Thursday, May 26, 2022

Insanity in the Family

Today my husband noticed his nurse, Sharice, wearing a green band bracelet. "May is Mental Illness Awareness Month", she responded.  Being on the Neuro floor of the hospital, I didn't think that was odd. I told her of our writing group and my intention  of writing about mental illness in my family. She continued, "50% of mental illness is undiagnosed---people say 'He acts up' or 'She's just quirky' or 'That's the way she is'. There's such a stigma to putting a name on it.  My son is bi-polar.  We thought it was just him until we really looked around at the family. I am upfront about it because I'm always searching for ideas on how to treat it and someone may know something I don't know."

Yes, I know that feeling.  I had grown up with mental illness in my extended family, but one night while studying in my sorority house, I realized that we had mental illness on both sides of the family.  I freaked out!  I knew my Aunt M was mentally ill.  The only time I ever saw my father sob was the day he had to testify in court for her to be committed to the Insane Asylum (now  St. Louis Psychiatric Hospital) on Arsenal Street.  I had lived on Arsenal Street as a young child  and people would say, "Do you live in the "crazy house?". So having my father's sister going there was horrifying.  After shock treatments and medications, she was eventually released and continued raising her family, but. .. .I can remember when I was a teenager and she confided in me that "someone" told her she was going to be ex-communicated from the Catholic Church.  I tried to reassure her that she wouldn't be.  But now I wonder if she was still hearing voices.

Aunt M wasn't the first or the last in that line to be mentally ill.  My great-grandmother Mary Reiter had one brother who was committed to Farmington Insane Asylum for depression where he hung himself with his bed sheet. (click here for more information) She also had a sister who was "just odd" (click here).  My aunt was not Mary Reiter's only grandchild who was mentally ill.  There were at least two more who committed suicide. "It runs in the family" was often mentioned as a warning.

I didn't know my Aunt M was mentally ill until I was about 8 or 9 years old.  But, I'd always know that my great-grandmother, Mattie, on my mother's side had been mentally ill.  Mom and Grandma talked about her freely. She was committed to Farmington Insane Asylum when Grandma was 12 or 13, leaving Grandma in foster care because her father had died. When Mom was about 10, Grandma and Grandpa petitioned to have Mattie released to their care after being in an asylum for 20 years. Mom remembers her just sitting on the front porch, rocking---never saying much.  She (and my grandmother) did read tea leaves.  Now I wonder how much was "reading " tea leaves and how much was listening to voices.

When my mother's nephew  (my cousin) B turned 21, he started acting "odd".  Mom thought he must have

Mattie Sollis on the left

been doing drugs.  Eventually, he was diagnosed with schizophrenia. He is very bright having grown up with Harvard students living with his family, but he's never held a full-time job.  Mom became a little obsessed with wondering what her grandmother had.  Eventually, we got a court order to have her records released.  Mattie had had schizophrenia as had her 2 brothers.  I later found one of her brothers also at Farmington Insane Asylum where he died of tuberculosis.  I still have not located her other brother.  But meanwhile found a cousin of hers in an asylum in Tennessee.

I thought it was odd that with so much insanity in Mother's family that it had skipped two generations.  Mother believed drugs triggered B's, but I believe his mother (my mother's sister) was also mentally ill but used alcohol to silence the voices.

Today, I have two cousins (one on each side) who are mentally ill.  Thankfully neither is in an institution and with medication, they lead fairly normal lives.  When B is off his meds we get a lot of phone calls and e-mails on all sorts of topics like "I was watching the Red Sox game and heard the crowd chanting my poetry"  Recently, he has been in assisted living and the phone calls are more like,"Hey, I need more underwear" or "My computer isn't working."

So, back to Sharice's comments.  Yes, it runs in families.  Yes, it is sometime undiagnosed and often disguised by alcohol or drug use. Yes, there's a stigma which is why I've used initials rather than full names for many.  I am fortunate that I've never had to deal with a mentally ill close family relative. I don't mean to make light of the condition, but it's something we've learned to live with like diabetes or a hereditary heart condition.

