Heart of a Southern Woman

A snapshot of life one blog post at a time.

Interesting Phenomena in Our Family Trees–Coincidence? Serendipity? Six Degrees of Separation? Reincarnation–traveling through time with our tribe? The Pierce/Pearce Family


Pierce COA
This is the fifth and last post of this series regarding connections and relationships I have found with my neighbors. It has been a joy and a continued amazement for me to put on paper the relationships and connections that I have been noticing regarding my neighbors’ families and my own for the last few years during which I’ve been doing genealogical research. There are more connections I might explore at a later date that have involved the many cousins I’ve met since doing this research, and connections to other genealogical bloggers, but today, I want to talk about this very special family– the Pierce family, and how it connects me to a neighbor and much more.
As I have said before, about ten years ago, we moved into a new subdivision, where everyone was new. Because the neighborhood was new perhaps, many neighbors set about fixing up their yards and gardens, which simply had the bare basic landscaping of any new subdivision. We often walked, well, I rolled in my electric wheelchair due to a heart condition, around the neighborhood, looking at what folks were doing, and getting to know the neighbors. In this way I met neighbors from other streets as well as my own. One such person was Lynn Pierce. Lynn was a great gardener, and had a special joy for daylilies, one of my passions as well! It was such a joy to learn that she was not only a devoted gardener, but a craftsperson extraordinaire and a retired English teacher with a flair for drama and costuming. My husband was very happy to meet her husband Bill and learn that he was a retired woodworking teacher, as my husband had taught woodworking also, along with drafting and engineering. We became good friends and remain so today through joys and sorrows.

I hate to admit this, but I’d known Lynn several years before I even knew her maiden name! I had not been doing genealogical research, so until about a year ago, gardening and traveling together to the beach and to the mountains, were the basis of our friendship, not family background! Lynn met another friend who did genealogical research and was a Pearce. She began to talk with me about it, wondering if she might be kin to him, and so we began to work on her family tree to find out! Sure enough, as I worked on Lynn’s Pierce ancestral line, I began to see surnames I was related to, in her family tree! It finally dawned on me, like a light bulb going off, that I had never checked my dna to see if I was kin to the Pierces myself, and I was! That didn’t mean I was kin to Lynn’s Pierces, but it was a place to start. I began to build Pierces into my own family tree as well as Lynn’s, to see if I could discover if we were related! Lo and behold, I discovered that this close friend of mine was also my cousin! We were both descended from Richard Pearce, born between 1540-1563, and his wife Marguerite Coney born in 1568. Lynn descends from his son Richard Pearce b.1590, and I descend from his son the sea Captain, William Pierce/Pearce, b. 1595. Lynn and I are eleventh cousins! You can find a relationship tree at the end of this article.

As I mentioned, Lynn had met and become friends with Tony Pearce  since moving here, and he lived only a couple miles from us. She wondered if she was kin to him, and so we added more to her family tree to try to ascertain whether or not they were related. At the same time, I realized that a friend of mine for over 45 years, Thomas Clayton, was the son of a Pearce mother!  I was more than surprised when I realized he and Tony shared the same ancestral line!

 Within weeks of our moving here, our neighbors introduced us to a retired mechanic named Jack Strickland who had started his own business. They recommended him highly, and we became friends as well as he helped us keep our cars in shape. When I found Stricklands in my friend Thomas’s tree, I felt compelled to ask Jack about his ancestry, and so I started working on his tree as well, with his help. Of course, he, Tony, and Thomas shared the SAME Pearce line!

Although Lynn is from Pennsylvania, and I am from Virginia, we now live near the small town of Bunn, North Carolina. I was surprised to see that several Bunns were married to Pearces in these guy’s family trees!  So I looked into the history of the town and the Bunn family, and found that they were indeed very involved with the Pierce/Pearce family! The town was named Bunn, and nearby was Pearce’s Church Road! Of course, with serendipity reining supreme, I got a note on ancestry from one Donnie Bunn, who ended up being from this founding family of Bunn, and a Pierce through his mother’s family! In fact, he shares the very same line as Thomas, Jack, and Tony!  It appears that they would all be part of the Southern Pearce/Pierce branch by dna.

 At first I thought all six of us were related, but after consulting someone with the Pierce dna project, he said that more than likely Sharon and I were not related to the other four guys by dna, but that all four of our friends were closely related! We are all contemplating getting male relatives with direct line Pearces/Pierces to join the DNA project for their family, perhaps then we will know for sure!

