Sunday, December 21, 2014

Researching and Driving

Source: Wikimedia Commons, USMC, 2011

After making the discovery that my close genetic match on AncestryDNA was to a Harold Daugherty, a previously unknown son of Ira Daugherty (1886-1943), I was overcome with a whole host of emotions. Elation, shock, excitement, exuberance... these all have to be put on that list. But frankly one of the biggest was relief. Thank God I no longer had to deal with Schraders, dream about Schraders, schmooze the Schraders, cajole the Schraders, beg the Schraders, or kidnap a Schrader to find the answers I had been seeking and so close to finding.

Add regret to that list of emotions, too. I had just spent $400 on four more DNA tests the night before in anticipation of a long hard battle getting far-flung Schraders to test for me. And believe me, I chase dead people for a living; this is not a small amount of money. I have no supplemental spousal income, and I come from a long line of white trash, so there are no legacies awaiting me in the future. I could have put that money toward something else... like heat for the winter. Food. Cat litter. Extravagant luxuries like that.

Ooooh, but I had four DNA tests to use on other people now! Joy!

But I digress....

I sent back my first email reply via Ancestry's mail system to the person managing Harold Daugherty's DNA account at 8:43 a.m. Friday morning, 17 October 2014. This was in reply to their email asking if I was possibly related to the Daugherty or the Tries family that was sent to me nearly two hours previously. I did not go all bonkers letting the person know that I had surmised "H.D." stood for Harold Daugherty, nor did I go into a long accounting of my search for my mother's father and my findings related to the Daugherty family thus far. I didn't want to scare the contact away, and frankly I was still fleshing out the details of this newly revealed connection to Ira Daugherty. And I was frantically trying to pack my car to leave.

My response was merely: "I still do not have access to the family tree on AncestryDNA."

The previous response had indicated that the administrator had unlocked the restricted access to H.D.'s family tree, but it was still locked to me. I wanted to see that my assumptions were correct before launching into my story. Regrettably, there was no immediate response to this return email. I was hoping to get some sort of confirmation to my suspicions before I headed to Dayton, Ohio.

But what I did do immediately was to call my mother.

By this time, my mother's enthusiasm for the search was pretty much nil. My talk of DNA matches, second cousins once removed, Daughertys and Schraders, and plans for future testing had long since fallen on barely tolerant ears. I had given my mother a family chart showing the connections within the Daugherty family, complete with percent genetic similarities of those tested, and how the results pointed to nobody other than the Schrader brothers. Among my explanatory notes on the side, I had ended with "No other person on this planet [other than the Schrader brothers] could match these numbers and be Carol Crumet's father. The only other exception would be if one of the Daugherty brothers had a son unbeknownst to me (or to them) who then went on to be the father of Carol Crumet."


Upon handing my mother this chart a few days previously, she set it aside with, "I will look at it later."

When I had last called to go over the chart with her and launched into my Operation Schrader DNA plans, it was met with an audible sigh over the phone. I testily responded that if she was so utterly bored with this search that had taken over my life, I would be more than happy to hang up. She begrudgingly listened. But I am certain if asked, she couldn't name a single Schrader brother by name.

After giving her a string of paternal candidates, each dying younger than the one before, she was left with a trio of dead brothers whose families were at best, uncooperative, and at worst, hostile. And since the man who was her biological father had no real relationship or connection with her mother and probably had no recollection of her after possibly just a single night together, what did it matter? I think she placated me more for the genealogical aspect of the search and its ramifications upon my research than in any eager anticipation of a happy ending.

But with this new piece of information, and with the name and identity of her father, the response just had to be different.

Now mind you, as a genealogist, I work for myself. For twenty-two years I had worked as a veterinarian that required my presence at my practice by 7:30 a.m. every morning. I have never gone to bed before 1 a.m., and thus I have been sleep deprived for well over two decades. The only reason I was awake at 8:43 a.m. on a Friday morning was because I had to be on the road. My normal sleeping hours are usually in the 4 a.m. to noon ballpark, and I get this trait from my mother. So after not hearing an immediate response from the AncestryDNA connection, I called my mother at the last possible moment before leaving the house in hopes that she would be up and about.

At 9:55 a.m., there was no answer. I left a frantic message to call me immediately with no verbiage as to the reason for such urgency. 

I dismantled my computer display, packed my final bag, stuffed my new Daugherty notes in my pockets, and I hopped in the car for Dayton, Ohio.

But how on Earth was I supposed to be concentrating on the road with a mind stuffed with new possibilities and the very likely possibility that my great-uncle was still living? And even though his brother, Thomas Daugherty - likely my grandfather - was not alive, I knew now that there was someone intimately related to him that could at least tell me about the man. In the brief amount of time I had between revelation and driving, I had discovered a city directory entry for 1945-1946 that indicated Harold J. Daugherty and Thomas R. Daugherty, both employed by the United States Navy, had lived together on Dunham Street in South Bend, Indiana.

I fantasized about the conversation.

"Oh yes, I remember my brother coming home one spring night after we returned home from the Navy. He had met this hot number from Elkhart. I think he said her name was Helen. He thought she was quite something, but regrettably nothing ever came of it."

Okay, fine, like I said, it was a fantasy. I am sure an 87-year-old man likely forgets what he had for breakfast, let alone recalls who his brother was having sex with in the spring of 1946. But it's my fantasy. Don't judge. 

I couldn't shake the immediacy of the situation and my need - no, my unquenchable thirst - for information, so I logged onto via my phone... while driving.

Yes, I am well aware this is an unwise move. Yes, I am also well aware that texting and driving in Ohio is illegal. Yes, I am also well aware that all of this could have waited until I checked into my hotel in Dayton. Yes, I am also completely and fully aware that these findings, no matter how relevant to my search nor however important or revealing, are of no use to a dead man.

Bad, bad, bad genealogist.

Nonetheless, I sent one final Ancestry email to the administrator of the presumed DNA profile of Harold Daugherty at 10:33 a.m., having been on the road an excruciatingly long twenty minutes. I just wanted to cover my bases in case I could have more knowledge, more quickly, with more answers, now.  Now.  NOW.

"I am traveling today and responding by phone. Can you call me today at 555-555-5555? If I am unavailable, please leave a message with the best time to return your call. Thanks!"

Again, I didn't want to scare anyone off with too much detail, and frankly, I can barely chew gum and walk simultaneously, so that was a pretty wordy text for driving.

And no, you're not getting my number from this blog. I can't find everybody's father!

I called my mother again at 11:06 a.m. Again, voice mail. I announced that I would be calling roughly every ten minutes until she answered her phone, which I repeated again at 11:15 a.m. At 11:19 a.m. she returned my call wanting to know what the emergency was (but more likely to shut me up). I laid out the details as I knew them up to that point, but frankly a lot of it was conjecture, as I knew very little about Thomas and Harold Daugherty other than their recently discovered existence. I told her I was waiting for the contact person from to call me.

Which happened whilst I was chatting with my mother.

I hung up with my mother and called my voice mail immediately. The name of the woman who managed the profile of "H.D." was Donna, and she indicated that she had a busy day ahead of her and would be available to talk after 5:30 p.m. that night.

