Boots on the Ground Remains Important

Courtesy of Aunt Becky on Findagrave.com

Do you have a family line that just fascinates you? Mine is the Duers who emigrated from England to New Jersey, moving on to what is now West Virginia and then into Ohio.

I’ve blogged before about the difficulty of identifying individuals as each generation reuses names – John, Thomas, Daniel, Joseph, and John(athan). I have been trying to prove for years that patriot John Duer (1758-1831) had a son, Thomas, who predeceased him. Thomas had a son, John, whose burial location was unknown. Both of grandson John’s wives, Jane and Margaret, were buried in Kessler Cemetery, aka Liberty, in Chattanooga, Mercer, Ohio.

Several years ago I contacted the cemetery staff and they kindly sent me a handwritten listing of burial plots. John Duer was shown buried in row 6 space 23. Unfortunately, that’s not the John I’m seeking; that John was the man I’m seeking’s son John Fred (1836-1939).

While I was in Fort Wayne recently at the genealogical library, I asked my husband to check books for cemetery records in Mercer County, Ohio. John died in Allen County, Indiana, across the border from Mercer as that is where he owned property later in life and had his will probated. No obituary has been found for him. His will omitted many of his children from his first marriage. My theory was that he was buried in an unmarked grave either in Adams County, Indiana, or in Kessler Cemetery.

My husband is not interested in genealogy and sometimes, not having a background makes for the best finds. He didn’t bother using the indexes provided in the back of the books. He scanned every page for the name John Duer. He also was looking for alternative spelling as he was aware that the original spelling was Dure. In Judith Burkhardt & Gloria Schindler. Mercer County, Ohio Cemetery Records of Liberty Township (1987) he hit gold! The last entry on the last page (52) noted in Row 15: “Next several stones missing, sunken in ground or unreadable John Duer – Unreadable”

Wow! It’s likely this was the John that I was trying to find. He wasn’t listed on the Kessler Cemetery sheet sent to me because the document only went to row 8. I had no idea I hadn’t been sent the entire cemetery listing.

I definitely need to take a trip to Kessler to see the stone for myself. I’m not holding out hope I’ll be able to glean information from the stone that was unreadable 34 years ago but I still need to make the attempt.

Interestingly, the Burkhardt & Schindler book also noted that the first wife, Jane’s, tombstone death year was 1888 which is a mistranscription. Her stone is shown above. Actually, that death year on her stone is probably also in error. John married second 11 December 1864 to widow Margaret Martz Searight. It is likely that his first wife Jane died in July 1861-4; no divorce record was found by staff who searched in Mercer County.

I definitely need to check for myself and also search divorce records in Adams County, Indiana, where John purchased a property in 1860, leaving Jane off the deed. When they lived in Holmes County she was listed as an owner with him.

I suspect her tombstone was not added until after the Civil War as the family had several sons and sons-in-law fighting for the Union. I’m thinking 1866 was the year they had the tombstone installed. Or, there was a divorce I haven’t yet found.

Boots on the ground are still necessary and it’s definitely exciting to step away from the computer to make a find in person. Kudos to my husband who made this exciting discovery for me. Happy Hunting!

Research Challenges and How to Overcome Them

I’m blogging a day early as I will be out of town giving a lecture tomorrow. Yep, back in person. With a Mask. Hooray!!

I’m reflecting today on what should have been simple research tasks locally that turned out to be anything but. I’m avoiding using specific names and places as I don’t want to cause further problems; I do think you need to be reminded, however, on how to get over, under, around, and through to discover your research goals.

My two research goals were: 1. Find the name of an individual who lived on a street in an unincorporated area of a county in the late 1990s. 2. Find living members of a pioneer family who once held the first bounty land in the area in the mid-1850s.

Here’s the backstory – in the late 1990’s I met a neighbor who told me a horrific tale about a local family. The tale has haunted me since and I was determined to now research it fully. Problem was, I couldn’t remember the neighbor’s name. I was hoping to discover that and see how that individual was connected to the event. That neighbor had told me the name of the family who had experienced the event and claimed they were descended from the first pioneer family in that location. A quick internet search showed me that was correct. Their last names are common, however, so finding a living family member in an area that had grown exponentially over the years wouldn’t be quick. The neighbor was elderly so I didn’t think I would be able to find her, 27 years after we had met.

Now think about my goals and how you would quickly and ACCURATELY reach them. My thought for goal 1 was to locate City Directories. I first checked the public library, in person, for the area where the person had resided. They had no directories. I then went in person to the historical society who happens to be located within a block of where the individual I was seeking lived. They don’t have directories, either.