The Pierce/Pearce family is rich with history and notable ancestors and descendants.  In this very group of cousins, our Thomas Albert Clayton is a published author and screenwriter! In 2011 he published the screenplay, Rebel with a Cause, The Radical Reformer, an amazing story of Servetus, the first Protestant martyr burned at the stake not by a Catholic Pope but the Protestant reformer himself, John Calvin. He is currently rewriting this film as a novel which will soon be available.

They can also be proud of being kin to Capt Michael Pierce, 1615-1676, who fought and died in a battle with the Indians. This Michael is Lynn’s 8th great grandfather. Another ancestor of note was Sea Capt. William Pierce, 1560-1641. This William Pierce captained the Mayflower on her second voyage to Massachusetts and was the master of the Lyon, a ship he owned.! Capt William Pierce was my 11th great grandfather.

Not to be confused with the Capt. William Pierce above who lived in Boston and arrived there about 1835 to settle for a bit, he was mostly a mariner, there was also one Capt. William Pierce who settled in Jamestown Colony, Virginia about 1609. He became a well respected land owner and planter in Virginia, and became the Lieutenant Governor of Virginia for awhile. He was married to one Joan Phippen and had a son Thomas, and a daughter Jane who married John Rolfe after Pocahontas died. There was also a son William who died young of disease, a stepdaughter Cecily Reynolds by Joan Phippen’s first marrieage, and possibly a daughter named Edith, who married Jerimiah Clements and became my 8th great grandmother in a different Pierce ancestral line!

On Feb. 13, 2015, I will have the opportunity to hear Connie Lapallo speak to the Chesterfield County Historical Society about her books about the women and children of Jamestown. She is specifically discussing Joan Phippen Pierce and her daughter Cecily! I am so excited to meet her, and possibly be hearing the stories of my grandmother! My sister Anne told me about Connie and her exciting books two of which are titled: Dark Enough to See the Stars in a Jamestown Sky, and the second in the trilogy: When the Moon Has No More Silver.  Connie is currently working on the third book.

The Pierce/Pearce family also has an illustrious ancient history. Richard Pierce of 1540- 63 traces right back through Her Royal Highness Mary Lancaster Plantagenet, 1320-1362, King Henry III, and King Henry II. These Royals are our grandparents! John Lockland Plantagenet, King of England, 1166–1216 who signed the Magna Carta is Lynn’s and my 21st Great- Grandfather!

Look at what this means! Lynn and I were strangers who moved from different states and ended up in the same subdivision, where we met over daylilies, and became good friends! Back in the mid 1500’s, close to 500 years ago, we shared a common 12th great grandfather! Even more amazing, we can trace the Pierce lineage back to 1004 ad! It takes us through the Plantagenet’s, through King Henry II and King Henry III! Her Royal Highness, Mary Lancaster Plantagenet, 1320-1382, is our joint 17th great grandmother! How is this possible! Have we been traveling through time together for sure? Our ancestors were the same over 1000 years ago!

I do want to say for all my genealogical researching friends out there, and for all of my family, old and new, research is always a process. This Pierce/Pearce ancestral line is controversial. There are currently DNA studies going on, and if we are lucky, they might finally unlock the true answers to this line. The first scholarly genealogical work on this line, written in 1888 by one Frederick C. Pierce, titled The Pearce Genealogy Being the Posterity of Thomas Pearce has proven to have many errors so that it is more a guideline than proof. However, there has been a multitude of research on this family.  If you are interested in more specific  information regarding  articles helping to distinquish between the two different Capt. William Pierces, leave your contact information in the comments section and I will send you some infomation.

That said; look at how this family connects all of these people, these neighbors! Thomas,Donnie, Jack  and Tony are  cousins  and friends of friends of mine!  By the way, even though they don’t live in our subdivision, Tony, Donnie, and Jack live within a couple of miles of Lynn and me. Thomas is not far. We are planning a get together for these newfound Pierce/Pearce cousins very soon, won’t that be interesting?!

I really want to know what you think of this series. Are you as amazed as I am? Have you found this with your own neighbors by any chance? Maybe you should start checking out their genealogy! My favorite explanation, above reincarnation and traveling through time with my tribe, above six degrees of separation, is the definition given me by Linda Voorhees McLaughlin that coincidence can mean: “a miracle where God’s presence is invisible” –how about you?

