New: Photo Restoration Services


Over the years as I’ve discovered old photos of my ancestors, I have found the need to restore some of them. I have also done some work for friends. I have decided to offer my services for a reasonable fee to anyone who has old photos that need restoration. The fee would be determined by the type of restoration that needs to be done. Some are simple “clean ups” and others may be complicated “restorations.

I have set up a page with examples of some of the restorations that I have done, from simple to complex, here: Photo Restoration Services. It will give you an idea of the type of service I can offer. Use the contact form on this site to let me know you are interested. I’ll get back to you to discuss the job.

Genealogy Research Helps Solve a Puzzle

Recently, a friend of ours told me that he had purchased an old miner’s helmet in an antique shop in Pennsylvania area. It looked as if it was some sort of token given to a dignitary or important person. He asked if I could do a little research to see if I could find out anything about the person’s whose name was engraved on a plaque with the helmet. The name was Dr. John Bradbury. I was lucky that there were not a lot of “Dr. John Bradburys” in the US during the time frame that the helmet was from and so I was able to come up with the following for my friend. It’s just another way that genealogy research can help to solve a puzzle!!

Dr John BradburyJohn W. Bradbury was born in Sheffield, Yorkshire, England in 1885. He was the son of Arthur and Georgina Bradbury. His father was a file cutter. In 1891 John, age 5, was living with his parents in Heeley, Yorkshire. By 1901, Arthur was deceased and John, age 15, lived with his widowed mother and siblings in Heeley. John was listed as being a “librarian”. In 1909 John emigrated to the US. His first job was as a librarian at Kodak Co. in Rochester, NY. In 1910 John was living in a boarding house in Rochester and working at Kodak. In 1917 John traveled back to England and at that time he was listed as being a “clergyman”.
John married Jeanne Beyrand who was born in Argenton, France in 1898. The couple was married in Europe in 1919 and moved back to the US that same year. In 1920 the couple lived in Cleveland, Ohio where John was a Baptist minister. By 1921, the couple was living in Lancaster, PA where John was the pastor at Olivet Baptist Church in Lancaster.

According to the History of the Wadsworth Ave. Baptist Church in New York City, Rev. John W. Bradbury was the Pastor from 1926-1936. In 1930, John and Jeanne were living in Manhattan, NY. City Directories and Passenger lists show the couple as living in NYC at least until 1950.
Sometime between 1936 and 1940, Dr. John W. Bradbury became the editor of a national Baptist weekly publication called The Watchman-Examiner.
Dr. Bradbury became a prominent speaker on the Evangelical circuit and traveled all over the country speaking at various religious meetings. There are articles noting multiple speaking engagements in the Scranton area of Pennsylvania. It is most probable that the “Miner’s Lamp” with his name engraved on it was presented to Dr. Bradbury during one of these occasions.

The Complicated Burnham Clan

The signature of Thomas Burnham from a deed of land to his son John dated 1688. Found in the "Genealogical Records of Thomas Burnham, the Emigrant ..." by Rodrick H. Burnham, 1884

I had not worked on the Burnham Family of Connecticut line in quite a few years. Recently I was contacted by a Burnham descendant with some questions..and that led me to delve in again to this complicated family. In doing so, I found some errors in my previous research.. as well as some new additions.

When originally working on this family I relied on both “History of East Hartford Families”, “The History and Genealogies of Ancient Windsor, Connecticut”, “Families of Ancient Wethersfield, Connecticut” and Roderick Burnham’s “Genealogical Records of Thomas Burnham the Emigrant”. I knew right off that all of these works had some minor errors, such as saying that in the family of my husband’s ancestor, Esther Burnham, daughter of Richard and Sarah, “all but Esther of Richard’s children died young”, when in fact at least 5 of the 10 children in this family went on to marry and have children themselves. So, I did check as much of the info garnered from those publications as I could. With new info available, I’ve been able to fix a few newly found errors.

In beginning this new search, I stumbled on a few posts referring to the following article:
January 2012 NEHGS Register Vol. 166, page 5. The article is written by Cathy Stoughton
Titled “Thomas Burnham of Long Crendon, Buckinghamshire, and Hartford, Connecticut”.

Ms Stoughton has supposedly found Thomas, his brother, sisters, parents, and two receding generations. I am very interesting in reading this article, however I am not a member of NEHGS. If anyone can share a transcription of this article, I’d be very pleased! Email me at mpitkin (at)

I’m in the process of updating my database and when I’ve got most of the new data entered, I’ll update the info that is posted on this site!

The Hole Story Now Available for Download

Hole Story

Click Cover to Go to Download Site

Awhile ago I had been lucky enough to be given a copy of a book by Richard Crow of Cornwall. It was a wonderful history of the farm in St. Neot that my Rundle ancestors lived on for over a century. I had put an interpretation of the portions of the book dealing with my Rundle family on this site with credit going to Mr. Crow. I was recently contacted by Mr. Crow who was happy to know that part of his work was being shared. He expressed an interest in making the book more widely available and I agreed to help him do that.

I scanned a copy of the book and converted it to a pdf file which I have uploaded to a file sharing site. I’ve edited the page on this site which originally only had my shortened version of his work.. and have now added a permanent link to the download page for the pdf.

Mr. Crow and myself hope that more people will now get to read this extensive history of Hole Farm and it’s inhabitants over the years.