I also checked with the society about the pioneer family. One of the members knew of the goal 2 family and of the event that I was researching. Since it was the holidays it was suggested that we meet again in January.

As genealogists, we all know that names and places change over time. The location of the event occurred on an island that has since split in half and changed names and geographically, locations, as it has moved apart. The portion of the island where the event occurred has migrated north and is located across from the unincorporated area I visited. The unincorporated area was once incorporated but then unincorporated, thus changing its name several times. The bounty land was located today in the unincorporated area, too, but a city to the south now claims that the family was their first city inhabitants. Although the area is now well-populated, the city to the north of the incorporated area was at the time of the event, the largest city. Today, the largest city is the county seat located to the south of the city claiming the settler as their town founder.

I called the library for the city that claimed the pioneer family and was told they had no city directories for the unincorporated area. I checked the larger city to the north, they didn’t have the city directories, either. I looked online for the county seat’s library holdings and they did not have the city directories for the unincorporated area.

At the end of last month, I reconnected with the unincorporated historical society and was told they had looked but were unable to locate any members of the pioneering family remaining in the area. I had found some descendants through online family trees but they were not local and had no knowledge of the event. They also had no knowledge of any family member ever living on the street my neighbor lived on.

Meanwhile, I used newspapers and books to learn more about the tragedy. I found numerous accounts in the Tampa Tribune and the St. Petersburg Times. Tampa is in a neighboring county but had been the county where the event had occurred just a few years previously. St. Petersburg was a growing city well south of the event but was trying to become the regional powerhouse paper at the time. Neither newspaper exists today; they have combined and are now called the Tampa Bay Times.

When the event occurred there were many small local newspapers but the remaining issues are not available online. I put in requests with two other historical societies who have been known to have some issues. Nada.

I wrote the article with the information I had found. Like all stories, both newspaper accounts and the neighbor’s version of events vary.

Thursday, on a whim, I decided to stop at the city that claimed the pioneer’s library to check for myself that they didn’t have the City Directories. Imagine what I discovered. The information I was looking for was in a 1998 directory listed under the city that is the county seat. The clip is shown above.

As soon as I saw the page I quickly recognized the neighbor’s name. Internet research then unveiled that the neighbor’s husband had lived next door to the family in the 1940 US Federal census. The road both families lived on was the name of the pioneer and was the homestead land. I then looked for obituaries and discovered that descendants had left the area. Just tie this up and put a bow on it!

After the library visit, I decided to stop by that city’s historical society to see if they had any accounts of the event. I’m sad to say that the two folks on duty had no knowledge of local history. I was given the name of someone who supposedly knew all about the town’s past. I sent an email which was promptly responded to with complete misinformation. I knew it was wrong as I had already checked property records, published journals of a neighbor to the family who had been involved in the tragedy and census records.

I thanked the individual and shared the information I had found. Never got a response as I likely ticked the person off. That wasn’t my intention; I believe it’s important to find the documents, analyze them in comparison to everything found and then write up the findings for future folks so that history is not forgotten or rewritten by whatever the culture of the day believes.

So, my dear readers, the lessons learned are as follows:

  1. You have to do boots on the ground research. Everything you’ve been unable to physically check out yourself during the pandemic you will need to verify in person as soon as you are able.
  2. “Authorities” are not unless they can prove to you how they came to their conclusion. Don’t rely on what was told to you by an expert without evidence.
  3. Widen your net and expand your geographic area to locate information. This was my first experience with researching an event on a land mass that had physically moved and I guess, with climate change, it won’t be my last.
  4. Don’t give up! Somewhere is the information you seek. Persistence pays off.
  5. Make sure you write up your findings for future generations.

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!

A Loss for Tampa Bay


The John F. Germany Public Library in Tampa, Florida holds one of the largest genealogical collections in the southeast United States. I visit often and have always found the staff to be professional and helpful. Last month, my visit there saddened me.

I planned to drop off some donated books and as it was thundering, decided to park in the adjoining parking garage. It was mid-day and the lot was just about filled. I thought I was lucky to find one of the few remaining spots on the top floor. I took the elevator to the tube that joins the garage with the library. When I approached the library doors I was shocked to find them boarded up. I guessed that the facility was being renovated. I walked a level down and then half way around the block to enter from the front. Stopping at the information desk, I asked for the acquisition clerk who was expecting me. “I’ll have to take you up because the elevator needs a key for that floor,” was the response. I thought that was odd but with security as it is these days, I wasn’t too surprised.