Relationship Trees:

Helen Spear Youngblood Holshouser(1949 – )
is your 11th cousin 2x removed
Margaret Steptoe Kerse (1918 – 1980)
mother of Helen Spear Youngblood
Katherine Steptoe Houchins (1883 – 1943)
mother of Margaret Steptoe Kerse
Walter Houchins (1854 – 1937)
father of Katherine Steptoe Houchins
Nancy J Houchins (1833 – )
mother of Walter Houchins
William Houchins (1807 – 1860)
father of Nancy J Houchins
BENNETT HOUCHINS (1780 – 1815)
father of William Houchins
Edward Houchins (1760 – 1846)
Joyce Clements (1739 – 1821)
mother of Edward Houchins
Stephen Clements (1692 – 1746)
father of Joyce Clements
John Clements (1669 – 1704)
father of Stephen Clements
John Clements (1631 – 1710)
father of John Clements
Edith Pierce (1607 – 1644)
mother of John Clements
Capt. William Pierce (1560 – 1641)
father of Edith Pierce
Richard Pearce (1540)
father of Capt. William Pierce
Richard Pearce (1590 – 1666)
son of Richard Pearce
Capt. Michael J Pierce (1615 – 1676)
son of Richard Pearce
Ephraim Pierce (1647 – 1719)
son of Capt. Michael J Pierce
Ephraim Pierce Pearce Jr. (1674 – 1772)
son of Ephraim Pierce
Mial PIERCE (1693 – 1786)
son of Ephraim Pierce Pearce Jr.
Caleb Pierce (1726 – 1776)
son of Mial PIERCE
Caleb Pierce (1758 – 1836)
son of Caleb Pierce
Caleb Pierce (1808 – )
son of Caleb Pierce
John W Pierce (1840 – 1918)
son of Caleb Pierce
Luther C. Pierce (1881 – 1960)
son of John W Pierce
Betty Lou Pierce (1933 – 1984)
daughter of Luther C. Pierce
Lynn M. Pierce
You are the daughter of Betty Lou Pierce
 Thomas Albert Clayton (1950 – )
is your 2nd cousin 1x removed
Zelda Grace Holleman (1924 – 2006)
mother of Thomas Albert Clayton
Mary Patricia Pearce (1899 – 1991)
mother of Zelda Grace Holleman
Atlas Strickland (Strick) Pearce (1868 – 1938)
father of Mary Patricia Pearce
John Omega (Miggie) Pearce (1884 – 1980)
son of Atlas Strickland (Strick) Pearce
Alvin Oren (Ben) Pearce (1915 – 2001)
son of John Omega (Miggie) Pearce
Hattie Frances Pearce (1939 – )
daughter of Alvin Oren (Ben) Pearce
Donnie Rudolph Bunn
You are the son of Hattie Frances Pearce

=====================================================Jackson Wendell Jr. Strickland (1943 – )

is your 2nd cousin
Jackson Wendell Strickland (1910 – 1965)
father of Jackson Wendell Jr. Strickland
Martha Ellen Pearce (1890 – )
mother of Jackson Wendell Strickland
Atlas Strickland (Strick) Pearce (1868 – 1938)
father of Martha Ellen Pearce
Mary Patricia Pearce (1899 – 1991)
daughter of Atlas Strickland (Strick) Pearce
Zelda Grace Holleman (1924 – 2006)
daughter of Mary Patricia Pearce
Thomas Albert Clayton
You are the son of Zelda Grace Holleman 


Tony Pearce
is your 5th cousin
Elbert Lawrence Pearce (1915 – 1988)
father of Tony Pearce
Jonah Robert Lee Pearce (1874 – 1954)
father of Elbert Lawrence Pearce
CSA John Calvin Pearce (1838 – 1924)
father of Jonah Robert Lee Pearce
Acrel N. Pearce (1814 – 1878)
father of CSA John Calvin Pearce
Nathan Pearce (1783 – 1867)
father of Acrel N. Pearce
Phillip Pearce (1754 – 1812)
father of Nathan Pearce
Hardy Pearce (1789 – 1860)
son of Phillip Pearce
Strickland Pierce (1822 – 1862)
son of Hardy Pearce
Atlas Strickland (Strick) Pearce (1868 – 1938)
son of Strickland Pierce
Mary Patricia Pearce (1899 – 1991)
daughter of Atlas Strickland (Strick) Pearce
Zelda Grace Holleman (1924 – 2006)
daughter of Mary Patricia Pearce
Thomas Albert Clayton
 You are the son of Zelda Grace Holleman 



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Interesting Phenomena in Our Family Trees—Coincidence? Serendipity? Six Degrees of Separation? Reincarnation–traveling through time with our tribe? Two more families in the neighborhood.


Aerial view of cul-de-sac with neighbors who are related from Google Earth

Aerial view of cul-de-sac with neighbors who are related from Google Earth

Due to privacy concerns, I will not name two of my neighbors whom we love and are involved with, and with whom I’ve found that I am kin to or were neighbors of as much as 400 years ago!

