52 Ancestors

– First –

Week 1 features John Nation of Rowan County, North Carolina, my first Nation ancestor to settle in America. Follow John’s journey from indentured service to the Beakes family to land ownership in the colonies.

– Challenge –


Week 2 is a call to all genealogists and family historians to share a lost family photo. The only clue? One of the Peterson sisters wrote, on the back of the photo, Mother Lodie Don. This week’s post was featured on Amy Johnson Crow’s 52 Ancestors favorites list!

– Unusual Name –

Week 3 is the story of my great-great-grandmother, Celestia Melvina (Merrill) Peterson. Celestia means “heavenly,” and she definitely lived up to the name.

– I’d Like to Meet –

…my great-great-grandmother’s mystery brother! Week 4 features a letter written to Mary (Witkowski) Marczynski by a brother I didn’t know she had. He signed off with Your Brother, and I’m still searching for clues about his identity.

– At the Library –

Week 5 is a detour to showcase my own story. I reflect on my visit to the Trinity College Library in Dublin, Ireland two summers ago, and I walk you through each part of the exhibit.

– Surprise –

Week 6 is all about DNA! Right before the holidays, I uploaded my raw DNA data from AncestryDNA to MyHeritage, and this post details the surprises and discrepancies in my results.

– Love –

For Week 7, I researched a potential connection between my Younglove ancestors and Jane Austen. It was the perfect topic for Valentine’s Day!

– Family Photo –

Week 8 features the first photo I’ve found of my Applegate ancestors; I’ve finally found my ancestor look-alikes in my family tree.

– At the Courthouse –

Week 9 tells the harrowing story of John Hawkins’ arrest during the War of 1812 for refusing to bear arms. He was a Quaker–and was committed to peace–and his friends and neighbors fought his arrest in court.

– Bachelor Uncle –

Week 10 features the only bachelor uncle in my family tree: Serafin Zielinski. According to my grandmother, he was quite the catch, but circumstances outside of his control kept him from marrying.

– Large Family –

My great-grandmother, Hattie (Marczynski) Zielinski, had seven full siblings: Viola, Agnes, Eddie, Vicky, Tessie, Blanche and Pat. Week 11 tells the story of these eight close-knit sisters and brothers who grew up in the Fourth Ward of Dunkirk, New York.

– 12 –

For Week 12, I traced back twelve generations to Tristram Hull, a member of Myles Standish’s militia in Plymouth Colony and, later, a captain of The Catch and Hopewell.

– In the Paper –

Week 13 is all about Peter Tofil: his political campaigns in the city of Dunkirk generated a lot of news coverage, and his every move–from running for the Board of Water Commissioners to spraining his ankle before work–made the Dunkirk Evening Observer.

– Brick Wall –

Week 14 features a story seven years in the making: I take you along with me as I trace my great-great-grandfather’s paper trail back to Mecklenburg, Germany and finally find his parents’ names.

– DNA –


My great-great-grandmother, Victoria (Drag) Kuznicki, has always been a mystery; that is, until a few weeks ago, when a new AncestryDNA cousin match led me to her sister in Aliquippa, Pennsylvania. This week’s post was featured on Amy Johnson Crow’s 52 Ancestors list!

– Out of Place –

Week 16 features Adair “Addie” Mudd, my great-great-grandfather’s first wife (who we never knew about!). This week’s post is a bit out of place–some would say that I’m not really related to Addie at all–but I’m hoping to find a cousin who can share more insights into her past.

– At Worship –

Thomas Beals, my 7th great-grandfather, arrived in America aboard the Welcome with William Penn; in the years following, he traveled throughout the Northwest Territory and found himself at odds with the government on more than one occasion. Read all about Thomas’ adventures (and misadventures) in this week’s post!

– Road Trip –

This week, I’m using Google Tour Builder to tell my ancestor’s story. Follow Casimir Marczynski’s journey from Poland to New York and learn how to make your own virtual tours–it’s the perfect medium for genealogy!

– Nurture –

Week 19 features Betsy Maria (Penfield) Cook’s letter to her son toward the end of her life; in it, she expresses her hope that the Civil War will be over soon–allowing him to come home–and laments the loss of her other son to the same fight. It’s an uplifting Mother’s Day story you won’t want to miss!

– Nature –

Week 20 features the other Nathan Hawkins of Wayne County, Indiana; he sold his land and sawmill to John F. Miller in 1880, and it’s since been turned into Glen Miller Park–right at the heart of the city of Richmond. It’s the perfect story for this week’s nature theme.

– Military –

This week’s Memorial Day post is a tale of two brothers: one returned home from the Civil War in 1865, and one was lost along the way. Read all about Wesley and Arthur Cook’s March to the Sea in this week’s story!

– At the Cemetery –

Genealogists can have a favorite cemetery, right? Week 22 features Laona Cemetery and the four generations of Merrills and Petersons–from Lyman Burton Merrill in 1890 to Margaret Isabelle Peterson in 1993–buried there.

– 52 Ancestors in 2018 –

Want more 52 Ancestors stories? Check out last year’s list, featuring teacups, Tolstoy and five bearded Bonds.