On the way up I chatted with the staff member about the reason for my donation. When we arrived on the 4th floor, she accompanied me to another information desk. I turned over the materials and then stated I was going to spend the next hour in the Genealogy Department doing some research. Both staff members looked at each other and one finally responded, “This is the Genealogy Department.” Now I was terribly confused. I’ve been visiting this library for over 40 years and the Genealogy Department has always been in the annex and not in the main building.

Evidently, in June, with little notice, the City of Tampa who owned the annex decided that the library must vacate the building. The Genealogy Department was relocated to smaller quarters on the 4th floor of the main building. That floor once held the Administration Department which is why the elevator only stopped there with a special access key.

I understand progress but I’m dismayed that the City decided to relocate this genealogical gem because THEY’RE SELLING THE PROPERTY TO BUILD APARTMENTS. Now if housing was in such a shortage in the Tampa Bay area I could perhaps see the reasoning for the decision but as it is, there is much vacant land adjacent to downtown Tampa just a few blocks away that can be used for apartments. In the past few years, the City has relocated thousands of people as they’ve emptied out public housing high rises. They haven’t even demolished many of those vacant structures that are to be rebuilt for mixed usage someday.

Obviously, the City’s priorities are not the same as mine. Progress is important but not at the expense of the past. The library staff has done a wonderful job on short notice to accommodate the space shortage. Kudos to the library staff; Shame on the City of Tampa’s decision.

Be Mindful of Address Changes


On the plane returning home from New Mexico, I sat next to a woman who had traced her paternal grandfather’s side back to the 1200’s in a Spanish village thanks to the church records and her ability to decipher old handwriting. She mentioned that she had found several deeds belonging to her great grandparents but could not locate the residences as the numbering system had changed in the past 100 years. Lucky for her, she met an elderly man who remembered the family and understood the new address system so she was able to identify where her grandfather and great grandfather were born. Taking into account address changes is an important point to remember as what you’re looking at might not be what you think it was.

There are two websites available to help with situations like this. Whatwasthere.com is a site using Google Street View with uploaded photos of what the area looked like from previous time periods. You can assist this project by uploading old photos you may have that show the area in the past.

Historypin.com is another site where you can place a pin on a Google map and upload a photo of what the area formerly looked like. Your old homestead just might be waiting for you to discover!

Snapping Stones – Tips for Photographing


Each Memorial Day when I was growing up, I’d accompany my family to tend the graves of ancestors I never knew. Small flags stood at attention on the graves of veterans and the scent from flowers filled the air.

My grandmother had a “cemetery box” in the trunk of her car; it contained hand clippers, a trowel, garden gloves, a rag and a paper bag. Grandma would don the gloves and clip any tall grass growing around the stone, putting the clippings in the paper bag. If weeds were sprouting my mom carefully pulled them out or used the trowel to remove before tossing them into the paper bag. Finally, the stone would be wiped down. I don’t remember seeing either spraying the stones with a cleaning product but I had usually lost interest by that time and was wandering around looking at the pictures on nearby markers.

In the older part of the cemetery where my great grandfather lay, many stones contained photos of the deceased. Frozen in time, I was fascinated by the faces staring out at me. Many were in uniform having died during World War I. Others were like my great grandfather who had died in the 1919 flu epidemic. Who knew from which others had succumbed? My imagination would kick in and I’d make up stories about their demise. I was usually in the middle of some epic made up tale when I was called to return. Back into the car we drove to yet another area of the cemetery to pay respects to family friends and former neighbors.

In all those visits it never once occurred to me to take a picture of the stones. Assuming they would always be there, why would a photo be needed? By the time I had entered by teens vandals had toppled many stones in the older part of the cemetery and those that couldn’t be moved were damaged by having the picture obliterated by blows. My great grandfather’s picture was one that was destroyed. We had a copy of the photo but the stone was never repaired.
Thank goodness for Find-A-Grave, Billion Graves and individuals who have posted gravestone photos on other sites. If you’re planning an upcoming cemetery visit, make sure you snap a picture during your visit and upload to preserve the record. Although we don’t think of a tombstone as a record, they are and need to be cited just like paper documents.