5:30 p.m.!?!?! 

I did NOT just text and drive to have to wait for answers for another SIX hours! And I had dinner plans that night with association members of the group I was lecturing to the following day. I agonized over calling back immediately, or being respectful of her wishes and her busy schedule and to talk later. I wrestled with the options, but on hindsight and reviewing the time stamps on my cell phone, I apparently endured this tumultuous internal struggle for a grand total of 55 seconds.

I called.

Donna had known Harold James Daugherty, whom she called "Brighton," for over twenty years. They both had watched a documentary by Spencer Wells about The Genographic Project, sponsored by the National Geographic Society, at the end of 2013. Donna, a hobbyist genealogist, was intrigued by the ancestral identities encoded in our DNA. Brighton had a very limited knowledge of his extended family background. Together they ordered DNA tests from AncestryDNA and submitted their samples at the beginning of 2014, just as much to seek answers regarding their ancestry, as it was on a curious lark to see what their results would tell them.

While Brighton Daugherty's results were tabulated by AncestryDNA at the beginning of 2014, I was finding out my mother's father was not the man she thought he was via 23andMe.

Over the next 42 minutes, I explained to Donna the roller coaster ride that had been my life over the past eight months in search of my grandfather, and that I had already narrowed the field down to the Daugherty generation that Thomas and Brighton belonged to. She was equally as excited to find someone so closely related to Brighton, as he had very little family currently in his life, nor had he ever been particularly bonded to them when he was younger. I probably knew more about the Daughertys than he did.

Regrettably she knew very little about Brighton's brother, Thomas Daugherty, other than his existence, and one photo she had seen shortly before his death when his body and countenance had been ravaged by a stroke. She knew only that he had died in 1997 in Florida, and that Brighton had visited him there many years before. Thomas had been married twice, and he had no children of his own. He had adopted his first wife's daughter who was five years old when her mother married Thomas Daugherty, and he lovingly raised her as his very own, but there were no other biological siblings to test if my mother truly proved to be his daughter. But in addition to Brighton, Thomas's second wife was still living, and at the age of eighty years, she too could tell me more about her late husband once we got confirmation of what seemed already a done deal regarding my mother's paternity.

Donna and I both ended our conversation with excited and joyful exuberance at the twists of fate that had caused our paths to cross, and I hung up enormously relieved that I had found an ally in the final steps of my search who was truly eager to help me, unlike the Schraders who were quite the opposite.

I explained the deficiency in AncestryDNA's reported results for those who took a scientific and factual approach to assessing the DNA profiles of our matches, and I asked her to upload Brighton's raw data to where I could compare it to mine and my mother's previous 23andMe test results already there. I also informed her that I was still waiting to obtain my mother's AncestryDNA results, but that I expected them rapidly on the heels of my own.

Frankly, it was just a matter of days before all my work over the past several months would come to fruition, and I would have an answer to my quest. A name for my grandfather. And a living soul to tell me all about him.

I called my mother with an update, and she too was cautiously eager to hear the outcome.

And with that, I arrived at my hotel in Dayton, Ohio.

Nothing makes a drive go more quickly than finding a grandfather. 

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Bad, Bad, Bad Genealogist

The original working model for my search. Click on image to enlarge.

When I received my reply to my AncestryDNA email regarding my close match, I had very little time left before I had to be in my car and headed to Dayton, Ohio. I did not have the luxury to mull and ponder over the possibility of an elusive Daugherty connection that seemed tantalizingly close.

But I didn't need that much time.


Because I am a bad, bad, bad genealogist.

The match with this new mysterious Daugherty connection was within a first cousin range as indicated by AncestryDNA's I-told-you-so approach. I had no hard data at my fingertips to corroborate this information. No quantitative amount of DNA segments to guide me. No percentages of shared DNA with which to play my familiar numbers game. But the short reply email I received to my inquiry told me two things. Firstly, when I indicated that the match was within a first cousin range, the respondent asked me if I was doing this for someone considerably older than me. So I inferred that the mystery match was an older man. Secondly, the response indicated that if I was truly that closely related to this person, it would either have to be through the Daugherty or the Tries family.

I had been mired in Daughertys for months. But I had yet to come across the surname Tries.

So how does that make me a bad, bad, bad genealogist?

Simple deduction indicated that if this mystery person thought I was related via the Daugherty or the Tries family, then somewhere a Daugherty married a Tries. So I did a simple check of such in FamilySearch's search engine. And in a fraction of a second I had this:

"Ira Dougherty" married "Katherine Trese" on 4 February 1911 in Chicago, Cook County, Illinois.

Son. Of. A. Bitch.

If you refer to the opening graphic you will see a simplified version of the working model I had for my mother's unknown father that you have seen before. You will also see that Ira Daugherty was the brother to Bertha (Daugherty) Ryder Rieder Prestidge Merrifield and LaVina (Daugherty) Schrader Johnston that I have discussed in detail in previous blog posts. I had already located two marriages for Ira Daugherty, and I knew that he died in the same automobile accident that killed LaVina (Daugherty) Schrader's youngest son in 1943. But this was the first time I had heard of Katherine Tries.

If Ira Daugherty happened to sire some sons by this newly-discovered bride, they too would mathematically qualify to be candidates for my mother's father, just like the Schrader brothers. They would all be males of the same generation to be on the list of "possible grandfathers."

As I anxiously watched the time, with my car already packed and ready to drive, it was again only the matter of a couple of key strokes to find Ira Daugherty enumerated in the 1920 census, living in Chicago with his wife, Catherine, and their 5-year-old daughter, Lillian.

And it was equally just as easy finding them in the 1930 census enumeration of Chicago, where Ira Daugherty was living with his wife, Cathrine, and children Lillian, age 15; Gladys, age 8; Thomas, age 6; and Harold, age 3.

Thomas and Harold Daugherty.

Two boys.

And two more candidates for my mother's missing father that should have been on my list from the very beginning.

Son. Of. A. Bitch.

Why did they not make this blasted list from the very beginning?

Because I am a bad, bad, bad genealogist.

Ira Daugherty was a passenger in his own car when his nephew flipped it and died on impact south of Niles, Michigan, on 15 March 1943. Three days later, without gaining consciousness, Ira too died. His obituary published the day of his death in the Niles newspaper rehashed the details of the horrible accident that it had previously reported upon days before. It also narrated a fairly standard biographical sketch of Ira Daugherty. The obituary provided the standard vital information one usually expects to read in the newspaper. It gave his date and place of birth. It indicated his service overseas in World War I. And, most importantly it completely enumerated his survivors by name. His brothers and sisters were listed with their places of residence. His five step-children born to his surviving wife, Melita, by her deceased first husband, were also mentioned by name. Even included was a brief passage indicating his eldest stepson, Rudy Schmaltz, was station in Virginia in the United States Army. For a genealogist, it was a fairly thorough assessment of a life lived and ended tragically. 

No children of Ira Daugherty were mentioned.

