A Unique Genealogical Find on Christmas Night

I absolutely adore those unexpected finds, don’t you?!  During my two week hiatus I decided I’d try to solve a John Duer (1801-1885) mystery.  I wasn’t able to do that yet but I have made some tremendous progress and want to share how I came to put the pieces together to answer my question – Why is it written on Mary Jane Morrison Duer’s 1866 tombstone “Wife of John Duer” when John was married to Margaret Ann Martz Searight Duer at the time of Jane’s death? I have never found a marriage record for the 2nd marriage nor have I found a divorce record for the first wife.  Was there more than one John Duer? (Yes, there are many!) Was John polygamous?  (Could be but I haven’t found that in the Duer line.  They were Quakers, Presbyterians and then Independent Christians.) 

John and Jane are my paternal third great grandparents.  No one ever mentioned them but in all fairness, I was not close to my father’s side of the family so I never got much family information about anyone. Duer cousins I have connected with have no information, either.

I love researching the Duers for several reasons – 1.  They are complex in that they reuse the same names every  generation – John, William, Thomas, and they all have large families so separating who is who is a wonderful mind puzzle.  2.  Records are scarce – they don’t leave many records and they just disappear in thin air.  3.  Somehow, every time I go back to working on those lines a strange event occurs to help me find the information.  That kind of happened again Christmas night which I think was the most perfect gift I received.

The week before Christmas I re-analyzed all the information I had on the family and began to sort out some anomalies.  I discovered that a Find-A-Grave memorial for a John Fred Duer is in error.  I’ve written to my distant cousin to have it corrected.  The mistake was in plain site on the page and I’m embarrassed I didn’t catch it years ago.  The memorial shows that the man was 102-3 when he died – possible but unlikely.  Looking at the individual who requested the tombstone, I realized that two Johns – John Fred and John B. had been merged.  The birthdate for John B. was entered with the death date for John Fred.  The tombstone does not provide a birth date.  

John B. was John and Jane’s son; John Fred[eric] was the son of Charles Edward and Almeda Buckmaster Duer.  Charles Edward was the son of John and 2nd wife Margaret Martz Duer.  John Fred’s mother had requested the military tombstone for her son who had served in World War 1.  John B. was dead before World War 1 and too old to serve.

I can understand how the mistake happened – most of John and Jane’s children are buried in Kessler Cemetery, Mercer, Ohio.  John B., however, is not – he is buried in Backestro Cemetery, Adams, Indiana.  John and Margaret lived in Adams, Indiana so you would think they would be buried there but Margaret, Charles Edward and John Fred are buried in Kessler.  No one knows where John, husband of Jane and Margaret, was buried.  My guess is Kessler in an unmarked grave.  I’ve checked with those who oversee the cemetery and there is a depression next to Jane’s grave that was possibly an interment.  My guess is that the family didn’t pay for a tombstone.  More on that in another blog sometime.

My working theory is that some of John and Jane’s children were not wild about  his second marriage to Margaret.  Hence, they would put the “wife of John” on Jane’s tombstone to validate their mother’s marriage to their father.  I wanted to narrow down the time period of when the couple split and try to determine how John met Margaret since she was in the next state.  I’ll write more about that another time, too.

My thought was to check out, in detail, all of the players – meaning looking more closely at all of the children of the two couples and their spouses.  I used Excel to list all of them, the date and the place where I had a record they could be found.  I realized there was a lot I did not know.  I’ll be writing in the next few weeks about some of the interesting and sad finds I made but for now, back to the Christmas night find.

I was using FamilySearch.org image feature which I highly recommend.  If you haven’t used it you must because almost all of the wonderful information I have compiled lately on this family is from this unindexed, convoluted place.  You must try it! Images do not mean pictures as in photos. Images mean they are a picture of a document.  They look just like the other microfilmed documents that are indexed on the site.  The images are not always orderly, meaning you might find a death record next to a marriage consent.  You must take it slow, examine closely and click away.

To use images, sign into Familysearch.org, on the ribbon click “Search” and the “Images.” Under “Place” type whatever area you are researching.  In this case, I was looking for a deed record for Mercer County, Ohio because John and Jane were last found together there in July 1860 in the US Federal Census.  I entered in Place “United States, Ohio, Mercer” and clicked Search Image Groups. When I try to duplicate that search today, however, it will only let me enter Ohio, United States.  Don’t know why it’s been changed but no worries!  On the left hand side of the screen “Places Within” is a drop down so I will scroll to Mercer [County]. There are 321 record types to look at – woo hoo, that’s a lot of info that may or may not be relevant.  

The 1860 US federal census showed John and Jane living two residences away from their married daughter, Maria Duer Kuhn, in Liberty Township, Mercer, Ohio. Liberty Township should have been where I was looking for a record of the deed for the property but I didn’t find that township specifically.  (I first tried the Mercer County, Ohio property appraiser site and did not find the record there).  With the options limited, I clicked on FamilySearch.org on Celina, Land Record 1834-2003, etc.  I was thinking that Celina was the county seat and that’s where the deed may have been recorded. 

Remember, these images are not indexed so I decided I would open the page to as full a view as possible (meaning I clicked the > on the right hand side and was just mindlessly clicking image after image zeroing in on the years 1850 (when I last knew the family was in Killbuck, Holmes, Ohio based on the census and 1866 when John and Margaret had their first child together and Jane died. Sometime in those 16 years perhaps there was a deed in Mercer and I wanted to know which wife was on it.) Turns out that wasn’t correct but that’s another story…

It was a very good practice that I had first become familiar with children and their spouses.  After just a few minutes, on image 130 of 1112, I discovered the record at the top of the page.  Look at the second from last entry above for Grantees Ceraldo, John F. & Mary Ceraldo.    

John and Jane’s daughter, Mary Ann, has been elusive and here I found a deed record for her and her husband in 1887.  I about jumped out of my chair!  

All I knew of Mary was that she had married twice, to a James Furman in July 1875 and to John L. Ceraldo in April 1879, both in Mercer County, Indiana.  I can’t find her in the 1860 or 1900 census. There is a child, Daniel, listed with the couple in 1870 US federal census, however, it must be from a previous relationship of John’s.  That is the only record for the child I could find. No marriage record for a possible first wife.  No burial records.  Nada!