Here are a few hints for photographing stones:
It’s okay to tidy up the stone a bit but avoid major scrubbing. I’ve added a spray bottle and bleach tablets to my cemetery kit. Placing one tablet in the bottle and adding water, I can spray the stone to remove algae and dirt quickly. I sometimes need to use a soft bristle brush, too, but be gentle!

vIf someone has placed flowers or other adornments in front of the stone it’s alright to move them for the photo but please carefully replace when you’re done.

For upright standing stones – get down in front and level with the stone. It reduces distortion and if the photo is taken close up, minimizes your shadow.

For flat stones – try to take the picture from directly above making sure you don’t include your feet. If you can’t do that, please crop the photo before uploading.

Back up and take a photo of stones adjacent to the one that is of interest to you. Possible relatives, neighbors or friends may have been buried close by and might be of help when you are researching paper documents when you return home. This method may alert you to a child who died between census years or an uncle who came for a visit and passed away unexpectedly.

Remember, just because it’s engraved in granite doesn’t make it so! Conflicting evidence does occur; an error could have been made just like with paper. If the cemetery office is open, stop in and ask for a copy of the records. To save the staff time I often photograph them in lieu of having a photocopy made. Being thoughtful goes a long way!

Researching at the National Archives

Originally published on genealogyatheart.blogspot.com on 14 Sep 2016.

My two most favorite locations to research are the Family History Library in Salt Lake City and the National Archives (NARA) in DC.  Actually, NARA is by far the archive that I hold dearest to my heart as it’s the place where I am able to hold in my hands documents that my ancestors held years before.  It’s a connection like no other!

It was my final day in the Capitol and as I was headed to the airport in late afternoon, I had with my my suitcase.  My sister-in-law had dropped me off at the commuter station close to her home at 9 AM and it was a straight line to the archive.

Took this pic as I came up the steps from the train:

The building isn’t crooked – I was after being on the road for several days!

This view is of the researcher’s entrance – it’s around the side of the building from where the public enter to view the exhibits.  Think National Treasure’s entrance.

Going through security was not a problem and the guards pleasantly directed me to the locker room.  For a quarter I could get a large locker to place my suitcase and purse.  I hadn’t taken off the Kindle’s sleeve so I was sent back to place it with the rest of my belongings.  The Kindle and/or a laptop is permissible but cannot have the cases with them.  I also took with my my handy dandy plastic Baggie of goodies.

I was prepared and had viewed the Powerpoint presentation at home prior to my trip.  The ppt had been updated the week before, however, so I was required to take a few moments to read it.  You can check out Researcher Presentation here.

As with the Library of Congress, researchers must obtain a Research Card. You cannot preregister but there was no wait and within minutes I was on my way.  The card you receive is free and valid for 1 year.  Make sure you have a drivers license or passport with you!

I was directed to a desk where the kind ladies helped me complete the pull request paperwork.  Since I had already checked out their holdings I knew exactly what I wanted to get.  I highly advise you to do the legwork at home and save time while there.  It’s amazing how quickly time flies when you’re into the documents!

The document pull requests must be turned in by the time deadlines or you miss that window.  The pull times are 10, 11, 1, 2 and 3.  I had already missed the 10 AM – when they open – as I had to get my Research Card.  No worries, I was ready for the 11 AM pull.  In the meantime, staff directed me to the microfilm room and I was happily viewing Postmaster Records from the late 1800s on several family members.

I was able to save what I found to my thumb drive but you have to put money on your card.  A staff member helped me and I decided it was best to use my charge card to guesstimate how much I would spend.  I wasn’t sure if the records I was requesting from the pulls were what I wanted and I didn’t want to put more money on the card than needed as I wasn’t planning on being back soon and you can’t get a refund once money is placed.  The staff member suggested $5.00 and as it turned out, he was exactly on the money!

By noon I was on another floor asking at the desk if my items had been pulled.  They hadn’t yet so I sat at a table and waited.

It was a Thursday midday in July and the place was hopping!  Every table in the room was taken. The adjacent room was almost empty but those tables were reserved for Congressmen so the remaining researchers had to share space.

A kind researcher had noticed me downstairs earlier and asked me if I had found everything.  I told him that my pull hadn’t come through yet.  He suggested that I ask the staff member in another room as he found his request there.  Sure enough, there was my goodies!

I’m not going to bore you with the process but this is government so you’ve got to sign and sign again and make sure you’re signing in the right place on the right color paper.  Don’t worry – the staff is patient and kind and will help you if you forget what you learned in the ppt.

I had requested 3 pulls and all 3 had information.  There are limits – from their website:

The limit is four original files for each researcher for each pull during a business day up to 24 files in a given day.”

