Tips for Writing Your Memoir

Happy New Year! I’ve been busy in the two weeks I took off for the holidays – I wrote my memoir.

Go ahead and laugh. You, too, can easily record your memories and take this off your To-Do list. A little background info first . . .

For years, every time a funny situation or a strange happening occurred I’d say, “I’m going to put that in my book someday.” I never quantified when “someday” would be. The week of December 6th I got three notices from the universe that it was time for me to get cracking on my life story.

The first happened on St. Nicholas Day which according to my family, he was Croatian. I know he wasn’t but my family culture was such that everyone who was revered was somehow Croatian. Investigating my family stories cleared up quite a few of the tales but we always celebrated his feast day by leaving out our shoes and magically, overnight, they would be filled with treats (think an apple, candy, or cookies). We’d have a pork roast for dinner which I never figured out how that was connected to St. Nick but it was delicious.

This past St. Nick Day I gave a lecture at my local library on interviewing family members. One attendee asked me what to do if he happened to be the oldest family member. I suggested he interview himself. On Thursday of that week, I was volunteering at my city’s historical society when a visitor asked me how long I had lived in the area. I replied, “Nearly 50 years.” and he said, “You’re an old-timer then.” I guess I am but I hadn’t considered the title. The following day I was doing research at a nearby town for an upcoming journal article I’m writing and I overheard the docent give some incorrect information about the surrounding area. I had lived there for almost 10 years so I experienced firsthand what she was discounting. I put in my two cents and she replied, “I guess you should be giving the tours since you’re an old-timer.” Wow, that’s twice in 24 hours. Thanks, Universe, for the reminder.

I went home and seriously considered the need to interview myself. I do have memories that are of historical value and I’d like to recall them now while I still can. Alzheimer’s runs in my family and as we’ve all learned the past two years, life is unpredictable.

The problem has always been I wasn’t sure how to start. I decided to try by speaking to my computer. I opened Microsoft Word and on the ribbon, clicked “Dictate,” then started speaking. The program types whatever you say. If you have issues typing effectively and efficiently this is a cheap way to get your thoughts down on paper. Notice I said “cheap.” Yes, there are programs you can purchase but I wanted something instantly I didn’t have to pay for.

I talked for a few minutes and then looked at what was recorded. It wasn’t bad, considering some of the information I was saying was not in English. Was it correct? No, but it was close. The bigger issue was that Word does not add punctuation. If you say “period” after your sentence it will type out the word “period.” Same with commas. Sigh.

It took me longer to go back and edit what I had just said than it would have if I had typed it in the first place. Even so, I would not have been able to start this project had I not spoken first. Staring at a blank Word document or a piece of paper was not going to move me forward. I am extremely verbal so I had to speak about what I wanted to record to begin the project.

Once I began I had no writer’s block. The memories just flowed, however, they didn’t flow in chronological order. That’s okay, too. My goal was to just let my brain download my life while I typed.

I didn’t care about spelling or grammar. If I forgot someone’s name I’d just leave a few spaces or hit the tab key and keep writing. Funny but the name would later resurface and I could go back and insert it in the space.

I didn’t write every day but I nearly did. I spent about 8 hours writing on the weekend and only 1-3 hours during the weekdays. I also decided to skip the years my children were small because I had created scrapbooks for them that recorded the good, bad, and ugly of those times. I refer to that in my book.

I have the free version of Grammarly and that helps tremendously with the spelling and punctuation. It underlines using a faint red line to highlight what needs possible correction. You just click on the underlined word and options are given to you.

Word of caution – the recalling of all of these memories does result in some odd dreams so be aware of that occurring. Nothing sinister, mind you, just a mix of your life events. For example, I dreamed about my deceased mother and a maternal aunt, along with a living cousin who was holding a beautiful baby. My aunt told me she had something important to tell me. I then woke up. I had written about the cousin’s first child the day before. Just want to warn you that your dreams may become extremely vivid while you’re writing.

Here’s what my plan now is . . . I’m going through my old photos and inserting them where appropriate in my story. Seeing the photos evoked a few more memories that I hadn’t recalled so I added a couple of paragraphs here and there. I was amazed that for the most part, my recall was fairly in chronological order. The most out-of-order time was in my college years. I don’t know why that was the case and I’d be interested to hear if you have the same result. I had completely forgotten about one of my husband’s first jobs and which summer we had gone on our first vacation. Was it between freshman and sophomore year or sophomore/junior?

Here’s another item to put on my to-do list; I discovered my photos are not in the order I want them to be so I’m creating albums. I use Google Photos and Dropbox to store them as I’m paranoid about losing the originals to a disaster. I’ve scanned them all but they were saved by when I scanned them and not by the person so I’ve got to work on that someday (when the universe tells me to haha.)

I’m almost done adding the photos and will then pull out my genealogical file on myself and look at documents. I have two from the hospital where I was born and they both have a different time of my birth. Lovely, right? My mom came up with the third time so I will never know for sure what time I arrived into the world. I’ll include both documents that wouldn’t be readily available to a descendant.

I then plan to have the story saved to a hardcover book, probably through Amazon but I’ve gotten that far to make a final determination. I’ll keep you updated when I get there and please let me know what you’ve done, Dear Reader, as I’d appreciate the input.

