Between shovelling snow, packing up my house and looking for a new career, I've somehow managed to do some work on my family tree. In the past 2 weeks I've managed to add roughly 300 new names to the old family tree, bringing the current total up to just under 22,700 people.
The majority of the new people that I have added to my family tree are once again paternal relatives; my maternal ancestors and living relatives still seem to be evading my attempts to locate them (such a secretive bunch!). As I was following some leads on a particular branch of my paternal family, I went down a rabbit hole of sorts and ended up locating generations of a couple of families that are tied to some well known families, including the family of John Howland, one of the original Mayflower passengers. This was through my paternal relationship to the Howland family which dates back to my 16th cousin, Sarah Hicks, marriage to Gideon Howland, a descendant of John Howland.
In my review of the Howland family, I discovered a number of interesting individuals, not the least of which was Henrietta "Hetty" Howland who was known as "The Witch of Wall Street" back in the Gilded Age. Hetty's reputation is one that is mostly negative - she made a fortune investing in the stock market - and one that I had known about for decades, having read about her back in the 1970's. Whether or not Hetty's reputation as a tightwad was deserved or not we may never know; she could just be the victim of bitter and jealous people who did not like her success as an investor.
More surprisingly, the Howland family were quite affluent. They also were involved in the whaling and shipping trades, which accounts for a lot of the family's wealth. More interestingly, they were Quakers, a pious religious group that refused to participate in war, opposed slavery, wore modest clothing, refused to swear oaths and abstained from alcohol of any type. For some reason I thought that Quakers were opposed to personal wealth, but I was mistaken as many Quakers have founded banks and other financial institutions. Another lesson learned, and as I dig into my family connection with Quakers, I'm sure I will also learn much more.
Another interesting discovery that I made involved another paternal cousin, my 7th cousin, 4x removed, Captain William Henry Knapp. While I was documenting William's life, I came across a burial card issued by the US Army for him. This card provided details about William's service during the Civil War. William was active from February 10th, 1863 until December 31st, 1865. During this time he attained the rank of Captain and was a part of the 76th Colored Regiment. William was white, based on the census records that I have reviewed, so I now want to delve deeper into his involvement in one of the "Colored Regiments" that proliferated during the US Civil War.
Finally I came across yet more famous cousins - also on my paternal side - by way of my 18th great-grandparents, Thomas Stanley (1st Baron Stanley) and Joan Goushill. It is through this paternal line that I discovered that I am related to Bing Crosby through his father's lineage, as well as the members of Bing's famous family (including Denise Crosby who played Lt. Tasha Yar on Star Trek, The Next Generation - a favorite TV program of yours truly, and one of my favorite TNG characters). By coincidence, my maternal grandmother, whose family surname was also Crosby (but no relation that I've been able to discover) was also a big fan of Bing Crosby for both his singing and acting talents. In fact, somewhere in my house amongst all the boxes I have an autographed (printed, not actually signed) record cleaner that was passed on to me from my grandmother.
I haven't solved any family mysteries lately, but I have certainly been able to add more to my "To Do" list when it comes to working on my family tree website! With a break in the snowfall for a few days, and temperatures hitting uncomfortable lows, it looks like I'll be busy adding more interesting ancestors and relatives to my webpage soon.