Genealogy: a hobby of mine…

My dad and my mom used to tell me family stories, some of which I used to think were tall tales…

I eventually found out they were mostly true, only the details being slightly bent in the oral history.

I found out, for instance, that my father came from a family that had been very determined to keep family records, before and after coming to America.

And that my mother had a grandmother who’d lived a real western adventure.

And that my parents both grew up in Oklahoma during the wild days, just after the state came into the Union.

The outlaw Cole Younger, associated with Jesse James, had a nephew who worked on my mother’s parents’ farm. And it was this gentle-spoken young man who introduced my mother to my father. Cole Younger himself had been in prison in Stillwater, MN, and had been released, to spend his final years in Missouri. Most of Cole Younger’s family had been killed in the violence of the post-Civil War period in Kansas—it was a bad place and a bad time. But one of his brothers or sisters apparently lived long enough to have a son, whose name was Bill or Bob, as my mother recalls, who worked on the family farm in Anadarko OK, and who apparently visited his uncle in Stillwater. When my father admired my mother from a distance, Younger, acquainted with both, managed an introduction. My father worked at the Anadarko ice house, and my mother began to insist on doing the drive into town after ice that summer. They were secretly married in El Reno OK, and didn’t tell relatives on both sides until some months later.

My maternal great-grandmother was the survivor of an accident that drowned or separated her family as they were crossing a major river on the move west. Her name was Missouri Duff. But in my searching census records, I found her on an old census report from before the accident, and I found, in the next census, her mother and a brother living in a town near the Missouri river. Evidently they’d survived, her father and other children had drowned—and she’d survived, taking the name of Missouri and moving first to Kansas and then to Oklahoma, to grow up and marry with never a notion she had living relatives.

My grandfather was a cowboy turned salesman as Indian Territory became settled towns. His mother was Louisiana Carolina Boone, and my father named me after her. She was one of those Boones, and she came into Indian Territory out of Texas with her husband, my great-grandfather, and ended up living with my grandfather, then taking care of my father when he was very small.

When she died, my father went to live with other relatives, an uncle, and only came home to live with my grandfather when he married my step-grandmother, a spectacularly gracious lady, in every sense of the word.

Well, I got all the family stories—including the night St. Elmo’s fire turned up on a herd of cattle when my grandfather was riding herd in an impending thunderstorm: horns and hooves glowed—the herd spooked, and if you remember the song “Ghost Riders in the Sky,” it must have been like that.

A part of my family is Dutch, and used to own a major slice of New Jersey and Manhattan: they became bankers, and one a Supreme Court judge—but half that family broke off and went down to Virginia and the Carolinas. That was my half, poor as church mice, and working in farming, from Virginia to Nebraska during the Civil War and down to Kansas in the Bleeding Kansas days, then on into Oklahoma.

But when I got seriously into genealogy, I began to fill in the pieces of various things. I found Missouri Duff’s missing family. I found how we connect to Daniel Boone’s father, Squire Boone, and how we connect, though part of the Boone family fiercely disputes it, through a dubious union, to the de Bohuns, one of the kingmaking families in England. Whether or not the Boone line does connect—I’m related to the de Bohuns down another line as well. And here’s an interesting point: these families keep connecting and reconnecting: geographical closeness, and social circles: availability of potential good matches, strengthening economic and political ties, in an era of arranged marriages. When you have a nest of connections that keep reiterating, I think it likely that relationship is true.

A great number of my forbears came over from England: read: ran for their lives to get out of England during the English Civil War. A lot of them were Charles I’s supporters. My ancestors were not fans of our Pilgrim fathers, quite on the other side of the political fence.

I’ve been able to trace relations  going back and back and back…a lot of lines through those English emigres…

And here’s the kicker. It turns out Jane and I are related to each other—back in England. One of her folk married one of the de Bohuns,  both of us in direct descent.

One of the really fun things is going through Wikipedia finding out about these people. Mine had a penchant for getting involved in royal politics and getting caught on the losing side—many were very creatively executed in a very brutal age.

Fortunately, they managed to reproduce before meeting their nasty end.

Not all were saints. I’m related to Hugh the Despenser—-reputed as one of the most corrupt men in England. And to William Marshal, reputed as one of the most honest.

