Finding Revolutionary War Ancestors


This is a rerun of my post from last year about my Revolutionary War Ancestors.

Chances are, if you read my posts, you are related in some way–so there might a Patriot ancestor in here for you.  Or, you might want to use the links to search for your own patriot ancestors.

Recently, I found digital images of the original tax lists of early Revolutionary War-era Maryland at the Maryland Sons of the American Revolution site.  Those named on these lists are usually considered patriots and eligible ancestors for Sons of the American Revolution (SAR) and Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR).  The link to those records is

Of course, the DAR has an easy-to-search system, if you have an ancestor who is already in their list of patriots.  Go to and select Ancestor Search.

Recently, at a workshop, I heard about the Society of Loyalists and Patriots to honor those who were on both sides of the Revolutionary cause!

If you can trace your lineage back to an ancestor born between 1740 to 1765, there’s a good chance you can find a Revolutionary War ancestor.  Even people born before 1740 might have served in the forces, or given supplies or other support to the colonial army; this makes them eligible ancestors for joining various societies.

Last month, I helped a client confirm not one, but a handful of Revolutionary War ancestors, making her eligible for DAR.

Happy Fourth of July to you all!


Ebay, Coffee, & Genealogy

Sometimes, random searches will reveal the most interesting details.  I’m sure most genealogists–hobbyists and professionals–are aware of sites like,, and findmypast.  There are many to choose from, some free and some subscription.  Even “google” searches for an ancestor’s name or the name and a place can bring up hits which are helpful in the search.

Even, Ebay!

Since I have been working on the McAtee family for my own family tree, I typed that name into a search at

Among the items you can buy, there are cds of singers and musicians with the name McAtee, several books and poems authored by McAtees, works by a famous ornithologist named W. L. McAtee, and photos of a jockey called Pony McAtee.  There is also a photograph of Minnie Shaffer McAtee from Petersburg, IN.  (Descendants from Pike County, Indiana, may be interested in that.)

One unique item is for sale at an antique shop in Savoy, Illinois.  It is a coffee tin from the McAtee Newell Coffee Company of Bloomington, Illinois.

The photos are from the public view at ebay.  Here is a link to the auction:  (Auction ended May 21; item sold.)


At one time, Bloomington was a booming city of coffee roasting companies.  A 2010 article by the Pantagraph details several companies, including McAtee Newell.  According to the article

“A 1927 advertisement for McAtee Newell showcased four Bloomington blends sold as differently priced brand names: Mainstay, the discount label; Inca Maiden; Rosy Morn (“Cheerful as the Morning Sun”); and the top-of-the-line Pal-O-Mine.”


Coincidentally, I had recently located a McAtee man in the census records who was, of all things, a “coffee wholesaler.”

I was looking for some missing distant cousins in the marriages of Adams County, Illinois.  The Illinois State Archives has a great database of marriages prior to 1900. One matrimonial union was for Ellis B. McAtee and Mae Farmer, August 18, 1897.

Next, census records were checked.  Ellis and Mae are listed in the 1900 Census of Quincy, Illinois, living with her parents.  Her father, John Farmer, was a traveling salesman; Ellis was a laborer at a plow factory.(1)  By 1910, the couple was living in Springfield, Illinois, where Ellis was a store keeper at a grocery store.(2) Mae died.  Ellis married to Irene Mayme Johnson about 1914 in Missouri.  They moved to Bloomington and are listed there in the 1920 through 1940 census records.  The 1930 record listed Ellis’s occupation as “Merchant, Wholesale Coffee.” (3)

Ellis Briggs McAtee died on October 3, 1956.   He was the son of William Benjamin McAtee and Minnie Briggs.  William Benjamin was the son of Benjamin Dudley McAtee of Petersburg, Menard County, Illinois.  B. Dudley McAtee was the son of John McAtee of Trigg County, Kentucky, and his first wife, Sarah Power.  John McAtee was the son of Abednego McAtee of Rowan County, North Carolina, and later Bourbon County, Kentucky.  You can find out more on Abednego and the Rowan County family in my previous posts.

I do not often think of eBay as a genealogy website, but it is useful.  There are family histories, county histories, old atlases and postcards, and sometimes even, family Bibles.  A quick search for the surnames you are seeking never hurts.




Father’ Day–review

It is Father’s Day.  I am posting links to two previous articles connected to my father, Danny L. Norton.