Here’s to Your Story in 2022!

Genealogy Old-timer

Photo courtesy of wallpaperflair.com

It’s Official – I have been named an “Oldtimer.” I knew this would happen someday but I never expected I would get the title twice in 24 hours! The first award was made by young visitors from Tallahassee who asked me how long I lived in my area. I had switched shifts with another volunteer at the historical society because it was her birthday (Happy Birthday, Barbara!). When I replied nearly 50 years though I spent my early years in the midwest the man replied, “You’re an old-time Floridian.” I guess I am though I don’t feel old at all!

Early the next morning I decided to go on a cemetery hunt which was just awesome since I haven’t done that since the pandemic began. Hubby and I visited an unincorporated area of the county where we once resided. We decided to stop at the local historical society first to see if anyone could direct me to living descendants of the Garrison family as I am writing a journal article on a tragedy the family endured. My kids used to volunteer at this historical society when they were in middle and high school and I haven’t stopped by in many years. My oh my has it changed! I was remarking how impressed I was with the refurbished pine floors, window shades featuring historical photos, and new exhibits when a docent said, “These are the original floors.” “Yes,” I replied, “but when the building was restored over 25 years ago they left the floors with all the stain buildup and I see they’ve been stripped; they look amazing.” “You sure are an old-timer,” she said, “I don’t think you need me to give you a tour.”

I certainly wanted a tour and kept my mouth shut, as much as possible, as she took us room to room. I didn’t correct her when she said the kitchen was original – nope, I clearly recall the roof leak about 1997, and the then director was frustrated that the roofing company had provided no warranty and the County Commissioners refused to give any more funds. That’s about when the idea to have a Tea Party to raise money began. I still have the hat I created for my daughter to wear as a server. I guess it’s about time we donated it to the museum! I have photos, of course, to show it being worn in the building. Except, they probably wouldn’t take it.

I had promised the original director that I would, upon my death, donate our family’s sheet music collection as she wanted the museum to be known for its musical history as it had the original piano and violin from the family who had built the house. My youngest used a computer to archive the holdings in the late 1990s. Now, I’m told, they have moved to a more minimalist approach so there is no library for researchers to use. I couldn’t get confirmation of what happened to the books, photos, and sheet music they once had.

Or what happened to all the furniture. It once had been set up like a house, though most of the pieces were not original to the location. Each room now houses only 1 piece of furniture – the boy’s room has a carved dresser, the living room has the family’s piano, etc. It’s an interesting way to display the items and allows the visitor to set up the rest of the furniture as they can only imagine.

I’m all for change but I’m also for preserving the past. I love the new look but I sure wish that some of the old items could have been preserved somehow. Somewhere is a happy medium I hope archives and museums can achieve. If you are planning to donate your family items, make sure you have an understanding with the organization of what they’ll do with your items if they change their focus!

After the visit, these two Old-Timers high-tailed it over to a pioneer cemetery and found the graves we sought in about 10 minutes. Trying to clean up the stone for a pic set off a fire ant colony. No bites, thankfully! I clearly had forgotten the perils of cemetery visits.

Now that I’m a reigning old-timer I’ve decided I’m going to blog more about my memories of living in Pinellas County, Florida. The area has changed so dramatically since I was a high school teen I couldn’t have imagined then what it has become. Strangely, it doesn’t even seem like so many years have passed. Recollections – here I come!

Forgotten Jane Morrison Duer

Courtesy of Cousin Becky on Find-a-Grave. Burial in Kessler Cemetery
Courtesy of Cousin Becky on Find-a-Grave. Burial also in Kessler Cemetery. John Duer was married to Margaret at the time of his first wife, Jane’s burial, in 1866.

Why was Jane Morrison Duer divorced from her husband John after about 37 years of marriage and eleven children together? Jane followed John from her native Trumbull County, Ohio to Killbuck Township, Holmes, Ohio and on to Mercer County, Ohio over their long years together. What would cause the relationship to end? I have a working hypothesis but no proof. This was a family most likely stressed by societal and personal crises.

Of the 11 children, 5 predeceased Jane. The couple’s first child, a female, died between 1830-1840. We only know of her existence from the 1830 census record’s tick mark that she was in the age group as being “under 5.” No grave has been discovered for her so she remains nameless.

The next child, William, was certified as insane at age 23 in Holmes County and sent to the Ohio Lunatic Asylum. There are only two other records found for William. In the first, he was listed in the 1860 U.S. Federal Census as an insane laborer, age 30, residing in the asylum in Columbus, Franklin, Ohio. That is correct but his birth in Germany is not. That’s interesting to note as his sister and several siblings did marry into the Kuhn family that were immigrants from Germany. Maria, William’s oldest surviving sister, had her birth place listed in error as Germany on her death record provided by her son. William and Maria most likely were born in Trumbull County, Ohio before the family relocated to Holmes County in the late 1930’s.

