Saturday, December 3, 2016

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun -- Who Is Your MRUA?

Calling all Genea-Musings Fans: 

 It's Saturday Night again - 
time for some more Genealogy Fun!!

Here is your assignment if you choose to play along (cue the Mission Impossible music, please!):

1) Who is your MRUA - your Most Recent Unknown Ancestor? This is the person with the lowest number on your Pedigree Chart or Ahnentafel List that you have not identified a last name for, or a first name if you know a surname but not a first name. 

2) Have you looked at your research files for this unknown person recently? Why don't you scan it again just to see if there's something you have missed? 

3) What online or offline resources might you search that might help identify your MRUA?

4) Tell us about him or her, and your answers to 2) and 3) above, in a blog post, in a comment to this post, or in a comment on Facebook or Google Plus. 

Here's mine:

Number 26 on my Ahnentafel List is Devier James Lamphear Smith. I don't know who his parents are - they are Numbers 52 and 53 on my Ahnentafel List. Here are the vital records, and a synopsis of what I know about Devier's parentage:

Devier James Lamphere alias Smith was born 07 May 1839 in Henderson, Jefferson County, NY, and died 01 May 1894 in McCook, Red Willow County, NE. He married Abigail A. Vaux 04 April 1861 in Rolling Prairie, Dodge County, WI, daughter of Samuel Vaux and Mary Underhill. She was born 28 October 1844 in Aurora, Erie County, NY, and died 11 September 1931 in San Diego, San Diego County, CA.

Based on the available personal, public and government records, this person was born with the name Devier James Lamphear, probably in Jefferson County, New York. His birth parents have not been identified to date. He was adopted by Ranslow and Mary (Bell) Smith of Henderson, Jefferson County, New York, before 1843, when the Smith family moved from Jefferson County, New York to Dodge County, Wisconsin.  In March 1866, Devier was granted a name change, by the Wisconsin State Senate and Governor, to Devier J. Smith from Devier Lamphear (although all available records listed him as Devier J. Smith), and he was named as an adopted son in the will of Ranslow Smith.

My hypotheses are that (1) Devier's father had the surname Lamphear (and variants) or (2) that his mother, with the surname Lamphear, had him out of wedlock and gave him up for adoption.

I have written extensively about my search for the birth parents, ostensibly named Lamphere/Lamphear/Lamphier/Lamfear or Lanphere/Lanphear/Lanphier/Lanfear or any other reasonable spelling of the surname, in Jefferson County, New York in the 1840 time frame. One of my posts, which links to others, is Finding Lamphears in Jefferson County, NY - Post 3.

In my search, I have exhausted the court records in Jefferson County NY that are available on FHL Microfilm, the history books, the online databases, the land record indexes, etc. I've also exhausted the Dodge County, Wisconsin records available on FHL Microfilm and online databases. I visited several repositories in Dodge County and the Wisconsin State Historical Society in Madison last September, and found no records, newspaper articles or vertical files in those places that identified Devier's birth parents. That leaves other unfilmed, unindexed, non-digitized records that might be found in historical societies, genealogical societies, local libraries, and state archives, and private collections.

If anyone has other research ideas, I would love to hear them!


Copyright (c) 2016, Randall J. Seaver

Please comment on this post on the website by clicking the URL above and then the "Comments" link at the bottom of each post.  Share it on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ or Pinterest using the icons below.  Or contact me by email at


Suzanne McClendon said...

Mr. Seaver, have you seen this adoption database before? Adoption Database Maybe there is something there that could be a help or give you other ideas where to look. Adoptions, sealed ones especially, complicate things in regards to achieving an accurate and complete family history.

Family legends of being kidnapped by Indians or this group or that group also complicate matters. Although I forgot to mention it in my post Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: Who is Your MRUA?, an Indian kidnapping allegedly happened in the family. How is one supposed to sort those things out, fact and fiction, especially given the time frames we are dealing with? It can be very frustrating!

As always, I enjoyed your post and another opportunity to write a genealogy post. It is a great help to me to have these questions and prompts. Without them, I am pretty lost on what to write about these days. Thank you!

Have a blessed weekend. :)

Lisa S. Gorrell said...

Here's my post. Wish I could get back further in Ireland and Posen.

Lois Willis said...

Here's my post

Janice M. Sellers said...

Here's my post. My MRUA is #8!

By the way, Randy, there are Lamphears in my aunt's family. Her mother's side is solidly upstate New York. I'm doing the research, of course. :)

Leah said...

You've probably gone down these paths, but I'll mention them anyway. "Devier" seems like an unusual first name and since it the name he came with pre-adoption, I wonder if there might be a connection between him and any other people with that as a given or surname at the time, especially in the Jefferson Co. area. Just a thought... Also, have you had any luck with DNA testing and this conundrum? Like finding matches with ancestors in Jefferson Co. around 1840? Finally, since Jefferson Co. is on the Canadian border, have you checked there for Lamphears, etc.? Devier sounds like it might be a Quebecois name...