Dad pic

DNA unveiled that my father was not the biological son of his father, Clarence Norton.  Although there has been one 2nd cousin match, and a several 3rd and more distant, none of these matches have revealed who Dad’s “real” dad is.  I am sure he is connected to the Teel, Graves and Loder family, and there are only a few people who fit into that family organization.

Then, one day, AncestryDNA claimed Dad had a new ancestry discovery.  The top three New Ancestor Discoveries are Joseph Graves, Sophia Loder–who I am sure are Dad’s great-grandparents–and Amos Myron Bacon.

Bacon 1

This man looks a lot like my father–even enough for my five-year-old to say, “That’s Pee-paw.”  But I cannot find a logical connection to be dad’s real dad’s line, and there is a possibility Amos’s wife was related to Dad’s mother’s ancestor.

The mystery continues.

Below are two previous articles about Y-DNA testing and it’s results for my family, and a more specific post about my dad and his brothers.

Check out AncestryDNA and FamilytreeDNA for Father’s Day sales on DNA tests.


The Capture of U-505

My niece asked about some photos my grandfather took while in the Navy.  Clarence Allan Norton was in the Navy during World War II.  He was aboard the USS Pillsbury when it assisted in capturing a German unterseebot–submarine–the U-505.

The U-505 was captured by the U.S. Navy on June 4, 1944.  Grandpa was only 23 and had a new wife and baby back home in Missouri.

Grandpa postcard 01   Grandpa postcard 02

Grandpa Norton was assigned to the USS Pillsbury.  The Pillsbury’s job was to hunt down German unterseeboots–which means under-sea-boat, or submarines.  I had always heard of Grandpa’s ship capturing the German U-boat 505.  On a school field trip to Chicago, we visited the Museum of Science and Industry where U-505 sits on display.  I was very proud to tell everyone my grandpa helped capture that sub.  I’m still proud to say that!

In a photo album marked as “Clarence Norton Navy Pictures” there are photographs from the Pillsbury, and from the day of the taking of U-505.  There are also some stock postcard photos of Navy Life.  I cannot give too much information about the photos.  I do not know the names of people featured in the images.  I can only recognize my grandfather in one photo–and it was marked.  If there was any description on the back, it is given here.

Grandpa 01

Clarence A. Norton


Navy Postcards–showing the life of a sailor!


swimming 01

“Swimming Instruction”

sailors washtubs 01

“Wash Day”

sailors washing 01

“Company Clothesline”


Some random photographs of what I assume are men–and a dog–on the Pillsbury.


I do not know any names for any of the men.  It is a future research quest to learn more about the sailors on board the Pillsbury.

Could this be the Captain above?  And who is this photogenic canine on the ship?

Some additional shots that show a lot of action onboard the ship.  Then, Grandfather had these pictures of the attack on the U-505.depth charge 001

The above photograph was labeled “depth charge” on the back.

Photos of the U-505 emerging from the sea.

A line was attached to the sub.  The photo on the right is a close-up of the line. (This photo obviously was not taken by Grandpa because it is of his ship.)

German sub 003

Above, a photo labeled “German sub.”

The photos below show Germans being brought onboard the Pillsbury.  I especially notice the sailor with the gun in the bottom photo.


I am not sure where in the timeline the next photo fits, but it seems to show some men holding a Nazi flag.

Sailors Nazi Flag

The Pillsbury and other ships received a Presidential citation.  The photo below shows the men preparing for the ceremony.

Presidential citation 01

If I could go back in time, I would ask some questions.  The photos had fallen out of the album and were not in the same order that Grandma Mary originally placed them.  Grandpa Norton had his own dark room and liked to take pictures, but I wonder if he took some of these shots, or is that just what I thought I heard when I was a kid.


It is Memorial Day weekend, and it seemed appropriate to share these photos.  Perhaps someone will see them and be able to give more details about the men and the ship.

Memorial Day is a day for remembrance.  As a genealogist, I know the names of many ancestors who fought in wars–from the Revolutionary to World War II.  This year I want to remember my grandfathers.

schuylercems 028  I was lucky to have known both of my grandfathers who were in World War II–Clarence A. Norton (Navy) and Clarence Eugene Billingsley (Army).

Happy Memorial Day!


My Son, Myself, My Dad–Our Mothers

Happy Mother’s Day!


