Saturday, June 4, 2016

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: My Best Genealogy Research Find in May 2016

This week's topic for Saturday Night Genealogy Fun is our best research find in May 2016. Without a doubt, mine has to be the information discovered in the Draper Manuscript Collection about my ancestors, Henry Jolly and Vachel Dickerson. Henry Jolly was a veteran of the Revolutionary War and applied for a pension in 1818 when he was living in Washington County, Ohio.1 Vachel Dickerson married Henry's daughter, Sidney (Siddy) Jolly.2

Back in January, I learned that Lyman Draper had interviewed both of these men, but I was unable to get to the University of Central Florida, which has the collection on microfilm, until May. The collection is huge, so the first thing I did was locate the library's copy of Josephine Harper's guide, discovering that these two men and their families were directly interviewed or mentioned by others in nine different series of the collection. I had limited time, so I hastily scanned the relevant pages and walked away with over 200 images. Not all of the images pertain directly to Henry Jolly or Vachel Dickerson, but all are relevant to events that affected them or other family members.

I am still transcribing these documents, but the best part was an interview with Vachel Dickerson talking about his family, including his in-laws. In one note, Lyman Draper even identifies the names and birthdates provided in Henry Jolly's handwriting!3 The notes have confirmed the following:
  • Henry Jolly's parents: Peter & Martha Jolly
  • Henry's birthplace: Chester County, Pennsylvania
  • Henry's wife: Rachel Greist4
  • Rachel's parents: John & Elizabeth Greist5
  • Rachel's brother: John Greist
  • The existence of three other Greist siblings, even though their first names are not provided
  • Confirmed family legend that Rachel was scalped as a child, and suffered from the wound the rest of her life
  • Vachel's parents: Thomas & Margaret (Davis) Dickerson6
  • Vachel's birthplace: Fayette County, Pennsylvania
  • Vachel's siblings: Fredrick, Joseph, Isabella, Rebecca, Ellender, Elizabeth, Thomas and Sarah
Yes, some of these names were readily available from published genealogies and online trees, but none of the ones I examined had sources listed. The Draper Manuscripts allowed me to go back one generation on not one, but THREE direct lines, with evidence provided by the research subjects themselves!


1. "Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files," digital images, ( accessed 27 May 2016), entry for Henry Jolly, Pennsylvania line; citing National Archives microfilm publication Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files. M804, roll 1435.

2. William H. Jennings Esq., "Marriage Record, Washington County, Ohio, July 9, 1789 - April 25, 1822," The Old Northwest Genealogical Quarterly 4 (July 1901); digital images, MyHeritage ( : accessed 6 Mar 2016).

3. "The Henry Jolly Family," Series 9S, Draper's Notes, vol. 1, pp. 79-80; Draper Manuscripts, Wisconsin Historical Society, Madison.

4. Series 2E, Samuel Brady and Lewis Wentzel Papers, Draper Manuscripts. Wisconsin Historical Society, Madison.

5.  "The Greist Family," Series 9S, Draper's Notes, vol. 1, pp. 85-86; Draper Manuscripts, Wisconsin Historical Society, Madison.

6. "The Henry Jolly Family," Series 9S, 1:79-80; Draper Manuscripts.


  1. How wonderful!!! Amazing that you were able to get so much information and even move 3 lines back a generation. And, proof of the scalping story is priceless. I'd love to hear exactly what was said about that. Will you be sharing more?

    Alxo, I've heard of the Draper Manuscript Collection, but don't really know much about it. How do you find out if you have ancestors who might be listed in it?

  2. Dana, I will probably share more on this line later this summer. I'm still finding information, and need time to properly analyze what I've found to date.

    For the Draper Collection, there have been several guides published. MyHeritage has the one from 1906 in their database, and there's where I found the first references. The library I found the film at has Josephine Harper's more recent guide, so I also used that to know what series to look at.