I’ve found answers to family mysteries: the family story is that we came over from Ireland, when most geneologies try to make us German. Well, we’re right: our guy, John Cherry, married to Bridgett Haney, was of British origin, but had been living in Ireland, and his wife was apparently Irish—when they, or he, immigrated to the states. And that was the origin of the story. That family came over from Normandy, but not in the invasion: the name(of, originally de Cerisy, has a ‘de’ (of)—which is the sort of thing that ordinarily denotes some lordly family, but in this case I think it simply means “from the village of Cerisy”, a little place in Normandy, France, no nobility involved, and not one of William the Conqueror’s lot, just a guy from a French village who came to England.

And—a very interesting update: research in French records gives another story—not de Cerisy, ‘from the village of Cerisy’, but de Chery, from the town of ‘Chery,’ in the Centre district of France. It seems that one Jean de Chery held property in Normandy, or had some ancestral rights in William the Conqueror’s land, but that one could not at that time enter Normandy from the rest of France without a royal permit—which Jean de Chery sought from his king, Charles. King Charles, now called Charles the Mad, had once been known as Charles the Good, but he had had a mental breakdown, what they call the glass syndrome, becoming convinced he could shatter, literally, and convinced that assassins were on his track.

Actually, re Charles’ paranoia, it’s not paranoia if they’re really after you, and it wasn’t a bad guess. There were three contenders for the French throne: the Capets, descended from Charlemagne, the Burgundians, who claimed southern central France as their ancestral domain, and had allies clear across France; and the de Courtenays, who contended they should be kings of France. Burgundy was assassinating people who stood in his way.

And there is a document which indicates that the de Cherys were a) in charge of the substantial town of Chery, and b) closely tied to the de Courtenays who were c) increasingly split as to where their fortunes would best advance, in William’s enterprise, or in France, trying to succeed the failing Charles Capet the Mad…that Burgundy was intent on killing and supplanting. There was a de Courtenay branch, the lords of Arrablay, one of whom, I think also named Charles, is documented to have married his neighbor, one Jeanne de Chery; so there were marriage ties between the de Cherys and the vastly powerful de Courtenays.

Burgundy began to gain ground, and while the de Courtenays didn’t sail with William the Conqueror, a number of them went over to England after the Conquest—possibly because they were feeling the heat from Burgundy and Charles the Mad was, well, mad…

The de Courtenays who emigrated to England set up a castle with William’s permission, in Leicestershire, central England.

Well, now we have one Jean de Chery (the male form of John/Jeanne) who at a certain point seeks the permission of Charles the Mad to go visit his properties in Normandy, after which he vanishes from history, and the de Chereis turn up in Leicestershire…attached to the de Courtenay branch that had established in England. It was, thanks to William, *no* trouble to get ship from Normandy to England in that time.

And Burgundy was busy assassinating his rivals, and King Charles was getting crazier, and the de Courtenays in France finally dwindled down to a few, one female unable to pass the title, and virtually powerless, though they still existed.

Part of the de Chereis family moved from Leicestershire and set up in the south, at Maidenhead and Bray, in Berkshire, and those folk by then are spelling it Cherry, and still marrying people of some substance, to judge by the graves, the literacy, and the constant interweaving of spouses of some indication of wealth, even title. Then from Bray, a Cherry (they all tended to be named John and David and Thomas) went over to northern Ireland, and after a few generations, a John and his son David emigrated to Virginia, in a time of religious unrest and civil war. So my little guy from de Cerisy may instead be a much more politically connected guy skipping out of the town of Chery, in central France to go join the de Courtenays in Leicestershire, before the king who was his patron went entirely over the brink.

Jane’s family name, possibly originally Faucher, may, according to one name-origin, have come from the Limoges area of France, then to London, then to the Americas, which is kind of generic information and not easy to attach to individuals, but there is new information, too—indicating a substantial house in England, the house at Fanshawe Gate, which is now a beautiful garden showplace in Derbyshire—and a connection of her very definite ancestor, via records in Massachusetts, to a Fanshawe from the house at Fanshawe Gate who went from that Derbyshire hall down to London: that ancestor married one Eunice Bouton, who seems like a quiet New England lady of French ancestry—until you get into her past, and figure that—ironically enough—that lady’s ancestors run back to the dukes of central France, back before the Norman Invasion. Both these possible connections are still under investigation—but they do answer some interesting questions and fill in some gaps; and they are better connected to specific individuals whose time and place we can say match and intersect. It’s worth more study, at very least. The de Chereis are in Burke’s Peerage.