When I come back I plan on bringing my husband to expedite the process.

I sat in awe and read the War of 1812 pension petition of my 3 x’s great grandmother Mary “Polly” Dennis Hodge Adams Elder Search.  You read that correctly – she was married four times, outliving 3 of the husbands.  Her first husband, John Hodge, went off to the War of 1812 leaving her 8 months pregnant with twins in the wilds of Ohio.  She survived the childrens’ births, he did not.  I’m descended from her second husband, Edward Adams.

Polly couldn’t write, as evidenced from her X mark.  One of her sons and daughters from her marriage to Edward accompanied her and signed the pension request.

I wanted a copy so I went back to the staff member where I had obtained the record and he helped me set up the document on the printer.  They use blue paper so as to make sure that no one is walking out with an original.  I had put money on the card in the microfilm room so it was quick to make the copies.  I signed the document back in and then went through the process with the other two documents, one at a time.

I got teary eyed when I read the Civil War record of my husband’s 2nd great grandfather, Samuel Samuelson, who was the first of our surname.  I knew he had sustained an injury but I didn’t know he had become a POW and was traded back to the Union, only to go on and fight another day.  Wow.

The last document was another one of my husband’s great grandfathers, John Anderson Long, who had also had a lengthy enlistment in the Union.  He had fled Tennessee in the 1830’s as his anti-slavery stance had gotten him in serious trouble.  He eventually settled in northern Indiana and that’s where he enlisted when the war began.  I hadn’t known he was a teamster.  The documents contained his medical history – he had once had pneumonia but recovered.

Unfortunately, it was time to leave as I had a plane to catch.  I was directed to the desk where the staff looked through all of the items I had copied and secured them in a locked bag:

All I was allowed to keep out was my locker key and Research Card.  I then took these items to the guard desk who cleared me to leave the room.  I gathered my belongings and ironically, got a call from my son.  He was in the process of getting security clearance for his job and he had called to vent that the security company had not been able to verify his employment from 3 years ago at a local hardware store.  I had to laugh – here I was holding documents from the 1840’s through 60’s and there’s no records from 3 years ago locally.  I understand how it happened – the store was sold and the new owners didn’t have the old owner’s records.  Son had a W-2 but the company wouldn’t take it because they said anyone could make one of those up.  I guess they could but I don’t think like that.  I suggested he track down the old owner and ask him for verification which he did.

After the phone call I proceeded to the exit, which is the same place as the entrance.  The guard opened the bag and returned my items to me.  They had locked my suitcase upon entering the building and asked if I wanted it unlocked.  It was a carryon and I didn’t need anything in it so I opted to leave the lock on.

I did complete a comment card – I was so impressed with the staff’s professionalism, especially after the lackadaisical attitude of the Library of Congress employees, I had to let the top brass know.

I’m hoping that next summer, I can take the week long class at NARA in July and spend more time.  I’m already making a list of who I want to research.

I was sad to end my research trip but thankful that I had the opportunity to do it.  I hope that you have gained some tips and tricks next time you are on a GLAM (Gallery, Library, Archive or Museum) quest.  The trip took me through public (county and city libraries), private (DAR), and national genealogical repositories (NARA, Library of Congress).  Each have their own processes and it’s best to know before you go.  Take the time to read online the hours of operation, explore the collection holdings and make notes of what you want to see while you’re there.  The findings may leave you with additional questions and a run through a different bread crumb trail than you expected but I assure you, it will be fun and thought provoking.  I can’t wait to do it again

Researching at the Daughters of the American Revolution Library

Originally published on genealogyatheart.blogspot.com on 10 Sep 2016.

Recently I had the opportunity to research at the Daughter’s of the American Revolution (DAR) Library in Washington, DC.  I was attending an educational conference and at its conclusion, had an afternoon free so a colleague who is a DAR and I decided to join forces on a research trip.

Since we didn’t have much time we took a cab from our hotel.  There had been a wicked storm the prior evening so there were tree limbs littering the street and work crews trying to open closed roads. The taxi driver got us as close as possible due to this situation.

I had already checked out of the hotel so I had my suitcase with me when I arrived.  I know the DAR has gotten a lot of  flack over the years for some of their policies but I must say that these were the nicest people I had met in DC on this trip so far.  The guard said to put my suitcase in a corner and he’d watch it for me.  We got a visitor’s sticker and were directed to the library.

