Archive for January, 2015

#52Ancestors: Week 4 – America Baker Coffman Woodburn – My Other Gemini Twin

This is week four of the 2015 #52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge where a group of u52ancestors-2015 Images blog about a different ancestor for each week of the year.  To learn more about the 52 Ancestor Challenge visit Amy Johnson’s site at Amy’s website.

This week’s theme is writing about an ancestor that share a birthday close to the author’s. I chose America Baker, a Gemini like me. Her life was much different than mine. She was married twice, bore and lost children and lived never more than 100 miles of her birthplace. Me, I have traveled the world with no familial constraints.

The name “America” as a girl’s name may seem tacky choice to name a child today. The Spanish pronunciation is more popular due to actress América Ferrera. However, this name was popular for girls during the 1800’s. Four of my collateral female ancestors’ have the first name “America.”

America Baker’s grandfather, Jacob Studebaker was one of the early settlers of Muhlenberg County, Ky. The prefix “Stude” was dropped from the surname by her grandfather in the early 1800’s. However, his children and grandchildren continued to switch back and forth between using Studebaker and Baker before settling on “Baker.”

America first husband was, Joseph Coffman. Both the Studebaker’s and Coffman (alt. spelling Kaufman) were of German descent. First settling in Virginia, moving west to Pennsylvania, before settling in Muhlenberg and McLean counties in Kentucky.

Both her grandfather and father, Samuel Baker, owned slaves. As well as the Coffman family. On the 1860 Slave Schedule, both Joseph Coffman and Samuel Baker, each own one slave. Each slave has a remark listed that they may belong to the estate of James Rust. America and Joseph live in a farm next to her father. They could have farmed tobacco or hops.

America and Joseph have two daughters, Nancy (Nannie) (b. 1858) and Fredonia (circa 1859). Fredonia is not listed on the 1870 Census and may have passed away. America becomes a widow in 1862 when Joseph dies.

In 1868, America marries, William H. Woodburn. William is my first cousin, five times removed. The marriage is also his second. America becomes a step-mother to William’s four children. One of those is William T. Woodburn, who is four at the time of the marriage. He is not listed on the 1870 Census, either. He may be the child who, listed as Thomas Woodburn, age 5; dies of brain fever; according to the 1870 Mortality Schedule.

Allegedly there were three daughters born to this marriage. A daughter named, Martha, age one, is enumerated on the 1870 Census. William’s, three children from his first marriage, Charles, Mary, and Richard are included, along with America’s daughter, Nannie Coffman. There is some records and a few family trees that may support the existence of the other two children. I did find a discrepancy on the 1880 census that may point to a different direction.

Unfortunately, America becomes a widow again when William passes away in 1874. She is now 35 years old. It is not known if she had any property or money from her first husband, Joseph Coffman. William Woodburn was both a farmer and Baptist reverend. William’s sons, Charles or Richard may have inherited the farm or it was sold off.

William’s headstone lists both his wives. The death date for America Baker Coffman lists 1874 as the year of her death. This is another discrepancy as America may have lived past 1880. There is erroneous information that incorrectly attaches a death date of 1908 for America because of similar named individual. I believe America Baker Coffman Woodburn most likely died before 1900.

America Baker Coffman Woodburn Headstone_FindaGrave

An 1874 marriage bond for Nannie Coffman, indicates she will marry James Williams at America Woodburn’s house on May 3, 1874. I find America Woodburn enumerated on the 1880 Census with James and Nannie Williams, along with their three children. America is listed as a boarder. Not listed, is Martha Woodburn, America’s daughter by William Woodburn. This may be an indication that Martha has died.

If America had any children with William Woodburn that lived through their infancy, where are they? The other two supposed daughters were named, Anna and Hallie Woodburn. They would be under 10 years of age in 1880. America could have been visiting Nannie in 1880. But who would have watched the children if she was just visiting. I have not found a record, yet, that leads me to them.

America suffered the loss of two husbands, two of her own children and one step-child by the age of. With no property of her own she lives with her oldest daughter. She has lived all her life in Kentucky.

Source Photo: Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed 25 January 2015, memorial page for America Baker Woodburn (1835–1874), Find A Grave Memorial no. 120794769, citing Bethel Church Cemetery, Muhlenberg County, Kentucky; the accompanying photograph by Anita R. Austill are materially informative, but do not provide a legible image of the inscribed data.

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The Odds That You Share a Birthday with an Ancestor?

Photo courtesy of Ali Inay at

Photo courtesy of Ali Inay at

The theme of #52 Ancestors this week is selecting an ancestor that shares or is close to your birthday (month/day). Could that be possible? Yes. Would you need a large family tree to find a relative to find just one person? No.

I ran a birthday report in my Family Tree Maker (FTM) database in preparation of this Sunday’s post. No birthdays came up on the calendar on my birthday. Which after a quick analysis I knew something was not right because I wasn’t listed either. I remembered from a college math class that in just a small group people the probability was a significant number. I have over 3000 people in my tree, something was wrong with the report.

That meant the FTM parameters must not be right. Garbage in, garbage out. So I looked at the report factors, deselected a couple of checked boxes, and reran the report. Viola! There were four people in my family tree that shared my birthday.

In a group of 23 randomly selected people, the odds that you would share a birthday with someone is 50%. The chart below shows the increases of probability by just adding a few more people.

Chart by Stan Brown, Oakroad Systems

Chart by Stan Brown, Oakroad Systems

Don’t trust my math? Just Google it, or go to


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#52Ancestors: Week 3 – Elizabeth Oliver Brumley and her Colonial Resilience

This is week three of the 2015 #52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge where a group of u52ancestors-2015 Images blog about a different ancestor for each week of the year.  To learn more about the 52 Ancestor Challenge visit Amy Johnson’s site at Amy’s website.

