Saturday Night Genealogy Fun

Calling all Genea-Musings Fans:

Here is your assignment, should you decide to accept it (you ARE reading this, so I assume that you really want to play along – cue the Mission Impossible music!):

1)  Which of your known ancestors lived the shortest life?  Consider only the last eight generations and those ancestors with a known birth and death date.  Do you know the cause of death?  Was there an obituary?  How many children did s/he have?  How did you figure this out?

Randy, could you have thought up a more difficult set of questions to answer? As you pointed out in your post, there is no easy way to create a RootsMagic report showing age.

I did use RootsMagic to help with this. The first step involved the use of a custom group showing eight generations of ancestors. To create this group, I placed a check next to my name, clicked on MARK and then selected the ‘Ancestors of Highlighted Person’ option. This opened a window allowing me to set it to 8 generations.

Once I knew I had a group that could be used for a report, I tried to find a report showing ages. As Randy pointed out, this ability to print the age does not appear to exist. So, I turned to custom reports, hoping that I could cause the report to show the age. After verifying that this was not possible, I created a report showing the person’s name, sex, birth date and death date.

I then created a ‘Custom Report’ with my ‘Name Sex Birth Death’ report and my ‘Ancestors 8 gen’ group.

Once the report was generated, I clicked on the disc icon to save the report. I saved it as a .csv file.

After opening my csv file in Excel, I sorted by birth date so I could delete those individuals missing a birth date. Then I sorted by death date to removed those missing a death date. While I tried to use an excel formula to calculate an age, it proved difficult. One of the primary issues was the way the dates were displayed. Thus, I decided to add a column for birth year and death year and use a formula to pull the year from the date.

There were a few instances where I had to manually enter the years. However, the above formulas correctly pulled the years for most of the rows.

Once I had a birth year and a death year, I simply entered a fomula to calculate the age by subtracting the birth year from the death year.

Now, I simply had to sort my spreadsheet by my age column. I actually sorted my spreadsheet by sex and then by age so that I could find the youngest male and youngest female ancestors.

Female Ancestors – Shortest Lives

  • Sarah Merry (1813-1845) – Aaron Hutchinson’s wife; had 1 child who was 9 years old when she died
  • Elizabeth Peabody (1783-1816) – Sarah Merry’s mother; had 4 children
  • Dorothy Tucker (1740-1775) – had 9 children; 9th child born same year she died
  • Jane Skelton (1755-1790) – had 8 children; last child likely born same year she died
  • Susannah Carter (1739-1776) – had 9 known children; youngest child was 3 when she died

Male Ancestors – Shortest Lives

  • Aaron Hutchinson (1803-1837) – Sarah Merry’s husband; had 1 child who was 1 year old when he died
  • Henry F. Burke (1811-1845) – had 5 children; youngest child was 1 year old when he died
  • Ozias Wells (1795-1832) – had 7 children, youngest child was 1 year old when he died
  • Noah Briles (1840-1870) – had 2 children’ youngest childe was 10 years old when he died
  • Henry Jones (1785-1826) – had 2 children; youngest child was 7 when he died

Of these 10 ancestors, I only have an obituary for one of them: my 2nd great grandfather, Noah Washington Briles. This is a very short obituary but it does identify the cause of death.

Briles – On Tuesday, July 15, at his home on Turkey Creek, of consumption of the stomach after a lingering illness of several years, Noah Briles, aged about 40 yea

“Died,” Burlington Democrat (Burlington, Kansas), 18 July 1879, p. 3; digital image, ( : viewed online July 2018).

While I don’t have an ‘obituary’ for Ozias Wells, his death is mentioned in the biography of his son, Benjamin F. Wells.

Benjamin F. Wells was born in Madison Co., N.Y. March 27, 1819, the eldest o seven children; as liberally educated, and thoroughly instructed in the duties of farming. His father, Oziah Wells, was a native of Massachusetts, and died at Princeton, N.J., his being the first pronounced death of that malignant disease, cholera, in the United States.

Samuel W. Durant, History of Ingham and Eaton Counties, Michigan (Philadelphia: D. W. Ensign & Co., 1880), pages 491-492; digital images,, viewed online 4 October 2022.

My post, The Big Ditch, discusses Ozias Wells’ work on a canal and his subsequent death.

Thank you Randy for this challenging look at our ancestors.

2 thoughts on “Saturday Night Genealogy Fun

  1. Randy Seaver

    BRAVO!!! You did it. I agree – it is a challenge. I really should visit your blog more often about RootsMagic issues since you are so good at it.

    Thank you — Randy

  2. Linda Stufflebean

    I was lucky as I knew off the top of my head who my youngest dying ancestors are. Randy is right about RM – you are really good at it!

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