and a few of my great-grandmother and her siblings, but nothing more from her Benson side of the family. I knew if my great-grandmother had kept any keepsakes from her childhood or from her parents, then they had to be in the boxes that were distributed to the other two children. And I was pretty darn sure my great-grandmother had kept some keepsakes. She kept everything and she wrote on everything!

Well you better believe that I sent letters to the children of my grandmother's oldest sister, Barbara. But they went unanswered. I queried her brother, but he too, said he didn't have anything. Now they are both gone. But his son surprised me. And guess what? His son is now interested in genealogy. Yep, he got the bug now too! And he decided to help me out.

I had found the genealogy gold mine!

I found room for 2 bankers sized boxes (they were bigger back then, by the way) and one small box that has two drawers in it on the trailer for the drive back to Georgia and then to North Carolina. I opened the boxes and you wouldn't believe what I found!

Photos of course! 
School Report Cards!
More Photos! 

Louise's Lost Files - the Boxes
Three Boxes of Photos, Letters, and Family Memorabilia 
from my great-grandmother's house. 
Photo taken by Ginger R. Smith, 17 January 2015. 
My goal is to inventory all the items in these three boxes, preserve them, and scan the items of genealogical and historical value and post about them here, under Louise's Lost Files and share them on my tree.  I will also be extracting genealogical data from the items and saving it to my genealogy software. My goal is to two-fold: to share the genealogy gold mine and to show how I can apply research methodology to extract genealogical data from the items within.

All posts relating to my great-grandmother's materials will be labeled with "Louise's Lost Files" followed by a brief description of their contents. I am estimating this project will take the better part of a year to complete. So stay tuned for more details!