The First of Many Brick Walls …

In 1996, after learning some what I believed about my heritage to be untrue – (What?  I’m Not German?) I decided to start doing some research into my genealogy. I wrote down what (I thought) I knew, based on memories of going through old photo albums with my  mother when I was a teen.

ellen and flora.1jpg
Ellen and Flora (date unknown)

I contacted my mom’s older sister Ellen as well.  Aunt Ellen was considered the Family Historian. She sent me what information she had on the Gardner-Roberts families, but not much about the Gerald family members.

Not much was available online back then and I was still working full time, so I wasn’t able to visit many libraries or archives.  I was limited to the CDs that came with the Family Tree Maker software I purchased. Needless to say, progress was very slow.

In 1999, after my Aunt Ellen passed away, I was contacted by her friend and avid genealogist Jean (Grange) Sawyer, who was able to provide me with a lot of new information and sources of information about both my Gardner and Gerald families.

But, despite all the information I’d been given, one piece remained elusive – Who were the parents of my 3rd Great Grandfather – George Washington Gardner.

He seemed to appear out of thin air – no one knew who his parents were. There were hints, such as on the 1850 Federal census there was a Lydia Humphrey living with the family.  Could she be his mother?  It was known that she wasn’t related to Tabitha, George’s wife, so who was she?

1850 Census

There was no Birth Record to be found and the Death Record was somewhat confusing – what was the name of the town where George was born?  Was it in Maine?  Was it in Massachusetts, as some other family members thought?  Where was he born?

Fast Forward to to 2017.  I’ve now spent close to 25 years researching my family tree.  I’ve retired from my IT job and get to spend my days & nights doing what I love – Genealogy research!  I spend my days still working with computers, but now I do it on a volunteer basis for a Genealogy website –, where I host the State of Michigan web page and 5 county web pages.

Genealogy seems to have become an obsession to many, many people, and there are now vast amounts of information available online (not all valid, however!!) I’ve learned many techniques for interpreting historical records, but still no concrete information about my 4th Great Grandparents, until one day…

While researching data for one of my county web pages, I came across an article that talked about how many times names and places on the Federal Census reports were written phonetically because the census taker didn’t know how to spell the names.  Very interesting information, and something to keep in mind as I transcribed data to my web pages.

In September, 2017, I spent a week in various parts of the Beautiful State of Maine, a retirement gift from my family. While I was there, I was researching my Maine roots, which I do every chance I get. While in the Tobey cemetery in Canaan, Maine, researching Fitzgerald graves and looking for possible ancestors, I came across a Gardner grave.  I didn’t recognize the name and didn’t think much more about it, as I was concentrating on Geralds/Fitzgeralds.

Death Record1After returning home, and I was updating my Gerald family information with what I had found in Canaan, I came across the notes I had made when I again tried to interpret where my 3rd Great Grandfather had been born… Could he have been born in Canaan? At this same time, I received a text message from my cousin Alissa Noble, who is also a descendant of George W. Gardner.  She had just realized that perhaps George W. was born in Canaan and that the name of the town on his Death Record had been written phonetically – Kainon, to mean Canaan, Maine.

gardner burrill marriageExcited that someone else thought that maybe he was from Canaan, I immediately started to search online records for Gardner’s in Canaan, Somerset, Maine. I added to some of the searches the name of Lydia, in case she was perhaps related to George. What I found was a marriage record for a DAVID GARDNER and a LYDIA BURRILL in Canaan, Maine in 1806. The right place, the right names, the right dates.

How do I prove that this marriage is for my 4th Great Grandparents and George Washington Gardner’s parents?

AncestryDNA – both Cousin Alissa and I have taken the AncestryDNA test and both of us have matches to members of the Burrill family through Lydia (Burrill) Gardner Humphrey.

There are still brick walls in this branch of my family.  Who are David Gardner’s parents?  There are three daughters under the age of 10 listed for David Gardner in the 1810 Census.  What are their names?  Did the survive childhood?

I love that genealogy allows me to solve a puzzle and at the same time present a new puzzle to solve.





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