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Searching for Our Family Connections

Ancestry and genealogy mean roots. For most Americans, roots do not go very deep. America is about the future, not the past, as in most European countries. Americans arrived and had a tendency to move often, to start over and over again, to go west, etc. As a consequence many of us, including myself, would have great difficulty itemizing our ancestors beyond our grandfathers and grandmothers, who were still alive and with whom we were somewhat acquainted. Beyond them, we had scarcely any knowledge of their ancestors and where they came from or how they lived.

I went through many years, interested but not such that I closely questioned my elders to gain knowledge of my ancestors and history. Consequently, as the years went by, and my elders died off, I lost easy access to that history. Fortunately, when I found some key pieces of information, I had access to the internet and could pursue via email all sorts of connections to ancestral information.

I found my great-grandmotherís maiden name, Anna Gray Alexander, in a family bible. My Mother was named after her, Anna Gray Lewis. I knew my momís sister was married to an Oren Robertson, of Craig Colorado; I had gleaned this information from the funeral notice of who was present at the burial of our parents. So I called Oren and found that Janie Lewis had died and Oren had not kept any memorabilia or information on her family. He referred me to an unknown 2nd cousin John Frary, the only son of Statira Taylor, my grandmotherís sister. John was able to provide family information on the Taylors and specific information that allowed me to recover a news article of my great-grandmotherís death, run over by an automobile in San Diego in 1926.

About the same time, I came into contact with Carol Culbertson, who was completing a Culbertson ancestry book. The Taylors were in it as James Taylor had married Sidney Culbertson about 1806 in Ireland. Carol had research on all of the Taylors reaching back into Ireland, but unable to identify the exact location, as there were 4 Taylors in Ireland about that time, any one of which could have been our exact link. Unfortunately church records are either unreadable or non-existent.

Having had such great success along the Taylor line, I began to pursue the Atkin line. I had not been able to obtain any accurate records from our family records so I began to make email contacts in England. This eventually led me to Kathy Perkins, a person interested in her own family research who was also able to help me. She immediately sent back British census information that identified the complete Matilda Atkin family, and their address in England at the time. I was eventually able to obtain a picture of their residence at the time. From that contact, I was able to extend our family info back to a possible 1764 Atkin connection in Dunston, and if that is correct, back even further.

With Taylor and Atkin lines somewhat in hand, I wanted to pursue the Tivel line. This involved contacting Estonian Biographical Center, Tiigi 10-51, 51003 Tartu, Estonia. The center had an email address and I contacted Fred Puss who directed the investigation and arranged for the payments. International exchange rates were involved; not as easy to pay as you might think. Fredís research produced a most professional report which I immediately put on line to various people and which Fred got upset about, because it contained professional standards which he did not want his competitors to see. This research seems to have identified the origin of the Tivel name and solidified some names and dates in our history which had eluded us. This was great for Daveís side of the family as well, since brothers had married sisters. A lot of additional information can be found when we tap Steveís treasure of letters and pictures and when Russian records are released. Some living persons were identified in Estonia whom we could also contact. Is your Estonian up to snuff?

Having spent a lot of time on the Tivel ancestors, I thought it was appropriate to check out Lornaís side of the equation--the Fabians, Iveys, Bishirs.... Again, this was at first accomplished by looking through Ivey/Boetel papers which revealed accounts from the original Fabians. California had some original birth certificates of Lornaís grandmother. And the US Census listed the Fabians in Sacramento which gave all the brothers and sisters; each of those lines has yet to be investigated.

The Boetelís always stymied me until a Bishir contacted me off our family tree on From him, I got a wealth of information that led to, which is an excellent family history site which we are trying to emulate. And this led to a relative, Philip Sonnischen who lives near Sacramento. Through him and the Bishirs, we found that Lorna, Saren, and Calleigh are elegible for membership in the Daughters of the Revolution--how great was that!!

And, most recently, I found that my great grandmother, Anna Gray Alexander, was married to Uriah Mullins and produced some 2nd cousins and through that bloodline, Calleigh is now related to a William Tucker and Mary Thompson who arrived in Virginia in the early 1600ís, very near the time Jamestown was established in 1607; so, she is almost a Pilgrim too!! How much more fun is that!!! Along the line to William Tucker are many, many lines to be followed to see where they might lead. We have a lot of interesting work ahead.

On Daveís side, there are many family members to be included and family lines to be researched. We could use more help with the Picketts to flesh out the possible relation to Pickettís Charge in the Civil War.

And, of course, we still need to find a pirate or two to make the family history really interesting.

One of our newest family members is Vanns Codrington, who might be related to the Admiral Codrington who commanded the ship on which the Star Spangled Banner poem was written. How interesting is that. There are tons of stories to be told.

We await your valuable input please.

From Dennis, who started all of this trouble....

Owner/SourceDennis Tivel Sr.
Date22 Oct 2010

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