Dia de los Muertos 2020: Remembering Lost Ancestors Now Found!

After watching the movie Coco a couple of years ago, I found the idea of remembering your ancestors on Dia de los Muertos very appealing. The gist of the movie was that if everyone living had forgotten you, your spirit could not visit on the November holiday.

Theatrical release poster depicting the characters Coco, Dante the dog, Miguel, H├ęctor, Ernesto, and Imelda when viewing clockwise from the bottom left around the white Day of the Dead-styled guitar. The guitar has a calavera-styled headstock with a small black silhouette of Miguel, who is carrying a guitar, and Dante (a dog) at the bottom. The neck of the guitar splits the background with their village during the day on the left and at night with fireworks on the right. The film's logo is visible below the poster with the "Thanksgiving" release date.

For me, as the family genealogist, I’m sometimes the only one who does know about certain relatives or ancestors. When I fill in a missing block on the family tree, I feel like I am bringing that ancestor’s memory back to the family–and now he or she may visit on Dia delos Muertos. Here is my article from 2018. (I missed last year!)

And here are the lost, but now found, ancestors for 2020.

Georg Heinrich Beghtol

My maternal grandmother’s maiden name was Beghtol–pronounced Becktol, and sometimes spelled that way. It is a family I’ve researched from the beginning of my genealogy pursuits starting about 1983. I quickly traced our family to a John Beghtol born about 1786 in Pennsylvania. A record in Breckinridge Co, Kentucky, naming John as an orphan of Henry Beghtol gave me his father’s name. Brick wall! No information on Henry’s wife or his parents. I had my great-uncle, Eldon Beghtol, do a y-DNA test and the Family Finder at FamilytreeDNA. We had matches to other Beghtols, but everyone was at that same brick wall. There was a clue, though; in the autosomal test, there were matches to the name Pectol. In 2018, a y-DNA match to Don Pectol proved that the Pectols and the Beghtols came from a common ancestor on the patrilineal branch of the tree–father’s father’s father…and so on. The Pectols were able to trace their pedigree to Frederick Pectol, whose baptismal record in Frederick County, Maryland, calls him Johann Freidrich Beghtols, son of Henrich, baptized 31 October 1746 (274 years ago today!). On 11 August 1751, Georg Heinrich Bechtoldt, son of Heinrich and Anna Barbara, was baptized at the same church. Georg Heinrich appears to be my ancestor, Henry Beghtol–Germans often go by their middle name. Henry moved to Berkeley County, Virginia, then is found on the Oaths of Fidelity in Ohio County in 1778, listed as Henry Pecktell. He is listed in Washington County tax lists–under various spellings–Payhitill, Bigdal, Boughdall, and more–until he finally appears on the list of original settlers in Losantiville, Hamilton County, Ohio, in 1789. The migration and timeline fit for my ancestor, Henry.

Welcome home, Heinrich and Anna Barbara Beghtol, you are remembered. (Maybe next year, we can put Henry’s (Georg Heinrich’s) wife on the proverbial ofrenda!

Sadly, our Y-DNA match, Don Pectol, passed away unexpectedly earlier this year. In our couple of years of correspondence, I could tell he was friendly and passionate. Don is definitely not forgotten by his loving family.

James and Elizabeth Duval

Linda Gott Douglas traced my paternal grandmother’s family–the Gotts–for years before I started doing genealogy. My correspondence with her began back in 1983 or 1984. She knew my great-grandpa, George W. Gott. We knew his parents–Robert Gott and Louisa Jane Miles. Research has connected Louisa to Benjamin Miles and Patsy Stout of Shelby County, Kentucky, and Benjamin is listed in the Revolutionary War Pension application records for John Miles and his wife, Mary Polly Duval. Brick Wall! No information on Polly’s parents could be found. There were a couple of big books about the Duval and Duvall families. There were two main families–both French–in the early colonial days. No one had our Polly.

After several DNA matches started popping up linking my father’s DNA to descendants of James and Elizabeth Duval of Culpeper County, Virginia. Culpeper County was the right place, but I had never found any records on James. I looked again, and the probate records for Culpeper County were available at Familysearch.org, viewable at a Family History Center or affiliate library. I got to Willard Library in Evansville, Indiana, as soon as I could…and in the probate records, I found John Miles listed…buying a slave, Cate, from the estate. His brother, Ruben, who married Elizabeth Duval, was also listed.

Culpeper Co VA Probate Book D, p 422

This find with the DNA makes good evidence that Polly IS the daughter of James and Elizabeth Duval, and James IS in those big books on Duvals–he is the son of Daniel and Mary Thompson Duval, and the grandson of Daniel and Philadelphia Dubois Duval. Welcome back, Duvals, and welcome back “Negro” Cate–you are not forgotten either.

Benjamin Termin

Also, this year, during the COVID-19 quarantines, I worked on the Termin line of my mother’s family. John Termin was born about 1821 in York County, Pennsylvania, but his father’s name was unknown. Census records for the Termins–sometimes Tarman or Terman–were scattered and in neighboring counties. Again, DNA matches to a certain Benjamin Termin, born in 1832, appeared to show a possible brother to John. Familysearch.org had York County tax lists available online, and this led me to records listed John Termin next to an older Benjamin Termin, his likely father. Welcome back, Benjamin Termin.

Anne Biven Trainer, James Trainer, Sr. and Mary Trainer Brinton

Also, this year, I made some new discoveries on the Trainer family. I wrote about the correct maiden name of Ann Biven Trainer, the wife of James Trainer of Schuyler County, Illinois, who died about 1846 in Texas. While working on that update, I found a will that named James as a stepson to Jacob Branton, whose wife was Mary. That gave me James’ mother’s name. After publishing my report on Mary, I was connected to another researcher who had a Tennessee court record to confirm that James’ father was also named James. (You’ll see a lot of unproven information online–but I can prove James’ father was another James–who died in North Carolina in the Revolutionary War–and his mother was a Mary–maiden name unknown so far, who later married Jacob Branton or Brinton.) Welcome back, Anne, James and Mary, and step-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandpa, Jacob Brinton. We remember you this year!

Happy Halloween, Reformation Day, All Saints’ Day, All Souls’ Day, and Dia de Los Muertos!