Anyway, hunting ancestors one of my favorite winter-evening hobbies. I was amazed that I could trace anybody by real, checkable records, but the computer age has made it an easy-chair kind of hobby; you can access, almost instantly, every digitized census report and village record, not just in the States, but in Britain, Italy, France, and now apparently into Japan and Germany, the Netherlands, you name it. They open up more of these every month, and if they ever digitize Creek County, OK, I may be able to open up a whole new part of the tree by finding my paternal great-grandmother. That could happen.

The software system I use  is and if you’ve ever wanted to get into this, it’s a marvelous way to learn history: it gets pretty personal when  you know it was your great-great-great-great grandfather in that battle…

For any of you who are in the Ancestry network, our tree is “It’s the Eleventh Century and We’re All Barbarians…”, a quote from our favorite Christmas movie, The Lion in Winter, which is appropriate on so many grounds.


  1. GreenWyvern

    More on drum horses. Here they are at yet another great British ceremonial occasion, the annual Trooping of the Colour.

    BBC interviewer visits the drum horses briefly on the morning of the parade. Digger is seen, though he is still being trained and doesn’t take part.

    The drum horses on parade – and also lots of cavalry passing in review – first at a walk, and then circling round and passing the reviewing stand again at a trot, to the old cavalry tune the “Keel Row”.

    The ceremony of Trooping the Colour is more than 250 years old, though the origins go back centuries more. It’s still basically the same today as George II would have seen.

    It’s a long ceremony, but here are a couple more points in the same video:

    The actual trooping of the color. The scrolls on the colour are the names of some of major battles the regiment has taken part in.

    The Scots Guards pass the Queen at the slow march.

  2. CJ

    I got stuck in traffic with one of the horse units: I recall they were all black, all the same size, beautiful horses, and the tails were very precisely trimmed, squared-off. I had leisure to observe them from behind for quite a while. I wondered at the time what unit they belonged to. It was in London, but I think I was in a cab rather than private car: in either case I have no memory for where I was. I’ve driven in London; but not that time. If you have to get stuck in traffic, that’s one of the better reasons.

    • paul

      While I was looking into the drum horses, there was something I passed by, a picture of one of those mounted regiments on nearly identical black horses, that said they mostly come from Ireland, though the Queen raises a few of them.

  3. purplejulian

    the other thing that’s fun with the cavalry in London, is when they are out exercising, leading one and riding one, maybe about 12 horses at a time. they come up here to Norfolk for the beaches and thetford chase forest for their summer breaks too …

  4. CJ

    And yet two more shared grandparents, Jane’s 11th-great, my 12th: the Symonds of Hampshire and the Sywards of Yorkshire in the 1500’s and the 1400’s. Spooky.

  5. CJ

    And two more: Geoffrey Boleyn, of THAT family, is my 18th great grandfather and Jane’s 16th. Contemporaries of the notorious Anne Boleyn, but related sideways, an uncle or cousin.

  6. CJ

    SOme curious things I’ve learned about WHY Jane and I are related so often:
    1. since her folk came over on the Mayflower and mine landed in the Tidewater of VA at the very start of the colonization of the US, our ancestors had no great choice of mates: when the European population of the US is under 2000 people, you stand a chance of crossing your lines. Even mum’s Dutch were not late-comers. Pieter van Deventer came over here in 1662.