John Ceraldo was a naturalized citizen having been born in Mexico and serving in the cavalry for the Union during the Civil War.  He could not read nor write so his name is spelled in multiple ways in the few records found.  The couple eventually ended up in Michigan where Mary died in 1909.  Sadly, John, the informant, knew John Duer was Mary’s father but did not mention Jane as her mother.  The mother space is recorded as Unknown.  Jane, having died in 1866, probably never met John but why didn’t Mary ever talk about her?  This seemed to be a pattern with the younger children of John and Jane as James William and Angeline’s death certificates list an incorrect first name or record unknown.  More Duer mysteries!  Why was Jane forgotten by her youngest children?

What was so awesome about this find was that I wasn’t looking for it.  I also was able to place the couple in Ohio as they had not yet relocated to Michigan. The gap between 1880 and 1900 is large so any find in that period is just wonderful.  I also discovered they continued living in Jefferson Township, since at least 1870, and not Liberty Township where siblings had settled.  

I don’t know the relationship of Daniel Webster, also listed as a Grantee, is to the couple.  That’s another clue I have to pursue.  

I’m looking forward to more Duer finds this year.  Since my top 10 blogs from 2020 showed that my readers love the unexpected, I thought you might enjoy the following article in the Washington Post (3 Jan 2021) Near the End of life, my hospice patient had a ghostly visitor who altered his view of the world, by Scott Janssen, originally published in Pulse – Voices From the Heart of Medicine.  If only John or Jane would give me a visit!

With Heavy Heart, Comparing Ancestor Patriots to Those Who Stormed the Capitol

My blog plans have changed due to the events of this past week.  Originally, I was going  to share a find I discovered by accident on Christmas evening but that will wait. 

When I began Genealogy At Heart, my goal was to post blogs to further the genealogical education of everyone interested in family history.  One of the ways I would accomplish that objective was through sharing heartwarming genealogical finds. 

My heart hurt this week by the lack of respect and the irresponsibility that was shown by the mob that attacked the Capitol in Washington, DC on January 6. Their denial of the truth and their selfish actions are abhorrent.   Although I have only once previously written about my personal political beliefs I cannot remain silent on what occurred on Wednesday. 

I suspect, based on your belief system, you may stop reading this – here’s why you shouldn’t do that and try to keep an open mind.  We can’t pick and choose our ancestors.  You need to be open to all the records of their lives so it would be in your best interest now to practice that today and continue reading. 

A genealogist needs to be respectful, responsible, honest and hard working.  I believe those 4 traits are beneficial to all people in every career field.  Today, I’m providing some genealogical education since it appears, based on the latest poll, that 45% of U.S.Republicans believe that the mob’s behavior was acceptable.  Please know I am not bashing Republicans as my own family had been members since the days of Abraham Lincoln. My intent today is to reflect on the events of January 6, 2021 and compare it to my family research. Wednesday was a historic day for our nation and my family was a part of much of the United States’ history.

As an educator, I often give non-examples to students and I intend to use that method below. 

What is a “patriot”?  Google’s dictionary states its “1. A person who vigorously supports their country and is prepared to defend it against enemies or detractors.” 

Those who believe that storming the Capitol is acceptable behavior are calling themselves patriots. Donald Trump and his daughter also used the term, though she deleted it.  I vehemently disagree with them.

I vigorously support my country and I am willing to defend it against enemies/detractors.  The key word is “enemies” which the Google dictionary defines as “a person who is actively opposed or hostile to someone or something.”  I am not hostile (unfriendly/antagonistic); those who took part in the assault on the Capitol were and they were violating the sanctity of our country’s rules of law.  The legislators tasked with certifying the election results were not the enemy; they were following the law.  They were voted in by their constituents to do that job.  Those who tried to prevent them from their jobs are the enemies and are not patriots.

An enemy is not someone who merely disagrees with you.  An enemy uses violence because they want it their way and  believe their view is the only one that matters.  Patriots DO NOT act in that manner. 

Here are some examples of Non Patriots and Patriots:

Non Patriot

Photo texted to author by colleague.
Wearing the shirt “Camp Auschwitz” exemplifies being a NON PATRIOT.  There are no words I can use in a family blog to describe someone who mocks the 1.1 MILLION who died at Auschwitz.

Patriot

PATRIOT George Willard Harbaugh (1924-2004) served in World War 2.  He was captured and held by the Nazi regime in Camp Stalag Luft 4 Gross-Tychow & after the notorious Black March, was confined at Camp Wobbelin Bei Ludwigsloft. He earned a Purple Heart.  I knew this Patriot; he would be appalled by what happened on Wednesday.  He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery. He is my husband’s uncle.

Non Patriot

Photo on site by Simon Davis-Cohen, no photographer noted. Antagonizing those who are serving to protect and defend the citizens of this country who follow the rules of law are NON PATRIOTS.  Granted, this country needs to clean up the folks in blue as not all of them are fit to serve. It is still inexcusable to resort to violence.

Patriot

Patriot George Bryant Harbaugh (1893-1954) served in World War 1.  He was injured at Chateau-Thierry, France on 14 July 1918 & in the Argonne Forest on 1 Oct 1918 supporting France from the “enemy.” He earned a Purple Heart.  He and wife Elsie (1896-1968) to his right, were the parents of PATRIOT George Willard Harbaugh & they are my husband’s maternal grandparents.

Non Patriot

Photo by Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP. Carrying a flag does not make you a Patriot; standing for the ideals of the country does. This clown, Jake Angeli, (clearly man is not the right word; my middle school males are more manly then this person) needs someone with sense to tell him it is not Halloween, he isn’t a shaman, Q Anon is FAKE NEWS,  nor is it appropriate to mock the hallowed halls of Congress.  Screaming is also inappropriate.  Guess he never learned how to choose a positive peer group either based on those surrounding him who are allowing his poor conduct.  All pictured are NON PATRIOTS.  (I just keep thinking – where were the women in these men’s lives? How could you raise a son to act this way? Why would you date/marry someone with these character traits? Come on, ladies, step it up to become Patriots!)

