Sunday, September 16, 2018

Proving the Generations 3: My Mom

In the first post of this series, Proving the Generations, I wrote how my goal is to use the Genealogical Proof Standard to show my ancestry through my great-great-grandparents' generation.

In this third post, I will be proving that my mother, Faith Lillian Valk, is the daughter of William Valk, Jr. and Ruth Lillian Hoekstra.  Because my mother is living, I will not be providing as many details or citations in this post as I will in the posts where all the ancestors are deceased.

My mother, around 3 1/2 years of age.

My mother was born in Michigan during World War II.  Her father was serving in the U.S. Army, and so was not present at the time of her birth.  My grandmother told me her memories of my mother's birth, and I have numerous photos of my mother with her mother from infancy through adulthood.  Because my grandparents divorced when my mother was 22 months old, I have not seen photographs of my mother in infancy or young childhood with her father.  However, I have in my possession professional photographs taken of my mother in infancy and early childhood with "To Daddy, from Faith" captioned on the back, which I received from my grandfather's widow and son after his death.

The following documents were created at or near the time of my mother's birth:

  1. A Certificate of Birth issued by the Michigan Department of Health, Bureau of Records and Statistics, stating my mother's full name, date of birth, place of birth (hospital and city).  It lists her parents as "William Jr. Valk" and Ruth Lillian Hoekstra, their ages, and their birthplaces.
  2. A Notification of Birth Registration issued by the U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, stating my mother's full name, date and place of birth, and listing her parents as "William Jr. Valk" and Ruth Lillian Hoekstra.
  3. My maternal great-grandmother, Lillian Fern (Strong) Hoekstra, mentioned my mother's birth and her parents' names in two places in her Family Record book.  This information would have been written between the time of my mother's birth and 10 September 1967, when my great-grandmother passed away.  Although this information may not have been written close to the time of the event, it was written by her maternal grandmother who lived in the same city and would have had personal knowledge about the birth of my mother, her first grandchild.

Additionally, my mother's DNA matches her parents' biological relatives on both sides of the family.  Her paternal cousin (a daughter of her father's brother), shares 758 centimorgans (cM) of DNA, which is consistent with a first cousin relationship.  She also shares DNA with numerous 2nd - 3rd cousins on both her father's and mother's sides, consistent with the estimated relationship ranges.

Finally, I am providing some information on my parents' marriage, even though it is not used to prove parentage.  My parents' Marriage License/Certificate of Marriage document states my parents' full names, age at the date of the license (issued four days before their wedding), residences, full birth places, and names of their parents: Robert Lewis [sic] Robbins, Jeanne Marie Holst, William Valk Jr., and Ruth Lillian Hoekstra.  The license half is signed by the deputy county clerk.  The certificate half is signed by the officiating minister, best man, and matron of honor, and gives the date and location of their marriage.  I have in my possession professional and informal photographs of the event, an invitation to the wedding from their scrapbook, and copies of articles from the local newspaper regarding their engagement and their wedding.

My mother is the daughter of William Valk, Jr. and Ruth Lillian Hoekstra.


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Sunday, September 09, 2018

Proving the Generations 2: My Dad

In the first post of this series, Proving the Generations, I wrote how my goal is to use the Genealogical Proof Standard to show my ancestry through my great-great-grandparents' generation.

In this second post, I will be proving that my father, Bryan Henry Robbins, is the son of Robert Louis Robbins and Jeanne Marie Holst (born Jane Marie York).  To begin, I must clarify that my paternal grandfather's middle name was often spelled Lewis, for his mother's maiden surname, and it is likely that his middle name was misspelled on his birth certificate.  I must also clarify that my paternal grandmother was an adoptee, born Jane Marie York, whose name was legally changed at adoption to Jeanne Marie Holst when she was 16, although she had been using the latter name as a foster child since she was three years old.  More details on my grandmother's birth and adoption will be provided in the fifth post of this series.

My dad at five years old.

Because my father is living, I will not be providing as many details or citations in this post as I will in the posts where all the ancestors are deceased.  My father was born in Canada during World War II to American parents.  My grandfather was stationed at a U.S. Army Air Corps base in the Province of Alberta, and my grandmother and my aunt, not quite two years old, were living on base with him.  My grandmother had followed my grandfather quite literally around the continent to the various bases he was assigned at.  These are the stories told to me by my grandparents and aunt (who has a few early memories of these times), and they are backed up by a photo album my paternal great-grandmother put together as a birthday gift for her son, my grandfather.  Additionally, I have a photo of my expectant grandmother walking down the street of the city where my father was born, holding my toddler aunt's hand; this photo was taken by a street photographer, a common occurence during World War II.  I also have numerous photos of my father with his parents, from infancy to adulthood.

My father was named for his grandfathers, William Bryan Robbins, Sr. and Alfred Henry Holst (my grandmother's adoptive father), showing indirectly that he is related to his parents, and thus grandparents.

