I recently discussed some of the trials and tribulations of doing genealogy research. (See Post # 1285). I’m motivated because of adoption and therefore not having the experience of growing-up around blood relatives. There were family reunions and sleep-overs, but I always felt there was something missing. I was certainly used to being around people where there was little physical resemblance, but it’s now fun to compare eyes, ears, and noses with those who share DNA. Unfortunately, most of my connections are on “paper,” with relatives that are dead or complete strangers.  

I’ve now added 27,000 people to my Jerry Banister Family Tree that was just me alone five years ago. Adoption and hospital records show that I was born a Banister, sometimes spelled with two n’s. Oddly, both of my biological parents also shared that surname, but were distant relatives. Otherwise, I might have had some “kissin’ kouzin dane bramage.” They both went to the same high school but were about four years apart in age. I know little else about their relationship, other than it led to me. 

There are 387 DNA matches on Ancestry.com alone that I have identified on my tree. This has taken a lot of time to do and other than a couple of very close meaningful connections, most have led to few answers about my past. There are another 40 matches on 23andMe, but these are much tougher to identify. You can compare relatives you have in common, but little information on their identity, date of birth, or location. Ancestry provides “common ancestors” that allow you to easily track their place on the tree. However, not all of them have this common link and therefore make them nearly impossible to chart. 

“Common Ancestors” typically date back to the mid to late 1700’s. With Trans-Altlantic roots, earlier relationships are much tougher to accurately confirm. I identified Laborn Banister, “Devil Bill” Cline, and William Bannister in my last post. Other names from the past include Thomas Hale Ely (1725-1882) moved to Virginia from England. Another Hoosier connection with the Bannister clan, William Van Meter (1762-1850), moved his family from Virginia. My two favorite friendly ghosts from the past, George Casper Wyse (1828-1915) and his father Casper Wyse. There was also David Casper Banister, William Casper Wise (different last name spelling), Casper Godfrey, James Casper Brooks, and Hugh Casper Pence. When there’s too many Caspers in the family, “who you gonna call…Ghostbusters?”

Too many frickin’ Williams, Wyse as opposed to Wise, Kline or Cline, one “n” or two in Ban(n)ister, or Tadlock vs. Tadlock make genealogists like me crazy. It’s hard to know if they’re truly blood-line relatives if their names are spelled differently. I faced the same issue with my adopted name of Johnston, too often confused with Johnson. As comedian Bill Saluga (Raymond J. Johnson, Jr.) used to rant, “Ahh you doesn’t has to call me Johnson! You can call me Ray, or you can call me Jay, or you can call me Johnny or you can call me Sonny or you can call me RayJay, or you can call me R.J….but you doesn’t hafta call me Johnson!” In general, it’s very confusing trying to sort out all these often misspelled Ghosts from the Past.