When I asked Mom if as a child she was embarrassed to have her mentally ill grandmother sit on the front porch.  She said, "no, never.  She was so gentle, never said much.  Besides, in the South, everyone had a grandparent that was that way."I laughed when I first saw a painted sign that said, "Here in the South, we don't hide CRAZY, we parade it on the porch and give it sweet tea".  Yup, that's my family.

Saturday, April 2, 2022

Y DNA results on William Graham


Margaret Graham Blake

Dwight, grandson of Margaret Graham Blake, wrote the following after getting the results back on our cousin Joe's Y-DNA (R-M269).  Y DNA traces the paternal line back for many generations.  We were surprised to see that we match Henry and Thomas Parks DNA---we were expecting Graham or Grimes (they are both the same name---just spelling differences).  So, Dwight went back to the autosomal DNA results we had gathered from about 12 William Graham descendants using primarily GEDmatch.  Autosomal or atDNA analyzes all of a person's DNA but only goes back 5 generations accurately.  What we wanted was information on7 generations back.  To do that with atDNA, we had to lower threshold from 7cM to 4cM and we could only do that on GEDmatch.  We were able to find several among the dozen of William Graham's descendants who were able to match Henry Parks and Henry Grimes family members barely below the 7cM threshold and several above that threshold.  For more on DNA and genealogy, click here.

For more on R-M269, click here

"I think just Y chromosome test, and tables showing correlation of us with Henry Parks and with John Grimes... we then learn three things.

  1. Our Y chromosome matches that of Henry Parks (b.1758 in Albermarle County). Henry Parks Y chromosome is a sub-variant type of that for the other Parks of Albermarle County. It can not be conclude that Henry Parks is a male descendant of the Thomas Park family of Albermarle, as the difference in Y chromosomes has about 8 mutations. But, he did migrate with the family of Thomas Parks to Wilkes County NC, after his birth.
  2. The atDNA analysis of our WmGraham group compared to 4 Henry Parks descendants shows high cM correlation values for that many generations back. This is consistent with the data demonstrating the matching of our Y chromosome to that family
  3. The atDNA analysis of our WmGraham group with the descendants of John Grimes (b. 1758, Hannover County VA) shows an equally high, if not higher, cM correlation value. John Grimes, and his brother Henry Grimes, obtained early land Patents in Washington County TN, along with our James [Graham], in 1777. Our family name Graham probably comes from this family. John and Henry Grimes are known sons of Capt. William Grimes (with his 1st wife). Captain William Grimes was killed in the Service of our young Country in Philadelphia in July 1777, under the command of General Washington.
This information together has provided us with windows into our shared heritage. We think we now know the lineages, but are not for sure which line is James Graham's father and which his mother. Unfortunately, the Court House in Guilford NC was destroyed in the Revolution, and the Court Houses in Hanover and Albermarle Counties of Virginia were destroyed in the Civil War. With the loss of these Court houses, and with the fact that DNA matching decreases effectiveness quickly with increasing number of generations, identification of our shared heritage has been difficult. It was only because of the large number of people on our side that had DNA tests done that we were able to draw these conclusions. It was the large number of people working together that was able to give confidence."

Thank you for all who helped us try to solve this puzzle.  We are still working on it, so stay tuned.

Monday, January 31, 2022

James McCarrell, weaver from Ireland: conversations with cousins

1/17/22 Dwight talked to Margaret McCarrell---

A professor from University of Tennessee came to the house and found holes in the door that James McCarrell used for the loom. Margaret has also seen a diary that James kept which included the bills he had for yarn that he bought to use in the loom. "In his own hand", he states in that diary that he was born in Ireland. Being of Scottish descent, many mistakenly have him listed as being born in Scotland.

From Cousin Dwight, the grandson of Margaret Viola Graham-Blake..