When Albert Daugherty died in Niles, Michigan, on 11 December 1960, he too was honored with a detailed obituary in the local newspaper, the Niles Daily Star. Having no children of his own, the obituary was so complete as to list his surviving nieces and nephews: Margaret Byrd, Catherine Dorn, Edward Schrader, Ted Schrader, and Joseph Schrader. These were the children of his sisters, Bertha and LaVina.

No children of Ira Daugherty were mentioned.

Based on such information, I had discounted Ira Daugherty as a possible source for male heirs to be my mother's father. And although I had meticulously detailed the lives of his two childless brothers, Albert and John Jr., I had done so primarily because they were always attached by the hip to their parents and to their sisters in all their frequent moves back and forth between Grand Rapids, Niles, Dowagiac, and Kalamazoo, Michigan; and South Bend, Indiana. Somehow the need to dig further into Ira's life was never a priority since I had already deemed him "childless."

Trust me, there were tantalizing clues. And they had been uncomfortably stirring in the back of my mind. When the progenitor of all these siblings, John Henry Daugherty Sr., died in 1939, he too got a nice obituary in the Niles Daily Star. It stated he was survived by eleven grandchildren. Bertha had two. LaVina had five. And in my notes, I have underlined, "Who are the other four grandchildren???" Even accounting for step-grandchildren, the number never really worked. It bothered me.

Bad, bad, bad genealogist.

But now I had two new boys to contend with, Thomas and Harold Daugherty. So what became of them? Why were they ostracized from the Daugherty family? Or conversely, had they somehow been the ones to cut ties from the often drunk, less-than-law-abiding, rowdy Daugherty family and their extended kin now centered in Niles, Michigan?

The new working model for my search. Click on image to enlarge.

There was one more census to check: 1940. And there they were. This time no longer residing in Chicago, Illinois, "widowed" Katherine Daugherty was living in South Bend, Indiana, at 4 South Taylor Court, with her children: Gladys, 18; Thomas, 16; and Harold, 13.

Yes. There they were. The two brothers Thomas Daugherty and Harold Daugherty were living in South Bend, Indiana, on the census six years before my mother's conception. South Bend, Indiana. Just a bus ride away from Elkhart, Indiana, were my grandmother Helen (Timmons) Miller lived. South Bend, Indiana. Where Helen's first husband, Eldon, had found work at Bendix during the war.

Oh, and what was the profile name of the AncestryDNA account who was apparently a close genetic match to me?  The same AncestryDNA match that was apparently a much older male? The same AncestryDNA match who was apparently related to Ira Daugherty and Katherine Tries?


Harold Daugherty.

Apparently Ira Daugherty's youngest son was alive and well, and he shared enough DNA with me to be within a first cousin relationship.

If you recall, first cousins shares an average of 12.5% of their autosomal DNA in common with each other. This, of course, would be the most common default for any of the DNA companies to report if such a value came up as a match, because it's far more common for cousins to be tested at the same time.

But who else would share 12.5% of their DNA with me?

A great-uncle would.

And with that revelation, I looked at my watch. I was nearly twenty minutes behind schedule. I stuffed my notes in my pocket and jumped in the car.

Sunday, December 14, 2014


I have a love-hate relationship with

Let me rephrase that: I have a love-hate relationship with the public's perception of

The one ubiquitous question that is always thrown about at dinner parties and social gatherings is "What do you do for a living?" I have a whole litany of amusing responses to my standard reply of "veterinarian" that was in use for over two decades. It most aways involved a story regarding the questioner's long-deceased beloved pet and its unfortunate demise. Example:

"You're a veterinarian?!?! Oh my God, I had this tiny adorable Chihuahua when I was a kid named Pepe! When he turned sixteen, he got really, really sick. We took him to the vet, but we didn't want him to run any tests because, well, you know, he was sixteen. And can you believe the vet just let him die? Can you tell me what happened to him?"

Of course, responses to questions of this nature put you in a precarious situation. After all, this is usually a question presented at a social gathering surrounded by a handful of other inquisitive guests with widened eyes eagerly waiting for my scholarly and informative, yet kind and compassionate, response.

"If you actually let your veterinarian DO something for the dog when it became ill, you could have asked him then, instead of asking me now!"

No. No. Probably a wee bit too accusatory.

"I'm sorry. I consider myself an excellent practitioner, but I am regrettably bad at diagnosing a memory. Perhaps we could break out a Ouija board and ask Pepe his presenting complaints?"

Hmmmm....condescending? Likely.

"I'm so sorry to hear of anyone losing one of their dear fuzzy babies. Even many years later the grief is still tucked away in our memories. At sixteen, Pepe could have suffered from a dizzying array of many age-related conditions, but I am sure you comforted him through his final days. He was lucky to have lived so long."

Yep. That works.

Unfortunately, a similar thing occurs now after leaving behind decades in a medical field to chase my ancestors, as well as solve the historical mysteries of others.

"I'm a professional genealogist."

"Oh! My [aunt/uncle/cousin/grandmother/insert other relative here] is on all the time! He/she has already done all my family tree. So you just sit on all day? That's odd."

When I ask if it is a maternal or a paternal aunt who "did all their family tree," I am often greeted with a quizzical look and a cocked head, much like a bewildered spaniel. When the questioner tells me it was actually his father's sister who did the work, I ask why a paternal relative would work on the ancestry of his mother if they were not related. "Oh, no, that's just my dad's side." As if this somehow still is "all" the family tree. "Well, I guess half your lineage is unknown, correct?"


And the family tree was "done"? Can this endeavor ever be referred to in the past tense? My grandmother used to ask me that. "Aren't you done yet?" But of course, this was the same woman who asked, "why didn't you become a real doctor?" Sigh.

I think from now on my response will be "Walmart Greeter."

Plain and simple, has become the face of genealogical research in the digital age. There is no escaping its enormous contribution to the field I have chosen, and thus I do love the site. Gone are the days I would have to drive two hours to the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, Indiana, to sit for hours cranking microfilm reels of unindexed census records reading them page-by-page to find a person of interest. If I went home with four or five new entries after a four-hour roundtrip drive and nearly twelve hours of research, I was a happy man. has made that task a two-minute search in my jammies with a cat in my lap.

But and sites like it have given researchers a reason to be lazy. By a fantastically huge margin, the enormous majority of records used by genealogists like me are still hiding in courthouse basements, neatly cataloged archival collections, local historical societies, private collections, and people's mothball-laden closets. Good research is hard. Really hard. And awfully damn fun.

And such are the mixed feeling I have for's foray into the world of genetic genealogy. But this time it's not the perception of AncestryDNA that I dislike, it is truly the business forces behind this arm of the genealogical giant that irk me. 

Those who have read this blog from its inception, especially since the hunt began for my biological grandfather via the powers of autosomal DNA, know that I use 23andMe as my tester of choice. I did so at the beginning because, as a doctor, I was intrigued by the medical report that accompanied the results and the identification of genetic markers of disease or propensity for disease that the company reported along with good links to scholarly medical articles. Unfortunately, the FDA shut down that component of the test after I had only tested myself, my mother, and my father. But I have become accustomed to 23andMe's format, and their chromosome browser, and their utilities to analyze genetic matches.

