My tree full of Annies

When my father married my stepmother in 1991, Helen brought a dachshund named Megan to that union. When Megan died, they adopted another dachshund and named her Annie. When my father told me this name, my first thought was: he named his dog after my grandmother? But my second thought was: he named his dog after his own mother; if he isn’t offended, I shouldn’t be either.

As I have filled out my tree, I have found many Annies related to my father, including his mother, his grandmother, and his sister (called Nan, perhaps to distinguish her from the other Annies). In addition, his mother’s cousin was Annie NEILSON, and there were two more Annies, his aunts on his father’s side.

When I remarked to him that he had many Annies in his tree, he agreed and said it was confusing, but I loved what happened when I told him about Annie Louise HANDLEY WALKER, who was married to his grandmother’s brother, William WALKER. I explained to Dad that William had been a seaman and must have met his wife in Ireland since they married in Cork, had children there, and then moved to Glasgow about 1900. My Dad laughed and said: she must be Cork Annie! He had heard his mother and grandmother talk about Cork Annie (even after the family came to the US in 1923) but never knew what the phrase meant. Now we knew that Cork Annie was so named because she came from Cork and that was how she was distinguished from all the other Annies.

Mark and I have adopted this method of distinguishing among people with the same name. So, for example, we have Pueblo Arleen (who does Mark’s hair) and Columbus Arleen (Mark’s cousin, sadly, his late cousin as of last year). We highly recommend this method of referring to people.

Of course, many families reuse names, to the consternation of genealogists trying to keep everyone straight. Before Glasgow, my FRASER / FRAZER roots are in County Roscommon, Ireland, (and then back further in time to Scotland), and the favorite male name was Archibald. Dad thought he was lucky to have been named John after his mother’s brother, not after any of the many FRAZER relatives named Archibald. My great grandparents were Richard FRAZER and Jane FRAZER, second cousins, and both their fathers were Archibald FRAZER.

I was named Jane because, my parents told me, they liked the name, not because I was named after anyone. But my research has shown that my father’s sister, known always as Jean, was baptized as Jane, and I have two great grandmothers and one great great grandmother named Jane. I like the name, too.

Nicknames or name variations are sometimes recorded in documents; my aunt used Jean on legal documents throughout her life; it was only when I found her birth certificate in Scotland that I learned her name was actually Jane.  Polly, Molly, Jack, Sandy, etc., can be nicknames for Mary, Margaret, John, and Alexander. Or something completely different.

Surname spellings vary. My FRASER / FRAZER ancestors used both spellings in Ireland (where FRAZER is the common spelling), then used mostly FRAZER while in Glasgow (perversely, since the Scottish spelling is FRASER), and then switched to FRASER when they moved to the US. Go figure.

The lesson I draw from all these examples is not to get hung up on having names match exactly but also not to assume that finding someone with the same name as your relative means you have actually found your relative.

I’ve been reading the excellent book Mastering Genealogical Proof, by Thomas W. Jones, available from Heritage Books. The five components of the standard include answering a research question through (1) thorough searches, (2) informative citations, (3) analysis and comparison of the sources, (4) resolution of conflicts, and (5) a written statement supporting the answer to the question. Similar names and discrepancies in names can create problems with no simple solution except care; this book is teaching me how to exercise that care in genealogical research.

Finally, here is a Life Pro Tip: When your parents are in their 80s and get a puppy, that dog is going to be yours some day. Sure enough, when I flew to visit my parents after both had medical episodes in the same week, I ended up buying a dog carrier and taking dachshund Annie home with me.

She became loved by my partner Mark and me. She was not loved so much by our other dog, Maude, named – you’ll love this – after my other grandmother. And, to be honest, Annie was often rather annoying. We sometimes speculated that “dachshund” is German for “pain in the neck.” I have decided that should we ever – please no – end up owning a dachshund again, we will name her Nervensäge (literally “nerve saw”), which Wiktionary tells me IS the German equivalent of “pain in the neck.”  

High class grifters

r/family_history - High class grifters in my tree. Litigious high class grifters.

Genealogy is my hobby and since I am now retired I am spending HOURS tracing my ancestors. I have been working on getting more information on my 5x great grandparents Samuel STEVENSON and Cecilia MILLAR from Scotland. They were, I think, high class grifters. He was a merchant and a Burgess in both Glasgow (1726) and Edinburgh (1742), which is very establishment – being a Burgess was a big deal.