Founders of New Jersey by Evelyn Hunt Ogden
I wrote a blog post about my 7th great-grandfather, Hartman Vreeland (read it here) who was one of the Founders of the state of New Jersey in the USA. I found a marvelous book by Evelyn Hunt Ogden who listed the founders of NJ and included brief biographies of all the founders. Besides our 7th great-grandfather, I have discovered kinship or connections in present times with ten of this community who were alive and well in New Jersey in the mid and late 1600s!
One of my neighbors used to be a police officer in this area of North Carolina where we now live. In my research, I find his own 10th great- grandfather was the sheriff of the community in New Jersey where my Hartman Vreeland lived! How is that possible? They both purchased land from the Native Americans as well! What an incredible find, and what an amazing ancestral history to discover you share with your neighbor. His grandfather kept my grandfather safe in 1665, and now my neighbor helps keep us safe!

Jamestown Society symbol
Also living on our street is a family where the father used to teach in the same school with my husband, before my husband retired. They are a loving, young family whose child is friends with our grandchild. They moved into our neighborhood after we did, and were not known to us before then. Now I find through my dna, and a paper trail, that I am kin to both the husband and the wife! It looks like our ancestors were together in Jamestown in the Virginia Colony, 400 years ago!

Castlerock Street view from google earth
We live on a cul-de-sac with 12 houses; I can now draw kinship or connections to at least five of my neighbors from 300-400 years ago! Five out of twelve is 41.6% , almost 42% of those twelve, and I haven’t investigated the rest! In my next post, I’ll disclose a discovered kinship to a neighbor in our same subdivision, but on a different street, with whom I can prove a relationship from the 1300’s–over 600 years ago! To me this is a miracle, awesome, and such an amazing adventure in research, dna, and genealogy!

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Interesting Phenomena in Our Family Trees–Traveling Through Time Together? Coincidence? Six Degrees of Separation? Part 3—The Burgesses and Pryors


In this series of blog posts, I’ve been discussing connections to my neighbors found in my family tree. Having moved into a cul-de-sac about ten years ago, it has amazed me that I have discovered either relationships, or connections by marriage with several of my neighbors! All of us were new to this neighborhood, and new to each other. I had never done any genealogy so we became acquainted through shared interests and proximity, then I discovered the genealogical connections.

My next door neighbors were a delightful couple, named John and Dora Burgess Pryor. John was an accomplished genealogist at age 92! He’d been researching for years the old-fashioned way– no internet! He and his wife had traveled the towns and states, and spent many hours in libraries and courthouses, poring over tax records, marriage and death records and the like. They’d walked cemeteries and taken copious notes!  I was impressed with what John had accomplished and he inspired me to think about creating my own family tree.

Many of my readers know I have severe heart disease and can’t walk far or stand long. I had always loved to garden, but unable to bend over or stand for any length of time, I thought my gardening days were finished. John was  in his nineties as mentioned. He could not stoop or bend over either, so he sat on the ground and scooted or crawled to where he wanted to go, gardening up a storm!  I watched him work and again was inspired! If this 92-year-old man could sit on the ground and garden, I could too! What a pair we made. Other neighbors got used to seeing us crawling around our gardens! I loved it, and hadn’t had as much fun in years–playing in the dirt! We both had beautiful flowers to show for it as well. Not that we could take all the credit! John’s wife Dora was quite a bit younger than John, and she could and did work rings around both of us!  She was the true gardner! Her yard was spotless and beautiful! I didn’t even try to keep up, just tried to enjoy what I could do. My own husband didn’t consider himself a gardener, but he was the labor end of our efforts! Dora and I became great friends! Unfortunately, John passed away a few years ago, and even though he has left a hole, we love Dora with a passion! John passed away shortly after I started my own genealogical work, so we had only a couple of opportunities to compare notes! What a loss.

Just like with the Voorhees and McLaughlins, it wasn’t long until I was seeing Pryors and Burgesses in my tree! What’s up with this?! My neighbors thought I was crazy as they heard me saying again, “Dora, I think we are kin to each other…and I might be kin to John as well! LOL Like before, I asked Dora to let me work on her tree a bit so that I could check out these things I was finding! The “coincidences” are amazing in my book, and unfortunately, I can’t even remember them all! I wasn’t thinking I’d ever write about them, so I noted them, talked about it with Dora, then went on with my research.