I have also mentioned that I had my autosomal DNA results, as well as my mother's results, from 23andMe added to the FamilyTreeDNA database. Again, this option is no longer available, as divergent technologies from both companies has made integrating 23andMe data into the FamilyTreeDNA database impossible, but I have tested through FamilyTreeDNA as well when I needed specific testing not available through 23andMe, or if I wanted to use the hundreds of thousands of profiles tested through that company, as there is never such a thing as too many matches.

But of the three big DNA companies in the game, I had yet to test with AncestryDNA.

The abbreviated reason I had not done so is that AncestryDNA offers no chromosome browser, no reporting of the amount of DNA matched with an individual in terms of segment length or percentages, no ability to triangulate results to see if three or more people share both DNA and a common ancestor to prove one's chromosomal heritage from a distant individual or couple. These factors are discussed in much, much greater detail on several Internet sites and blogs dedicated to genetic genealogy, so I will not tear them apart in detail here. But if I can't use my results through AncestryDNA, why should I drop a couple hundred more dollars to obtain them?

The sad reality is that the powers that be at know that the greatest bulk of their users are the great-aunts of the people I meet at dinner parties. They want genealogy to be fun and fluffy and comforting and happy and a point-and-click experience.

Science is hard. And knows it. They have a whole team of highly educated professionals tweaking their algorithms to calculate genetic matches as accurately as possible. 

They just don't think the average genealogist can handle it.

But as I have already previously mentioned in other blog posts, anyone can take their raw data from any testing site and upload it to a free site called If you are reading this, and you have been autosomal DNA tested at any of the three sites, and you have not yet uploaded your raw data to - do so now! This will help you, and it will immensely help others. 



I'll wait.

So again, why would I want to test again with a third company that won't offer me scientific support to find my grandfather? Why would I test with a company who will give me results I have to load into a third-party site, when my results from the other laboratories are already there?

Because of those people I meet in social situations and their great-aunts and cousins. has name recognition. After revealing my chosen profession as a genealogist does anyone ask me, "Hey, have you done the full-sequencing mitochondrial DNA test with FamilyTreeDNA? Do you think it's worth the money to do that over just their mtDNA-Plus?"


Usually within the first or second sentence of a person's response, the term "" will be inexorably mentioned.

People test at AncestryDNA because it sounds fun. Because they want the warm fuzzy experience. The company gives you fun colorful graphs of what countries your ethnicity derives (which I have already stated is as accurate as measuring a doorway with a cat.) Further, if you find matches with others using AncestryDNA, the tool they use to show you how you are related is by comparing your family trees to each other. And if you are matched with someone with shoddy research or no family tree, the results are meaningless. Lastly, having matching DNA segments and knowing you have a common ancestor is great, but it is a dangerous assumption to think that they go hand in hand. That is why triangulation with another researcher with the same common ancestor is necessary to see if you all share the same strand of DNA at the same chromosomal location. This is something you cannot do at AncestryDNA.

But by the end of the first quarter of 2015, the company estimates that over one million people will have tested with their service.

One. Million. People.

Since I had hit a wall of resistance with my mother's presumed Schrader father, I needed a million more people to bolster my argument. Also, there were surprisingly many family trees posted on by relatives of these three Schrader brothers (and my possible grandfather). Had they been tested through this company as well even though they were maintaining a wall of silence with me? One of these trees was posted by a son of one of the Schrader brother, one by a grandson, and one by a nephew. At this point, ANY Schrader DNA would guide me toward my missing grandfather, so I had hoped that some of these tree-posters had actually taken the AncestryDNA test. And who knew how many more distant relatives I might find here? Especially important were the Wisconsin Schroeders and associated families. Any connection with these German families might allow me to tie my mother to both LaVina Daugherty and her husband, Edward Emil Schroeder/Schrader.

And since discovering that Ed Schrader may not even be the father of my missing grandfather even though LaVina Daugherty was married to him during the births of her sons, I desperately needed the help of a million more people.

So on 10 September 2014 whilst mired stuck and flailing in the Schrader quicksand with no sense of progress, two autosomal DNA tests were shipped to me from AncestryDNA - one for me, and one for my mother. I had to feel like I was doing something with momentum while formulating a plan to test more living Schraders.

Like a Pavlov dog, I started salivating the moment the test kits arrived on my doorstep, and my kit was back at the post office (with spit) within hours of having been delivered on 13 September 2014. Coordinating schedules with my mother, even though she lives just over three miles away, meant her test kit didn't hit the mailbox until 26 September 2014. They were both on their way to the lab, and I waited to see if I might find an edge by utilizing this venue while also arranging for my new inside Schrader contact to come to fruition.

My mother's test gained a few days on mine, as they were received by the laboratories of AncestryDNA on 22 September and 1 October 2014, respectively. Since I had already done all the preliminary footwork on 23andMe, and because I was proactively dismayed at AncestryDNA's shunning of science, I was not chomping at the bit to see the results, but of course, I was eager to have fun with them. After all, I was chasing my grandfather's identity, but I also had many, many more known ancestors I might learn more about if I discovered viable matches on any of my other family lines. Also, October was a busy month for me. With six seminars in four weeks in various locations in Illinois, Ohio, and Indiana, I was barely able to keep up with PowerPoint revisions and lecture building to fret a great deal over these impending results.

My AncestryDNA results were obviously the first to arrive as announced via email on the afternoon of 15 October 2014, although I was not able to sit down and access them on my computer until later that night. And much to my surprise, in addition to the thousands of matches and pages-and-pages of remotely distant relatives, I had one very close match.

A male identified by initials only, whose test results were administrated by a second party, and whose family tree was locked from view to me, was identified as my "Close Family to First Cousin." I frantically looked to see if the initials matched any of the known Schrader clan, but I came up empty handed. Of course, yes, I was curious, but I certainly wasn't insanely clawing at my computer screen. Although I do not have first cousins interested in genealogical research, nor do I know of anyone in the immediate family that might have been tested, I do know there are a handful of relatively close relatives on my father's side that are on a variety of DNA sites. And since I only had my test results in the AncestryDNA system, I had no references with which to compare to see if this was a maternal or paternal connection.

So at 10:31 p.m. in the night of 15 October 2014, I sent the following message:

"Hello. Although I have been working with DNA for quite some time via 23andMe and FTDNA, I have just gotten my results on Ancestry. I am wading through the ins and outs of the match features. Nonetheless, this says you are my first cousin. Now THAT is something I want to explore! Who are you?"

Unfortunately, I was also frantically preparing for a lecture I had to give in Dayton, Ohio, that I was driving to the following Friday morning. Anyone who knows me is aware of my profound level of procrastination. PowerPoints, laundry, packing, and all the preparations for leaving usually are frantically taken care of hours to minutes before I have to walk out the door. And on the morning of Friday, 17 October 2014, I had to be on the road no later than 10 a.m. because of a timed afternoon engagement the day before my lecture.