    2. the people behind the first colonists were a) religious leaders, who tended to be educated and literate, meaning their families had afforded an education, meaning the early religious leaders were out of well-to-do families who’d suffered in the War of the Roses, and in the Richard II fracas, and in Henry VIII’s feud with the Church, and even in Elizabeth’s reign…beheading or worse of the leading menfolk in the family, confiscation of their lands, and official acts which tended to radicalize the generations following. This predated the English Civil Wars. And by the time of the English Civil Wars, what was driving both sides was far more complex, if you look at WHO was involved. At the top—were not rabble, but people whose well-to-do families in prior generations had been radicalized into religious extremism—ie, once Henry broke the Roman Church, and Elizabeth followed suit…plus produced no male heir… it gave opportunity to the more radical movements, and the people LEADING the forces against the Crown were descendants of former lords of the land, or were the secondary families, those who had been strong adherents of families once targeted by the purges. The desperate poor followed these leaders, and were the bodies in front of the cannons, but the leaders understood their targets and knew geography and strategy.
    3. By the time the movement beheaded Charles I, Ireland and Holland had become favorite spots for pro-Royal combatants (the Cavaliers, or their predecessors) to stash their families and their portable money. One of the reasons for Cromwell’s attack on Ireland and Scotland I strongly suspect was the presence of Catholic Englishmen who were the enemy of the Protestant movement. The New World was a refuge beyond Cromwell’s reach: and no few of the early Massachusetts settlers and certainly those in the Virginia Tidewater were interested in establishing new lands, new wealth, and going back to England once Charles II was on the throne. Some actually did this…we have a few in our ancestry who did, but they were old men, who probably just wanted to be back in familiar surroundings. The wealth they had stayed in the Colonies.
    4. Meanwhile Baltimore and Maryland existed because Lord Calvert of Ireland had funded that colonial push especially to preserve English and Irish Catholics a space in the colonies. So some of mine were there. My family is amazingly Catholic, for such a vocally Protestant lot as my mum’s line—but since my mum’s father’s line was strongly Dutch Reformed in origin, that’s not too surprising. Mum’s maternal lot was a line of Jane’s protestant Mayflower folk married to—yes, English Catholics out of Maryland. Talk about confusion.
    5. Charles II wasn’t the king many had hoped for, and the revenge and retribution cycles continued. The next-gen of the colonists just didn’t end up flooding back to a utopian recreation of Olden Days in England. They stayed. The Tidewater folk tried to create their utopia of broad estates with villages tributary to them…and started out by having indentured servants and workers, and ended up, thanks to the rum/sugar operations in the Caribbean, having slaves. By the time of the American Revolution this system was incredibly entrenched, and people had their money invested—ergo they weren’t budging on the anti-slavery issue.
    6. The succession in England had imported kings and queens from Europe, in the dearth of same in England. They thought, having England in hand, they should get benefit from all those English subjects abroad, and, in their view, getting rich in America. This led to the Revolution.
    7. Jane’s ancestors were not principally farmers: they were educated folk who invented a steamship, were pharmacists, etc…and as the railroad developed, and after a family tragedy in Vermont, they moved west, and ended up in Nebraska. Mine were mostly backwoodsmen on one side, and on the other, a Tidewater Englishman with Irish connections who was not good at estate management: he lost his little plantation and, when the Louisiana purchase opened up, he took his pregnant wife and headed for free land. As war with England loomed (1812) he headed right over the border into Mexican territory, while my Baltimore ancestors had headed out to Ohio, and got drafted into the effort to stop the British from coming in at New Orleans. Fortunately my direct great-grandfather had procreated before he left, because he didn’t come back.
    8. In the Civil War, some of our ancestors signed up and fought; but Jane’s lot headed west, and so did my mum’s father’s lot…at one time her grandfather and mine were both in Nebraska, but mine headed south into Kansas, and the mop-up of the Civil War, while my father’s kin were running cattle northward out of Texas (before and after statehood) and living among the Creek tribe in central Oklahoma. They were still there when the land runs started to bring in Europeans. My mother’s kin, the English/Dutch marriage, came in from the north and settled a little south of them. But smallpox came in with the land runs, too, and devastated the Sac-Fox tribe where my father’s English/Irish were running cattle. Possibly it killed my great-grandfather. At any rate he was buried there, and the family moved generally southward in Oklahoma, which became a state in 1907, just before my mother was born.
    10. Jane’s folk, a mix of Canadian Scots from Inverness about whom we have little data except that they came in on their own money, evidently better off than the rest of the clan, who were swept up in the Clearances caused by Lord Sutherland [to whom she is also related] and transported by force to Nova Scotia…those folk came down to Vermont, intermarried with the Massachusetts lot, and headed west, where one became one of the more colorful governors of Colorado (HAW Tabor) and the others, including Jane’s mum’s family, moved on west and north, into, yes, Nebraska, where Jane’s parents met and married, and ended up moving on toward Seattle.
    And WE met thanks to sf fandom and modern communications.

