Friday, October 3, 2014

My Top Genea-Discoveries - Devier J. Smith Was Adopted

Betty on the Betty's Boneyard Genealogy Blog wrote My Top Ten Genealogical Discoveries--So Far! on 31 August 2014, and I've been meaning to write about my own genea-discoveries ever since.  

I'm not going to rank them all, and I'm going to do them one at a time so I can describe them in some detail - perhaps my experience will help others.

Genea-Discovery:  Devier J. Smith Was Adopted

1)  Based on everything I knew until about 2010, Devier J. Smith (1839-1894), my second great-grandfather, was the biological son of Ranslow and Mary (Bell) Smith of Henderson, New York and Dodge County, Wisconsin.  I had a Family Bible, his wife's handwritten family dates and relationships, census records, a newspaper biography, his daughter's scrapbook, and much more.  I had searched his father's Smith line back two more generations, and his mother's father's Bell line to Scotland, and his mother's mother's Bresee line back five or six generations.  

2)  In 2010, I was at the Family History Library, and was browsing the book shelves for Andrew County, Missouri.  I knew that my third great-grandparents, Samuel and Mary Ann (Underhill) Vaux, parents of Devier's wife, Abigail Vaux, had lived there during the late 1860s and early 1870s, and I did not know where they had died.  

On the shelf at the FHL was a book index of Wills in Andrew County, Missouri.  I was excited, and looked for Vaux but found no listing.  Since I didn't know where Ranslow Smith had died, I looked for him in the Will Index book for him also.  And there he was!  He died in 1873.

Since I was at the FHL, I immediately went to the U.S. Microfilm floor, searched the catalog for Andrew County, Missouri, quickly found the index with the probate file number, then the microfilm with the probate proceedings, and finally the probate court minute book with the actual will.  Quick, like a bunny, I went to the microfilm reader/scanner machine, and scanned the pages onto my flash drive.  

3)  Back on the microfilm machine, I started reading the will, and had a genea-gasm (think a thrill in my brain!) when I read the words:

"Third. I hereby give, devise and bequeath unto
Devere J. Lamphear, Commonly called Devere J.
Smith, my adopted son, all the rest and residue
of my real and personal property of every name
and nature whatsoever, except the above named
Legacy: To have and to hold the said real estate
and personal property by the said Devere J.
Lamphear and his Heirs and assigns forever: and
I also give and bequeath to the said Devere J. Lamphear
my life insurance in the North Western Life Insurance
Company,which was formerly secured
to my deceased wife, and as she is dead now,
I will that the said sum shall be paid to him
after my decease."

Adopted?  Devier was adopted? It says it very clearly.  His father should know.   Ohmygosh...who knew?  And now I have to find a Lamphear birth family for Devier.

4)  Just browsing!!  My reward, a major find (and a genea-gasm...).  It changed my whole research strategy too.  I had to excise a really nice Hudson River Dutch pedigree out of my family tree, but I kept it in my database.  Shoot, no recent Scotland ancestry either.  Now I had to find the biological parents, who I am still looking for four years later.

This is also a pretty good example of my Forrest Gump Principle of Genealogical Research, which is  "Genealogy research is like a box of chocolates - you never know what you're going to find, but you have to look everywhere your 'genealogy gem' might be hiding."

So that's this week's Genea-Discovery.  I have some more!

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Copyright (c) 2014, Randall J. Seaver


Tony Proctor said...

Nice one Randy! It's great when you make discoveries like that.

Geolover said...

Randy, what a nice description of ~how~ you made this find. Footnotes only tell a small part of the story.