Patriots

PATRIOTS are not found just in the Military.  On 4 Jul 1923 these Patriots were celebrating our country’s independence.  They were immigrants who were mocked for where they happened to be born & the religion they chose to follow, worked their entire lives in dangerous low level jobs, endured a KKK cross burning yet they so strongly believed in the ideals of this nation they became citizens. Left to right, boarder living with my grandparents, my maternal grandmother Mary Koss (1900-1985) & my great uncle Joseph Koss Jr. (1902-1993).

Non Patriot

Getty Images/Photographer unspecified. I have no idea what the above person’s education level is, however, he made a poor choice in breaking into the Capitol. Did he never pass Civics?! That “duh” look on his face shows he has perfected playing stupid over the years to get out of trouble.  Education or lack of it does not make one a Patriot.  Storming the Capitol to interrupt the important business of certifying a national election to attest the leader of the free world is most definitely something a NON PATRIOT would do. 

Patriot
Patriot

My maternal grandfather, Ivan “John” Koss (1892-1970), left, did not have the opportunity to attend even 1 day of school.  He often endured the slur, DP, at his job with U.S. Steel in Gary, Lake, Indiana.  He wanted to become a U.S. citizen so badly but feared he would not pass the test due to his illiteracy.  The girl pictured below him is his daughter Mary Lou (1931-1999).  She tutored him and he successfully passed to become a citizen in 1942.  She is shown on the bike she was given for her help in allowing him to reach his dream.  She went on to volunteer with her chosen political party as an adult for years to ensure that everyone eligible could exercise their voting rights. Even though he had a wooden leg, John hobbled in the cold Indiana weather to vote in every election.  They were true PATRIOTS even though they belonged to different political parties.

Non Patriot

Photo by Mike Theiler, Reuters

Parading into the Capitol with the symbol of racism from THE LOSING SIDE in the Civil War is demonstrating NON PATRIOTISM, along with prejudice, white supremacy, a disregard for the feelings of others AND the stupidity of not realizing that the south lost the Civil War over 155 years ago.  Get over it and stop believing the lie that the war was about state rights.

Truly this is a creepy photo not just due to the fact that it’s the first time the Confederate flag was brought into the Capitol.  You can read more about the men in the portraits and their views on the nation’s divisions in the mid 1800’s.

Patriot

My 1st cousin, 3 times removed, Jacob Wilson Parrott (1843-1908) was left orphaned at age 10. He later became a private in the Union Army, Company K, 33rd Ohio Infantry in 1861.  He volunteered in 1862 to infiltrate Confederate lines and hijacked the locomotive, The General, from Atlanta, Georgia.  He was successful in destroying the train, however he was captured and severely beaten 110 times in an attempt to make him talk.  He refused to be broken and later  escaped.  Captured again, he was exchanged in a soldier swap.  He was taken to Washington, D.C. where he met President Abraham Lincoln and was the first recipient of the Medal of Honor. This PATRIOT, like John McCain and George Willard Harbaugh who were captured, was not a “loser” as the current individual residing at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue would call him.  A loser and Non Patriot is someone who incites others to “be worst!” and then watches the events unfold from safety. In other words, they are cowards.

Non Patriot

Photo by Saul Loep/AFP/Getty Images. If you are  proud while breaking the law you are a NON PATRIOT. Taking what doesn’t belong to you makes you a thief, aka criminal. This individual did not come to unite the country but to take home a souvenir. Shallow and selfish!

Patriot

This is the grave marker for my immigrant 2nd great grandfather, Henry Kuhn and his wife, Maria Duer.  Henry, born in Bedesbach, Pfalz, Bavaria arrived at 16 in the U.S. At age 30, in 1862, he joined the Union Army & served as a private in the 45th Regiment, Ohio Infantry, Company 1 in the Civil War.  He didn’t have to, he wanted to. He is a PATRIOT and I am proud to be a Daughter of the Union Veterans because of his belief that our country be “UNITED.”

Non Patriot

Photo by Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Image. Richard “Bigo” Barnett of Gravette, Arkansas – you are a NON PATRIOT.  Poor baby, was it too long you had to stand that made you have to sit at someone’s desk and put your feet up? You are not even close to being George Patton Reincarnated as your Facebook page is titled.  Taking mail that doesn’t belong to you makes you a thief.  Leaving a quarter doesn’t make it right. Your actions show your lack of character. You would think by age 60 wisdom would have been involved but clearly Small Minded Bigo has none .

Patriot

Like Henry Kuhn, PATRIOT Samuel “August” Samuelson (1839-1908) was an immigrant from Stora Haddebo, Vastra Harg, Ostergotland, Sweden who arrived in the U.S. at age 12 with his family.  Settling in Indiana, he chose to join the 73rd Indiana Infantry Regiment as a private in the Civil War.  He was seriously wounded and left for dead at Stone River, Tennessee but he survived.  Although he suffered the remainder of his life from his injuries, this PATRIOT refused to give up and went on to become a prosperous farmer.  He is my husband’s paternal 2nd great grandfather. You would never have seen this man breaking into someone’s office, rifling through their belongings and putting his disabled leg up on their furniture.

Result of the actions of a Non Patriot

CNN article by Harmeet Kaur, no photographer noted. Vandalizing property is only done by NON PATRIOTS. Destroying historical property is only done by thugs and idiots. No “good” person would act in this manner.

Patriot

My husband’s 2nd great maternal grandfather, John A. Long, (he was the grandfather of Patriot John Bryant Harbaugh) so hated slavery that he was run out of Morristown, Jefferson, Tennessee at age 16 because of his views.  Relocating to Indiana, he decided to enlist, at age 49, as a teamster with Union Army Company I, Indiana 9th Infantry Regiment.  His experiences took him all the way to Texas.  He mustered out on 28 September 1865.  John Long demonstrates you can be a PATRIOT at any age.

Non Patriot Action

Photo by Melina Mara/Washington Post. Leaving a mess behind for someone else to clean up is what a NON PATRIOT does. Did no one ever teach this group to leave your area better than how you found it?