At 7:07 a.m. that Friday morning I got a response to my AncestryDNA query:

"Mike, I see you are located in Indiana which dovetails with my family history. Perhaps you are researching this connection for someone else who is older than you? [The] family tree is rather small so it's great to happen upon such a close connection. If we are in fact first cousins then we share grandparents which might be Daugherty..."

Holy Jesus Christ, Joseph, and Mary Mother of God and All the Angels and Saints on High... did I read that correctly?



Minutes before needing to hop into the car and drive to Ohio, I now had a pounding headache and the immediate need to vomit.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Hoosier Daddy's Daddy?

Although Joseph Schrader appeared to be the best candidate to be my mother's father, I was effectively shut down by one of his grandchildren via an email on 21 August 2014.

"Not going to happen."

Additionally, any other Schrader relative that I had contacted who had made any sort of initial response to my pleas went silent thereafter.

"I have contacted the rest of the family. None of us are interested."

Without knowing how far-reaching that contact extended, I had no idea whom I could or could not reach out to within the extended Schrader family. Although the three Schrader brothers had between them eleven children ranging from the ages of fifty-two to eighty-two that would effectively be my mother's first cousins, I was now grievously apprehensive toward casting out a wide net of DNA requests. Were the Schraders all standing in a unified front against my desire to seek answers regarding my mother's paternity, or did I just have the random misfortunate of contacting the single Schrader grump having his own personal temper tantrum? I hated to test either theory. And I wasn't exactly keen on making anyone angry enough to confront me on a level beyond a terse email.

But there were other unsettling questions in my mind as well.

While analyzing my mother's DNA matches, there were a small number of people who shared DNA with her that did not do so with anyone related to her mother, Helen Timmons, or with any of the other Daugherty relatives I had tested to date. If LaVina (Daugherty) Schrader was my mother's grandmother, these outlying matches would most likely be those who connected via her grandfather, Edward Emil Schrader, none of whose relatives I had tested. 

But Ed Schrader was a first-generation American. Both his parents were German-born immigrants who settled in Wisconsin. And none of these random unplaced matches had any German ancestry. Also nobody with Wisconsin Germany ancestry in either the 23andMe or the FamilyTreeDNA databases in which my mother's autosomal DNA results were posted had a match to my mother.

Although I had an iron-clad case for my mother's connection to LaVina Daugherty and her sons, I had absolutely nothing to tie her to Edward Schrader.

The unfortunate reality which I had already most dreadfully considered was confirmed the very same day I was shot down by Joe Schrader's grandson.

Interestingly, although I was told adamantly that "none of us are interested" by Joe Schrader's grandson, I was contacted immediately the same day by Joe Schrader's youngest child. Although made aware of my request by her uncooperative nephew, she seemed to want to know for herself what was going on. Her initial contact was brief, but it gave me a glimmer of hope that perhaps I really would have the possibility to find answers through the living members of the Schrader family!

After my response detailing - again - the nature of my search and the mathematical reasons for believing one of the Schraders was my grandfather via my mother's connection to the Daugherty family, her response made sense as much as it was devastating to hear.

"My Dad has some interesting roots on his mother's side."

She went on to indicate that she was under the impression that her grandmother, LaVina (Daugherty) Schrader, was married multiple times, and even though she was married to Ed Schrader for the bulk of time her children were born, it was common knowledge within the family that the brothers were not all the children of Ed - some were half-brothers to each other, some full brothers.

So, even if I could figure out which Schrader brother was my mother's father, it was entirely likely, and very possible, that he wasn't a Schrader anyway.

Hoosier Daddy, Part II? Hoosier Daddy's Daddy?

Seriously. You. Have. Got. To. Be. Kidding. Me.

It was time to consider cashing in my retirement account to pay for several dozen more DNA tests.

I was now not only faced with figuring out which of the Schrader brothers was my grandfather, I needed to figure out which Schrader was a Schrader, and which one was not. So for a family that was adamant about not cooperating with my research and not wanting to be tested, I was presented with the need for more Schrader tests than even I had anticipated.

The prospect was dizzying. And depressing.

After this initial email from Joe Schrader's daughter, I heard nothing more from her, even after several return messages. She too had escaped my reach, and was at the very best apathetic about my search, or at the worst, shut down by her extended family from participating or contacting me.

I spent the following couple weeks considering my options. And researching. And analyzing DNA matches.

Edward Emil Schrader was the eldest of nine children. Seven of his eight siblings had children of their own, and I could account for thirty-eight Schroeders from this next generation mostly born and raised in Wisconsin. I found proof that fully half of that number had already passed away, but I was sure I could find some living Schroeders to test to see if my mother shared a connection to them. If she had matching Schroeder DNA, she would then conclusively be connected to both Ed and LaVina.

If I wanted to keep it local and work within the parameters I had already established, I considered the possibility of contacting younger generations of Schraders in and around the Niles and Dowagiac area. Although further removed from the three Schrader brother candidates, and therefore likely to have a much smaller percentage of matching DNA that would result in a more hazy degree of relationship, I could test a fair number of them to not only see how the Schrader brothers related to each other, but how they related to my mother. But this would require a lot of tests. And cooperation. I only held out hope that those a generation or two removed from these dead Schrader brothers would not be upset by the concept of unearthing family secrets about people with whom they had no personal connection. I would also be dealing with a generation that might be more technology savvy and less afraid of testing.

And as luck would have it, in the course of my research I located a granddaughter of the second Edward Schrader - one of my mother's possible paternal candidates - that lived locally and happened to work with a friend of mine with whom I had known for nearly two decades.

God Bless Facebook and all its exhibitionist tendencies.

I contacted my friend on 1 September 2014, explained my dilemma, and asked him if his coworker seemed like a person amenable to helping me with my search. He responded that he did not know her well, but she seemed friendly and inquisitive. Having an inside view into the Schrader family by a helpful mole would allow me to know who to ask, who not to ask, who would likely help me, and who would shun me. I was working on getting me an inside spy!

Unfortunately, I was now at a standstill. There was little else I could do at this point to make forward progress. I waited for my inside Schrader connection to develop, but frustratingly, the Schrader granddaughter worked part-time, and not often in my friend's department. He would not have contact with her regarding my family until 14 October 2014. And surprisingly, I actually had to work on things that paid me an income instead of chasing dead grandfathers. The fall of 2014 brought me several lectures all over the Midwest that required new PowerPoint presentations, and traveling, and updating literature, and all the mundane things that go with paying the bills.

But while I waited, theories and plans and possibilities and testing protocols swirled in my head. Many nights I went to bed thinking of Schraders, dreamt of Schraders, and woke up thinking about Schraders again. I even dreamt that I got a job at a Michigan grade school solely for the purpose of bribing attending great-grandchildren of Joe Schrader to let me scrape their cheeks at recess so as to have some Y-DNA. I was obsessed.

On 16 October 2014, I ordered four more autosomal DNA tests from 23andMe, ready and waiting for a younger generation of Schraders descended from these three brothers to willingly step forward and spit for me. And yield the answer to my grandfather's identity.

And like so many other times along this journey, the focused shifted.


Friday, December 5, 2014

Eenie, Meenie, Miney, Mo, Catch a Schrader by the Toe...