Me mom 1970

Lou-Ann Billingsley Norton holding Dann M. “Danny Mike” Norton, 1970


 Mitochondrial DNA (mt-DNA) is a specific type of DNA that is passed down from the mother to all her children.  In biology, you probably learned that men are XY and women are XX.  In men, the Y is from the dad, and the X is from the mother.  Women get one X from the mother, and the other X is from the father’s mother.  This is probably too simplistic, but I keep it simple, and this is basically correct.

 Thinking about the X chromosome that is passed down from the mother, you realize that this particular X chromosome is directly from your mother’s mother’s mother’s mother’s mother…and so on back.


x chart

What this means is that my son’s Mitochondrial DNA is not the same as mine.  He got his from his mother, and I got mine from my mother—we have different mt-DNA.  Paschal, his mother, and his maternal grandmother share the same mt-DNA.  My brother and I share with my mother and her mother.  My great-uncle, maternal grandmother Imogene’s brother, Eldon, and I also share the same mt-DNA because we descend from the same direct maternal lineage of Polly Dickson Woods—through her daughter, then granddaughter, then great-granddaughter, and so on.  I could not pass on this mt-DNA to my son, Paschal, because it must come from the mother.  If I had a sister, she would carry the mt-DNA on, but I don’t have a sister.  All my first cousins born of my mother’s sisters also share my mt-DNA, but only the female cousins will pass it on.  All my first cousins from my mother’s brothers will have their respective mothers’ mt-DNA.

Another unique condition about mt-DNA is that the last name of the giver usually changes every generation back.  For example, my surname is Norton, but my mother was a Billingsley, her mother a Beghtol, and the name changes each step back in time.  The surnames of female ancestors are often lost to us as we research farther back into history.

Here’s to some of the important mt-DNA contributors in my and my son’s genes.  Happy Mother’s Day!

Paschal’s mt-DNA from Amy Graham Norton


Amy Paschal

Paschal and Amy Graham Norton, 2016


from Jeanese Stanyer Graham from Elma Dorr Stanyer from Cecil Mae Reeves Dorr from Emma Sroade Reeves from Ann M. Baker Sroade from Ellen McCormack Baker md. Otho Baker, Dec 15, 1841 in Berkeley County, (West) Virginia. 

Dann’s mt-DNA from Lou-Ann Billingsley Norton from Imogene Beghtol Billingsley



Imogene Beghtol Billingsley (1928-2005)


from Bernice Phillips Beghtol from Kate Montooth Phillips from Mary Jane Sloan Montooth from Elizabeth Humphreys Sloan from Jane Woods Humphreys from Polly Dickson Woods wife of John Woods, married late 1790s, probably in Tennessee. 

Danny L. Norton’s mt-DNA from Mary L. Gott Norton from Ida McAtee Shirley Gott from Dicy Harper McAtee



Dicy Harper McAtee (1843-1925)

from Nancy Ratliff Harper from Charlotte White Ratliff from Mary Blackburn White said to be the daughter of Margaret Wilson Blackburn, wife of Archibald Blackburn who died 1749 in Frederick County, Virginia.


Of course, there are many more mothers in my family tree.  These named are just the women who make up the direct-line maternal link that gave the mitochondrial DNA that is part of ME! 

Gott Soldiers of World War I

Sunday, April 6, 2017, marks the 100th anniversary of the United States declaration of war against Germany which brought the US into World War I.  The Germans had been using submarines to attack any and all ships in the oceans.  If you paid attention in history class, you’ll remember the Lusitania, a British luxury liner that was torpedoed by a German U-boat, and sunk on 7 May, 1915.  There was world wide outrage.  Germany backed off their sea attacks, but eventually resumed them, threatening United States vessels, even though we were technically neutral.

Another item you might recall from history class–the “Zimmerman Telegram” in which the ambassador of Germany tempted Mexico to join with the Germans to fight against the United States if she should enter the war.  For their support, Germany would give Mexico back the southwestern states that had been lost to the US in previous wars.  This tipped the scales of the people in America to support combat.  On April 6, 1917, war was declared against Germany.  General John J. Pershing, a Missourian, would lead the charge for the United States as the commander-in-chief for the American Expeditionary Force.

Family historians will want to search the World War I Draft Registration Cards at (subscription required) or at (with free account).  An search for my maternal grandmother’s family name–GOTT–brings up the following:

Gott WW I results

My grandmother, Mary L. Gott Norton would not be born for nine more years (Sept 9, 1926), but her brothers–Loren Bently, Walter Edwin, and Albert Earl–and uncle, Ira Lemmen Gott would all sign up for the draft.  Other Gotts were cousins.

