Saturday, May 26, 2018

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun - Who Is Your Most Recent Unknown Ancestor (MRUA)?

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

Your mission, should you decide to accept it (cue the Mission Impossible! music) is to:

1) Who is your MRUA - your Most Recent Unknown Ancestor? This is the person with the lowest number in 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, New York, and died 01 May 1894 in McCook, Red Willow County, Nebraska. He married Abigail A. Vaux 04 April 1861 in Rolling Prairie, Dodge County, Wisconsin, 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.  The Smith family moved from Jefferson County, New York to Dodge County, Wisconsin in 1843.  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 earlier 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 (or a variant) or (2) that his mother, with the surname Lamphear, had him out of wedlock, and one or both parents 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.

But, autosomal DNA testing and analysis might help.

Several months ago, I received an autosomal DNA match on MyHeritageDNA with 44.7 cM (0.6%), who had a 3rd great-grandmother named Nancy Lanfear (1816-1898) of Lorraine, Jefferson County, New York.  Devier's parents would be my 3rd great-grandparents.  According to Blaine Bettinger's Shared cM Chart (updated August 2017), the 0.6% indicates that I am about a half 3rd cousin or a 4th cousin (or equivalent removed cousins like 3C1R or 2C2R) to my DNA match person.  If one of the parents of my Devier and Nancy Lanfear are siblings, that would mean my DNA match is my 5th cousin.  

If Nancy Lanfear is the mother of Devier (and he is the right age to be her son), then my DNA match and I would be 4th cousins.  According to FamilySearch Family Tree, Nancy's parents were Isaac and Rosannah (Laun) Lanfear, Nancy married Walter R. Brown in 1834, and her oldest listed child was born  in 1838.  She had a younger sister who married in 1845, and a younger sister who never married; either could be Devier's mother.  She had an older brother who married in 1859 who could be Devier's father by an unknown mother.  I think it is most likely that either Devier's father was the older brother by an unknown mother, or one of the two unmarried sisters had Devier out of wedlock by an unknown father.

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


Copyright (c) 2018, Randall J. Seaver

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Seeds to Tree said...

My husband and my tree is combined. I'm using #18 if it was our children. If we use my husband, it's his #10. Can't find my husband's grandmother's father. The story is so interesting.. Maybe DNA - someday... Enjoy the story here:

Lisa S. Gorrell said...

I also based my numbering on me being in the no. 1 position, even though my daughter is. We did this last Dec 2016, so I went to the next numbers.

Janice M. Sellers said...

Randy, I'm still working on my post, but you may not have noticed that the links to the pedigree chart and Ahnentafel no longer work.

Janice M. Sellers said...

My MRUA is still the same man, my biological great-grandfather.

Anne Young said...

Thanks for the challenge - it was a useful review

Anne Young said...

I think the unusual names should help in combination with the DNA test.. is it worth reviewing local court records again with the new spelling of the surname based on DNA. Was there a suit for maintence of an illegitimate child? Was there a death of someone who might have been the father. That the child changed his name in later life means his origins were well known to his family.
If you traced back his adoptive family the Smiths ... ok I do appreciate the task is not trivial, can you find the family of your DNA match among their neighbours?

I look forward to reading if you ever break through this brick wall. There just are not so many documents left from the period to make the connections.