23    May 201323 comments

Our Stories: The Mayflower and more!

There are so many ways to get bitten by the genealogy bug. MyHeritage member Melva Jo Wright of Florida (US) took over the research of her maternal aunt (Geraldine Martinez) when she died in 2004.

Her aunt’s four sisters helped with the research and each received a family history binder from their researcher sister.

Melva Jo’s maternal great-grandparents and their family: Norval Smith Channing (1878 PA-1955 PA) and Amanda Catherine (Pyle) Channing (1877 PA-1957 PA). Her grandmother (far left) is Rebecca (Channing) Lytle (1901 PA-1980 FL) (Courtesy photo)

Most have shared them with me, but I’m still waiting to hear from the others to complete their details in our family tree. I hope they contain some original pictures, as most of those I already have are copies.

Melva Jo, 60, has three children and three stepdaughters. Her mother worked at the Pentagon and her father was a stockcar racer, killed in a 1951 race. Her mother remarried, to an Army major, and the family lived in Germany and France.

Among her exciting discoveries: the Mayflower’s John and Priscilla Alden are her direct ninth great-grandparents. She's also related to writer Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, President Abraham Lincoln, Clement Clark Moore (who wrote “The Night Before Christmas), as well as Orson Wells, Marilyn Monroe, Dick and Jerry Van Dyke and Ricky Nelson, to name a few.

Melva Jo joined my Heritage in November 2010. She likes the site because it is so easy to maneuver.

Everything is just a click away. The price is reasonable.

Although her immediate family has helped with the research, most of the input she’s received has been from second through sixth cousins, whom she’s met through her project.

If we are related, they are welcome to become site members.

Her family tree includes some 22,600 people. The living are all over the US, in New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Washington State, Texas, Virginia, Georgia and Florida.

She often uses Smart Matches, and if she finds differences, she does the research. She admits that, “I haven’t always been right.”

Her research has uncovered many unknown and long-lost relatives, and she hasn’t been shy in contacting them.

Annie Lou (Rhodes) Walters / Viars b. 1882 VA- 1960 VA, Melva Jo's paternal great-grandmother (Courtesy photo)

We have gotten to know one another and help each other with our family trees and share family photos. I hope to meet some of them in the near future.

One of her family mysteries of history concerns the 200-year-old Brockman Cemetery in Orange County, Virginia, where her ancestors lived.

Someone took the headstones to put in an abandoned church yard because there were no headstones. The remains were not moved, Just the headstones. Who does that?

For more information, Melva Jo wrote to the website Find a Grave, requesting some headstone photos. A man replied that the headstones were no longer there, that they had been moved and he wasn't sure where they were.

Then, Virginia Blossom, also with Find a Grave, visited the cemetery, discovered the Ellisville Church (where the headstones were moved), took photos of them and of the abandoned church. Virginia did more research, discovered a family member who lived nearby and was told the same story.

I have been in touch with a newly-discovered cousin and she revealed that Paul Brockman, now deceased, tried to get the headstones moved back to their original location. See the photos on Find a Grave.

We asked Melva Jo to share some tips for beginning family historians:

  • Share your research, photos - anything you have - to help others.
  • Remember that there are older individuals out there who do not have the technologies that younger generations have at their fingertips.
  • Make sure that you receive permission for anything you use, and that you always give credit where credit is due.
  • Be patient. More and more people are enjoying genealogy every day. They just might have the information for which you are searching.

We thank Melva Jo for sharing her story.

Do you have ancestors who came over on the Mayflower? Are you related to presidents, comedians, writers, actors or musicians? Let us know in the comments below, or share them on Facebook, Twitter and Google+

Share your stories with us! Send them to stories@myheritage.com

Search for your ancestors:

