The White Swans of Buckinghamshire, England

We have found a new Genetic line based in Buckinghamshire, England. This is the 8th DNA Proven Lineage of Babbs and represents another step forward in understanding our complex tree. The line, also known as Buckinghamshire Pedigree 01 dates back to before 1774 in the town of Great Hampden. As you may recall from my previous post The Babbs of Buckinghamshire, the area lays to the Northwest side of London and the other two lines in this county are tracked to locations within 8 miles of each other. They are also mere fragments of a line, so unlikely to yield a different result. We should still test candidates from the other lines just to be certain of their heritage, but it is highly probable that all the Babbs in this county are related to each other. Altogether, these 3 lines only accounts for 167 people in our tree, so finding that person to connect would prove challenging.

As you know each new lineage receives their own mascot and crest. This time I have drawn upon the county flag for inspiration, using the same color scheme and the symbol of the swan wearing a crown to craft this image. The Swan Emblem dates back to Anglo-Saxon times when Buckinghamshire was known for breeding swans for the King.

For those in the US this represents another county we can strike off the list for potential matches along with Somerset and portions of Devon.  Our best bets for matches are in Cornwall, Gloucestershire, Hampshire, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Staffordshire and the West Midlands as well as portions of Devon.

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A Babb by Any Other Name

A Babb by Any Other Name

I’ve mentioned that I’ve been working with a number of adoptees to help them locate their birth families. I have had success in identifying the family of one such member and wanted to share the news. Being able to break through the cloud of secrecy surrounding adoption is a major stumbling block to genealogical research. But using the power of DNA testing we are now able to see relationships in an unfiltered way. Such is the case here.

The adoptee gave me the date and place of his birth and I was able to cross reference the information with the Master Babb list. Finding only a single family in this location at that time, made the answer very obvious. His DNA already said he was a Babb, so it was just a matter of finding someone from that branch of the tree to conduct their own test and compare the results. On Christmas Eve the DNA results came in and gave us an early Christmas gift of a positive match. So, we are now able to see exactly where in the tree he belongs without the need to unseal the adoption records (which at times don’t have the information you are seeking anyway.

To protect the parties right to privacy, I won’t be disclosing the names, but I was super excited to have this difficult work come to fruition. I’ve got several more adoptees that I’m working with that aren’t as straight forward as this one so this gives me hope of succeeding with them too.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

 

A grave fit for a Pauper?

I finally have started my winter vacation to use up the vacation time I cannot carry over into the new year. It is very rainy in Dallas today, so I headed off to the library to do a bit of unusual research regarding a little known cemetery in my community that I recently became aware of.

I’ve been visiting cemeteries since I was a young boy and was always fascinated by them. My mind spins with wonder about the people and their lives, death’s, hopes and dreams. Having lived in this area for virtually all my life, I thought I knew every cemetery around. So, I was surprised to find a new one to visit. This quiet little plot of land is hidden from almost every angle by warehouses and businesses.

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As a Genealogist, I make frequent use of http://www.findagrave.com to obtain pictures of graves of my ancestors that I am not able to visit in person. I use it so often that I decided to give back to the community by becoming a photo volunteer myself. I received a photo request for a marker in the Dallas City Cemetery, also known as the Pauper’s Cemetery.

I took a friend (Chad) with me, not knowing what I would find. We arrived at the street address to find a small metal sign marking the entrance to a long gravel path. At the end of the path was an unlocked chain link gate. Entering the cemetery we saw no markers and surmised that there were none. We walked around a bit and I noticed a small line of white rocks that appeared to have a rhythm in how they were spaced.

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Using our hands we pulled some soil back to find a small 4×5″ concrete marker with a 2×3″ metal plate attached to it with screws. From there we started to find grave after grave that was either submerged or too low to be seen at a distance.

Realizing that our hands were no match for the thick Soil (nicknamed Gumbo) we went back for supplies, a bottle of Windex, paper towels and a small garden spade. What we found was both exciting and horrifying.

 

State of the Cemetery

Many graves were missing name plates and we found others just floating randomly in the cemetery just waiting for next week’s lawn maintenance to move to a new resting place. Crumbing concrete markers, damage from lawn mowers and at least 40 years of neglect were the name of the game. Section and Row markers were not present, so there was no way to find someone if you wanted. 9 relatives of the people in this cemetery were waiting on pictures of headstones of their loved ones, but with the state of the cemetery it was impossible to fulfill their requests.

IMG_0361Over the next few days I did some research online and found that the property still belongs to the City of Dallas. A fellow researcher had done an inventory in 2007, but it lacked the essential information on how to find a specific grave.

So, off to the Dallas Public Library I went. They are in possession of the Master Book of records for the cemetery and actually have a few of the Name Plates of burials for the cemetery in them. With their permission I have photographed the records to digitize them. I will be providing them here in the coming days as I get them in order. No one should ever wonder how to find their loved ones. This list is an integral part of the restoration effort. Without it the graves would have been completely lost already and identifying the remains would be virtually impossible.

That day in the cemetery Chad and I vowed to find a way to improve the situation of this cemetery. From our inspection of a small section of the cemetery we believe there may be as many as 600 graves that are actively being lost with every passing week.

We need to act swiftly and decisively to unearth and clean the remaining stones, collect the loose plates, discover ones hidden just beneath the surface and restore them to their proper location with a new marker that will stand the test of time.