But look at this. As you know, my paternal grandmother’s line is Hogue on one side. Hogue is Scottish, and Pryor is generally English in origin. However, I found the name Pryor all over my Hogue family tree! My neighbor John was named John Hamilton Pryor. Right there in my tree was a John Pryor Hogue, a Pryor Hogue, and a John Hamilton Hogue! My neighbor John was born and reared in West Virginia, and I could trace my Hamilton Hogues right to West Virginia! I could never quite prove the kinship however.  After John passed, I took a dna test to aid with my genealogy research. As I learned more about the Hogue dna, I discovered that the Pryor and Hamilton Hogues were not  in my Hogue haplogroup! Hard to believe, but definitive. Nevertheless, what are the chances we’d have these name connections moving in next door to each other from different states and backgrounds?

Dora and I not only shared the love of gardening, we became red hatters together and played like there was no tomorrow!  She and Linda and I shared our strong faith as well, we were great “pray-ers”!  Dora and Linda were avid volunteers in the community, at their church and in other endeavors. I couldn’t believe the blessing of moving next door to such a dynamic, loving woman.

Burgess and McKay (pronounced McCoy) were her main two genealogical lines. Her McKays were from Scotland like my Hogues, and I saw them everywhere, along with Burgess!

After I got my dna done, I began to zero in on my exact relationship to her Burgesses! We shared a third cousin! However, we were kin to that same person  by opposite sides of the family, so we were still only kin by marriage. But, hey, it seemed amazing to me!

Thomas Burgess (1814 – 1871)
is your 3rd cousin 4x removed
father of Thomas Burgess
father of Thomas Burgess
father of William Burgess
father of John Burgess
son of Edward Burgess
son of William BURGESS
son of William Burgess
son of John Burgess
son of Ezar Asa Burgess
son of William Henry Burgess
son of John Edward Burgess
You are the daughter of Alton Cleveland Burgess –
Thomas Burgess (1814 – 1871)
is your 3rd cousin 6x removed
mother of Thomas Burgess
mother of Wynna Caudle Key
father of Agnes WITT
father of William (Guillaume) Witt
son of John Witt
daughter of John Witt
son of Sarah Witt
son of Abner Harbour
daughter of Moses Harbour
daughter of Joyce Harbour
son of Nancy J Houchins
daughter of Walter Houchins
daughter of Katherine Steptoe Houchins
You are the daughter of Margaret Steptoe Kerse
Thomas Burgess was born in 1814, He was one of fourteen children –so we share 14 third cousins!  LOL  Just think, 200 years ago, Dora’s family and mine were the same, our families , or our kin folks lived together in West Virginia!
If that isn’t enough, our families were together again in Jamestown, Virginia! Dora’s eighth great- grandfather, John Chew, 1587-1668, has an illustrious history in  the colony of Jamestown, Virginia, and qualifies her to join the Jamestown Society.  We can verify in The Genealogy of the Chew Family  by Robert L. Chew,published by the Gloucester County Historical Society, Woodbury, N. J. that John Chew was a Burgess in Jamestown for almost twenty years starting in 1624. He also served as a Justice for York County. Quoted from this same source: “John Chew of Jamestown, VA (1587-1668) was born in Whalley Parish, Lancashire, England. A wealthy merchant, he may have been with John Smith as early as 1607, when the first permanent English settlement in the new World was founded at Jamestown. It was certain that John Chew received land granted from the Virginia Company in 1618. He married Sarah Gale in England, and returned to Virginia in 1622 on the ship Charity, which was owned by his wife’s family. He operated a tobacco plantation on Hogg Island, across the James River from Jamestown. His wife, indentured servants and oldest children immigrated from Chewton, Somersetshire, England on the ship Seaflower to join him in 1623. John built a house, warehouse and store in Jamestown, where he dealt in wine, corn and tobacco. He was a member and secretary of the Virginia House of Burgesses. By 1642, he also owned 1200 acres in York County. When the Virginia Governor oppressed
Puritans in support of the Church of England, the family migrated to Anne Arundel County, Maryland. John used Virginia tobacco to buy 500 acres near Annapolis. When his wife died in Maryland, John returned to Virginia. He was the oldest son of John Chewe of Bewdley, Worcestershire, England.”
When you look at the history for my own 9th great-grandfather, Nicholas Martiau (blog post here), the similarities are striking and the shared experiences so strong, they surely must have been acquainted!  From John Baer Stoudt’s book entitled Nicolas Martiau –Adventurous Huguenot, we learn that Nicholas “left England and sailed for Virginia arriving in June, 1620. His construction of a fence or palisade around the Jamestown Fort helped the settlers survive an Indian uprising in 1622. He …was elected to the House of Burgesses from the colony. Later he served as a Burgess from Elizabeth City, Yorktown, and Isle of Kent. Nicholas also served as a Justice for the early court system of Virginia–with court sometimes being held in his home.”  It seems they must have known each other, I cannot imagine how they would not have.
How can we explain Dora and I moving next door to each other and becoming close friends, 400 years after our grandparents worked and played together as well?!  It certainly seems as if our families are connected. Add to that my connections to the Voorhees and McLaughlins across the street…well, what do you think?  Is it serendipity, reincarnation-traveling with our tribes, or coincidence–the definition given us saying “coincidence — a miracle where God’s presence is invisible?” Kind of feels like that to me–like a miracle of friendship!
John Chew (1587 – 1668)
is your 8th great grandfather
son of John Chew
daughter of Col Samuel Chew
son of Sarah Chew
son of William BURGESS
son of William Burgess
son of John Burgess
son of Ezar Asa Burgess
son of William Henry Burgess
son of John Edward Burgess
You are the daughter of Alton Cleveland Burgess