Comments (23) Trackbacks (0)
  1. Yes I did the Family of Hopkins were distant relative on my Grandpa Hopkins side.
  2. My maternal ancestors also include John Alden and Priscilla Mullin. Small world!! Melva Jo must be a cousin then!
  3. Wow! Nicely said! I know how much you enjoy the research and discovery of past & present Family ;) Love you
  4. Nice work
  5. My ancestry from the Mayflower is Myles Standish. I remember learning in grade school the story of Myles Standish and John Alden both being sweet on Priscilla Graham. John felt sorry for Myles as he wasn't so smooth with the ladies so he went to Priscilla to tell her of the feelings of Myles but she stated "Speak for yourself John". Amazing history.
  6. Using My Heritage I've discovered my ancestry back to some of the oldest families in America: Mayflower passengers William Brewster and his wife, Stephen Hopkins and his family, John Howland and his wife Elizabeth, and Elizabeth's parents John and Joan Tilley are all direct ancestors. Stephen Hopkins was of particular interest, as he was also at Jamestown prior to coming to Plymouth on the Mayflower. I've also found family connections to eight US presidents. It's been quite an adventure of discovery and as time goes by I look forward to uncovering more family history.
  7. Since Geni joined Myheritage, I have discovered distant connections with all 44 presidents plus q whole bevy of notables such as Burl Ives, Fletcher Christian, Amelia Earhart, Francis Scott Key, Jesse James, Sir Winston Churchill, Pocahontas and Zelda Fitzgerald.

    Yes, there is a connection to John Alden:

    My first cousin four times removed's husband's uncle's wife's fourth great grandfather.

    Demonstrating, of course, how obscure some connections are!
  8. Searching for ancestors is very addicting. My fraternal ancestors include John Alden and Priscilla Mullens in that John Burrill (Burrell) married their granddaughter, Mercy Alden (Joseph Alden's daughter). I've read that John and Priscilla have more than 1 million descendants. Amazing.
  9. My Mayflower connection is through the Hopkins family, via Nicholas Snow and Constance Hopkins, and the Prence family on my mother's side. It was quite a feeling the day--two years ago, now--that this came to light.
  10. Looking into the past is both fun and exciting. I have traced some of my ancestors to the Mayflower ( William Bradford who was my 6th great grandfather of husband of paternal grandmother). I also found that on my Grandmother's side George Washington is my 5th cousin 5x removed.
  11. I too am from the Hopkins family!
  12. I am taking over the research done by my step-mother and she has traced back to Stephen Hopkins of the Mayflower.
  13. Quite interesting!!
  14. I to descend from the Hopkins family however my mayflower direct line is Richard Warren..... Love finding new family
  15. Very interesting.
  16. I'm also descended from Stephen Hopkins and connect to a couple of other Mayflower passengers. Shows what a small world after all!
  17. My ancestors descend from the Howland family. John Howland was on the Mayflower but it is his brother Henry Howland who is my direct line. He is my 9th great grandfather.
  18. Family tree investigating has found that I'm related to The Brewster's of The May Flower. Mary Brewster married Benjamin Paine. There son Seth Paine married Jerusha Swift. They had 14 children. A son, Thomas Paine married Sally Dana. They had two sons. Carlos Grant Paine married a Jerusha Swift also......weird, but true! Delos S. Paine married Sarah Adalaide Fenton ......Welcome Paine married Harriet Lowell. My Grandfather, Delos F. Paine married Harriet Olp. my mother Marjory Paine married Frank Vianese. The Paine line continues. today
  19. Someone said "what a small world". Indeed, if even half these claims to lineage with the Mayflower settlers are true, then interbreeding must have been rife in early colonial America by the 50% of the original 102 that survived the first winter.

    Within such a small, isolated and closed community wanting to expand, this in understandable, but it must surely have been at odds with their strict Puritan upbringing and morality. But I surmise that the age differentials and longevity of that first group would have overidden such deeply religious concerns as being impractical given their unique circumstances. In retrospect it is fortunate that in later centuries the melting pot influx of new immigrants came along to expand the gene pool.
  20. On my last visit to Utah I was able to find that I am related to William Brewster of the Mayflower. If any one else has any connection I would like to hear from them. I enjoy my Family History. Off to Utah again soon. Regards Laurel brooks
  21. I have a John Lennon - just not the famous one ;
  22. I have two grand Uncles that went to New York, america, some years ago. their names was Michael and Martin Lyng. Ballinabanogue, New Ross, Co. Wexford. Ireland. I have never heard of them any more. Could you find out if they have any children or family living in new York today.as they would be our cousins. please find out for me as I would be very grateful. yours faithfully. Bridget Wickham. and Wickham family. Ballinabanogue, New Ross, Co. Wexford. Ireland.
  23. My great great great Grandfather was Thomas Paine who married Sally Dana. Thomas's father Seth Paine served in The Revolutionary War. His father Benjamin Paine married Mary Brewster who was the daughter of Benjamin Brewster. Benjamin's grandfather was Elder William Brewster of The Mayflower. So love this!!! Anyone who is related, would love to hear from you.

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