Theodore David "Ted" Schrader

Using the DNA of strangers as my road map, I had almost conclusively placed my mother, Carol, as a great-grandchild of John Henry Daugherty and Emma Augusta Jonas. With the DNA test results of Russell Hath's niece obtained on 1 October 2014, the verdict by process of elimination was that her grandmother was LaVina (Daugherty) Schrader.

As expected, Russell Hath was not my mother's father. His niece would have shown an approximate 12.5% genetic similarity in her autosomal DNA profile if this were so. Instead, they shared 2.08% of their DNA in common with one another, which would place them in the ballpark of the 1.563%  theoretically expected similarity they would have if they were second cousins, once removed. And if my mother's missing father was a Schrader, this is exactly what they would be.

And as an aside, for those who are reading this as an informal tutorial on finding a missing parent or grandparent using DNA, the one other thing I did with this genetic information was to compare it to the rest of the people I had already tested. The figures received from anyone when compared to my mother mean nothing if the person does not fit appropriately when compared to known relatives! This whole blog came about because of a surprise just like that. Checking this Hath niece to those already tested showed her closest match to be with Kenneth Ryder at 2.94%, which fits with the expected 3.125% match since they are half-first cousins, once removed. Her similarity to Brian Ryder was 0.70% with an expected value of 0.781% with their relationship of half-second cousin, once removed. Add one more generation removed from that to place Briana Rieman in the picture, and the match should be theoretically 0.391%. It was 0.36%. I do so love when numbers work in my favor. Everyone fit as expected. So my mother's connection to the niece of Russell Hath was confirmed as a valid one in the bigger Daugherty picture.

The genetic jigsaw puzzle was coming together, but I was still missing the most crucial piece I had been searching for since February. Who was my mother's father?

All the DNA results pointed to a grandson of John and Emma Daugherty, and LaVina was the only one known to have supplied any for consideration, so at the same time I contacted Russell Hath's niece, I contacted some Schraders via my primary hunting grounds: Facebook.

My honed and polished "Begging-For-DNA" letter was suddenly inadequate. I realized that the ramifications of this test would bring a half-sibling to complete strangers, which could be understandably jarring. Until now, the DNA I had asked for was for the purpose of guidance down a path, as in the case of Ken Ryder and Paul Robinson, or to identify a possible father that had died decades previously with no surviving offspring, as with Rick Denney and Russell Hath's niece. The emotional impact was certainly not as high in those previous situations. But I wanted to be honest and transparent in my requests, so I had to subtly change the tone of my letter to being more deferential to such potently shocking news.

Although all three Schrader brothers had since passed away, they had done so in the recent past. These were men who left families still harboring relatively fresh, fond memories, and if my mother proved to be the child of Theodore or Edward Schrader it would mean revealing an extramarital affair. This could get messy.

The eldest of the three Schrader brothers was Theodore David "Ted" Schrader. Born in 1912 in South Bend, Indiana, he grew up in Niles, Michigan, in the extended Daugherty block on Pine Street. Married at nineteen to his fifteen-year-old bride, June, in 1931, he spent his entire life in Niles, Michigan, working for forty-two years at Tyler Refrigeration Corporation before retiring in 1973. He died in 1993 in Niles, Michigan, his ability to stay grounded in one location his entire life a rather shocking contrast to the generations before him. He raised four children, born widely spaced between 1932 and 1949, all living. Only his two sons lived locally. I located a daughter-in-law on Facebook. She was my chosen representative to obtaining "Ted DNA."

Edward "Ed" Schrader was born in 1915 in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and he too grew up on Pine Street, leaving the Schrader household upon his marriage in 1940. Again, his ability to stay married to one woman and to remain in Niles his entire life differs from the patterns set forth for generations before him. He died in 1996 in Niles. He fathered one son and three daughters between 1942 and 1951, although one daughter had since passed away. I was buoyed by the fact that his son and a grandson had family trees posted on, so I anticipated an easy sell on this line of genealogical connectedness. I contacted the son via Ancestry's proprietary mail system, and he would be my source for "Ed DNA."

Joseph Russell "Joe" Schrader was the last of the brothers for my consideration, and ideally the best candidate of the three. Born in 1920 in Dowagiac, Michigan, he did a little more wandering than his older two brothers. Having joined the Army on 1 June 1942 from Kalamazoo, he was sent to the air corps training base in Spokane, Washington, where he met and married his first wife, Doris Arlene Walker, later that year. Upon his return to Michigan with his new bride, he chose Battle Creek as his home rather than his old home town, and it was here that he and his wife divorced in 1945, having had no children together. He moved back to the area, and like his brother Ted, spent forty years working for Tyler Refrigeration in Niles. He remarried in 1950, and spent the remainder of his life in Dowagiac, Michigan, where he died in 2009. He and his second wife had one son and three daughters between 1952 and 1961. The three daughters were all living in California, but the son was still living in Dowagiac, and he had an identifiable Facebook account. I favored proximity in finding a relative to test so that I could collect the saliva sample in person and keep control of the test kit. I did not have to gamble on a test kit being lost in transit or with a participant reconsidering and throwing the test away. The additional bonus of having the son living nearby was that I could also utilize his DNA to perform a Y-DNA analysis, which would be the presumed paternal lineage of my mother if Joe Schrader was confirmed to be her father. This man in Dowagiac would be my source for "Joe DNA".

Of course, I favored Joe Schrader as my missing grandfather, as he was unmarried between 1945 and 1950. With my mother's conception in the spring of 1946, this gave him the opportunity to be "available" to do so. And although I am not naive enough to think marriage precludes the insemination of someone other than your wife, common societal norms favored Joe as the primary target of my search. I was also wise enough to realize that it was unlikely that all three families would embrace the situation warmly and come running to give me a DNA sample. But even if I could get one to participate, the numbers would be closer and closer to ruling out one brother and implicating another.

All my emails went out the third week of August, 2014.

The response was disheartening.

No... no... I take that back. The response was horrific.

The Ted response was prompt. But it was as brief as it was prompt. Two sentences. "How much does it cost?" And "we really have no information on the Daugherty family." I responded immediately that there would be no costs to them whatsoever and voiced my enthusiasm at their rapid response. There was no reply. Two more nudges via email over the following month. Still no reply.

The Ed response was non-existent. I am not a fan of the mail system. Even though I use that site daily, I rarely use their on-site email, nor do I keep an eagle eye upon it. I had the home phone number of Ed's son who had a family tree posted on there, so I followed up with a phone call to his home in Niles. I figured we could bond on a genealogical level, especially since he had some grievous errors in his family tree. I got his voice mail. I identified myself, referred the recipient of my message to my email waiting for him, and left some tantalizing bait regarding new information I could supply for his family tree. There was no response.

The Joe response was the most unsettling. The son I had located on Facebook appeared not to be a frequent visitor or poster to the site, so I sent a copy of the email to his son as well.  I asked him to please direct his father's attention to the message I had sent to his Facebook mailbox if he was not in the habit of checking it frequently. The son never replied. But the grandson did so quite promptly.

