Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

Posts Tagged ‘genealogy research

Free Weekend

with 6 comments

Happy last day of 2022! Next year will be an odd year. No, literally, 2023 is an odd number. Duh.

To all you history buffs and genealogy fans out there, this weekend, the Star Tribune newspaper archives are free to view! What’s the first thing I checked? “John W. Hays,” of course.

What I found wasn’t new information for me, since that is also the name of my great-grandfather whom I have searched for many times before, but I had forgotten about this wonderful morsel.

Great-grandpa was a trailblazing cyclist.

08 Sep 1900, 10 – Minneapolis Daily Times at Star Tribune (Minneapolis – St. Paul)

The article was published in 1900 looking back at an event that occurred in 1886 when they road the giant 56-inch wheel.

I have cycling in my blood.

Speaking of wheels, the father of that 1880s John W. Hays was none other than my great-great-grandfather Stephen who lived in Pierce County, WI, and made wagon wheels.

I am such a product of my ancestors.

I hope you will click the link above and check out the article that was beneath that old photo. And, if you are interested in what was in the Minneapolis newspapers going back to 1867, it’s free this weekend at

Happy odd New Year tomorrow!



Written by johnwhays

December 31, 2022 at 10:54 am

Comparing Generations

with 2 comments

In my random occasions dabbling with research into my family ancestry, I’ve too often limited my focus to a narrow few surnames at the expense of so many others. The case of not finding any evidence of a person I’m seeking should be enough to push me on to other lines of the family, but sometimes I can’t get myself to give up.

Something that has helped me to appreciate how many people’s blood we share is the display of doubling numbers for each generation above us in our family trees.

  • 2 parents
  • 4 grandparents
  • 8 great grandparents
  • 16 great-great grandparents
  • 32 great-great-great grandparents
  • 64 great-great-great-great grandparents

I’ve got names for all 16 great-great grandparents, but only 25 of 32 third-great grandparents.

It can get confusing sometimes to keep track of generations and relationships, especially when parent and children names can be the same or very similar. Since I was listing out the generations, I decided to make note of the range of birth years for each.

It’s interesting to see how much the range of years increases with each generation, but understandable with the increased number of people involved.

Cyndie and I can serve as an example of how the difference of birth year can be so great within a familial generation. There is a 17-year difference in the birth years of our parents. Cyndie was the first-born child of 20-year-old parents and I was the fifth-born child of 40-year-old parents.

The birth date ranges of my ancestors shows that one of my 3rd-great grandparents was born after one of my 2nd-great grandparents. No wonder I can get confused sometimes about who is who and in which generation they belong.

It’s a mind boggling trip to contemplate being equal parts of 32 or 64 people in a generation.

It would be a shame to neglect any one part of our history when looking at the rest. My next priority on the genealogy puzzle is to identify those seven missing 3rd-great grandparents. From the looks of it, has hints waiting to be investigated on several of them.



Written by johnwhays

February 11, 2022 at 7:00 am

But Wait

leave a comment »

Sometimes, it’s not what you think. When searching for something that continues to elude discovery because it is not where you expect it to be, one strategy is to go back to the start. I did just that yesterday and, although I may have ended up even farther from what I am ultimately seeking, I gained valuable new insight.

Since my search for the birth record in Hinesburg, VT of my 3rd-great grandfather John Hays (b.1795) was exclusively based on information taken from his youngest son’s death record, I decided to revisit that source death record to confirm I wasn’t misremembering anything.

Oftentimes, the information collected and entered onto the family tree record becomes gospel despite each tidbit of detail for each record having variable degrees of accuracy. It pays to keep in mind the fragility of the whole collection.

I looked up the actual record from which I picked up the belief my ancestor was born in Vermont.

Upon a fresh viewing, the first thing that caught my eye was that both parents are shown with the birthplace of Hinesburg. I have other sources about Laura Kittle that tell me that is not accurate.

It’s like having the wrong piece of a jigsaw puzzle in place that makes it impossible to find any adjacent pieces that will fit.

If it isn’t accurate for Laura, then what makes me think it is correct for John? Who provided that information upon John B.’s death? Why was that thought to be true? Something must be behind the thought of Hinesburgh being the place of birth. What could that be?

I have found a surprisingly thorough history of Hinesburgh, Vermont that makes the place sound barely established when I am trying to envision my ancestors being there. The first (colonial) birth was noted as happening in 1785 and there were no doctors yet. Despite there being very few families noted in the history of this community around that time, there is absolutely no mention of the name Hay(e)s anywhere.

Next, I revisited the details I’ve collected about John(b.1795) and tried finding notice of his death in 1840. I learned that death records weren’t kept before 1869 in Ontario. However, I did rediscover one of his daughters (under her married name) was buried in the same cemetery near Vankleek Hill.

Maybe, with her married name, I can find her death record to see if that one lists the birthplace of her parents. Of course, think about it. I really am relying on whoever the survivors were to report this information at the time of death. Genealogy research is one endless puzzle.

I think I’ll go finish the jigsaw currently on the old family table and get away from the online searching for a day.



Written by johnwhays

January 30, 2022 at 11:25 am