My colleague and I split up and I had two objectives; the first to find if John Duer was still open for new members and the second, what was the problem with Wilson Williams.  I always planned on joining the DAR when I retired and I didn’t want to submit paperwork on John Duer if the line was closed.  I was assured he was open.  My concern with Wilson was due to a family member who had decided to join the DAR but was told she couldn’t because of paperwork problems for Wilson.  I had helped with the research on Wilson and I wanted to know what was wrong.  Did someone find out, gasp, he had aided the Loyalists?  Was there another Wilson that we had mistakenly followed?

The Librarian checked and found no problem with Wilson.  He believed the family member misunderstood what she was told – there are too many people who joined DAR with the short form for Wilson and if she would like to become a member, she would have to complete a long form.  No worries there!

I headed for the stacks and found a few books that gave me some leads on my Thomas Duer connection.  I also checked out surnames for the Kinship Determination Paper I was submitting for certification just in case there was something somewhere I had missed.  Nope, had all of the derivatives and not surprisingly, no primary info to be found there.

After about an hour I texted my colleague who was wandering in the museum.  I joined her and loved the displays.  Reminded me of the historical museum in Morristown, New Jersey.

As we left she asked me if I had taken any photos of books with my phone.  “Yes,” I replied, “a few.”  I inquired as to why she asked.  Evidently, that was not permitted.  She had whipped out her phone to take a photo of a map and was informed by the Librarian that she owed $10.00.  She didn’t have a ten so she gave them a $20. and told them the rest was a donation.

She’s a much better person than me, for sure!  I would not have handled it like that.  I questioned her as to where there was a sign posted that photo’s weren’t permitted.  She said there hadn’t been any and that a patron overheard and also questioned the policy.  The Librarian responded that it had always been the policy.

When I came home I searched the DAR website and didn’t find anything regarding a no using your camera policy but be warned if you visit – your photo might cost you a whole lot more than a copy would!

Next time I’ll write about behind the scenes at the National Archives.

Researching at the Library of Congress

Originally published on genealogyatheart.blogspot.com on 8 Sep 2016.

I had always wanted to go on the other side – the nontourist side – of the Library of Congress to research.  On a Saturday afternoon in July I parked my rental car in a great (well, not really, more about that later) spot behind the Madison Building.  The library is housed in more than one building so go online to check out their holdings and where they are located before you visit.

Although the purpose of the library is to be used by Congress, adult researchers may access the holdings by obtaining a Reader Card.  You can complete most of the information online ahead of your trip to save time – just follow this Pre Register link.

Be forwarned that children may not obtain entry to the holdings.  A high school student might but there is a process involved so make sure you follow the directions and have secured the necessary paperwork.  Gotta love the government!

After going through security I was directed to the left hallway by the guards to obtain my reader’s card.  I presented my driver’s license but a passport will also work.  The bored clerk at the desk checked that I had pre-registered and directed me to sit around the corner.  There were three individuals ahead of me.  Shortly, I was called by another bored employee who had earbuds in and was watching a video on her phone.  She directed me, with no eye contact, to sit in her area so a quick photo could be taken.  My card was ready quickly and I was on my way.

I originally had two goals – visit the genealogy section to just “read” the shelves and find a rare book written by a family member.  My plans changed, however, after visiting Pennsylvania as I found a copy of the “rare” book just sitting on a library shelf.  Funny how one repository considers something rare and unique and another does not.

The genealogy section is housed in the Jefferson Building which is across the street from the Madison Building.  Researchers enter below the tourist entrance.  After once again going through security and having to show my Reader’s Card I was directed to the coat room where I checked my belongings.  I took only my plastic Baggie and Kindle.  I was then directed down a long winding hallway and eventually reached the elevator.  I was headed to the humanities area and once I arrived, I had to display my Reader’s Card to another guard and sign in.  The guard displayed an attitude as if I was bothering her – I guess I had disturbed her from reading.  I entered a mid sized room and asked the Librarian where I might find the genealogy section.  His response, “The genealogist isn’t here today.”  I told him that was fine, I didn’t need to consult with a genealogist.  I just needed direction to where the materials were housed.  He told me to follow him and we entered the gorgeous reading room and veered to the right.

The genealogy section was hidden behind a door and looked like nothing had been added in years.  Down a rickety plywood ramp the Librarian kindly asked what particular area I was researching.  I told him I had several – Florida, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana and New Jersey.  He wasn’t familiar with the layout and began to search the shelves.  I told him I would be fine so he left.