The second document is a notice in the newspaper, the Holmes County Farmer, on 14 March 1861 recommending that community members write to him and the 7 other “inmates.” I infer he must have been the longest committed as his name appears first. Although alphabetically his surname would be recorded first the others listed are not in alpha order. The article states that “some of these poor unfortunates are supposed to be incurable.” Most of his family had moved on to Mercer County, Ohio by the time the clip was published. No death date has ever been found for William so I suspect he died at the asylum. I am waiting for the organization that holds the records to reopen as they are closed due to the pandemic.

Next oldest son, Thomas Ayers, relocated to Winterset, Madison, Iowa by 1860, enlisted in the Civil War and died unmarried and likely childless of Febris Typhoides on 5 May 1862 in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Daughter Maria wed Henry Kuhn and the couple lived two residences away from Jane and John in 1860. Henry enlisted in the Civil war, leaving Maria to raise their young children. During this time period, John and Jane divorced. Although no record has been found, John remarried in 1864, two years prior to Jane’s death. John relocated with his second wife to Adams County, Indiana where he had two deeds for land. Neither deed had then wife Jane’s name on them. When John died, Maria is not named in his will. Maria’s death certificate names both of her parents.

Son John B. had married first in 1860 but his wife Keziah died a few months after the marriage. He then married Carolina, one of the sibling of Maria’s husband, in 1863 and moved across the state line to farm in Adams County, Indiana. He seems to have had a falling out with his father as like Maria, he is not named in John’s will, even though he was residing in the same county as his father. Marriage records found do not name John B.’s parents. No death certificate for him as been located.

Mary Ann was found living with John and his second wife in 1870, however, she also was not named in his will. She may have had a falling out with her sister Maria as shortly after mother Jane’s death in July 1866, Mary Ann took Adam Kuhn, Maria’s brother-in-law, to court in Mercer County. Pregnant with Adam’s child, the unmarried couple could not agree on a financial settlement. Adam, in December 1866, was jailed by Jacob Baker, who married my 3rd great aunt, Caroline Bollenbacher, as Adam refused surety.

Sister Maria and her husband Henry was close to Adam as evidenced by their naming their son, born in February 1866, after him.

Mary Ann and Adam’s child must not have survived as there is no further court records of payment. He married an Elizabeth or Catharin Harper in Van Wert, Ohio 16 January 1868 and went on to have 5 daughters before dying at age 44, possibly due to injuries sustained during the Civil War when he fought in Union Company F, 99th Ohio Infantry.

Mary Ann married first, James Furman in 1875 who must have died shortly after the marriage as she married second John L. Ceraldo in 1879. John’s first wife had probably died as the child, Daniel, shown living with Mary Ann and John in 1880 would have been too old to have been theirs together. No record is ever found again of the boy who is presumed to have died. Mary died in 1909 in Michigan; her husband named John Duer as her father but her mother’s name was unknown. Although she had married after Jane’s death, why would she have not informed her husband in their 30 years of marriage what her mother’s name had been? Like Maria and John B., Mary Ann was not named in her father’s will.

Son Prosser remained in Holmes County, Ohio after the rest of the family relocated to Mercer County. He enlisted in the Civil War and died at Stones River, Tennessee on 2 January 1863. He did not marry or have any known children.

Daughter Sarah Jane married another sibling of Maria’s husband, Phillip, in 1870, four years after Jane had died. Sarah was also not named in her father’s will. Although she died in 1920, no death certificate or obituary has been found for her.

Son Mark Duer disappears from records after being found in 1850 with the family in Holmes, Ohio. He likely died there but no burial location has been found.

Son James William was found living with John and his second wife in Adams, Indiana in 1870 yet he, too, was not named in John’s will. When James wed in 1887 he named his mother as Sarah J. Marisum sic Morrison. James would have been 18 years old when his mother Mary J[ane] died. How did he not remember her name? Perhaps because she was called by her middle name and he thought of his sister Sarah and not Mary as having the first name as his mother. He spent the rest of his life living in Adams County where he was killed in a bike accident. He death certificate names his father as John but the mother was listed as unknown. It was completed by his son, Elra Leroy. Elra was born 6 years after his grandfather John had died. How did he remember John’s name but not the name of his grandmother Jane?

Youngest child, Angeline, was named in her father’s will. She is the only child of John and Jane’s to be named. She was living with him and his second wife in 1870. She married in 1874 and remained in Adams, Indiana until her death in 1933. Like her siblings, her father John is named on her death certificate. Her mother is recorded as Catharine, born in Ohio. The information was provided by Angeline’s daughter, Effie. Effie probably remembered her grandfather as she would have been 9 years old and living in the same area as him when he died. Where Effie came up with her grandmother’s name as Catherine is unknown as there is no Catherines in the family; her paternal grandmother’s name was Nancy.

Jane is buried in Kessler Cemetery and according to the trustees, the records are incomplete. They do not show who purchased the plot or if her husband John is buried next to her as family lore claims. There is a sunken area that appears to be burial next to Jane but records do not exist to state who is interred there. There is no tombstone. John’s second wife was buried in Kessler but in a different location. John is not buried on either side of his second wife. What is obvious is Jane’s tombstone that is boldly engraved “wife of John Duer” even though she wasn’t at the time of her death.