There were several documents created at or near the time of my father's birth which state his birth date and location of birth:

  1. His Certificate of Birth issued by the Province of Canada, stating his birth date, city of birth, his parents' names (Robert Louis Robbins and Jeanne Marie Holst) and their respective birth places (Muskegon Heights, Michigan, U.S.A. and Goodrich, Michigan, U.S.A.).
  2. A baby announcement in his baby book stating his birth day of the week, birth date (month and day, but interestingly, not the year), time of birth, "U.S. Station Hospital" and the city, province, and country, and signed by the attending doctor and nurse.  It appears this baby announcement may have been provided by the hospital where he was born.
  3. Within a few weeks of my father's birth, my grandfather submitted a Report of Change of Status and Address to the War Department.  This report gives my father's birth date and birth location, my grandfather's full name, Army serial number, grade, and military mailing address, and allowed for an upgrade in my grandfather's family allowance from the military.
  4. Although it was created when he was 16 years old and not at or near the time and place of birth, my dad's Certificate of Citizenship from the Department of Justice, Immigration and Naturalization Service gives his date and country of birth, and his current residence, which was known to be the same residence as my grandparents.  Citizenship is issued in the United States by the federal government only after careful examination of documents and the participating parties.
  5. While the Certificate of Citizenship does not list my father's parents' names, the Summons for Interview for Certificate of Citizenship, dated a couple of weeks previous to the certificate date and mailed to the residence where my father and grandparents lived, stated my father had to appear at the Office of the County Clerk with both parents.  Since my grandparents had to attend the interview, it stands to reason that the information on the certificate would be accurate.

Additionally, my father's DNA matches his parents' biological relatives on both his father's and mother's sides of the family.  His paternal aunt, my paternal grandfather's sister, shares 1,842 centimorgans (cM) of DNA with my father, which is consistent with an aunt/nephew relationship.  Dad also shares 325 and 255 cM with a paternal second cousin and maternal second cousin, respectively, which is consistent with a 1st-3rd cousin relationship.

Finally, I am providing some information on my parents' marriage, even though it is not used to prove parentage.  My parents' Marriage License/Certificate of Marriage document states my parents' full names, age at the date of the license (issued four days before their wedding), residences, full birth places, and names of their parents: Robert Lewis [sic] Robbins, Jeanne Marie Holst, William Valk Jr., and Ruth Lillian Hoekstra.  The license half is signed by the deputy county clerk.  The certificate half is signed by the officiating minister, best man, and matron of honor, and gives the date and location of their marriage.  I have in my possession professional and informal photographs of the event, an invitation to the wedding from their scrapbook, and copies of articles from the local newspaper regarding their engagement and their wedding.

My father is the son of Robert Louis Robbins (a.k.a. Robert Lewis Robbins) and Jeanne Marie Holst, (a.k.a. Jane Marie York).


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Sunday, September 02, 2018

Proving the Generations: My Parents and I

For some time now, I've been following the genealogy blog of a Dutch Facebook friend and accredited genealogist, Yvette Hoitink, who is using the Genealogical Proof Standard to attempt to prove that she is descended from Eleanor of Aquitaine, her supposed 26th-great-grandmother.

As I've been reading these fascinating posts which Yvette publishes once a month, going back one generation at a time, I've been thinking, "I should be doing something like this to show that I've accurately traced back my ancestry!"  My goal at this time is to work all my lines through my great-great-grandparents' generation, which will be a total of 31 posts.

So this is my first post in this series, which proves that I am my parents' biological child.  Because my parents are both living, I'm not going to provide the full details that I would in a post where all ancestors are deceased.

A photo taken of me at one week old, held by my mother.

I have five documents that were created or published at or close to the time of my birth which list my parents as Bryan Robbins and Faith (Valk) Robbins and give my birth place and birth date.  These documents include:
  1. My official birth certificate from the State of Alaska, with the signatures of my mother and the attending physician. This certificate also gives the age of my parents at the time of my birth, and their general birth locations.
  2. The Certificate of Birth from the hospital in which I was born, signed by the attending physician. It also has my footprints and my mother's thumbprints, and gives my parents' birth dates and specific birth locations (cities of birth).
  3. The certificate from my parents' church enrolling me in the Cradle Roll of the church, at the time of my Dedication to God at one week old (a religious event similar to christenings in other churches).
  4. A birth announcement published in the local newspaper of my mother's hometown of Grand Rapids, Kent Co., Michigan.
  5. Birth announcements handmade by my mother and mailed out to family and friends, one of which is in my baby book.

In addition, there are a couple of photos of my expectant mother taken during the time she would have been pregnant with me; many photographs taken of me at a very early age with my parents (I was the first child and first grandchild!); many cards of congratulations about my birth kept in scrapbooks and my baby book by my mother; a letter my dad wrote to his parents shortly after my birth; stories my mother told me about the day I was born; and my own earliest memories of my parents dating back to when I was 18 months old (yes...I remember seeing the local school on fire and hearing the town siren!) and 27 months old (accompanying my father to the local airstrip to pick up a wreath of flowers someone had shipped to be placed on the grave of my infant brother).

My parents and me, when I was about three weeks old.  I believe my maternal grandmother took this photo, as she had come to Alaska from Michigan to help my mother care for me.

However, documents, photographs, and memories do not provide 100% proof of biological  parentage.  After all, there are many stories of secret adoptions, babies being switched at birth, and other examples of Misattributed Parental Events (MPEs) that one occasionally reads about. While I truly had no doubts about my parentage, I did want to have my parents test their DNA for genealogical purposes, especially since my paternal grandmother was an adoptee.  My parents agreed to test through FamilyTreeDNA, and the results show my parents and I each share 3,384 centimorgans--or 50%--of our DNA, which is consistent with the amount of DNA shared in a parent/child relationship.

So there you have it:  I am my parents' biological daughter! 

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