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Interesting Phenomena in our family trees–coincidence? Part 2, the Voorhees Family


Voorhees family, Linda and siblings!

The Voorhees Family of Maryland, with Linda Voorhees in the center (in dark blue) of her siblings. Thanks to Linda for permission to use this photograph.


Time Travel? Six Degrees of Separation? Reincarnation and traveling through life with your tribe? God’s miracle? In this mini-series of blog posts, I am exploring connections I found, especially with my neighbors, as I researched my family tree. Can you imagine what my neighbors thought as I began to say to more and more of them, “I think we might be kin to each other!” LOL Once maybe, but five times!? There are many other connections that coincide with these. It raises questions, makes me think of things I’ve only read about before!
The VanVoorhees family was originally from the Netherlands. They came to this country of America by at least 1660– when Steven Coerte VanVoorhees, born in Hees, Drenthe, Holland in 1600, came to New Amsterdam, New York. The name was shortened to Voorhees in America, with some families changing it to Voorus, Vorhis, and other spellings.
My introduction to the Voorhees family came in 2004, when I moved into a new neighborhood in North Carolina, USA, and Linda Voorhees and her husband Jerry McLaughlin lived across the street from me. They had retired and moved from the Washington DC area, Maryland to be specific. The day we first saw our perspective new house, we met Jerry McLaughlin. He was in his yard working, and we asked him a few questions about the neighborhood. His warm welcome, best wishes and most of all, his incredibly charming laugh…stayed with me and made me feel like we had found the place we were supposed to be. Little did I know how much at “home” this neighborhood would become.
Linda and I became good friends, she is one of the smartest, most giving, kind, and friendly people you could ever meet! Besides that, her past was so very interesting in that she had worked with congressmen, for the World Bank, and had an office in the White House when Bill and Hillary Clinton were there! We became good gardening friends as well and she was President of our local gardening club. We became Red Hatters together also, and had so much shared fun! I was struck by the fact that she had six sisters and one brother! My mother had been one of six sisters and one brother as well, it intrigued me how close to each other both families were.
It wasn’t until 2011 that I began to explore the world of genealogy and develop my family tree. I was truly a newbie, and knew very little about my ancestors when I started. First, I began to see the name McLaughlin crisscrossing my family tree! I even asked Jerry to let me develop a family tree for him so that I could tell if we connected! He already had a lot of family information, but said “sure”. That exploration connected with my Hogue family of Scottish descent, although Jerry was Irish. A lot of Scots of course, settled in Ireland for a period of time before coming to America.
I was exploring and cataloging my Hogue family who came to Pennsylvania in 1747 with some moving to Ohio shortly after 1800. I came across the most wonderful book titled The Story of the Dining Fork, by Joseph T. Harrison, copyright, 1927. The Dining Fork was a valley near a branch of the Tuscarawas River in the southern part of Carroll County and northern part of Harrison County, Ohio. Harrison writes this story in such a way that it covers many historical events of the nineteenth century, at the same time, he writes so personally of the citizens and neighbors that you feel you get to know them a bit! I was intrigued and read most of the book, available from the card catalog on ancestry.com. Imagine my shock and surprise when I discovered that he wrote about neighbors there, Hogues and Voorhees! Wow! Not only were they neighbors, but they were teachers and more at the brand new Scio College built in the town, later to become a Methodist college. Linda and I are both Methodists. It took some work to link these Voorhees to Linda’s family and those particular Hogues to mine! Thanks to Linda’s helping me develop a tree of her family, and many Hogue relatives helping me with my research,  we were able to determine, that the Jacob Voorhees who moved to Ohio from New Jersey, was Linda’s third cousin! Robert S. Hogue who also taught at Scio College, was not my 4th great uncle as I had first thought , but my own cousin as well! They lived and worked together in the late 1860’s, at least 155 years ago! Now Linda and I are friends in 2015. But that was just the first time I found our families in close proximity!
Continuing to work closely with a group of family researchers, I met a woman named Dorothy Hogg Moore from Pennsylvania. In studying her family tree, and how our Hoggs/Hogues were related, I made a startling discovery–several in fact. She was a Voorhees descendant! Another connection! Her family had changed the spelling to Voorus, but her line tracked right back to Garret Voorhees, born 10 April, 1761 in Monmouth, New Jersey, USA, Linda’s fourth great grandfather! That made Linda and Dorothy fifth cousins!