"My grandfather had more children than just my father. I don't think you are going to get a DNA sample out of anyone."

My response indicated that I was aware of the presence of Joe Schrader's other children, but that his father's sibling all lived in California, and that I had contacted him first because of his proximity. Of course, I gushed with appreciation over his response and asked him if I could supply any information that would allay his family's reluctance to test.

"We all feel this would be useless and futile. None of us are interested in shaking the family tree. I have contacted the rest of the family. No[ne] of us are interested. Based upon the date of 1946 I can tell you that you can eliminate him. I will not elaborate further. Not going to happen. Sorry."

I get anxious even now rereading that response.

My emotions then, as now, were mixed. My email reply was effused with gratitude for his response and consideration, and I urged him and his family to contact me if they had any further questions. He may have slammed the door on the prospect of testing, but I wanted him to be clearly aware that I was still waiting on the other side of it. And of course, I was somewhat empathetic. I understood the inherently bizarre nature of my request and the emotional response that could come from the results of it. I was also a bit confused. Joe was the only Schrader brother whose actions in impregnating my grandmother would have not been scandalous. Joe was unmarried and between wives. I would have expected a more dramatic response from the children of the other two brothers, but not Joe's. And I was upset and saddened that this obstacle would be an enormous one to surmount. "I have contacted the rest of the family." What did that mean? Aunts? Uncles? Cousins? How many of the Schraders did he shut down in the wake of that email, and who could I contact now without information coming back to him and provoking an even more pointed response?

But yeah, I was freakin' angry.

"Useless and futile"? To whom? My mother's desire to know her identity and half of the lineage from which she arose seemed to me anything but useless and futile. Everyone should have the right to connect to their past and to know their own story. This grandson of Joe Schrader certainly had the right to decline his assistance in that search for my mother's identity, but I hadn't come this far to have my journey called "useless and futile."

And I was incredulous. How would this person, born thirty-three years after the conception of my mother, claim to have any idea where his grandfather might have been on one singular night in the spring of 1946?

My whole plan for identifying my mother's Schrader father needed to be reworked. And it needed to be done cautiously. Was the lack of response from the Ed and Ted camp a direct ramification of the negative Joe intervention? Or was it simply out of disinterest? Do I push gently but persuasively, or do I look for other people?

The search was far from over. I hadn't come this far to be shut down without a final answer, nor do I ever quit in the face of adversity. If anything, it recharges my battery and motivates me further.

But even as I was formulating my next move, the story got even stranger.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

LaVina (Daugherty) Schrader

LaVina Veatrice (Daugherty) Schrader Johnston,
photo taken 1930s, South Bend, Indiana

While contacting and meeting with Russell Tom Hath's niece to rule out her uncle as my grandfather, I had also been in contact with relatives of the three Schrader brothers. These men were the last three people left on my list of candidates. The chase was winding down. Even though I had yet to see the  DNA results, I had effectively ruled out Russell Hath in my head. It was almost certain that he was in China in the spring of 1946, and therefore unlikely to have met my grandmother and to be the person I was seeking. 

But as I mentioned before, gathering the "Hath DNA" wasn't a waste of my time. Since I had effectively proven my mother to be a descendant of John Henry Daugherty and his wife Emma Augusta Jonas, the genealogist in me saw no harm in adding more Daugherty DNA to my arsenal of research tools. Secondly, Russell Hath's niece had her own "Hoosier Daddy?" dilemma, and testing her could only help her resolve the same questions swirling in her head that she shared by my mother. And lastly, the percentage of DNA match she shared with my mother, even if Russell Hath was not my grandfather, would still yield concrete, mathematical support that the final three Schrader candidates were definitely the men I needed to assess.

This may have been the end of the road. But it certainly was the bumpiest.

LaVina Veatrice Daugherty was the youngest of the five children of John Henry Daugherty and Emma Augusta Jonas. With snippets of evidence that her parents had spent the early years of their marriage in Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Indiana, and Ohio, LaVina was born after their wandering when the family finally settled in Michigan for good. But although they remained within the boundaries of a single state, they certainly were not stationary.

Since the Daughertys were poor and mobile, finding records regarding them has been difficult. Even census entries, which are the backbone of traditional American genealogy, are lacking for this Daughertys family. In 1880 they should be a young married couple with their first child, but God only knows what state they were living in. Nothing located. In 1900 when they should be living with all five of their children somewhere in Michigan, still nothing can be found. LaVina's eldest two siblings, Albert Emery "Bert" and Bertha, married their first spouses in Dowagiac, Cass County, Michigan, in 1898, when LaVina was still a small child. Bertha's son, and LaVina's nephew, Rollie Ryder, whom we have discussed in a previous blog post, was born in Dowagiac in 1899. So why could they not be found in the 1900 census enumeration of Dowagiac, Michigan, or somewhere nearby?

An article located on the front page of the Kalamazoo (Michigan) Gazette, for Tuesday, 27 March 1900, gives us part of the explanation:

This was LaVina Daugherty's childhood. A move shortly thereafter to Kalamazoo, Michigan, did little to improve the family's economic status. Instead, a slew of arrests of her father and brothers for public intoxication and petty thefts followed, in addition to a string of run-down rental properties.

Even LaVina's birth is shrouded in mystery. Later census entries and documents where she supplied her age are remarkably consistent, indicating she was born in 1893. Yet on 24 May 1944 she filed a delayed record of her birth in Isabella County, Michigan, indicating she was born on 23 February 1890. There is no other evidence putting the Daugherty family this far north in Michigan at this time, and no explanation for the three year discrepancy which she had purposely recorded. It is just one more of a long list of Daugherty idiosyncrasies.

LaVina, known within the family as Vina, appears to have had a special bond with her only sister, Bertha, who was more than a decade older than she. As a 17-year-old, Vina is simultaneously enumerated in her parents' household in Grand Rapids, Kent County, Michigan; and in the household of her sister Bertha in East Jordan, Charlevoix County, Michigan; both census enumeration taken in April 1910 visited eleven days apart. So it is difficult to say who, when, and where Vina met a man who would father her first child, Margaret, born just six months after the census taker's visit in yet another Michigan locale: Otsego, Allegan County.

But it was back in Grand Rapids, Michigan, that Vina met the man who would become her husband. Edward Emil Schröder was born on 5 January 1888 in Oconto Falls, Oconto County, Wisconsin, the eldest of nine children born to August Wilhelm Heinrich Schröder and his second wife, Martha Elisabeth Bräutigam. His parents were both German immigrants, his father coming to America as a young man, and his mother as a child. Beyond brief stays in Chicago after immigrating, both sides of his family had long settled in northeast Wisconsin near the shores of Green Bay. The majority of Ed's eight siblings and four half-siblings remained in that area, but Ed had left home as a young man and was working as a lineman in Kalamazoo, Michigan, by 1911. Not only had he broken away from his rural Wisconsin roots, but he had adopted a simplified version of his surname. Whereas his siblings in Wisconsin were Schroeders, Ed was a Schrader.