So what did he sell? He made an excellent living selling Anderson’s pills, which seem to be quack medicine. A Dr Anderson developed them in the 17th century from a secret recipe from Venice. How did my Samuel get the recipe? Cecilia, before she married Samuel, worked for the family that made Anderson’s pills and it seems she stole the recipe; she was actually fined and imprisoned for selling the pills in Edinburgh.

Samuel and Cecilia married in Edinburgh about 1722, had 3 children there, then moved to Glasgow, where Cecilia died in 1728. That same year Samuel started marketing the pills. By 1736 he moved back to Edinburgh and in a 1739 ad actually bragged about Cecilia stealing the recipe: “… Tho. Weir only communicated the Secret to his Spouse, who out-lived him; and Mrs. Weir was assisted in making up the said Pills, for several Years, by my deceas’d Spouse, who revealed the Secret to none but myself, after Mrs. Weir’s Death. …”

Samuel traded insulting ads with Mrs Weir; at one point he likened her to a snake. At some point he lost a lawsuit brought by her (I am still trying to get those details). But he made enough money that he left a complicated will with money going regularly to his 5 grandchildren, who ended up suing each other after his death. That lawsuit dragged on for years. It came out in the lawsuit that one of the grandchildren (another Samuel STEVENSON, a surgeon and my ancestor) was not considered fit to administer the affairs of his not-quite-right sister Cecilia, so the cousins had to do it. That Samuel was known to be bad with money apparently.

One of the other grandchildren, Samuel Stevenson GRAHAM, became the Lt-Governor of Stirling Castle (a big deal) and is buried there. His biographer claimed that Cecilia (his grandmother) was related to some posh MILLARs, but I am beginning to suspect she lied because I cannot find that connection (and that MILLAR family is filled with ministers who I cannot believe would associate with my people). An early member of the other MILLAR family was actually the wife of John KNOX. I am not making this up.

Then there is the lawsuit by Ann McILWRAITH against her husband, Samuel’s son Alexander STEVENSON (another surgeon), to declare that the couple actually was married (although there doesn’t seem to be any record). They must have reconciled since they had 5 children (including my ancestor the second Samuel STEVENSON) after that lawsuit. Ann’s father was Andrew McILWRAITH a semi well known portrait artist and a Burgess in Edinburgh in 1735. And Andrew’s wife was Ann MOSMAN, the sister of William MOSMAN, another portrait artist, who some say was of Jewish descent.

There seem to be other lawsuits about various properties owned or in the possession of Samuel and his son Alexander STEVENSON; I am trying to figure all of those out.

I think I have enough material for a TV show. But who would believe it? I hope you find it all as amusing as I do. I just wish my father (who was born in Glasgow) were still alive because he would think this was all really entertaining.

WEBER/WEAVER siblings in the 1800s in Ohio

I am tracing the ancestors of MW, who is descended from Henry G WEBER, born 1825 in Germany and died 1901 in Ohio. In this post, I describe my evidence for the hypothesis that Henry WEBER had at least three brothers and one sister who also moved from Germany and who also settled in Ohio. I first describe the evidence from DNA and then describe other evidence that links these five people.

I have access on Ancestry to the DNA matches of MW and his half-cousin AS, whose relationship is shown in the figure below.

The five people I believe to be siblings are:

  • Peter WEAVER, b about 1812 in Germany
  • William WEAVER b 19 Oct 1813
  • Magdalena WEAVER, b about 1822
  • George WEAVER, born Nov 1823
  • Henry WEBER, b 24 Jun 1825 – ancestor of MW and AS

While Henry used the surname WEAVER in the 1840s and 1850s for civil records and WEBER for church records, he and his descendants then stuck with the German WEBER. The other four similarly used WEAVER for civil records and WEBER for church records in their early days in the US, but their descendants used and still use the surname WEAVER. Most search engines do not return records with surname WEAVER when the surname WEBER is searched, so I believe these siblings were hiding in plain sight.

For the first WEAVER, Peter, I have no DNA evidence of a connection to Henry. I present evidence later for why I include him in this list. For the next three, I have DNA evidence of a connection to Henry, using the DNA of MW and AS on

The DNA evidence for the second, William, is shown in this figure, showing a match (in cM, or centiMorgans) of MW or AS with descendants of three of William’s offspring. Surnames of William’s offspring include LEMMEL, MUTCHLER, SNYDER, STRANG, SMITHHISLER, WANDER, and HUNTER, primarily in Holmes County.

