Saturday, March 28, 2020

genealogy tidbits

I grew up knowing who my grandfathers were.  I met my mother’s father, Troy Matthews, probably several times, when I was young.  Troy’s older brother got the family farm (in Illinois) so Troy being clever did a lot of odd jobs, especially photography.  He was one of the earliest who knew how to develop film.  Being the only one interested in that sort of thing I inherited his equipment, all of which he made himself, but that disappeared when I went into the Marine Corps.  I asked my brother about it and he thinks it was thrown out during a move. Troy died of a disease that was still sweeping the country back in the 40s, tuberculosis; which he acquired in a hospital while being checked for something minor

On my grandmother’s side, my mother’s mother, came from a large family, and they kept in touch – lots of names I don’t know much about.

My grandmother on my father’s side, Bertha Bristol, actually raised me until I was ten.  She was a tough old lady who used to like to wrestle with my dad.  She was the one who got me interested in reading.  She would take me to the library with her and it was a big deal when I finally got my own library card.  She used to visit her family back in South Dakota from time to time – lots more names.

My father’s father, Harry Helm (born 1865, died 1925) , left his first wife, moved west and married young Bertha.  I knew one of Harry’s son’s from his first marriage, Bill Helm.  He got me work on the docks when I needed extra money.  He was a sailor in world War II.  When I was going to school at Long Beach State College he was in the nearby veterans hospital with a terminal illness, probably something to do with his heart.  I used to visit him regularly.  Everyone was having girls back then, and being a male and also having been in the Marine Corps was sort of a big deal for Bill.

My great-grandfather,  Harry’s father, was Schyler (sometimes spelled Schuyler) Helm.  He was a sergeant (and an engineer) in the division formulated in Illinois during the Civil War.  I sent for all his military records – not very informative.  I did learn that his unit was part of Sherman’s army, but before Sherman went south on his famous march, he broke his army in half.  The half Schyler was part of stayed behind to fight forces that threatened Washington from time to time. 

Schyler Helm died at about 48; so perhaps he had a war injury or disease that shortened his life. 

 I also get notified when DNA tests show I’m closely related to someone – I’ve never known what to do with that information.

The DNA test did overcome one of our family myths, that we were part Indian.  My DNA results came back with zero Indian.  I informed my sister and brother, but they were never interested in genealogy that much.  My brother, who now lives in Utah (but isn’t Mormon) showed a bit of interest when I talked to him about it recently.

I found a lot of names that fought in the civil war, most of whom fought on the side of the North.  Another fought in the War of 1812 & was captured by the British.  Other names with indication that they fought but no proof. "refines DNA information" from time to time.  At present I am defined as 75% England, Wales & Northwestern Europe, 15% Ireland & Scotland; 6% Germanic Europe; 4% Norway.

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