Patriot

Leonard Harbaugh (1749-1822), my husband’s 5th great grand uncle, was a carpenter who helped build the original White House, the contractor for the War and Treasury Buildings and the Foreman of Carpenters for the Capitol after it needed to be restored due to the previous siege by the British in August 1814.  He and his wife are buried in the Capitol Cemetery in Washington, D.C.  I can only imagine how that PATRIOT would have viewed those who vandalized his hard work. Bet he always left a clean job site!

Non Patriot

Jenny Cudd – seriously, grow up.  You are a NON PATRIOT and act like a spoiled child. As a white woman you sicken me! Maybe you need to think about your actions as it probably explains why you weren’t elected mayor in Midland, TX in 2019.  Kudos to your community to seeing what you represent.

Patriot

Above is the grave marker from Covententer’s Cemetery, Jackson, Mahoning, Ohio, of my 5th great grandfather, John Duer (1748-1831) who served as a private in the Sussex County, New Jersey Militia for the Continental Army.  He had a son who served in the War of 1812 and a grand son who served in the Mexican American War.  Clearly, this PATRIOT led by example and instilled in his descendants the importance of protecting our democracy.

Actions of a Non Patriot

Photo by Katherine Frey/Washington Post. Only a NON PATRIOT would think it was acceptable to deface something that does not belong to them.  For all those real Patriots who were injured doing what was right, the NON PATRIOT’s action makes a mockery of what real Patriots endured. This statue purportedly was vandalized with blood. Only a mentally ill person or someone who has no understanding of the dangers of body fluid transmission would do something like this. Guess that explains why the vast majority of the mob didn’t wear a mask or social distance.

Patriot

My husband’s maternal 4th great grandfather, Christian Thomas Harbaugh, a member of the Moravian Church that opposed violence knew it was the right thing to do to stand up to the invading British Army.  Christian was commissioned in Christian Smith’s Company as an Ensign on 29 March 1779 in Frederick County, Maryland.  Putting your country first demonstrates being a true PATRIOT.

Non Patriot

Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images. NON PATRIOTS believe stealing is acceptable. You might not expect that from a father of 5 with a physician wife but Adam Johnson from Parrish, Florida thought his white male privilege made him cute and justified his actions.  It does not – he needs to be in jail. He’s a danger to raising those children. I wouldn’t want his wife to provide me medical assistance even if I was near death. He is maskless and not social distancing. When he gets home he can easily spread covid to his family. She needs to lose her job.

Patriot Sadly, there is no picture for Wilson Williams (1754-1831),  my husband’s 4th great paternal grandfather who served in Hempstead Harbor, Long Island, New York’s Militia Company in 1775.  In keeping with his religious belief, his grave was simply marked with a stone that has disappeared over time.  He is buried next to his wife in the Dutch Reformed Church Cemetery, Long Island, New York. Family lore states the Hessians invaded his home but were driven out as the soldiers thought the fireplace was possessed by the devil.  It actually was chestnuts, stored on a niche in the fireplace, exploding from the fire.  Wilson and his sons were able to use the Hessian’s arms to keep them from returning.  What a PATRIOT!

In my family tree, I have more than the 12 Patriots I have highlighted above but these were the individuals that came to mind as I watched in horror on Wednesday at the events unfolded at the Capital.

My Patriots were NOT perfect people, just like every other human.  They did, however, strive to do what was right for their country.  I honor their courage and spirit.  As you reflect on the events of the past week, please think of your Patriot ancestors and pledge that you will follow in their footsteps.  We have a lot of work to do in this country and now is the time to get involved.

Top Genealogy At Heart Posts from 2020

Welcome back to another year of Genealogy at Heart.  Here’s hoping your holidays were quiet, safe and delightful!

I’m longing for the comfort of ritual traditions that were discarded last year due to all the chaos.  In keeping with how I have started every past January blog, here’s my review of the top 10 Genealogy at Heart posts for 2020:

That Creepy House in Your Neighborhood 4 Oct  

More Tech Safety Suggestions 12 Sep 

A Strange Way to Select a Genealogy Research Project 11 Oct 

Evernote Info to Keep Your Info Safe 5 Sep 

Time Sensitive – Saving Your Ancestry.com Messages  29 Aug

DNA Ethnicity Surprises 20 Sep 

Your Family and the Neighbors 27 Sep 

US Census:  An Interactive Timeline 2 May 

Free Sites for Genealogy in April and Onward 11 Apr 

Stuck on Where to Find Family Records – Try This Underused Resource 16 Feb 

What’s odd is that there was only one article that made the top 10 that was B.C. (Before Covid). Maybe you were all too busy in the first three months of the year to read my blog?!  

I’m not surprised by the others listed as I know, dear reader, you are interested in stretching your cash as genealogy can get expensive.  You also want to keep your hard work safe so you care about tech safety.  Keeping up with trends, such as DNA, and realizing the importance of seeking out new records in out of the way places and then analyzing closely what was discovered is something you value.  

I do think it’s hilarious that two of my more other worldly posts are in the top 3. Next week, I’ll be writing about a weird find I made Christmas night.  See you next week…

Your Family and the Neighbors

Somehow – this did not get transferred from Blogger to my website on 27 Sep 2020 so here it is:

This is the second weekend that has been absolutely beautiful in my part of the world and I spent it putting in my fall garden. Yesterday, our new neighbors, who actually aren’t new, inquired as to what we were growing.  They plan on putting a raised bed garden in next weekend along our shared fence line.

So, how is a “new” neighbor not new?  Well, they lived one house north of their present location for two years and moved one house south in May when the former owner decided to move into a condo after his wife died the previous year.  The condo he moved into is next door to his deceased wife’s first husband.  They all remained good friends.  

The house that the “new” neighbors moved from was purchased by someone they knew from the New England state they formally lived in.  This new to me neighbor is their old friend.

Same thing happened to the house on the corner of our block – the person who built it decided to buy some property on a lake a few miles north where he could retire.  He sold it to a Midwest family.  They lived their for two years and decided to move to a home not far away with more amenities.  They sold the “old” house to a relative.