To download the book and read more about it, please visit our page here:The Hole Story – The History of a Cornish Farm by Richard Crow (Download)

The Western Parentage Mystery and Why Viewing Actual Parish Registers is Essential

I was recently contacted by Shirley Hogue who was researching a branch of the Wardell family that is distantly connected to my line. Shirley and I have my 5xGreat Grandfather, Thomas Wardell, b. 1715 in common. Thomas had two wives.. Ann was his first wife, Alice Harrison was his second. Shirley descends from Thomas and Ann, I descend from Thomas and Alice. Shirley’s question revolved around the parentage of her ancestor, William Western. William was born in Theddlethorpe All Saints, Lincolnshire in 1812. His mother was Faith Wardell, daughter of Matthew Wardell and Dinah Portas. Matthew was the son of Thomas Wardell and first wife Ann.

theddlethorpe all saints

Now to the puzzle.. William’s baptism only lists one parent, his mother Faith. It was assumed that William’s father was George Western, Faith’s deceased husband. Shirley found a later document where William listed his father as “Thomas”. Shirley assumed that Faith had married a brother of George’s after George’s death since William’s name was Western and Faith always went by the Western surname. She was looking for some proof of this marriage and therefore William’s parentage.

This is where the value of checking either the actual parish registers or at least films of the parish registers rather than relying on indexed listings such as those on Not to knock the database compiled by the Church of the Latter Day Saints. It is a wonderful source and a great place to find clues as to where to start your “real” research. I fear that too many researchers only check indexed listings and therefore do not get the complete picture nor all of the facts. First of all, almost all of the surnames that I have researched over the years have multiple spellings that different branches of the family used and/or are misspelled in different records. In this case “Western” is often listed as “Weston” in church and census records. If you only rely on searching indexes .. you may miss other members of the family who are listed under different spellings. Secondly, as is the case with this puzzle.. the indexed listing of William’s (and his sister, Matilda’s) baptism record leaves out vital information.

When I first found William’s baptism record on a transcribed listing for Theddlethorpe All Saints, and saw that only his mother was listed as a parent, I incorrectly assumed that it only meant that Faith’s husband was deceased by the time of William’s birth. I had also found a record for Matilda’s baptism in Theddlethorpe in 1809 that lists both parents, Faith and George Western. So I assumed that George must have died sometime within 9 mos or so of William’s birth.

After hearing from Shirley I decided that if George was deceased and Faith remarried, the marriage would most likely be listed in the Theddlethorpe All Saints parish registers so I ordered the filmed version from the LDS FHC. I had hoped that perhaps George’s burial would also be listed. What I did find ..was neither of those items, but instead two new bits of information that clear up some of the questions, and is often the case with genealogy research, make way for an entire new set of questions.

While waiting for the film to come in I started doing some online searching for anything I could find on this family. The first thing I found was quite the surprise.. it was a “bastardy bond” filed by Faith Wardell. It states: “BASTARDY RECOGNIZANCE dated 12 Feb 1812. Mother: Faith WESTERN widow of Theddlethorpe. Putative father: Thomas CROFT of Theddlethorpe Labourer.” I immediately contacted Shirley and we decided that this would indicate that William’s father “Thomas” was in fact “Thomas Croft” not “Thomas Western” as she had first thought.

When I finally got to look at the parish registers on film I found two interesting facts that were totally left out of the transcribed versions on The first was that William is listed as “baseborn”. This means that Faith’s deceased husband was NOT William’s father. This is a huge item to leave out when transcribing a record.

The second surprise was a special comment added in to Matilda Western’s baptism record. While George is listed as her father, the clerk or minister wrote in above a “carrot” in front of the George’s name the following “as we may suppose but we have never seen him in this parish for upwards of a year”. Wow! So they are making the insinuation that George may not be Matilda’s father either!

William Western

Wm Western Baptism - Click to Enlarge

Matilda Western

Matilda Western Baptism- Click to Enlarge

The family had lived in Fulstow, Lincolnshire prior to Matilda’s birth and so I had hoped to find a burial record for George there, but the parish register films for Fulstow are missing the years when George is most apt to have died. I’ll have to keep trying to see if I can find a death date for him. In the meantime it looks as if upon the death of George Western, Faith moved to Theddlethorpe where she did have other family members living there. It looks as if she fathered both Matilda and William out of wedlock, possibly both with Thomas Croft.

According to William’s obituary ” about 1828 his mother & 2 of his Brothers & 1 sister emigrated to this country (US) settling in Cincinnati (Ohio) and in 1833 he & 1 sister came & also settled in or near Cincinnati ..” . In 1841, Thomas Croft was age 70 and living on his own in Theddlethorpe. This is quite probably William’s, and possibly Matilda’s, father.

Added Page for Smith / McGowan Family

Margaret and Charles Smith and Children

My Great Great Grandfather, Charles Smith, was a real puzzle for awhile. There were family rumors floating around that his name had originally been McGowan and that he had changed it to Smith to join the Union Army when he was underage. I had assumed for awhile that he had just anglicized “McGowan” and therefore spent a lot time looking for the wrong name! Researching in records for NYC is hard enough without not having the correct information to begin with!

A few years ago, one of my mother’s cousins said that he had papers that explained the entire issue! The papers were affidavits that Charles Smith had to file in order to receive his Civil War pension. In the papers he explains that his birth name was Smith, but that his half siblings were named McGowan and that he took their name in order to join the army when he was underage. His sister, Mary McGowan Powers, testified on his behalf. So.. that part of the mystery was solved.

The interesting part of the story concerns his mother supposedly searching for him.. and not being able to find him because he changed his name. Based on the fact that Charles states that he was often called Charles McGowan growing up, and that he enlisted with his brother.. makes me think that “McGowan” should have been the first name that his mother looked for! So either the account of her looking for him was alittle “off” or Jane was not the brightest woman!

You can find the full report on this family here:Goodwin, McGowan, Smith Families of NYC and Wallingford, CT.