Loren Bently Gott was drafted in Montgomery County, Iowa.  His World War I Draft Registration Card looks like this:

Gott Loren WW I.jpg U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2005. Original data: United States, Selective Service System. World War I Selective Service System Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration. M1509, 4,582 rolls. Imaged from Family History Library microfilm.

Loren Gott was the son of George Wasington Gott and his first wife, Eliza Malinda Shirley.  In 1917–the year of the draft–he was single and working for Ed and Gordon Hays of Stanton, Iowa.  The card describes Loren as “tall, slender” with “blue” eyes and “Dark” hair.

He looked like this.


Loren Gott

Loren Bently Gott (1896-1950)

Loren died on Sept 25, 1950.  His profile at Findagrave states he was in the 349th Infantry of the 88th Division, US Army.  Wikipedia says they were called the “Blue Devils” and served in Alsace, France.  (In World War II, the 349th served in Italy.)


Walter Edwin Gott was the son of George Washington Gott and his second wife, Alphrettia Provance.  Walter also served in World War I.  He is the middle man in the photo.  We have no idea who the other two men are.


Walter Gott

Walter Gott, U.S. Army


In honor of another World War I relative, I relate what I remember about Ollie Eber Vancil.  I never knew him, but he was the husband of my great-great-aunt Agnes Phillips Vancil.  He was a Private in Company B, 102nd Illinois Infantry.  He was a prisoner of war.  I have always heard that whatever torture he endured caused his hair to turn completely white.  Link to his profile at Findagrave

World War I Draft Registration Cards are valuable records for the family historian.  Wikipedia states that there were three stages of the draft, beginning on June 5, 1917.  The initial registration was for men ages 21-31.  A second draft on June 5, 1918 was for men who had turned 21 after the first registration day.  Then another on August 24, 1918 to catch those who had missed the first two.  A final registration on September 12, 1918 was required for men 18-45.  (

My great-grandfather, Clarence A. Billingsley filled out his draft registration card, but he was married with young children.  He did not serve.  Later, in World War II, his sons, Eugene and Rude, would.

WW I Billingsley Clarence

Another great-grandfather, Lawrence Beghtol’s draft card.

WW I Beghtol Lawrence

Registration State: Illinois; Registration County: Schuyler; Roll: 1614576


A final note about General John J. Pershing.  He was born in Linn County, Missouri, and lived near Chillicothe.  When a child, one of his teachers was George Asberry Smith, who was married to Mary Ellen Norton, a sister to my great-great-great-grandfather, William Norton.

The last veterans of World War I died in 2012 and 2011–they would’ve been well over 100.  It is our duty to keep the memory of what they were fighting against, and what they were fighting for–100 years later, when many have been forgotten.

Recently, the Indiana Military Museum in Vincennes, Indiana, hosted a World War I reenactment.  The museum is an amazing place!



What’s happening @ DannMNortonGenealogy?

               My father’s 70th birthday was observed recently.  Since finding out that he was not the biological son of Grandpa Norton, I had hoped to have some sort of answer.  I have narrowed down one set of great or great-great-grandparents, and AncestryDNA says that Myron Bacon—a man who looks like my dad—is one of his ancestors.  But I could not find a suitable candidate for dad’s real dad among that man’s descendants.  Am I one generation off?

                I am “On the Clock” for finishing my requirements for my credentials with the Board of Certified Genealogists.  I research so much, and I mean…research.  I don’t just look up information online.  I go to the library and look up books, I call distant libraries and get pages scanned, I order microfilm and look at original records.  I may look at someone else’s research (and online “research” is most often copy-and-pasted plagiarized work from someone else) but I do not trust it unless I can repeat the research steps that brought that person to his or her conclusion.  If the research steps cannot be duplicated—why?  Did that person have information that is unavailable today?  Did that person misinterpret the evidence?  Did that person just guess?  I’ve seen found all three scenarios, and I always defer to the records.

                People who have the same name!  This is a tough one in genealogy, especially when there are few records to go on, such as in 1600s and 1700s Virginia and Maryland.  If you only use census records, you would not be able to differentiate men of the same name, but one must dig for tax records and land records.  If you can find court records and depositions, they could have great genealogical information within.  I have taken on the challenge of separating men (and women) with the same or similar names, and I’ve been able to definitively separate records to specific persons when enough evidence is studied.