I think the loom was integrated onto the fireplace mantle and walls, with a series of hooks. That is, if I remember correctly.

Actually, this was the time period when England was taking over India, and also the first beginings of mechanization that would lead to the Industrial Revolution. They were making weaving more efficient, and also had cheaper labor in India. This lead to a gradual and long decline in the weaving industry of Northern Ireland. Jobs became harder and harder to find, as the same out put required less workers. So, the McCarrells and McKibbens, and presumable the Caswell Grahams, migrated to find new economic opportunties.

James McCarrell was also a minister. But, he found his calling in choir and singing. He lead the church in singing and music.

I think most genealogist would never have caught that it was James McCarrell Sr. (b. 1728) who was the father of all those young children. However, it was all recorded in the Bible [which Margaret McCarrell had at one time]. The only record that survived to prove this all.

There are alot of legends that I need to write down… There was another. He got the deed to his land in Knoxville in about 1800. He had to ride a horse all the way to Nashville to get it, as that was the only place where the deeds were issued. He then rode back by horse, and the very next day he took that original deed to the Knox County Court house and made sure that it was entered there also. There is a record of this special effort that he took. He must have been 75 years old when he made those journeys by himself… 

For more on the McCarrell Bible, click here

All these photos of the McCarroll/McKibbon Homestead: Somewhere when I put these all on I told that they are all courtesy of Marcy Carter Lovick......

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

James McCarrell, Irish child immigrant

James McCarrell (my 5 great grandfather) was born in 1728, but travelled with his parents as a baby between 1728 and 1730 (when his sister was born in Pennsylvania) from Ireland to the British Colony of Pennsylvania as did many Protestant Irish at this time.

On Ancestry, people have him born in Scotland, others Ireland and still others in Letterkenny, Pennsylvania.  I am going to try to sort it out.

First, my DNA: If you look at  the map from 23andme, I am clearly more Irish than Scottish although my ancestors and I are Protestant. (Glasgow is the only Scottish blip)  What that really means is people TODAY who share my DNA live in those areas.  So, that doesn't really prove that they were Irish 500 years ago. Those from Scotland might have gone to Ireland with some staying behind and some moving on to America colonies.  Those would be the Scotch-Irish (which is one of my major ethnicities in DNA and on paper) or Scots-Irish.

And which Irish shading are the McCarrells?  Probably County Donegal in the northwest of Ireland where there is a town called Letterkenny (like in Pennsylvania).  I think some on Ancestry, for James birth place, might have hit save for the Pennsylvania town instead of the one in Ireland.  Another possibility is that the Irish from Letterkenny  who founded the Pennsylvania town in 1736 might have been friends or kin with the McCarrells urging them to settle there, too in1738.

So, I have Irish DNA, do I have any other proof James was born in Ireland?  Margaret McCarrell in Knox Co. TN  just told cousin Dwight in a telephone conversation January 2022 that she has seen James McCarrell's diary.  Margaret saw in that diary that James had written in his own hand that he was born in Ireland.  So, James McCarrell was born in Ireland, but was he Scotch-Irish?

Some have thought since the McCarrells were Protestant Irish, they must have been from Scotland originally, but I am leaning toward, they were Irish before the Scots settled there.  Several sites that discuss surname origins say it is an Irish name (I checked and the same sites said Graham was Scottish or Irish and Watson could be English, Scottish and Irish).  Those are clearly Scotch-Irish names, but that's not what is said about McCarrell

Recorded as MacCarroll, McCarroll, McCarrell, McCarle, Carroll, and others, this surname is Irish.
It is a developed form of the ancient name Mac Cearbhaill meaning 'The son of the warrior' from the personal name Cearbhall, a byname for a fierce warrior deriving from "cearbh", meaning to hack. There were two distinct clans, one in Leinster and the other in Ulster, where the name is often recorded as MacCarvill. The surname dates back to the early 14th Century (see below), and early examples of recordings include Donslevy Mac Carroll in 1357, described by the Four Masters as "a noble master of music and melody, the best of his time".  The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Mulrory Mac Carroll, which was dated 1328. He was the Chief Minster of Ireland and Scotland, during the reign of King Edward 111rd of England, 1327 - 1377. 

