Brick Walls

January 4, 2013: Just in the 10 months since starting this blog, I’ve managed to come a long way in tearing down my original genealogical brick walls! As with every family, though, there’s still a lot more to uncover. Read on to find out more; and if you can help, shoot me an email at tctill @msn dot com. I’m incredibly grateful for any assistance. Thank you!


In terms of family history, I lucked out with my maiden name (Tillinghast), which has been very thoroughly researched, and has in fact won awards for such. This made it very easy to trace my born surname and my own direct line (with help from my uncle, Bud Tillinghast, and Tillinghast experts Greta Tillinghast Tyler and Todd Lawrence) and relatively easy to explore many of the other lines on my father’s side. Thank you to all of the genealogists who paved the way there!

As for my mother’s side of the family — her maiden name is Miller — her paternal ancestry proved a bit more of a challenge; however, I’ve still managed to find plenty of information on her paternal grandparents and their families (much of it courtesy of my aunt, Darlene; thanks, too, to her and to those who have shared information on the Millers, Camerons, Pratts, Hacketts, Fullers, Williams, and Wallises).

This wealth of information has not yet extended to my grandmothers, although I’m slowly finding out more about them — particularly about my paternal grandmother, whose background used to be one giant, mysterious brick wall.

For the longest time, I only knew her name — Clara Ann Cornwell — the date she was born (July 10, 1922), the city where she was born (Portland, OR), and the town she was buried in (Randle, WA, where she also spent at least the last 20 years of her life). I did NOT know her parents’ names, and every online search proved seemingly futile, until

**UPDATE! (3/13/12): Thanks to my Uncle Steven, I now know my grandmother’s father’s name: George Thomas Von Batenburg Cornwell. His wife was named Hazel (not sure of her maiden name yet). I haven’t been able to find any information about them yet, but it’s more than I had before, PLUS I now have access to their pictures! Thank you, Uncle Steven!**


**UPDATE! (1/4/13): Through various searches of Ancestry Dot Com documents (including some old newspaper articles), and using the information I learned from my uncle, I was finally able to track down more information about my great grandmother, Hazel. She was born Hazel C. Hampton in 1901 in Shasta, California. She died in 1975 and is buried (probably by coincidence) in the same cemetery as my paternal grandfather and my aunt (Golden Gate National Cemetery in San Bruno, CA). I also have some information on her paternal line, and even more information on her maternal lineage. **

My great grandfather (my grandma’s father) remains a mystery, other than his name — and on that note, an uncovering of a World War I registration card hints that his name might actually have been Thomas Van Voltenberg Cornwell. I’m hopeful that I can one day learn more about his history, though, just as I continue to learn more about Hazel’s!


Then there’s my paternal great grandmother. I haven’t found a whole lot of information about her beyond her name, Daisy Mae Richards, and her date of birth (May 6, 1881; I also know that she was born in Pennsylvania, possibly in Lackawanna County, and that she and my paternal great grandfather Wilmer Atkinson Tillinghast re-located to Sonoma County, CA in the 1920’s). Several Ancestry Dot com trees list Daisy’s mother as “Elizabeth Colvin” (b. about 1836), but the sources are scarce and the age gap (while possible) makes me wonder. Plus, I haven’t found anything at all about Daisy’s father, or about Elizabeth Colvin’s parents.

**UPDATE! (1/4/13): Daisy’s history still requires much research; however, I’ve discovered through several sources (including some of my Tillinghast family members) that her father was named Horace P. Richards. I believe (based on a couple of Ancestry Dot Com trees and one census) that her mother might have been named Clarra Austin; I’m still not sure, but Clarra Austin seems more likely than Elizabeth Colvin. More to come on this family line! **


Finally, on my mom’s side, my great grandmother’s (her maternal grandmother) ancestry used to be just as mysterious as that of my other great grandmothers — but thanks to my mother’s memory (and a very helpful distant cousin I met via Ancestry Dot Com), I was able to track down her parents’ names (John Hooper and Amanda Elizabeth Snow) and a bit about their backgrounds. As for my great grandfather, Lee Daniel Kenney, born approximately 1907 in Greene County, Missouri, I finally traced him to Arthur Kenney and Lillie Bell Alexander, but I haven’t yet found much of anything on their ancestries (other than that Arthur’s father’s name was probably Nicolas Kenney, and Lillie’s parents were probably William S. Alexander and Mary Ann Stribling).


Again, if YOU have any information on these individuals, particularly Thomas Van Voltenberg Cornwell (George Thomas Van Batenburg Cornwell?) of Alameda County, CA; Horace P. Richards and Clarra Austin of Lackawanna County, PA; or Nicolas Kenney of Greene County, MO, I will be ETERNALLY grateful to you for helping me fill in these gaps in my family tree. THANK YOU AGAIN!

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