One of my adults kids bought a home two years ago that’s only 4 minutes from me (if I miss the light).  The insurance agent we recommended is the brother of someone who I used to eat lunch in high school with and who was a good friend of my husbands.  That high school is 1500 miles from where we all currently reside.

My own family flipped houses, too.  I have a nice brick bbq grill my husband and son built based on a memory of one of the house flips.  My grandparents decided their first home had become too large so they had a smaller house built a few miles away from the original home in Indiana in the early 1960’s.  One of the “extras” they selected was a brick bbq in the backyard.  Looking back on it now I find the choice amusing because they had no experience with outside grilling.  They used the grill only once, a Memorial Day weekend, when I was 5.  I distinctly remember it because the house their original home they sold to my uncle and his family the year before.  Being small, I have no memory of the family’s real estate transaction.  I do have some memories of visiting their prior home for holidays and regular visits.  I distinctly remember playing hide and seek with my cousins in the new house as I climbed into a window seat and fell asleep.  That caused the adults to hysterically run around looking for me.  The window seat became off limits to us after that. But back to the bbq grill…

The reason I remember the grill is because on that particular Memorial Day weekend my grandparents were giving a going away party to my uncle, recently divorced, who was going to move to Florida.  They had bought their old home back from him and this was the last family get together in their “new” home.  He was the only one in the family that knew how to light charcoal.  The problem was there was a downpour shortly after he lit the briquettes and they were quickly extinguished.  We ran into the house and since we were a large family in a small home, the women went to the kitchen to prepare the food on the stove and the rest of us were sent to the basement, which was pretty much empty.  The adults brought down some folding chairs and the kids sat on the bare concrete to eat our hot dogs.  

I share this story because 60 years ago my family, much like my neighbors, played musical households – selling to a family or friend and in our case, returning to the original home.  

Sure, family, friends and neighbors traveled in wagon trains, passenger ships and on barges to emigrate to a new community.  I hadn’t really thought much about that being a common custom continuing today until my back yard chat with those “new” “old” neighbors yesterday.  

In this ever changing world that requires almost daily adaptions, it’s nice to think that we still seek the comfort of our loved ones to rely on in our neighbors for support.

Lessons Learned From A Past Pandemic

My backyard poinsettia is in full bloom, the radio is playing holiday tunes and I should be baking and partying with those I love.  Except I’m not.  I hope you aren’t either. With a reported 16,000,000 million cases and nearly 300,000 deaths in the U.S. from covid as of today per Google, I can’t stop thinking about the picture above.  

Yes, it is morbid, depressing and haunting.  Taken outside the Croatian Church, then located on 23rd Avenue in Gary Indiana on the 21 February 1919, the deceased man in the center in the coffin is my maternal great grandfather that I never met because of his untimely death at age 43 of broncho-pneumonia brought on by influenza.  Joseph Kos was one of the estimated 675,000 U.S. deaths from the 1918-1919 H1N1 Pandemic. 

We’re approaching half way to the number of deceased from 100 years ago and we’re not yet close enough to see the end of the spread of covid.  That saddens me immensely!  For all of the advances in health care in the past century you would think the current death rate would be low.  Interesting how we rely on modern medicine when simple old fashioned hand washing, distancing and masks could have significantly lessened the death toll.

My mother, Dorothy Koss Leininger, didn’t remember her grandfather as he died when she was an infant but his death changed the course of her life forever.  History is repeating itself again and still we haven’t learned.  

Joseph emigrated from Croatia, then part of Austria-Hungary, in January 1910.  This was not his first time in the U.S., as he had initially come in 1893 but returned home to marry Ana Katherine Grdenich on 10 February 1895. Family lore says he joined the military and served in the cavalry but after sustaining a kick to his head from a horse while it was being reshooed, he developed epilepsy and was forced to leave the service.  With jobs scarce he decided to return to the U.S. After his arrival in New York he worked as a laborer for the Pullman Company.  He’s found in Chardon, Geauga, Ohio in the 1910 U.S. federal census as an alien speaking no English.  

With his Pullman job, Joseph traveled the country and ultimately ended up in Chicago in 1913.  Residing in Pullman housing, he sent for his wife and two children, Mary, my grandmother, and Joseph Jr. (Josip), to join him.  Ana was soon pregnant and gave birth to daughter Barbara on 14 Sep 1914 in Blue Island, Cook, Illinois.  

Joseph arranged for daughter Mary to wed John (Ivan) Kos, a villager and purported second cousin who had happened to also arrive in Chicago and worked for the Pullman Company. Mary and John wed on 28 January 1917 in Chicago; their first child, my mother, Dorothy, was born in Pullman housing on 14 April 1918.  

The family moved sometime in the latter part of 1918, renting a home at 1521 Garfield Street in Gary, Lake, Indiana.  Joseph and John found work with the I.I.B. Teaming Company which supplied laborers to U.S. Steel Corporation.  To save money, instead of using the available street car, Joseph and John commuted the 1.5 miles to work and back daily via bicycle.  With contract tracing unavailable in those days, it is not known where or how Joseph contracted the flu.  My grandmother believed it was from work which was likely, as the conditions inside the mill were brutal – unheated, with poor ventilation and large numbers of unmasked men toiling round the clock and then riding home exhausted in a cold rain would lower anyone’s resistance to infection.  As an immigrant with WW1 being fought overseas and knowing you are the bread winner your family depends on added further stress.

The last photo taken of Joseph, shown above, shows the funeral attendees maskless and not socially distancing.  I have no idea why.  Perhaps they were mask slackers but I doubt that as my grandmother always washed her hands as soon as she came in from any errand.  I suspect they didn’t know they should.  I suspect that U.S. Steel did not mandate that workers wear a mask.  By clicking through the death certificates on Ancestry I can see many men who worked as laborers dying of the same conditions during the same time period as Joseph.  Possibly Joseph caught the flu from one of the men who died shortly before him, perhaps not.  John also was ill but he recovered.  