I suspect daughter Maria purchased the headstone as she was the only child still residing in Mercer County at the time of Jane’s death that had the means to afford it. Maria’s husband was a prosperous farmer and active in the community. In my opinion, Maria wanted the legitimacy of the first marriage noted for eternity.

It’s likely that Margaret’s children paid for her tombstone and wanted to show the world they, too, were legitimate so also engraved their mother as the wife of John.

The year 1866 must have been a tremendously difficult time for Maria. She had 5 children age 7 and under, her parents had recently divorced, her father remarried, her husband was away fighting for the Union in the Civil War, she has a brother that was committed to an insane asylum, 5 deceased siblings and her sister files a bastardly charge against her brother-in-law. What a mess!

But my underlying question is why did Jane and John’s children not hand down their mother’s name to their spouses/children?

Perhaps the state of the union, along with the loss of so many children caused Jane to suffer from the same melancholy as her son, William. John may have abandoned Jane for a new relationship with the widow who owned property close to his newly purchased land across the state lines in Indiana.

I believe Jane was forgotten by her adult children because it was too painful to remember those difficult times. They did not want to inform their children of their mother’s and brother’s mental state. No family member I have reached out to was aware of Williams insanity commitment. The family just didn’t speak about painful situations.

Last week I received a call from a clerk with the Mercer Ohio Common Plea Court. She had searched for a divorce record for John and Jane between 1860 and 1866. None was found. Perhaps John abandoned Jane and the paperwork was filed in Adams County, Indiana where I’ll be searching next. It’s possible that single document may help me better understand the straw that was the backbreaker of the relationship. The search continues!

Reuniting the Lost and Found

Somehow – this was not published when originally written so it’s made available today.

Last blog I wrote about the very worthy Fields of Honor database project in the Netherlands that memorializes fallen World War 2 soldiers. Strangely, as I was writing that article, I was contacted by an Ancestry.com member who I first connected with last spring about her DNA. One of her parents was adopted and she was trying to see if we were related as I had placed information from the same geographical area she was researching on my Ancestry.com tree for the same surnamed individual. There were other coincidences – they had the same occupation, religion, place where they immigrated from and where they immigrated to about the same time (early 1900’s). We were thinking they were related but after comparing our DNA results, they weren’t blood relations.

The Ancestry member had received an email from another member who was contacted by someone in the Netherlands who found World War 2 dog tags using a metal detector and wanted to send them to family. I was contacted since we had the same surname – Koss – as the found tags who once belonged to Joseph E. Koss who died in 1944 in Holland.

I reached out to the memorial owner at Findagrave.com. If you are a family member please email me (see contact me page) and I will happily connect you so you can get the tags.

I’ve blogged in the past about scammers and dog tags – you can view that here. This does not smell like a scam to me but to keep my readers safe – I’ll play middleman for you. Using a metal detector and finding a lost object is typical in my world as that’s one of my husband’s hobbies and he has found lost articles for people for years.

Funny how I’ve been contacted by folks living in the Netherlands twice in the past few weeks – maybe that’s where I should go visit next!

The Caribbean Connection…An Update

Pirates of the Caribbean

This was supposed to have been published in June 2020 but somehow was not.

Last week I blogged about my strange experience looking for my Hollingshead family going from England to Barbados to Pennsylvania/New Jersey.  I was desperately searching for a document to show proof that my ancestor, Daniel, was the individual in all of those locations.  
Some odd happening occurred – a dream, an undelivered email, an internet site popping up after the electricity had been turned off  – put me back on track.  Here’s what happened this week…
Although the member of my local genealogy association that I had reached out to for help in connecting with a presenter’s email was returned as undeliverable, I used the same email address and reached the person I was seeking a few minutes later.  She responded she was unavailable but when get back with me soon.
I’ve signed up for a British seminar online that I found by “looking small” as instructed in my dream. It’s scheduled for Friday and I’m eagerly awaiting it.
Being impatient, I had a hunch that the dream meant more than just the upcoming lecture.  I don’t know why I did the following, but I did and I’m glad of that.  I decided to check Ancestry.com hints for Daniel.  I don’t use the hint option very often.  I do sometimes if I’m starting a new search for a client but for my own tree, not so much.  In case you aren’t aware, your Ancestry hints never really leave you.  If you click “Ignore” that isn’t the same as delete – which isn’t an option.  When you Ignore, it simply goes to the Hint section and is placed under that heading.  The other categories are Undecided and Accepted.  Accepted hints are all those that are showing in your Facts section, Undecided are those you can’t make up your mind about after you’ve reviewed it.  
In my Undecided section, I had about 15 hints and most were completely wrong – wrong locations (like Ohio and I was searching before there was even an Ohio territory), wrong time period (like the 1900’s and I needed 1600-1700’s), or wrong names (like Hollins).  There were 2 interesting hints, however, that I clicked on and both were from a DNA relative I’ve corresponded with in the past.  I trust her work and she always uses citations!  The hints were notes she had taken from old texts she had found in her local library.  Lucky lady, she lives close to an awesome research library.. I wanted to find the original books to check her notes so I did a Google book search (on Google, click the “Other” box and then click “Books” is the easiest to find and lo and behold, this is what I discovered:

Alfred Mathews. History of Wayne, Pike and Monroe Counties, Pennsylvania.  Philadelphia:  R. T. Peck & Co,1886, p. 1156.