                I watched the opening season episode of “Who Do You Think You Are” on TLC.  The commercials make me cringe, a little.  The twin men who typed in their parents names and bing, bing, bing, these little leaves pop up—YOU HAVE TO VERIFY THOSE SHAKY LEAVES!  I see many leaves that link to a man with the same name as another  man, but it’s the wrong record/wrong person!  I recently posted to the Penelope Stout Descendants Facebook page this comment:

                Yes, I have used some hints and have been pleasantly surprised. I love at-your-fingertips                      access to KY death records, or Maryland register of wills, etc. (I don’t know if newbies                            realize that in the  old days we had to write a letter asking for the record from the clerk,                        wait for the reply with a  yes/no they have the record, then send another letter to get it. OR                  arrange your vacation so you could flip through huge, dusty books in the basement of the                    county clerk’s office. Still my favorite way to research!)           

                What saddens me about the hints and the copy-paste genealogy, is that new researchers                     are not seeking out the veteran researchers who found those records the hard way, vetting                   each one with evidence. And if you, as that veteran researcher, tells the newbie, “Hey, that                   record does not apply to your ancestor,” the newb says, “Well, I got a hint on Ancestry.”  My                 30+ years digging and finding answers no one else has known challenged by an algorithm!

                But, as we veterans embrace the social networks–this Facebook page, our blogs–and                         continue printing articles in Genealogical newsletters and journals, we will get the right                       answers out there!

                 So, when you start searching your family tree, please, ask if there is someone in your family who has worked on it before.

                I have a distant cousin who has incorrect information on her tree.  She lives too far away to have ever made it to a family reunion—where I might have shared the correct information—and she does not know me from Adam—nor how long I’ve studied and researched these lines.  I try to let people know what is right and what is wrong, and I send information about the records which prove it.  But…people who think they can “bing, bing, bing” their family tree online aren’t always concerned about the records.

                Someone  on another Facebook page bemoaned that fact that missing records make it hard to verify information.  That is partly true.  I’ve honestly never run into a situation of absolutely NO records for a person, except in cases of unknown wives and daughters.  I’ve had subjects missing in a census record, but never in every single governmental or church-related record.  Think about it—if there are NO records for a person, then how do you even know he or she existed?  Now, I know there are brick walls—I have them too—but that is often a matter of finding the right record in the right place .

           Recently, though, I learned there was a man named Charles McAtee, son of Colmore Wade McAtee of Morrow County, Ohio.  There is no direct record of Charles.  His name never appears on a census record because he married after 1840 (when he might’ve been listed as a head of household) and died before 1850, when his name would’ve been on that census.  His marriage record is lost.  The best I knew was that there was a male in Colmore’s household—but no name was given.  It’s easy to assume these tick marks on early census records are unknown children who have died young.  BUT…Charles’s name was written down—in the probate papers of his uncle—but only indirectly.  You see, the great-niece (Jane McAtee Fryer) of Lloyd S. McAtee, was named as a heir to her great-uncle, In that record, it states Jane was the was the daughter of Charles McAtee, a brother to Lloyd.  Then, searching Jane McAtee Fryer—we find her and her mother under the name McTee and McAffee.  A genealogist really has to be looking for every possibility.  Charles made no records of his own—at least none that have been uncovered—but he was named in records.   There was evidence of his existence!

                 It is when there is NO EVIDENCE at all, that one might need to consider that the information you have is made up—or slightly off—especially if there are other records that suggest something else.  (I discussed that in an earlier post about the Rowan Co McAtees.)

                DNA remains somewhat elusive to me.  Waiting for matches that will knock down our own family brick walls!

                And recently, I got KUDOS from the editor of the Maryland Genealogical Society Newsletter, where I was recently published. The editor sent me a message from Col. Joe Holland, a subscriber, who writes:

                “The article about Patrick McAtee/MacAtee, written by Dann Norton, was                                   especially insightful and it has helped me deepen my personal genealogy, as                             Patrick MacAtee was an ancestor of        mine. In my few years of Society                                     membership, the extensive evidence laid out by Mr. Norton      was the first time I,                 as a consumer of genealogy, have been able to directly apply scholarly   research of                 the journal to my family tree. “

I picked up a new client last week, so….back to the research!