I wasn’t expecting much so I wasn’t disappointed.  It was everything I had previously read about the genealogy holdings.  I confirmed that there are many more resources in my own back yard then what was housed at the LOC.

This is one of only 2 shelves of Florida books. I’m going to keep my political opinions to myself  but am going to state that if this is where Congress goes to get info – well, it explains a lot about Congress.

I found absolutely nothing .

Since I had gone to all the trouble of getting a Readers Card and driving through downtown DC I figured I should at least spend a bit of time reading.  I left the genealogy section and wandered through the humanities section.  Found a nice book on Greek philosophy so I sat and read a chapter.  I think I must be in a zillion tourist photos.  It is very distracting trying to read when lights from cameras are going off constantly.  It was an interesting experience.  Guess I could equate it to being a fish in a fishbowl.

Maybe because it was a Saturday there weren’t many Readers in the room – I counted three besides me.

Getting out of the LOC is the same as getting in.  When I left the humanities area I was directed to again go through security and sign out by the guard who had changed since I entered.  This individual was much more pleasant.  Back up the elevator, down the winding hallway and to the coat room to retrieve my belongings. Those folks in the coat room are busy and nice!  One more check through security and the walk back to the rental car.

So, about that awesome parking space – I somehow missed the sign that said I had to have a sticker permit to park where I did.  I got a parking ticket for not following directions of the sign I didn’t see.  I have a long history of family members thrown out of lots of different countries (and fleeing several states) for their inability to follow directions and thus, getting into trouble.  I’m thinking that maybe, like me, it’s not so much they don’t follow directions as not see the directions.  Just a thought.

My husband’s several times great step uncle Leonard Harbaugh had been the builder overseeing the building of Congress and the White House.  When I told my husband about the ticket he reminded me none of his family members ever drive in the city and that’s why they don’t get tickets.  Even so, it was a wonderful parking place and worth the ticket fine as it was close.  I would have paid more if I had found a garage. Now I’m not recommending you get a ticket if you go but all things considered, it was okay with me.

Next time I’ll discuss researching at the DAR Library.

Making the Most of Your Research Trip – Part 8 – Last of a Series

Originally published on genealogyatheart.blogspot.com on 4 Sept 2016.

It was the dawning of my last day of my research trip to Pennsylvania and was hoping for a miracle to find the burial location with a date for my husband’s 3 x’s great grandfather.  I also wanted to confirm church records of where another of his 3 x’s great grandfather’s was buried in a second cemetery.  The cemetery had no record of that burial but it was listed in church records.

After a quick breakfast and checking out of the hotel I was on to Antietam Cemetery.  I drove the rental car as close to the family plots as possible.  I hadn’t mixed the bleach in the water to clean the stones as per the Reverend’s instructions as I was afraid I’d spill it in the car and wreck the carpeting.  The Walmart in Waynesboro carries bleach tablets.  We don’t have those in my Walmart!  They were perfect as I only had to pop one in the spray bottle and then add water.  No worries about spilling a bottle of bleach.

Since it wasn’t yet 8 AM the dew was still covering the ground.  My sneakers were soaked quickly but I trudged on, located the graves and sprayed away.  Once I had sprayed the entire family’s stones I went back to the first grave and gently rubbed the lichen off with the scrub brush. MAGIC!  I resprayed bleach solution and moved down to the next stone.  After the second brushing I poured clean water over the stone.  I was now wet, hot and filthy but happy – I could finally read all the stones.  Well, the parts that were above ground level.  As the Reverend had mentioned yesterday, the area was prone to sinking and one stone in particular had really gone down quite a lot.  I suspect the Revered was correct that if there were stones for my husband’s missing great grandparents they had sunk.  I believe there had been stones as the family has a notorious bread crumb trail of stones going back to the 1600’s in what is now Germany.  I would find it odd that this was the only couple that did not have stones, especially since the stone for their son was quite large.

I rephotographed the stones and then, on a whim, decided to look for the apple trees that the Reverend mentioned.  Why?  I am obsessed with apple trees, probably because my great uncle was John Chapman, aka Johnny Appleseed.  Sure enough, their were apple trees on the other side of the cemetery fence amidst lots of weeds and shrubs.  I walked over and picked up two apples off the ground.  Who knows, maybe they were Johnny’s at one time as he was known to have had a farm not far from this location once.  I couldn’t resist in taking them home:

Back in the car I drove to Green Hill Cemetery.  I marched to the stone I had found the previous day and sprayed away.  Even after speaking with the cemetery’s director the area still had not been cleaned.  I also sprayed the stones on either side to see if maybe one did belong to the great grandfather as church records stated.