    That’s what we think was the pattern

    • tulrose

      Ummm … minor typo. OK became a state in 1907.

    • paul

      Jane got Campbells in those Scots?

      • CJ

        She’s maternal-side Macphail, a clan tied to Cameron, and also on the isle of N. Uist, a desperately poor district that was forcibly displaced to Nova Scotia in the Clearances of Lord Sutherland; Angusshire—a lot—Stirlingshire, some; Lothian, some.

        No Campbells that we’ve found.

  7. CJ

    Heh. You’re right. Mum was born in 1912. I’ll fix that. Both are fish-hook numbers. 😉 Many older buildings (now gone, alas, in Lawton where I grew up, had 1909, but that was 2 years after statehood. [Lawton bulldozed all the historic downtown buildings in favor of a great big featureless blond-brick mall. Whoever did it should get the Attila the Hun award.]

  8. CJ

    One of the curious things about Jane’s family is the number of misery-loves-company marriages: after the fall from favor of the Boleyns, they marry into her line; after the fall of various families, they marry into lines that turn out more and more religious-reformist and radical. That’s what leads me to suspect the emotional tone of the times in some families was increasingly against royal power, and more a notion that the world was going to hades in a handbasket because of the longtime string-pulling from Rome. While they didn’t like Henry VIII, they were in line with his breach with Rome—that it just didn’t go far enough. A lot of mine, who were Catholic, in Devon, became Quaker, decrying all violence. The Puritans wanted an even stricter Church of England.

    This led to the period when whoever was in power (Catholics v. Protestants) were burning each other at the stake: this, against the background of the Inquisition in greater Europe, in which the Catholics were doing in people who deviated from their orthodoxy, including Jews, Gypsies, and reformers and freethinkers…including threats against the Quakers.
    It was just a cruel, cruel age, from which England had stood slightly apart, but not entirely. People were brought up on executions as public entertainment, and I fear the whole notion of empathy suffered extremely from childhood, particularly on ‘the street’ where such things were carried out. The New World with its hardships could not have seemed harsher than what was going on the continual religious conflicts and in the upheavals, the annual bouts with the Black Death, which was not just one epidemic, but an annual event for decades and decades; and then London burned down. The fact that it was also the Little Ice Age and the Thames was known to freeze probably provided the only relief: it might have lowered the flea population.

    –And to get to the Americas, a good many of the immigrants (some of whom were country gentry) indentured themselves to families with money: the date at which so-and-so became a freeman is recorded in the town records. One of Jane’s was an apprentice who fled his apprenticeship contract; one of mine was an indentured seaman on one of the colony ships, who jumped ship and scrounged a life ashore. And among those left in England, particularly in the large cities, —I suspect the middle class was taking a heavy hit. If you didn’t sell to the wealthy—you had to sell to the not-wealthy, and with the population of England cut in half by the plague, as some figure, not to mention people afraid to go out and about during epidemics, your customer base and your prosperity was going to fall, no question. In Europe, in France, in HOlland and Germany, things were not better—wars with England; wars with Holland: religious conflicts; the Inquisition; the witch hunts; and the Little Ice Age, which meant fierce and long winters, less growing season, more crop failures: it was just not a happy time in European civilization.

  9. paul

    H sap interbred with a 4th hominid species according to an article in Nature as I saw in this morning’s headlines. Europeans carry ~1-4% Neanderthal genes, including the HLA antigen system. (It was suggested this may be why SARS and Bird Flu seemed to hit Chinese harder than Europeans in China.) SE Asians and Pacific Islanders carry some Denisovan genes. But new techniques of “reconstruction” are said now to show an unidentified ancient 4th genome.

    I’d be interested in what functional characteristics we might have besides HLA from this crossbreeding.