© Copyright: Name Origin Research 1980 - 2012

I am suggesting they may not have been Scottish at all.  The name dates to the 1300's long before the Scots were re-settled in Ireland.  When the Catholic Irish migration occurred more than 100 years later, all Protestant Irish from the colonial period were labeled "Scotch-Irish" because most were that.  But, I don't think the McCarrells were.  I think they were just rebellious Irish who were Dissenters or Non-comformists.  Those with this label were Methodists, Presbyterians, Quakers, but also could have been Baptists.  From their beginnings in the American Colony, the McCarrells appear to have been Baptist.  Was it because there were no Presbyterian churches for them to attend or was it because they had been Baptist in Ireland?

Saturday, January 15, 2022

Emigration of Ancestors--post Colonial

 My interest in genealogy stems from 2 questions:  What were Grandma Wicker's roots? Why did my ancestors emigrate?  Previous blogs identify many of Vennie's roots but I recently started thinking about my 2nd question.

When I began, I had no idea how far back my roots went in American history.  I knew that my g-g grandparents in Dad's family had immigrated from Germany and England but I didn't really know why.

Louis Reiter

According to my dad's cousins, Louis Reiter came from Germany to avoid being drafted in another German (Prussian) war.  The irony was he arrived just in time for America's Civil War in which he fought for the Union side.  This coincides with another Reiter family (DNA connected) who had a narrative about their family.  click here to read.  So, Louis reportedly came for political reasons probably around 1854 when we found a Ludwig Reiter on a passenger list into New York.  He was a blacksmith and possibly tried to settle in Pennsylvania where family lived.  We know he was in Missouri by 1862 when he enlisted in the Union army.

Eliza Tyrey

His wife was Eliza Tyrey whose mother was a Kilpatrick from Tennessee with Colonial roots.  But, her father, Jacob Tyrey, was from Prussia: Schwemlingen, Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany.  We don't know why he left but do know he was living in Wisconsin in 1836 according to the census there.  He was later identified as a miner so possibly he left for economic reasons.  But, he also probably left for political reasons since this area became Prussian in 1816 and Jacob (born in 1810) would have been subject to the draft also.

Louis Reiter and Eliza Tyrey's daughter was my great grandmother Mary Celecy Reiter McKee who married Thomas Long with Colonial roots. My other great grandparents were Henry Maupin (also Colonial roots) and Annie Reed whose parents were recent immigrants from England.

Seated:  Frances Glanville Reed and Annie Reed Maupin

Annie's mother's family John Glanville and Frances Hancock came from Camborne in Cornwall England sometime after 1841 but before my g-g grandmother (Francis Glanville) was born in 1843.  Having watched the series Poldark on PBS, I have a very good idea why they left: the mines were closing. The mines in Cornwall had been producing for thousands of years (click here) and it was becoming more and more difficult to mine, so they came to Valle Mines, MO where there was plenty of lead that was needed for bullets if nothing else.

William Farncombe/Reed

Annie's father, William Farncombe/Reed, was also from England:  Pyecombe near Brighton.  William Reed (aka Farncombe) is so far the only immigrant I have who left because he was in trouble (click here)  We don't know why he left England other than one of his sister's descendants saying he "left under a cloud".  Personally, I suspect bigamy or getting a young lady "in trouble".  He was married in 1850 to a woman in Kent (at 15 years old?)---this information was written on the back of his marriage certificate in French Village, Missouri to Frances Glanville. He was still living with his parents in 1851 according to the census in England, but was in the United States by 1860 living in Valle Mines, Missouri.

So they emigrated for economics, politics, a possible prison record which probably accounts for most emigration, however I have at least one from the Colonial era who came for religious reasons.