Even though this is exactly what I’m looking for regarding the route of immigration, there is no proof, other than that Stroud J. Hollinshead, a likely descendant, shared the info for his personal biographical sketch.  Sigh!  He even got some of the facts wrong.  The second paragraph is a hot mess; How could Daniel, the first ancestor, be killed at the Battle of Blenheim and then hold public office in Sussex County, New Jersey?  Quite a feat, I say.  The date of birth is off by a few years.  Didn’t mention the first wife, Ann Alexander, from whom I’m descended but does mention their child, Mary, as the daughter of the second wife, Thomasin.  Mary married a Duer; according to this bio, so did Mary’s stepmom after the death of Daniel.  Hmm, but something isn’t quite correct there, either.  Thomasin was a female and the information states she married a Jane Deuer.  I suspect they meant John as this would have been the early 1700’s.  
Then I found the following interesting story:

Rev. John C. Rankin, DD.  The Presbyterian Church in Basking Ridge, NJ. Jersey City:  John H. Lyon, 1872., p.7.

I knew Daniel was flipping property but I didn’t know that he had sold to a James Alexander of New York.  That peaked my interest as his first wife was an Alexander and I’ve not been successful in locating her family.  So I read up on James Alexander and Lord Stirling.  The family liked to hide among other Alexander families in Ireland and France where they fled after picking the wrong political side in Scotland.  Scholars haven’t been able to sort through all the stories the family told in the documentation they left behind of who was related to whom as the same individual’s tales changed from time to time.  Then, there’s the whole timely topic of race relationships.  Lord Stirling made his money partially from the slave trade while father James was alive and didn’t object.  My Daniel, however, appeared to have not been in favor of slavery.  He brought a slave family with him to New Jersey but it appears there was manumision.  I told myself (no proof here!) that Daniel was empathetic as he was purportedly an indentured servant, though others felt this showed he was of the Quaker faith.  Yet, as I learned more about James Alexander, I discovered that Daniel’s second wife Thomasin left several slaves to her children when she died so the couple may not have the same shared beliefs or, I’m completely wrong about Daniel. More research definitely needed.
The Presbyterian Church reference provides another important clue.  Some believe that Daniel was Quaker but I’ve found nothing to support that.  He and his children were baptized in the Church of England in England and Barbados,  Some of the Alexander land was later donated to the Presbyterian Church.  That’s not surprising since James was a Scott and probably of that faith.  Further reading informed me there were no Quakers in the the area when Daniel relocated there.  If he had been a devout Quaker, he would have likely settled in Bucks County, Pennsylvania as the Duer’s initially did.  This would explain why I’ve never found a Quaker record for Daniel.
Although all of this is interesting to my research, the last weird occurrence happened while I was reading online.  My husband and I share an office and he decided he was going to clean his workspace.  He is a piler and I’m a filer – he has piles everywhere and I have everything sorted in a variety of devices (handing file folders, in/out baskets, file cabinets, tubs in folders, etc.).  As I was deeply involved in an old text my husband said, “Is this yours?”  He was holding a CD.  I haven’t used CD’s in I don’t know how long so I shook my head no.  “Should I toss it?”  he asked.  “What’s on it?” I replied.  “The theme song of Pirates of the Caribbean.”  I thought he was kidding me.  “Yeah, right.” I said.  “Seriously,” he replied.  He thought I had recorded it to help me with my search.  (Photo above – you can see it’s scratched so it’s not new.) Nope, wasn’t I but somewhere in the great beyond there’s a tech savvy spirit with a sense of humor who is helping me along.  Keep it coming!

Halloween Hope

This was supposed to have been published October 2020 but I just discovered that didn’t occur. Those darn gremlins!

HAPPY HALLOWEEN – the gremlins were in my computer this morning so I wasn’t able to post.

Just hit me that I have not been in a library – archive – on a research trip – in 7 1/2 months.  I’m ready for a reset and suspect you are, too! 

What’s Up with Ancestry.com?

My clip – look at the 3rd image from the left side to see the red dot

Are you noticing some subtle changes on your Ancestry.com home page? I’m referring to the red dots on the right side of header above the leaf and sometimes the envelope.

What’s up with that? Clicking on the leaf I see that I have some Hints. Scrolling down the drop down Hint menu and clicking on “See all recent hints in” I still have the red dot. I also have a counter that is still not working:

All Hints= 1 & Photos=1 but I’m on the photo page and there are no hints!


Sometimes the red dot is showing above the envelope but it seems to clear away when I get a legitimate message from another member. I had a “1” showing for three weeks, even though I had read the message. I discovered that you must click in the “respond” box, even if you aren’t really responding, to make the counter reduce. That doesn’t work for Hints, however.

The dot seemed to appear about the same time that Ancestry changed the viewing of Hints but I’m not sure they are related. Seeing the information on the right screen side will take getting used to. I’m not complaining about it, just don’t see the need for that change when there are others that could be addressed.