    • paul

      More fun, indeed! NPR’s website reports a Neanderthal toe-bone found in the Denisova cave has Denisovan DNA, and surmises the population was very small because her parents were as closely related as half-sibs.

  10. ryanrick

    BBC had some more info today. Paul, I agree with the small/isolated population for whatever reason — and this article goes into that a bit more. I also agree on the probable link at some level with Homo erectus — they lasted much later in Asia than they did the Levant or Africa; estimates used to be around 30,000 BCE, but I think more recent testing has pushed that back somewhat.

  11. paul

    I did the admixture “spit test”, which said, IIRC, 58% British Isles, 28% “Central” Europe (by which they mean Pyrennes/Alps to the North/Baltic Seas, Atlantic to the Carpathians, not what we customarily know as the political Central Europe), and 13% Uralic (of which we can find no significant trace).

    Edward III had several sons, one he made Duke of York, Edmund of Langley my 20th GGF, and John of Gaunt/Ghent, Duke of Lancaster, my 17th & 19th GGF. And I presume we know what happened there.

    But it suddenly occurs to me that his wife, Philippa of Hainault, may be more interesting! 😉 Her matrilineal GGM was “Elizabeth the Cuman”, daughter of the Khan of the Cuman, a “Golden Horde” tribe. The Ancestral home of the Cuman was the Great Bend of the Yellow River in China.

    So, OK, I accept the fact that I may have ~2±2% Neanderthal genes, but now I wonder if I’ve some Denisovan genes? Wow, that’s something to speculate about! 😉

  12. tulrose

    From the Norfolk genealogy list that I subscribe to: Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem provided by the Institute of Historical Research at the University of London.

  13. CJ

    Absolutely fascinating!
    Evangeline Walton, the writer, had something similar due to a medical situation—I used to see her at conventions…

  14. paul

    BTW, did you see Richard III’s bones are going to be sequenced? We don’t have him inline, but do have a couple uncles.

  15. CJ

    Lol! They were able to get mitochondrial DNA from a descendant, and there is a match-up.

    Mitochondrial DNA is possessed by both males and females, but males can’t pass it on. We get it from the maternal eggshell, so to speak (the cell wall) but it’s the tail of the sperm from papa, which falls off and is lost during fertilization. So it only passes through the maternal line.

    My own MTDNA plays out in a Ms. Jones in the 1650’s in England…ironically, passing through a family branch I share with Jane (we share several)—in this case, one involving a Mr. Dunster, who was involved in setting up Harvard U in the US. You’d think you could parlay that into a scholarship, eh, but not real likely. 😉

    Jane’s MTDNA doesn’t get quite that far—it gets lost in the confusion of Irish records: a family that has quite a story of determination and survival—just getting to the States. The area is Dromore, in northwestern Ireland.

    The neat thing, however, is that MTDNA doesn’t change often. It’s very widespread: EVERY child of EVERY woman in a given line has identical MTDNA, so the number of people alive now with mine or Jane’s is likely more than legion—but it’s also a very reliable tracer: if you’ve got other clues and a proven line of descent, you can use it to say, yep, con-clusively so, or a real cosmic coincidence.

    I’m an H5b, should anyone wonder. That traces back to Greece, southern Italy, Asia Minor or the Balkans about 5000 years ago. My dad’s traces back to the Caucasus Mts, just as old. It took a long hike to Oklahoma to have those two meet. Jane’s traces to Spain or southern France, as the Ice Age was ending. We’re not quite sure yet about the paternal side. That will come in another test.

  16. tulrose

    CJ, do you have a “Tampa” or possibly Temperance Cherry marrying a C.F. or Frank Galliher in 1905 in Lee County, Alabama? The Galliher connection, if this is indeed the right person, is on my husband’s side of the family. Here’s the source on FamilySearch.

    “Alabama, Marriages, 1816-1957,” index, FamilySearch ( : accessed 21 Mar 2014), C. F. Galliher and Miss Tampa Cherry, 05 Jun 1900; citing reference Bk. D, Pg. 144; FHL microfilm 1287155.

    It looks like I’ll have to get the film to see exactly what it says. The reference is a book, so even that is a transcription.

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