The man on the far left of the photo was the funeral home director; maskless, he clearly did not require a face covering be worn.  The man holding the wreath to the back left of the coffin is John Koss, Joseph’s son-in-law.  The young man holding the wreath on the right is Joseph Jr.  Next to Joseph (look closely) is my grandmother Mary, hidden by a black veil. I like to think she was the only one with any sense to wear the face covering but knowing her well, I think her choice was due to a fashion statement.  Next to Mary was her mother, Ana, Joseph’s widow.  The others in attendance were neighbors and parishioners of the Croatian Catholic Church.  Missing was my infant mother and Barbara, Joseph and Ana’s youngest daughter.  Who was watching those girls is unknown.  

How Joseph’s untimely death affected my mother was profound, though as a baby she was unaware of the event.  John became the only breadwinner in the family and with the loss of Joseph Sr., the family’s income was cut in half.  Joseph Jr. was forced at age 17 to leave school and seek work.  Money would become even tighter as Mary was pregnant with her second child, Anne Marie, who would be born 6 months after Joseph’s death.  

More tragedies came in quick succession to the family – a scarlet fever epidemic that infected both children required the family to quarantine.  With no money for a physician, my grandmother relied on her neighbor’s home remedy advice to treat the family.  John then had to have a leg amputated as a result of an injury at the mill.  When recovered, he could no longer ride his bike to work and had to spend money on the street car. The KKK threatened the family and burned a cross in the empty field in front of their home.  A fire started by a candle caused extensive damage and burned my mother’s only toy, a doll.

A little over 10 years after Joseph’s death the Great Depression hit.  John’s wages were cut, the family took in boarders, raised vegetables, rabbits and chickens to survive but it wasn’t enough. Dorothy, as the eldest, quit high school at the start of grade 10 to work in a hardware store.  Her lack of a diploma hindered her job prospects for the rest of her life.  

During the current pandemic I’ve been thinking a lot about the 1918 one.  If Joseph hadn’t succumbed to the flu would my mother have been able to finish high school?  She had always aspired to be a dietician but going back to school was out of the question.  Her working enabled Anne Marie and her younger siblings, George and Marilou to obtain their diplomas.  How would my life have been different if my mother had found a career she loved and that paid better than the minimum wage jobs she held?  Would I be the frugal genealogist I am today if money hadn’t been so tight while I was growing up?  

My memories of my great grandmother are of an old woman always wearing black who sat quietly in deep thought.  What was she thinking about?  Never remarrying after the man she loved so dearly died, she spent the next 47 years of her life residing with her adult children, changing residences every few years depending on the needs of their growing families.  If Joseph had survived, how would her life have turned out?  

My grandmother, the apple of her father’s eye, missed him the rest of her life.  His death was a loss that could never be replaced.  The extra burden of being the sole breadwinner put a strain on my grandfather, John.  Would his health have been better and would he have lived a longer life if Joseph had lived?

The pandemic fatigue I’m feeling is put into perspective whenever I compare it to the 1918 pandemic my ancestor’s experienced.  I do not want my adult children to miss my husband and I as my grandmother missed her father for the remainder of her life. I do not want any grandchildren I may someday have to wonder about the grandparents they didn’t get the opportunity to know.  I’ve learned from my family’s experiences that thriftiness is beneficial.  I don’t panic over shortages of goods.  I’ve always kept a fully stocked cupboard and supplement with my garden.  My children do the same. 

The holidays will be different from past ones for all of us. In a season that personifies hope, I’m remembering the past and hope 2021 will be brighter.  I am taking the next two weeks off from blogging but will return in the new year.  Be smart – stay safe!

Have an Enslaved Mystery? This New Online Site May Help.

On Tuesday, a new FREE database became available – Enslaved:  People of the Historic Slave Trade lists 500,000 individual names of the once enslaved.  You may browse by entering a person’s name, place, event or source.  I gave it a whirl yesterday and although I didn’t find what I was looking for, think it’s a wonderful source to add to every genealogists’ tool kit.

The site is definitely a work in progress but then, so is every genealogical database.  The goal is to enter as many names/places/events that documented an enslaved individual.  With many records held in private hands, that has made the endeavor all the more difficult.

It’s been estimated that there were over 10 million Africans who survived the passage to the new world in bondage.  The majority were transported to South America, Brazil in particular.  

The enslaved who resided in Roman Catholic areas were often Baptized.  Hence, names are more likely available. Unfortunately, that was not always the case.  Entering the search term “Brazil” in the database provided me with 45,753 responses but the majority do not provide a name for the enslaved.  Instead, a name of the seller or purchaser is given with a date.

I have been trying to identify the names of the enslaved individuals who were probably brought from Barbados to the New Jersey Colony by my 7th “great*” STEP grandmother, Thomasin Hassell Holinshead about 1720.  Thomasin’s father was a sugar planter in Barbados.  No records have been found of his death or the sale of his plantation although the location has been discovered on island maps.  

Thomasin’s husband, my 7th great* grandfather, Daniel Hollin[g]shead was not a man of means but happened to marry for the second time the sugar heiress’ daughter.  Within four years of the marriage they had relocated to New Jersey where Daniel sold vast tracks of wilderness.  He died intestate (of course!) in 1730.  

I only know of the enslaved individuals from Thomasin’s will of 3 Jan 1757 made in Somerset, New Jersey.  She interestingly selected her youngest daughter, Elizabeth, to serve as administrator.  Records exist that Thomasin was not pleased with her oldest son, Francis, who had served as administrator for his father, Daniel’s estate as he squandered most of the funds. Thomasin left him and her other surviving children 1 shilling, about $15.30 in today’s money.  Says alot!

The clip above shows the part of the will that provides me the clue that Thomasin had enslaved individuals.  I do not know:

  • How many?
  • Ages?
  • Gender?
  • Names?
  • How long they had been with her?

I have tried to find a will for administrator Elizabeth but her life is sketchy.  Mug books mention that she married late in life and had no children.  Her husband’s name has been recorded as Thomas Dean of Abington but that, too, is odd.  Elizabeth’s brother, William, had relocated to Bucks County, Pennsylvania and named a daughter Elizabeth.  That Elizabeth was the second wife of Thomas Bean of Abington.  I’ve seen dates of birth for Thomas Bean ranging over 20 years so maybe there was more than 1 as there was more than 1 Elizabeth Hollinshead.  No record for a Dean was ever found.  