I realize I am perseverating on a dot which is a picayune detail but as it’s time for me to renew, I am looking at the program with the price of an annual subscription in the back of my mind. How they can’t get it right after all these years is beyond me.

I blogged about the Newspaper.com free access a few weeks ago. I have Ancestry All Access Membership, however, over the last year, I’ve often clicked on Newspapers.com and received the message that the image isn’t accessible because I don’t have their premium subscription.

Here’s a little math since I love saving money! The Ancestry.com All Access membership for a year is $389.00 which includes Ancestry, Basic Newspapers.com and Fold3. Newspapers.com Access Everything membership is $74.90/6 months or $149.80/year. Their Basic membership is $44.95/6 months ($89.90/year).

If I select Ancesty.com World Explore membership for $149.00/6 months ($298.00/year) and purchase Newspapers.com separately ($149.80) and Fold3.com separately ($79.95/year) the total cost would be $527.75 annually. So, yes, I am saving money by going through Ancestry.com in order to access Newspapers.com and Fold3, however, I’m not getting full access to Newspapers.com which I sometimes need.

My local library has the full Newspaper.com subscription but it is only available at the library so that hasn’t been helpful. Here’s my work around – as I work on my personal genealogy, I’m making a list of any item I can’t readily access and then, will either check it out at the library someday or wait until the site has another free weekend. In a pinch, I’d use the Ask a Librarian option for a look up. For my research areas, Newspapers.com does not have the info that would be worth it for me to buy the Everything access. Your needs, however, might differ.

RootsTech is REMARKABLE!

My RootsTech Relatives

If you aren’t on rootsTech today you are missing some awesome genealogy stuff. I don’t think it’s too late to participate – it’s free – just go here to register.

This is what has impressed me the most so far and it only just began:

FAMILYSEARCH.ORG – my thanks for pulling this off virtually without a hitch. Maybe there was a hitch on your end but it was seamless on ours. I absolutely LOVE the interactive RootsTech relatives feature and found a 4th cousin once removed living very close to me. Didn’t know she even existed! Using the Send a Message feature I made an attempt at connecting. Maybe if I ever get the covid vaccine we can meet. The map feature of where my people are is shown above and I think it’s just wonderful. Proves I’m a mutt without research, doesn’t it?! Actually looks very similar to my ethnicity results from Ancestry/MyHeritage/23andMe.

My FAVORITE research session so far has been from Goldie May’s Richard K. Miller on How to create Google Chrome shortcuts for Faster Genealogy Research. More info is available on their website so check this out here.

My FAVORITE AH HA session has been How to Make Rooibos Tea by Sarah Wing from South Africa. Funny but I brewed a cup right before the Expo Hall opened last evening so I thought I would enjoy the video but I was shocked to learn that a small strainer I inherited from my grandmother is a tea strainer. Duh, she used it to drain liquid from kidney beans so that’s how I’ve used it for over 50 years. I got so excited to learn what the kitchen device is really supposed to be used for I sent out an email to my family who would remember how it was used. Nothing like making connections over the simplicity of everyday living!

Which gets me to the next part of RootsTech I find interesting – I signed up for the 21 day Family Connections Experiment. What a brilliant idea, especially now with our world turned upside down for so many reasons. Learn more about it here.

The CREEPY BUT COOL tech toy is from MyHeritage – Deep Nostalgia. I can’t wait to try it! Take a photo and it animates it. You have got to check into this.

Another CREEPY BUT COOL tech device is from Audiobiography which has designed a product that can be placed on a tombstone or family heirloom and using an ap on your phone, the bar code will be read and you can learn more about the person/item via audio or text. Pricing was reasonable, too. Learn more about it here.

There’s much much more but those were the items that were most interesting to me so far. Two more days to go so don’t miss out – check it out now.

Researching Step Sibs Unveils a Treasure Trove

Photo courtesy of Tut on Find-a-Grave

A few blogs ago I mentioned I needed to check out the sibling and step siblings of Margaret Ann Martz Searight Duer to try to discover why she relocated from Hardin, Ohio to Adams, Indiana.  I guessed that she had met my John Duer in Adams as he was a property owner in the same area as Margaret.  Turns out, there was much more involvement than I thought.

Since Margaret was the second wife of John, I had never researched her family since they are not related to me, or so it seemed.

Online trees showed Margaret was born to the first wife, Margarethae Himmelsbach, of George Peter Martz in Germany.  I have found a baptismal record for another child of the couple, Catharina, born 17 September 1830 in Rheinzabern, Pfalz, Bayern.  The child and the mother must have died shortly after as George married Elizabeth Goetz Martz, the wife of his deceased brother, John.  The second union produced eight children.  I never found a birth record for Margaret and determined her birthdate from her tombstone shown on Find-a-Grave.

Like Margaret and her first husband, George Washington Searight, “father” George and “step-mother” Elizabeth lived in Hardin, Ohio in 1850.  By 1860, some of the children were still residing with George and Elizabeth who had moved to Mercer County, Ohio. 