Voorus sisters of Pennsylvania with Dorothy on left, namesake of Dorothy Hogg Moore

The Voorus sisters of Pennsylvania. Dorothy Voorus, fourth from left, is the one who imarried Calvin Hogg, and is the namesake for Dorothy Hogg Moore. thanks to Dorothy H. Moore for permission to use this photograph.

In Dorothy’s tree also, I discovered another amazing thing.  Now, the Hogues who are on my father’s side of the family, were the connection between the Voorhees and me, but here were the Spanglers from my mother’s family—German descent Spanglers, in the family with these Hoggs and Voorus/Voorhees families! Her Spanglers definitely traced back to my Spangler ancestors! We were kin through the Hogues and the Spanglers, and she and Linda through the Voorhees. The Spanglers joined the Voorus’s in the mid 1800’s, and the Voorus’s joined the Hoggs/Hogues around the turn of the century to 1900, so we’re talking interactions again about 100 to 150 years ago! All in one family tree with a neighbor.
But I wasn’t finished yet. My maiden name was Helen Spear Youngblood. I was tracking all my major lines back as far as I could, so the Spears of course were one of those lines. In the Spear/Spier line, I have surnames Banta, Vreeland, and VanSwol among others. It wasn’t long before I ran into the surname Voorhees again! This time it showed that my 8th great-grandfather, Henrich Jansen Spier, 1619-1679, and Linda’s 9th great-grandfather, Steven Coerte VanVoorhees, b,1600 in Hees, Drenthe, Holland, Death 16 Feb 1684 in Flatlands, Kings, New York, United States, were both in New Amsterdam together. In the mid 1600’s, it’s likely they knew each other!
As I explored this time era with this family further, I found more connections with Linda’s family! Look what I wrote her via email late one night as I was researching –this connection takes us back 250 years!
Hi Linda darlin,  As you may have seen, I just wrote a blog post yesterday on an ancestor from the Netherlands, Magdelina Van Swol who married one of my Spiers, my maiden name was Helen Spear Youngblood, same line of Spears/Spiers. Anyway, the Spiers, VanSwols, and Bantas are all contemporaries (in the mid 1600’s!) in my line, so imagine my surprise when I saw Magdalena VanVoorhees married to one of my Banta cousins! Wow! They both lived in Bergen, NJ, and went to the Dutch Reformed Church there. Magdalena (1739 – 1810)) is your 2nd cousin, 8x removed (8 generations removed). Her husband Albert Hendrickse Banta, 1728-1810, is my 2nd cousin, 7x removed! that makes their children our mutual 3rd cousins, removed 7x for you, and 6x for me! LOL We keep crossing paths in this life, we were meant to be friends and neighbors I think!
Awesome! Linda and I became neighbors in 2004, we had never met before. I had never heard the name Voorhees as far as I know. Then in 2011, I started doing genealogy and wow, Linda’s ancestors and mine certainly seem to have traveled through time together! How can we explain this?  How interesting that Linda was not my only neighbor with whom this happened! In the next couple posts, I’ll outline how I found that at least four more of my neighbors’ ancestors and my ancestors knew each other! I’m thinking of Linda’s sending me this definition of coincidence–“a miracle where God’s presence is invisible.” That idea speaks to me! We might also consider, Six Degrees of Separation, Reincarnation, and Serendipity!

LOL I love my neighbors, and my family, and isn’t genealogical research fun!




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Interesting Phenomena in our Family Trees–in Our Lives — Coincidence? Happenstance? Serendipity? Reincarnation? Six Degrees of Separation?