Randy Seaver said...


Thank you for the suggestions.

* The given name or surname Devier in Jefferson county - I haven't looked, but I will. Great suggestion!

* I haven't found any DNA cousin with Jefferson County or that area ancestors yet. This might be a 4th cousin situation since Devier is my 2nd great-grandfather, but Devier's parent would be my 3rd great-grandparent. I haven't looked at all of the DNA cousin trees on Ancestry - I've only looked for the common ancestors. Another excellent suggestion.

* Devier might be a Quebecois name. The settlers in Jefferson County had come from New England and eastern New York, I don't recall seeing French surnames in the 1830-1850 census records. I'll look again.

Another set of eyes, ears and brains really help with brick walls like this. Mine haven't figured this out yet!

Regards -- Randy
Regards -- Randy

pilch92 said...

Very interesting. Someday I hope to get into genealogy. One of my cousins has done a lot of it for my maternal grandfather's side.

Lynn David said...

Mine are a pair of my great-great grandparents, #s 20 & 21, Michael KRUEGER and his wife, Anna RZEZINSKA, from Biala (aka Behle), Wielkopolskie (German: Posnan or the Netzekreis, West Prussia), Poland. They were both born about 1828 or 1829 either in Biala or nearby. I have a possibility for her parents, a Martin RZESZYNSKI and Anna STEINKE; and she may have had a sister, Rosalia RZEZINSKA, who married a Johann KUEHN. But the parish records on what was the German frontier prior to WWII are rather fragmentary, especially for Catholic parishes. Strangely enough, I have quite a few tantalizingly (relatively) close matches to people of Polish descent via DNA, but none of us have been able to determine our shared ancestry.

I always dedicate the song, "On Every Street" by Dire Straits to all my brick walls. I managed to break down my last two trans-Atlantic brick walls over the last several years, even finding one ancestor who had purposefully changed his name when coming to America. And I like to think Mark Knopfler guitar riffs on the song have focused my mind in my researches. And besides that it's just a good song.

Nancy Ward Remling said...

Here is the post for mine:

The baseborn child, whose father we will probably never know.

Carol in WI said...

I don't know if your blog is still active or not in that the last post I see is from 2016. Hope it is.
My 2 great grandfather is the mystery, specifically, who his parents were! I've been trying to solve this since I started this fun hobby back in the mid 70's with paper, pen and foot power. I have 3 first cousins who also have not been able to find who his parents were. Though it looks like you done a lot more searching than me, at least a couple of my cousins have done extensive searching beyond mine.
His name was Lyndon Marshall Lamphear (others in the family going forward mostly used the 'n'). He was born May 11, 1816 supposedly in VT but just today I saw in reviewing some information that one of his daughters said years ago, that he was born in NY. We have looked there because there was a time we know he lived in NY, but have checked out all of the NE states for his parents. He married Charlotte C. Garthwaite in Cayuga, NY in 1840. I've seen a couple dates for when they moved to WI - 1848 and 1850. They ended up living in the rural area of Easton, WI. Lyndon died Feb. 23, 1875 and he and Charlotte and some of their children/grandchildren are buried at the Easton Cemetery.
We have been all over the web and we can pull him and Charlotte up immediately but NOTHING anywhere says a word about his parents. My daughter and I are beginning to think he was adopted or bound out for apprenticeship or something. Not finding much there but still looking.
When I saw your story about Devier Lamphear/Smith, that made me think even more that something like that happened to Lyndon. Censuses don't help because when you pick any Lanphear in 1840 listed they don't give the name of the kids and the date ranges don't help much in our guessing.
My daughter has done searching on Ancestry for a while so I decided to join just recently. I had done a DNA test from Family Tree DNA last year and met up with 6 3rd/4th cousins all related through different children of Lyndon but not through Henry Daniel Lanphear, another child of Lyndons. NONE of them have been able to find Lyndon's parents either. This is strange to all of us. Anyway, I just ordered a DNA kit from Ancestry today and hope there is a hit in the future through the site but I'm not holding my breath.
So, I was thinking perhaps you could let me 'adopt' (just kidding) your Devier? Who knows, maybe they were related and what happened to Devier happened to Lyndon also.
I'm 77 now and sure would like to solve this before my time runs out! :-)
Thanks for listening.

Randy Seaver said...

Hi Carol,

My blog is still active - -- when I'm not too busy.

Isaac and Rosanna (Laun) Lanfear married in 1808 in Columbia County NY. They had children almost every two years from 1809 to 1828. None of those children could be the parent of your Lyndon. But Lyndon might have been adopted (informally) by a Lamphear. It's a definite possibility.

Records are pretty sparse for upstate NY and VT in the 1816 time frame. Do you have a death certificate or an obituary for Lyndon? Have you done a Family Tree DNA Y-DNA test with a male descendant of Lyndon?

Regards -- Randy