I tried the enslaved database to see if I could find any sale for a Holinshead (with multiple spellings) for New Jersey or Pennsylvania.  Zilch.  Then tried for New Jersey which lists 78 people and Pennsylvania, showing 244. None were in the areas I was looking for – Somerset County, New Jersey and Buck’s County, Pennsylvania.  

Although I wasn’t successful I applaud the site for it’s compilations so far, ease of use and making it free which ironically, lists all those who weren’t.  

*NOTE – clearly they weren’t so great enslaving individuals and other records found show Thomasin wasn’t so great to my 6th great grandmother, her only stepchild, but that’s another story.  

Blast from the Past – Holiday Photos

Season’s Greetings!  You may be feeling like the folks were in the photo above after your Thanksgiving feast.  Their enthusiasm for the holiday is well, a little underwhelming.  Maybe a smaller family gathering would have been a good thing back then.  

Whenever I think of all the work that goes into a family get together I think of this picture from my husband’s side of of the family. Taken about the mid 1930’s, from left to right is Clifford Thompson, George Harbaugh, Bert Thompson and Ruth Johnson Thompson.  In the midst of the Great Depression, the decorations were scant.  Don’t know if it was a heavy meal or the numbness of having to spend the holiday with extended family that put them to sleep.  

The picture was taken in the living room of George’s parent’s home.  Ruth was George’s maternal aunt.  We’re missing the rest of the extended family who lived there – George Sr., his wife, Elsie, and their other children Bob and Betty.  Ruth and Elsie’s mother, Louisa, also lived in the household.  Where was Bert and Ruth’s daughter, Jeanne? Maybe upstairs playing with cousin Betty.  Did Helen Johnson Chellberg, sister to Elsie and Ruth, also come with her husband and three children?  Beats me – somethings we will never know.  

I’ve been reading a lot in the past week about people being thankful for not having to travel this holiday season.  I can relate to that as I dreaded the holidays when our home was cramped with 40 plus people. All those dishes long before dishwashers!  No quiet space at all!  Lines for the bathroom!  Cigar smoke and alcohol breath – yuck!  Although I loved those people a bunch I liked them a lot better a little at a time.  

This weekend I’ve spent looking at old family holiday photos.  Some years were prosperous and others, not.  No matter what your holiday plans are for this year your experience will be long remembered not just by you, but by those who know you.  If you can’t be all together, keep in touch – via phone, Zoom, letter/card/text – as best you can.  Ask the questions you always wondered about, like where was Helen Chellberg in the mid-1930’s?  Although the pandemic made this year seem to move slowly, next year just might be too late to get your family questions answered.  

I recommend you each out – reconnect – and remember those far away loved ones.  Now is the time!

Genealogy Thanks

 As we all prepare to have a less than typical Thanksgiving, I want to pause and reflect on all the genealogy things that I am thankful for this year.  Sure, it’s been difficult with all the archive closures, Zoom conferences and the inability to visit far flung relatives but let’s look at the bright side for a moment.  

I am thankful that the pandemic allowed me to:

1.  Reorganize my office.  I took the time, since I had lots of it this past summer, and made my work space more efficient.  I replenished supplies, pitched those pencil nubs and found items I didn’t even recall I had! This was always on my to-do list and now it’s not.

2.  Pitched old family records.  Don’t gasp – I scanned many of them.  I found my deceased mom, 2nd cousin and sister-in-law’s health records. I had tax returns from the 1970’s that we lugged from house to house over the years.  Before the tax code changed, we kept the receipts for improvements made on a home we haven’t lived in for 30 years.  Found the flood insurance settlement when we lost everything in Hurricane Elena in 1985.  I think going through these old documents of other difficult times in our lives made the current situation more tolerable.  It was a testament that this, too, shall end one day.

3.  Cleaned my Cloud backup storage.  Cuddled up on the sofa with the laptop and on a week of rainy days, spent some time each day moving files around or deleting them entirely.  Now I’ve got even more space for when I am able to get back out into the world to research without having to pay for more space.

4.  Attended Conferences from my backyard.  I know that virtual conferences aren’t the same as in-person but if it hadn’t been for the pandemic, I would have had to miss many that I was able to attend this year.  I don’t think I’ve ever sat through a lecture and not learned something or been reminded that I should try what I already knew to solve a research problem.  I’m so looking forward to Roots Tech, too!  

5.  Save $!  As a long time reader you know I’m a frugal person and look for genealogy deals whenever I can.  Although my business did take a hit this year, I was fortunate that my first quarter was larger than in previous years.  Can’t explain how that worked out and am thankful that it was. Another way I saved was the organizations that made their records available for free or lowered the price for a limited time at the start of the pandemic.  I looked in places I never was able to search before and found lots of info.

6.  Researched my own family.  Since business was down, I was able to spend time on my own family.  In the past few years, this has been severely limited so I was glad for the time to do this. The value of a research log cannot be emphasized enough; I didn’t have to waste much time in picking up where I had left off by reviewing where I had previously searched.

7. Made many new virtual “friends.”  Thank heavens for the archivist that continued to answer queries, search a vertical file or scan and email a page from needed text.  Although never considered essential workers, they most definitely are to a genealogist and I greatly appreciative of their dedication.  I also reached out to relatives I had never connected with before and together, we worked to solve family mysteries.  

8. Caught up on my reading. All those journals, magazines, books and pamphlets/flyers/brochures I’ve picked up from past trips have been examined, noted in my tree or pitched.  I have a pile in the garage ready to donate to our local library as soon as they begin to accept material again.  Finally went onto websites and requested that I stop having journals mailed to me when I certainly can download and read them on a tech device.  

9.  Planned for the future. I have taken the time to review my findings and know where I want to travel when it becomes safe to do so.  In the past, I’d get a last minute offer to travel and then take an extra day to do my own researching if I had family that once lived in the area.  Now I know what I don’t know and have identified possibly where the answers might lie.  Of course it won’t be 100% accurate but it’s a better way to use my future time then the spur of the moment approach I often had to do.