Interesting, I thought!  Perhaps John hadn’t met Margaret in Adams, Indiana but instead, in Mercer where he was found living with his first wife, Jane, in 1860.  Actually, they are 3 pages away in the census from where John and Jane lived.  Also living nearby, just two residences away, was daughter Maria Duer who had married Henry Kuhn, also an emigrant from Germany.  Perhaps John and Margaret met at a community event as Henry Kuhn was a leader of the German settlers in Mercer County. His wife, Maria, who was not German, even has an obituary in the German newsper.

Knowing that Margaret had family in Mercer helped me better understand why she was buried there and not in Indiana.  I still had no answer as to why Margaret purchased property in Indiana so I took the time to learn about her step siblings, thinking that perhaps, they lived in Adams County.

I decided to start with “step sister,” Hannah Lucinda and what a surprise I found!  Hannah died in Missouri before 1880 when the census shows her husband, Abraham Orr, residing with his brother, Thomas.  I was interested in learning more about Abraham because he was a property owner at one time in Trumbull County, Ohio, where my John Duer was born and where he first married.  In researching Abraham I discovered his mother was Anna Duer, sister to my John Duer.  Who knew these families were interrelated! It gets even better – After Hannah Lucinda died, her youngest children, Mary and Phillip Orr, are found living in the household of Phillip Martz, “step-brother” of Margaret in (drum roll, please) Mercer, Ohio.  So the Duers and Martz’s were connected prior to John’s marriage to Margaret.  No telling when or where they first met!

I hit pay dirt when I got to “step-brother,” Eli Martz.  He had a bio in amugbook from Mercer County, Ohio that, although not 100% accurate, provided me with background information about Margaret and her family. 

I thought it strange that Eli has two entries and the information is slightly different.  The first, names him Eli Martz, “the son of George P. and Elizabeth (Goetz) Martz.” P. 429.  I read this entry first.  When I finished the article I noticed the next article was for an Elisha Martz.  Hmm, who could he be? 

Elisha Martz was the “son of G. Peter and Elizabeth (Goetz) Martz.” p. 430. Yes, George P. is the same man as G. Peter.  Elizabeth Goetz Martz is the same mama.  At the very end of Elisha’s article the confusion is cleared – Eli and Elisha are brothers.  Why the parents would have named them so similarly I have no idea. 

Their stories have a few discrepancies which makes this very interesting!

Both stories state Margaret emigrated with her STEP-father and 3 of her step-brothers to Frederick Town, Maryland about 1830.  All of the online trees have Margaret’s father’s name wrong – it was not George Peter but George’s brother, John Martz.  George Peter was Margaret’s uncle who raised her after his brother died and George married the widow.  That explains why no record for Margaret’s birth has been found!

According to Eli’s article, the family arrived in 1830, however, the twins, Phillip and Caleb, were born in 1831 in Germany so that is not correct. Elisha’s article states they arrived in 1833.  That makes sense and would explain the longer than usual lapse in children’s births.  The couple seemed to have children annually in Germany but there is a longer gap between the twins (1831) and Eli in 1834.  Having twins and moving to start a new life in a new country would definitely have put a damper on having another child at the original rate. 

Margaret’s uncle was a shoemaker but decided he wanted to try farming so he relocated to Sandusky, Ohio after 3 years in Maryland, according to Eli, or 18 months, according to Elisha.  Really, what’s a year and a half?!.

Quickly deciding raising corn wasn’t for him, they packed up with the intent to return to Maryland.  On their journey they stopped at Wayne County, Ohio where they decided to stay for 14 years, per Eli, or until 1848, per Elisha. 

George bought land in the then wilds of Mercer County, Ohio but on the way in 1847 (Eli) or 1848 (Elisha), the family decided to stop in Hardin County, where they were found in the 1850 census.  Both agree in 1852, the family made their way to Mercer.  After his second wife died in 1876, says Eli, George relocated to Illinois where he died “about 1882.”  Elisha says George relocated to Illinois in 1864. He doesn’t say when George died. He does gush about what a great dad George was; Eli says nothing.  Hmmm.

This leads me to a big WHAT?  So, sons Eli/Elisha did not keep in close contact with Pop, as the year discrepancy is rather large of when George left Ohio not to mention they don’t know when their dad died.  Seems like this is a trend with the Duer siblings too, who never told their children their mother Jane’s name.  What is going on with these folks?

Since George’s wife, Elizabeth, was found living with Eli in 1870 and George is not found in any record after 1860, I’m thinking that both Eli and Elisha were somewhat accurate about George’s whereabouts. Eli would have known when his dad left the area because mom was in his household. Elisha might have remembered when his parents split households, probably in 1864.

The mug book names George’s 9 children, the eldest, being Margaret, “the widow of John Doer, who resides in Adams, county, Ind.” p. 429 or “Margaret, the widow of John Deuer, of Jay County, Indiana.” p. 430.  Yes, she was the widow but John wasn’t from Jay County  and I love the spelling of John’s last name!

The point, though, is I would have never located this had I not searched for more information on Margaret’s step siblings. 

The book goes on to note where every sibling resided and the only step-brother/cousin of Margaret that lived in Indiana was  Phillip.  However, he lived in Salem which is in southern Indiana, Adams is in northeast so Margaret clearly didn’t relocate to Adams because of Phillip’s move to that state. I’m thinking Margaret moved to Adams to be near John and away from ex wife Jane who most likely remained in Mercer. 