On 20 March 1912, Ed Schrader married Vina Daugherty in St. Joseph, Berrien County, Michigan, in a ceremony conducted by the local Methodist minister. St. Joe was a bustling city on the shores of Lake Michigan, and it was notorious in the early twentieth century as a "marriage mill." Many quick weddings were performed here, and for Ed and Vina it may have been done partly because they were both relatively transient at the time. Ed gave his place of residence as Oconto Falls, Wisconsin; and Vina's family was on the move again, this time briefly living in South Bend, Indiana. And Vina, unmarried with a 17-month-old daughter, may have realized she was pregnant again.

The Schraders lived for a short while in South Bend where Vina's second child, Theodore David, was born in late fall of 1912. Surprisingly, the one thing the Daugherty family possessed despite profound dysfunction was an even more tenacious cohesiveness. The adult Daugherty children wandered where their parents led them, even as they married and started families of their own. Vina was no different. Moving back to Grand Rapids, Michigan, at the same time as her parents and siblings, her third child, Edward Jr., was born there in 1915; and on to Kalamazoo, Michigan, with the whole crew where the fourth, Charles, was born in 1917.

Edward Emil Schrader (1888-1965), husband of LaVina Daugherty (left), and
Frank Hath (1895-1971), husband of LaVina's niece, Catherine Rieder,
likely taken in Kalamzoo, Michigan, c1919

Vina's devotion to her older sister Bertha was manifested also in her relationship with her nephew, Rollie Ryder, Bertha's son. Rollie was closer to LaVina's age than that of her own sister, and he was in her heart more of a sibling. Although Rollie married in Kalamazoo in 1917 to Emily Scharich using his given name, he shortly thereafter changed his moniker to Robert Joseph Schrader. Perhaps this was done out of solidarity for the family he most cherished after his mother's death in 1918, and likely out of a lack of connection to the Ryder surname, his parents having divorced when he was only an infant.

The two families were inseparable. They lived together in Kalamazoo, and it was likely with an enormous amount of mixed emotion that Rollie's wife, Emily, gave birth to their first child, Helen, on 8 January 1918, the very same day that Vina's baby Charles died of whooping cough. Two families so intimately intertwined, bound together through joy and sadness, were also connected in other ways. Just days before, Ed and Rollie (as Robert Schrader) were released from jail after being arrested for trying to sell to a junk yard proprietor $200 worth of brass that Rollie had stolen from the Standard Paper Company's mill where he worked. Rollie was arrested again in April 1918 for doing the same thing, this time with $100 worth of iron he stole from the Clarage Fan Company where both he and Ed Schrader were then employed. In August of that year, he was sent to the Michigan State Reformatory in Ionia for car theft. When he left, Vina and her family cared for his pregnant wife, Emily, and her baby girl.

After Rollie was released from prison the following year, the two families left Kalamazoo for Grand Rapids. Vina's sister - and Rollie's mother - had died in Kalamazoo in the influenza pandemic of 1918. As expected, Vina's parents, and her two Daugherty brothers, John and Bert, moved to Grand Rapids as well. Their stay here, like so many others before it, was brief. Ed Schrader was a foundry worker, and he went where there was work, much like the other men in this family network. The Schraders, the Ryders, and the Daughertys all continued to move in unison. After Grand Rapids, it was back to South Bend, Indiana, by 1921, where Ed Schrader was working for the Stephenson Manufacturing Company. Although living sometimes in the city, and sometimes in rural St. Joseph County, Indiana, just south of the Indiana-Michigan state line, their last two children - Joseph Russell in 1920, and Donald Ira in 1923 - claimed to be born in Dowagiac, Michigan. It is quite possible that Vina stayed with some of her mother's relatives when her children were due to be born, but while her husband still worked in South Bend. The family made it's final move to Niles, Michigan, by 1929. In the 1930s they would move into 943 Pine Street, surrounded by Daughertys, Ryders, and Dorns, their entire neighborhood being nothing but relatives.

Donald Ira "Donny" Schrader (1923-1943)

After over a quarter-century together, Ed Schrader left his wife and family in Niles, Michigan, to visit relatives back home in Oconto County, Wisconsin. He never returned. Vina filed for divorce on on 24 February 1938 claiming desertion, which was granted by the Berrien County Circuit Court on 7 June 1938. Ed lived in the home of Martin and Ethel Brock in rural Maple Valley Township in Oconto County, Wisconsin, living a simple life working as a hired hand and farm laborer through the 1940s. While in Wisconsin, he adopted the "Schroeder" spelling of his name to assimilate with his other family members. But Ed eventually returned to Michigan to be close to his children, living in rural Dowagiac, Michigan, where he died in 1965, having never remarried.

After Ed Schrader's departure, Vina immediately moved a man into the Pine Street address who would be informally considered her second husband, although a marriage ceremony was never officially celebrated. Samuel James Johnston was a Nebraska native, born in 1887, who had moved to Buchanan, Michigan, in the 1920s with his wife, Mabel (Whitney) Johnston, and their three children. Samuel was widowed when he met Vina, his wife dying in Buchanan in 1936, and his children had all grown and started families of their own. Vina's children too were all growing up, and when Sam moved into the Pine Street address, the only ones left at home were Ed, Joe, and Donny Schrader, all in their late teens and early twenties. Around 1942, Sam and Vina left the Pine Street enclave of her extended Daugherty clan, leaving the home as a residence for her daughter Margaret and her family, and they moved to a home on Rural Route 2 outside of Niles, Michigan, in Howard Township. 

On 15 March 1943, tragedy struck Vina's family. Her brother, Ira Daugherty, living in South Bend, Indiana, had driven up to Niles, Michigan, to spend the previous day with his extended clan. Later that evening he took his sister's youngest child, Donald Ira Schrader, and his grandnephew, Russell Tom Hath, south of Niles to visit Donny's brother, Theodore Schrader. At 2 a.m. the men had decided it wast time to call it a night, and were returning to Niles with Donny Schrader behind the wheel. When the threesome had gotten to the area that is now Third Street about a third of mile south of the Niles city limits, a rear tire blew out throwing the car into a spin followed by a roll that took the car sixty feet off the road before it stopped. Donald was ejected from the car and died immediately. the result of a skull fracture and numerous other internal injuries. His uncle, Ira Daugherty, sustained a dislocated left shoulder and a basal skull fracture and was taken to Pawating Hospital in Niles, Michigan. He died three days later having never regained consciousness.

The third passenger, Russell Hath, walked away from the devastation with no injuries. He was inducted into the Marine Corps in Kalamazoo two days later as previously discussed.

Vina (Daugherty) Schrader Johnston continued to live at the rural Niles address until Sam Johnston's death in 1947. She thereafter moved to Dowagiac where her youngest surviving son lived. She died after a lengthy illness in the hospital in South Bend, Indiana, on 15 August 1956.

As I awaited the DNA test results that would most likely eliminate Russell Hath from my list, the only men left who could fit the emerging DNA profile for my grandfather were these surviving sons of LaVina Veatrice (Daugherty) Schrader Johnston.

Was it Ed, Ted, or Joe?

Finding the answer would mean facing the toughest obstacle to date.