Now that my family tree entries have grown past 20,000, interesting facts have begun to emerge. I have found that the ancestors of some of my current neighbors, some extended family I’d only met through my research, and another blogger whom I only know through blogging —- our ancestors probably knew each other because they went to the same church, lived on the same street, were even married, or were in some way connected–as much as 150 years ago, some 200 years ago, and some as much as 400 years ago! How do we explain that we now know each other in 2015–that we never knew each other before recently, but there are these connections!?
I have been amazed, and as I’ve looked at the facts, and discussed it with folks… some say it just proves we are all related. Some think it is reincarnation. Some look at it with curiosity like I do…how can we explain it? If it were just one neighbor, we could chalk it up to serendipity, but five neighbors?!
I thought maybe I’d blog about it a bit, maybe discuss some of the examples, and see what you all think. I’d really like to know! Respectfully of course! LOL
Let me tell you why I thought of some of these concepts to possibly explain what I have found. In Wikipedia we find this statement: “Six degrees of separation is the theory that everyone and everything is six or fewer steps away, by way of introduction, from any other person in the world, so that a chain of “a friend of a friend” statements can be made to connect any two people in a maximum of six steps. It was originally set out by Frigyes Karinthy in 1929” We have this image from Wikipedia, an original work by Dannie Walker, that beautifully illustrates this concept and it sticks in my mind!

Six Degrees of Separation visualization by Dannie Walker featured in Wikipedia article about this subject. see link in accompanying post

Six Degrees of Separation visualization by Dannie Walker featured in Wikipedia article about this subject. see link in accompanying post


Also from Wikipedia, an article on Reincarnation states: “Reincarnation is the religious or philosophical concept that the soul or spirit, after biological death, can begin a new life in a new body. This doctrine is a central tenet of the Indian religions. It is also a common belief of various ancient and modern religions such as Spiritism, Theosophy, and Eckankar and is found in many tribal societies around the world, in places such as Siberia, West Africa, North America, and Australia.”

The concept of having had a past life enters into reincarnation of course. I have read in many places that people often, or usually “travel” lifetimes with the same people important to them, their tribe so to say. I once met a psychic and researcher, the Assistant Director of the Rhine Parapsychology Research Center at Duke University. Even though that was over thirty years ago, and she is deceased now, I have audio tapes from our encounter. She said I had lived several past lives and told me that my immediate family had always been with me, although in different roles and sexes. She said Max (my husband) and I were brother and sister in ancient Tibet–that we worked in a monastery. She said Max was the cook…and he is the cook now in our own family! Wow–no wonder he’s so good at it! LOL

Now I am 65, almost 66 years old. Ten years ago we moved into a brand new neighborhood, where everyone was new, not just us. We did not know anyone here, nor had we ever lived in this county, although we had earlier lived about 30 miles away from here before moving to the coast of North Carolina  for a while. When we moved here, I was not doing genealogical research. I had been an active professional psychologist and avid volunteer until age 50 when I was stopped in my tracks by heart disease. At that point I was just coping with my illness, in and out of the hospital, expecting truly to die at any moment. Meeting my new neighbors, who became close friends, made a huge difference in my life, physically, spiritually, and emotionally. Did we come to this neighborhood by coincidence? One of my neighbors, Linda Voorhees McLaughlin, reminded me of this definition of coincidence: “a miracle where God’s presence is invisible!” Isn’t that wonderful, it gives me chills, and makes me wonder about God’s hand in bringing this particular group of people together as neighbors.

It was about 2011, almost four years ago that I started doing genealogical research, starting as a way to create a gift for my last living Aunt– a family tree. The initial effort got me hooked! I was amazed, intrigued, and highly entertained by all the things I began to discover!

Before long I ran into the name of one of my neighbors in my family tree! The McLaughlin family lived across the street from us, and now I began to see that name in our family tree! Both of those intersecting lines were Scottish, my Hogues and McLaughlin. In that very same Hogue line, within the first year of my research, I began to see the names Burgess, McKay, (pronounced McCoy) Pryor, and Hamilton names associated with my Hogue family and my next door neighbors, Dora McKay Burgess and her husband John Hamilton Pryor! I kept digging. I even offered to trace the family trees of my neighbors in hopes of discovering the kinship or connection! They were kind enough to let me!

As I worked on their trees, I was surprised to learn that Jerry McLaughlin’s wife Linda had been a Voorhees by birth, because having never heard that name before moving here and becoming neighbors and friends, well yes, I found Voorhees all over my family tree! What was going on?!
Then there was my friend Lynn! We were neighbors also, friends over gardening hobbies! We were “daylily buddies”. I didn’t even know her maiden name until last year! By the time I discovered her maiden name, I was kin to her as well! Pierces, we shared a tenth great-grandfather! I shared her Baird line as well! She had moved here from Pennsylvania. While I had been in North Carolina for a while, I had grown up in Virginia, and knew no Pierces, Voorhees, Burgesses, or Pryors that I knew of! There’s more! It turns out I am kin to, or have found my ancestors working with, or going to church with at least five of my neighbors! That is NOT coincidence, but what is it?

These mysteries and others are the ones I am going to write about for the next four or more blog posts anyway. I hope that you will enjoy the exploration of all of this with me, and join in a discussion so that I can know what you think.

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