So, today we found the Gone But Not Forgotten Dallas whose mission is to rescue this cemetery from complete ruin. There are certainly other cemeteries in this town that are more historic and in more desirable neighborhoods, but how we treat the poorest of our society speaks volumes. The urgent need for action on this cemetery makes it top our list of endangered places. The project will operate under the 501(c)3 owned by the Babb Family Association (Yes there is a John T. Babb somewhere in the Cemetery).

 

Need a Small Army

Right now, we are looking to recruit a small army of people who are interested in seeing us do the right things. There are somewhere around 2000 graves in this cemetery that need varying levels of care. Many will only need a little cleaning and soil removal, others will need to be replaced or repaired.

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Phase 1 of our plan is to clean and assess the graves in need of further repair. This is a big task, which is why we need that small army. Many hands make for light work. If you are capable of kneeling and using a paper towel you can help.

Phase 2 will consist of raising funds needed to purchase new markers. In this case the Army will be online pushing to expand the group of people interested in assisting with this project by donating goods/funds towards the effort.

Phase 3 will bring the army back together for the placement of the new stones.  The work will be a little harder this time due to the quantity & weight of the stones, so strong backs are encouraged. If you can’t assist yourself, get your kids or grandkids to come and assist with you.

Please Join our Facebook Group and become part of the solution. It doesn’t matter where in the world you are or what your capabilities are. Just join and we will find a way for you to contribute.

Join the Army here:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/2049609151949661/

 

 

 

A very personal mystery solved!

I’ve been working these last few months with a number of adoptees who are searching for their Biological Babb ancestors. Many of those stories are still in the discovery phase and I hope to share more about them over the week’s to come. My family has been touched numerous times by adoption, so I am going to start with my own path of discovery.

My mother was given up for adoption at birth and never knew her biological parents. She had a wonderful childhood and deeply loves her adoptive family, but has always had questions about the family she came from. Who does she look like and what were their lives like? We have a trait we nicknamed the Babb Chin, which all my siblings and their kids share. My sister-in-law was the first to coin the phrase, but we never knew exactly how and why this came to be.

We had her adoption records unsealed many years ago and had gotten in touch with her biological mother who unfortunately, wasn’t interested in meeting. The father’s name (Lawrence Gail Howell) listed on the birth certificate didn’t check out with any such person living in the city where my mom was born. I had decided it must have been made up and stopped searching for him.

I’ve found that DNA is a powerful engine to solve the mysteries that the courts won’t/can’t help with. Frustrated at the lack of progress in finding my biological grandparents, I turned to DNA testing to help solve the mystery. I got my mom to take the test and had no sooner mailed it off and then stumbled on the solution to my problems the very same day. The test results aren’t even back yet, but Family Tree Maker had a suggestion that I noticed on the biological father.

In the years since my search a number of events have occurred that changed my ability to get to the answers. The 1940 Census was released and Lawrence had passed away. The suggestion from Family Tree Maker was for a headstone marker for him in a cemetery in San Marcos, TX, which isn’t terribly far from where my mom was born. Now armed with his birth and death dates, I found him listed in the 1940 census living right next door to the biological mother. She had moved to another city between 1930 and 1940 and apparently only came home to give birth to my mom.

I then came across a Private Family Tree on Ancestry.com and contacted the owner, who promptly gave me access. In that I found not only information about my Lawrence, but also about his parents. But the most stunning thing happened when I found pictures of my Great Grandparents in this tree. Their chins just jumped off the photo and I was filled with glee! I finally was able to see someone I look like and understand where that family trait came from. Now this may not be a momentous thing for most of us, but it is an incredible thing to someone who has never had the opportunity to know their family.

So with that let me share the pictures I found along with several from my family photo album so you can see what I’m talking about.

Here is to a successful genealogical pursuit. It may have taken 15 years to pay off, but it was worth it. As for the test results, they aren’t even back yet, but I am so glad I did them, because I might never have stumbled across this if not for them.

Carol B. (Harrison) Schmitt (1925-2017)

Carol SchmittCarol B. (Harrison) Schmitt (1925-2017)

It is with great sadness that I must pass on the news of the passing of Carol B. Schmitt. Those who attended the 2015 Babb Reunion in Reedsburg, WI will remember Carol as the mother of our host and tour guide John Schmitt. Carol was the daughter of Aubrey Harrison & Ruth Babb and is, of course, a descendant of the legendary James Wilson Babb who helped found the city of Reedsburg.

She didn’t let age slow her down and was always on the move during the reunion. I send me condolences to her family and wish Carol Godspeed in her next journey. Her obituary and the funeral card are attached. Thanks to Marjorie A. Rhodes for forwarding this information.

My new Intern

Today is the first day in the office with my new Intern. This little gentleman isn’t wasting any time helping to get to the bottom of important matters at hand.

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He is really good at helping me correct typos and at offering alternative spellings I hadn’t thought of.

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He reminds me to take breaks and that playtime should be built into every hour of the day.

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He has already made himself useful in helping to identify pictures (don’t worry, they are copies, not originals).

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He is sure to become a valued member of my team, so please welcome him aboard.

ps. I haven’t figured out his name yet and am open to suggestions. Perhaps Phillip?