Now I’m intrigued as to why Uncle George (geez, I DO NOT need another Uncle George in the family) went to Illinois at an advanced age.  None of his children were residing there between 1864-1876. Supposedly, youngest daughter Hannah Lucinda died in Illinois per an online family tree but there is no citation. Her spouse was listed as a widow in Iowa in 1880 so possibly she died on the way to relocating west. Whether she stopped to visit her dad on the way, I don’t know.

George didn’t appear to keep in touch with any of his children as no one seems to know what became of him. The year of 1864 is interesting to me as that was likely when John and Margaret married.  The Civil War wasn’t over yet.  Maybe there was just too much drama for a man up in age and he decided to leave his wife for a new start.  I say that because Elisha mentions that George’s wife died in Mercer.  Eli/Elisha both agree it was in 1876.

The mysteries may continue, however, the beauty of the information in the mug book is priceless.  What a wonderful example of why it’s important to research the relatives, no matter how distant they may at first appear to be!  My tree is becoming gnarled.

A Sad Brick Wall Discovery


Certificate of Insanity, William Duer, May 1852; digital image, FamilySearch.org: Accessed 27 December 2020, citing Common Pleas Court civil records, 1825-1901 ; civil index, 1825-1900 Miscellaneous, 1846-1873 Miscellaneous (alphabetical), pre-1900 Depositions (chronological), 1886-1901. Film # 008271767, image 921 of 2904.

Usually, I’m happy when I climb over a brick wall but sometimes the find provides harsh reality of what the individual was experiencing. I recently had such a discovery and in all honesty, I put off writing about it for a month.

I’ve made a lot of progress on my John and Jane Duer line lately although several mysteries remain, like where is John buried, why does Jane’s tombstone say “wife of John Duer” when he was married to someone else at the time of Jane’s death and why does Jane’s youngest children, who were adults when she died, not tell their own children about Jane as evidenced by their death certificates stating mother is unknown?

My working theory is, among other reasons, because of the sad discovery I made regarding one of John & Jane’s children.

William Duer (1828-c. 1852) was the oldest son and oldest surviving child of John and Mary “Jane” Duer; he relocated with the couple from Trumbull County, Ohio where he was most likely born to Killbuck, Holmes, Ohio where he is shown residing with his parents and siblings in 1850. That census shows that William and his closest aged sibling, Thomas, was working on the farm with father John.

For years, I had difficulty discovering what became of William as he was not shown with the family in the 1860 census in Mercer County, Ohio where they had relocated, nor was he found in any census anywhere. He seemed to have disappeared in thin air as nothing was found for him anywhere. Until now and thanks to the images on FamilySearch.org.

I mentioned a few weeks ago how to access those images so click this link if you don’t know how.

My search for William took the usual path over the years – checking all the online sites, family trees and connecting with known relatives. I thought he had perhaps died in the Civil War which wouldn’t explain where he was in 1860, but I also had another missing brother from the 1860 census so I figured they may have been together somewhere and missed the enumeration. That brother, John B., eventually ended up in Adams County, Indiana. William was never found again. Until now.

I decided to look through the images for Common Plea Court Civil Records, 1825-1901, for Killbuck Township, Holmes, Ohio where the family lived to see if a record may exist for anyone in the family. That’s where I discovered the Certificate of Insanity for William Duer.

From the medical report, I learned that William was age 23 and free from infection. In March 1852 William complained of “feelings in his head” that lasted 1-2 weeks. He was last reported sane on 12 April 1852.

Apparently, insanity must have been shown for at least 30 days before the courts could be contacted. The physician diagnosed William with melancholy that was not related to hereditary or epilepsy. He was not violent. His past medical history showed bleeding and blisters but it does not clarify the cause.

Interestingly, the physician noted William had received “no education” and “worked hard” and had “no amusement” yet he was not “disappointed” by his life. The education information is verified by Historical Collection of the Mahoning Valley which stated “the public schools were few, with little interest taken in public education until 1840, when a new impulse moved the settlers” (p. 484). William’s early life was in Trumbull County which became Mahoning County.

The Justice of the Peace had also visited William at his home and found him insane. Since he was a resident of Killbuck, he was sent to the Ohio Lunatic Asylum to undergo treatment. His condition had been the case for less than 2 years. The reason cited for committing William was that “his being at large would be dangerous to the safety of the community.” Although this clearly conflicts with the physician report stating that William was not violent, father John Duer attested the same.

I do not believe William every survived the commitment. I suspect he is buried on the asylum grounds where there are numerous unmarked graves. I will be following up with an organization that holds the records which is currently closed due to the pandemic.

I hadn’t expected this would be the reason for the brick wall.

From searching through images, prior to this find, I discovered a letter to the courts regarding another community member’s request for an insanity hearing in the preceding year. The request was denied, not because the woman wasn’t insane, but because the county had already used up all of their bed space in the asylum. I have no idea from the records what the county’s allotted number was but it is telling that there were more community members who needed mental health assistance then there was available treatment for them.

This find leads me to a new working theory about William’s mother, Jane, that I will explore in more details next time.