Pandemic reboot… or, hello again.

Right before the COVID19 Pandemic, I had PLANS.

The successful busting down of one of my genealogical brick walls led me to believe that following a similarly focused path would lead to another victory. So in the last summer of the Before Times, I made a goal and began to relentlessly pursue it.

That goal was to utilize DNA to figure out the origins of Sarah Tuttle, wife of Philip Hess Bender, Sr.

Testing my patience

My paternal aunt – the eldest living near relative in my family to descend from Sarah – agreed to test her DNA once again. This time she did so with the testing company that has by far and away the largest database: AncestryDNA. By late 2019, her results came in and I quickly found scores of distant cousins who were also descendants of Sarah.

OH YEAH!“, I thought to myself.

I reached out to every last one of those cousins. Only a handful replied. Such is common when the vast majority of folks testing their DNA are only interested in their reported ethnic makeup.

But it was enough to kick things off and by year’s end I began a focused Bender Family DNA project with 10 participants.


Over the 2019-2020 winter holidays, I gleefully input data into a spreadsheet, continued to find new cousins to invite (with five more additions) to join the project and carefully re-examined what paper trail evidence I had.

In doing so, I was able to nail down with certainty that the Elizabeth Perkins who was enumerated with Sarah and Philip in the 1860 US Federal Census was indeed the Elizabeth Tuttle enumerated with John Perkins in the 1850 US Federal Census.

I also created WikiTree profiles for the “Philadelphia Tuttles” – the very few persons with that surname who lived in Philadelphia around the time of Sarah’s birth. Doing this helped me organize a long held mishmash of information and notes so that I could see just how these folks were connected, even if I have yet to find a connection to Sarah.

And in January 2020, I found myself nearly consumed by these Philadelphia Tuttles – nearly all who seemed to be from just one family and with most of the men disappearing from record around 1832/1833. I have long suspected that these Tuttle men who suddenly vanished from all record died during the Cholera Pandemic of 1832.

And so it was while I was deep in the process of organizing my research on these Tuttle men that abruptly the world became afflicted with a new pandemic. My city went on lockdown, my son went full virtual schooling for the next 15 months and and we all made constant adjustments to an ever-changing new normal.

Fast forward to today…

My plan is still intact, however, progress has been so very minimal. Whenever opportunity rarely presented, I threw all I could at the brick wall, but… it still has barely cracked. And though in AncestryDNA alone, I have identified more than 100 matches to my aunt who are Bender descendants, very few have joined the Bender Family DNA project.

I get it.

We’re still in the throes of a pandemic. Genealogy and unearthing the stories buried from long ago just aren’t a priority.

The mystery of Sarah remains. But I’ll keep trying to learn her story and bring her into the light.



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