Born just before the eve of the American Revolution in Virginia, Elizabeth O. Brumley surely was quite educated for a woman of her time. Women of the gentry or well-to-do class acquired an education that included practical, literary, and ornamental skills. 1 Elizabeth instilled the importance of education into her children.

Her son, Oliver C. Vanlandingham, Sr.; ran a mercantile business while maintain a farm in Kentucky and eventually building a plantation in Louisiana. Her daughter, Elizabeth Vanlandingham, married Samuel Weir, a wealthy famer and brother to Oliver’s business partner, James Weir.

Elizabeth Brumley married Ezekiel Vanlandingham circa 1782. Ezekiel must have prospered well in Virginia, nonetheless, he sought new endeavors. Seeking rich farm lands and good hunting, the Vanlandingham’s set-off from Northumberland, VA to Muhlenberg County, Kentucky in the early 1790’s. Unfortunately, Ezekiel, died somewhere along the journey.

Wilderness Road

National Park Service Wilderness Road Map with Northumberland, VA and Muhlenberg Co, KY marked.

The options were to travel north to the Ohio River then follow the river down toward Kentucky. The Wilderness Road and Boone Trace led a pass through the Appalachian Mountains. A third longer route would be to sail around Florida to Louisiana and the Mississippi River north. My guess that the family traveled overland.

It is not known where or how Ezekiel died on this journey. He was young, having been born in June 1762 in VA. Oliver Vanlandingham recalled that he traveled to Kentucky as a young boy. Elizabeth Brumley made the decision to continue to Kentucky and not return to Virginia after her husband’s death.

Travelling to Kentucky at the turn of the 19th Century was treacherous. Pioneers who came over the Wilderness Road, endured severe hardships. The Wilderness Road was steep, rough, narrow, and it could only be traversed on foot or horseback. Because of the threat of Native American attacks, the road was so dangerous that most pioneers traveled well-armed. Robbers and criminals also could be found on the road, ready to pounce on weaker pioneers.2

Why was she so decisive in moving forward into the unknown? Why was it a better option then turning back to a more civilized and settled Virginia? She was indeed a strong, tough woman. That resilience continued when the family arrived in Muhlenberg County. Elizabeth bought her own land, farmed and reared her family there until her death in 1833.

1) Women and Education in Eighteenth-Century Virginia by Linda Rowe,
2) Wilderness Road Wikipedia:

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Genealogy Do-Over, Shiny Objects, Serendipity, Finding a Distant Cousin

This post is part of the Genealogy Do-Over project created by Thomas MacEntee.

I participated in APG’s virtual Professional Management Conference on January 8th & 9th. While watching the streaming video, I was also tweeting using #apgen during the sessions. I got distracted over a bright shiny object on my feed. Which is a no-no on the Do-Over project.

Brenda from Journey to the Past tweeted a photo of her brightly colored file folders on her computer. She mentioned a software program called Folder Maker. I was intrigued because I wanted to color code my folder names to make it easy to find on my laptop. Let’s face it, as our eyes get older, the fine print is harder to read. I also do not care do make my font jumbo size where it takes up too much room on the screen.

Folder Colors by Folder Maker

Folder Colors by Folder Maker

The photo tweeted by Brenda is of her genealogical files. Naturally being curious, I checked the file names for any familiar surnames. Lo and behold, there was. One of the folders was labeled “House.” My second great grandfather transition to spelling the last names as “Howes” sometime in the mid 1850’s. I tweeted to Brenda asking if her “House” line came from Barnstable, MA.

She replied, her line descended from Hannah House and John Lothrop. Now that’s serendipity. As I am descended from Hannah’s brother, Samuel House and Elizabeth Hammond. That makes us distant cousins. Yes, looks like social media can help you find family.

Brenda referenced @DearMyrtle for the Folder Maker tip. DearMyrtle tweeted it came from @geneabloggers, Thomas MacEntee. The very same person who has inspired thousands to re-do their genealogy research.

Off to organize my files and create my research log.


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#52Ancestors: Week 2 – James Larkin King

This is week two of the 2015 #52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge where a group of u52ancestors-2015 Images blog about a different ancestor for each week of the year.  To learn more about the 52 Ancestor Challenge visit Amy Johnson’s site at Amy’s website.

Our theme inspiration for this week is “Kings,” in honor of Elvis’s and Martin Luther King. Did we have any royal relatives, or those who fled oppression? Since I have a King surname in my collateral family tree, I chose to write a short post about them.

I wrote about Ervin and May King in the 2014 Challenge #52Ancestors No. 34 Just A Photo In A Box.  James Larkin King is their grandfather.  James was born in Henderson County, Kentucky, in 1856.  He married Mary Elizabeth Toy in 1873.  James and Elizabeth had five known children, Rose Etta, Laura, Eliza, L. Marvin, and Ewin O.

James may have died in 1899 or later.  There is a listing at FindAGrave, however, no records or good sources can verify date of death. I have not been able to affirmatively find a reference to the family in the 1900 and 1910 censuses.  They just seem to be an enigma.  I even tried searching forward and tracing using the children’s names and have not had much luck.

The family at one time lived near Robards (pronounced Roberts) in Henderson Co.  Elizabeth Toy’s mother is Martha Frances Robards.  Robards was founded by J.D. Robards just after the Civil War.  Triplett is also a well known surname in Robards.  Rose Etta married John W. Triplett and had one child.

These surnames are listed in the “History of Henderson County” by Edmund L. Starling, printed in 1887.  It is available for free at Google Books. If I had more direct ties to this county and family, I would give the book a more thorough read.  For  now it goes on a research log.

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