Removing the dirt layer certainly helped the readability but the stone to the right was completely worn.  Interestingly, it was of the same type of marble as the family member’s stone and none others surrounding were.  The stone was smaller and I am now thinking it must be the stone for the infant that had died.  Perhaps both children had died at the same time and the older sibling got the bigger stone.  It didn’t make sense that the grandfather would have a tiny stone and the grandson a larger one.  On the smooth stone I placed typing paper that the sweet girl in the hotel had given me and rubbed with a black kindergarten crayon to see if anything would be revealed – nothing.  My mind wanted to see an outline of a lamb in the middle of the stone but I wasn’t sure if this was reality or not.  It was no clearer on the rubbing than in a photo.

Taking the scrub brush I decided to continue to search for the missing grandfather’s stone.  I located it in the same row but on the left side of the middle.  I quickly sprayed, scrubbed and washed.  No doubt about it – this was the stone of the man mentioned in the church records that was not included on the cemetery’s derivative list.

I’m not sure why the stone was located where it was.  Church records show that the stone was originally next to the grandson but that’s not the case.  Either the stones were mixed when they were relocated from Old Union or the church records are wrong.  Some mysteries just won’t be solved.

I was so glad to have returned and searched again with better tools.  I could leave the area with more knowledge than I had which was a good thing!

I was headed to Virginia to spend the evening with my sister-in-law and decided to take the scenic route through Harbaugh Valley.  I’ve seen the pictures online and read about the area for nearly 40 years so this was especially important to me.

The GPS directions made me laugh – I was headed back to the hotel  where I had stayed.  Ironically, I was staying just a short distance from the Reverend Henry Harbaugh’s old homestead.  We have a copy of his poetry book that had been handed down for generations.  I have also chuckled at his family history, of which we also have a copy.  Written in 1856 his was the first of several family genealogies written.  Now I’m not criticizing here as I think he did a wonderful job given the time it was published.  He couldn’t email, phone or just fly into an area like I had just done to do his research.  What I find humorous in a dark sense is that he often ended a biography with “He’s dead.”  No, you think?  The sermons he left weren’t so succinct so I’m not sure why he used such brevity often in his book.

I located Harbaugh Road quickly and parked in the Harbaugh church lot.  The cemetery behind the church is still used but it wasn’t as well maintained as I had envisioned.  Many of the older stones were totally unreadable.  There was no point in using the bleach – these stones were out in the middle of a corn field and not subjected to the lichen that covered the stones in the cemeteries on the other side of town.

The church was locked so I could not go in.  I was disappointed not to find the stone for the missing grandmother.  A marker outside of the church reminded me of the Reverend Henry’s brevity; it mentioned that a marker for the family home was nearby but didn’t give directions.  I brought up my family tree on my phone to see if I had any coordinates.  Nope.

I drove down Harbaugh Road and came to it’s end.  There was a subdivision now and not farmland.  I turned around and went back the way I had come, passing the church and turning left at the end of the road.  A sign that denoted the Maryland state line was displayed.  I crossed the line and stopped at a vegetable market.  None of the employees or customers had ever heard of Reverend Harbaugh but they did know there was a church up the street.  Ironically, one of the employees was related to the Harbaughs but he didn’t know it until I informed him.  He didn’t care much, either.

I drove back into Pennsylvania and stopped at an antique store located up the road.  The owner said she had never heard of the Reverend Harbaugh, either, but she knew there was a road and church and whenever an event was held at the church she got lots of business as people stopped to use her restroom.  She was somewhat interested in history so I enlightened her on the land that was across from her property.  She told me that the building where the store was located was once the train station for the area.  This must have been the place where the Reverend Harbaugh boarded for his trip to Ohio.  He had to learn English as the family spoke German at home and he learned while traveling.  His parents missed him terribly and when he returned and after he became a minister, built the church to keep him in the area.   As a parent of adult children, I so relate to that!

This same station was possibly where my husband’s family had left the area when they relocated to northern Indiana.  From the diary of their maternal aunt I knew the day and time the family had arrived in 1869 but I didn’t know the departure schedule.  It would be interesting to research further but it was now afternoon and I had to be on my way.  It was a fitting way to  end the trip, leaving the area, from the same location they likely had.

Next time I’ll write about my adventures in Washington, DC.