The DNA links with the third WEAVER, Magdalena are shown below. MW or AS has links with three descendants.  Surnames include HEATER, RICKETTS, DEAN, SHEPARD, and BROOKS, primarily in Logan County, Ohio.

The links with the final WEAVER, George, are shown below. MW and AS have links with three of George’s descendants; MW and AS both link to one of the descendants, BR. Surnames include HENRY, KESTER, PITTS, and SULLIVAN, in Logan and Champaign Counties, Ohio.

All these matches are in the expected range of cM for the relationship, according to the table from the International Society of Genetic Genealogy (ISOGG). For example, AS and LN are fourth cousins, which has a range of 0 to 127 cM, a range that contains their actual match of 13 cM. As shown in this table, again from the ISOGG, there is approximately a 40 to 50% chance that fourth cousins have no shared DNA.

Because Ancestry does not have a chromosome browser it is impossible for me to determine if these matching segments are on the same portions of the same chromosomes. For example, I don’t know if the 11 cM that MW and AS share with BR, the descendant of George WEAVER, are the same 11 cM. Most importantly, some other explanation could exist for all these matches, but the sheer number of matches makes it likely that these five people are related to each other. If not siblings, they could be cousins. 

In addition to DNA evidence, I also have evidence of some interactions among these people. In this list I use WEBER or WEAVER as used in the original document.

  • In 1846, a Magdalena WEBER was the witness on the baptism of Magdalena, the daughter of Peter WEBER and wife Dorothea. This baptism took place in St John’s Lutheran Church in Holmes County, Ohio. (This church is listed in records as located in Greer, which is just into Knox County from Holmes County, but I believe the church was actually located in Holmes County, at the location of what is now called Kaylor Ridge Cemetery; see map below.)
  • In 1847, Peter WEBER was a witness on the baptism at St John’s of Caroline WEBER, daughter of William WEBER and his wife Salomea SPRANG.
  • In 1849, Wilhelm WEBER was the witness on the baptism at St John’s of Wilhelm WEBER, son of Peter WEBER and his wife Dorothea.
  • In the 1850 census, Peter WEAVER is in Richland Township, and William WEAVER is in Knox Township, Holmes County. These are adjoining townships.
  • In 1851 the second child of Henry WEBER and his wife Magdalena SCHMIDT, Magdalena WEBER, was baptized at St John’s. A witness on that baptism was Salomea WEBER, nee SPRANG, wife of William WEAVER. Magdalena was the only child of Henry baptized in that church.
  • Peter WEAVER and his wife Dorothea SPRANG and William WEAVER and his wife Salomea SPRANG attended St John’s church for decades. All four are buried in the church’s cemetery, now known as Kaylor Ridge Cemetery, in Holmes County.
  • In 1875, Caldwell’s Atlas of Holmes County shows adjacent lands owned by W WEAVER and P WEAVER in Knox County, south of St John’s Church. Other similar maps exist for other years, showing Peter and William living nearby each other. Note the church in the top left corner of this map, now the site of Kaylor Ridge Cemetery.
  • In 1882, the third child of Henry WEBER and Magdalena SCHMIDT, Jacob Frederick WEBER (1853-1920) married Caroline SCHNEIDER, a member of St John’s. Henry WEBER and family had moved from Holmes County by the time of Jacob’s birth, but must have kept in touch for decades.

These facts indicate a close connection, I believe, among Peter WEAVER, William WEAVER, and Henry WEBER. Thus, despite the lack of DNA match to descendants of Peter WEAVER, I include him in the list of relatives, probably siblings.

The following county map shows that the five people all settled in areas around Franklin County, Ohio. Henry WEBER settled in western part of Franklin County. Peter and William WEAVER lived in Holmes County, northeast of Franklin County. Magdalena and George WEAVER lived in Logan and Champaign counties, northwest of Franklin County.

Source. Licensed under a GNU Free Documentation License.

I am now working on tracing forward more descendants of the four WEAVER families. I am also tracing backward in time from all five to try to determine the WEBER roots in Germany. I welcome feedback from people related to any of these families. In this blog, I have obscured the names of recent descendants, but I will share that information with people who can help me with this research.

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