10. Learned more about myself.  I never knew I could become a homebody.  Last week, a colleague mentioned how much she hated being home.  I’m not there yet.  I am very content and that is the biggest surprise I’ve had.  Prior to March 14th, I came home late most every week night, ate a rushed often take out meal and went to bed, then up at 5 and out the door soon after. Since I was a teenager, this has been the longest period of time I haven’t been on a flight.  I’ve only topped off my car’s gas tank 3 times in 8 months and only then because I wanted to keep a full tank during our hurricane season.  I’m thankful for my close family who I enjoy being with 24-7 who have made this dramatic change of lifestyle doable. 

Adversity truly does reveal character. Our ancestors have experienced life’s turmoil and paved the way for us to have it easier than they did. Although the upcoming holidays will be far different from any I have previously experienced, I’m thankful for knowing their life story.  It gives me strength and hope for better days ahead.  Have a wonderful Thankfilled week!

2020 Genealogy Holiday Gift Guide

With the holidays around the corner and the zingers of 2020 impeding the typical holiday shopping spree, I’m providing my guide early this year to insure the shopper stays safe and the receiver gets the gift on time.  

Most of these items can be purchased locally so do try to support your small businesses and organizations.  Others can be purchased online but please buy soon so that the chain of folks that helps you get the item aren’t stressed even more than they already are.  Let’s show some gratitude we’ve survived this wretched year and spread the kindness!

My gift guide includes items for a few dollars and up into the hundreds as I understand it’s been a tough year financially for just about all of us.  As my mom used to say, “It’s the thought that counts.”  

1.  A comfortable desk chair – Hubby and I purchased two in May as we were spending so much time in ours and mine refused to let me adjust the height.  We had it delivered and assembled ourselves but if that’s not an option use NextDooor to find a local handyperson who can do the assembly on the porch. Your genealogist’s back will thank you. 

2.  A Second Computer Screen – If your genealogist is using only one screen it’s time to add another; I’ve had two for years but I honestly could benefit from more.  Sometimes I put the laptop next to my work area for a 3rd view when needed. Sure, we know how to change the size of what we’re viewing but with old documents, sometimes we just need the whole screen.  Your genealogist’s eyes will thank you!

3.  A Magnifying Glass – If the To Do list includes going through boxes of old family letters or photos, a magnifying glass, with or without a light, is a must.  Think Sherlock Holmes, here – the smallest clue might be missed that could solve the mystery so an inexpensive magnifying glass might just save the day.  

4.  Assorted Coffee/Teas or a reusable water bottle – whatever is the preferred non-alcoholic drink is a well received gift for anyone but especially the genealogist who needs a quick caffeine jolt or calming tea.  I stress the non-alcoholic for a reason – your genealogist needs clear analytical reasoning so skip the booze. A reusable water bottle with a tight fitting lid is also a great idea to stay hydrated without risking a spill.  

5.  A foot massager – which can fit nicely under the work area.  If it has a heat feature it makes it even better on those long cold winter nights of researching.

6. An elliptical for sitting – When in the researching zone, we often forget to get up and move.  This handy exercise device allows for individuals to sit and move the lower legs.  I love to see how many “miles” I’ve gone without leaving my desk.  If your genealogist has a standing desk, the device still works. Until we’re able to go back to running up archive stairs or parking in remote and walking to the library, the sitting elliptical will get a lot of use.

7.  Gift Cards – to your genealogist’s local restaurant, grocery or office supply store.  If you aren’t sure what your favorite genealogist’s office needs are, know they have to eat!  Less time cooking means more time researching and you’re supporting the local economy which makes this a win-win for all.

8.  An annual subscription to a new site – This year I joined Academia.edu and I absolutely love it!  I was trying to research Barbados in the 1600’s  and there isn’t many records that I found useful.  I wanted to better understand what life was like there and Academia.edu helped me with that goal.  Journal articles are available on a wide range of topics and the site also hosts members to have a webpage so others can connect with them.  JSTOR.org is another awesome site that provides journal articles and books that may be of interest. Plans start at $19.50.

9.  Donation to a local genealogy/history society – with long term closures and the deaths of members, many organizations are suffering.  If your genealogist says – “Don’t get me anything!” then follow their directive but give in their name to an organization that they support.  Typically, I’m a doer and not a donator but this year I have given to several organizations that I wasn’t able to support in person.  

10.  Last but not least – Give the recipient time by listening.  I’m serious.  Although this monetarily costs nothing it is probably the most valuable gift that can be given.  We know you could care less about your fourth cousin twice removed who married your third cousin once removed.  Just try to look like you care.  Back in the day when the world was “normal” we could attend conferences and meetings to share with others the great discoveries we made. Simply listening is a wonderful gift to give!

The Mysterious Byrd Family

Skipped blogging last weekend because I was consumed by work from my other job – lots of teaching units were cut in my district and I was tasked with making new schedules for students.  Planned on blogging yesterday and got attached by wasps so my hand is swollen and I’m typing with only one hand now so this will be short!

Did the Tombstone Cake work in helping me find new info on my brick wall ancestors?  Sort of!  I ended up selecting Hannah Byrd, one of my paternal 4th great grandmothers, who was born in New Jersey and died in Ohio.  

With all the way to spell Byrd – Bird – Burd – Berd, it’s always made the search difficult.  

My mistake was thinking that she was born in Sussex, New Jersey as that is where her husband’s family was from.  I decided to research the only other Bird that lived in Trumbull County, Ohio at the same time she did and discovered he was born in New Jersey but not Sussex.  Looks like his father was born in Sussex but moved shortly after marrying to southern New Jersey.  So I’ll be following the trail to see if I can connect the two as they are about the same age and could be siblings or cousins or not.  

Funny, though, I decided to randomly pick a Kindle free book for October and chose Spellbreaker, a fiction story about a young witch in London who does not cast spells but breaks them.  Sort of like a female Robin Hood who helps the peasant farmers when the Baron claims they never paid rent and have to repay.  Had to laugh as one of the main characters just happens to be from Barbados.  My goodness, those Hollingsheads just won’t let me move on!