Yesterday I attended a lecture about researching in burned county Cook, Illinois. We don’t think about Chicago being located in a burned county but of course, like many areas, had a devastating fire that destroyed a large part of the downtown are 150 years ago. Of course, the burned area was where records were kept. The point of the lecture was there are still records left to examine and provided where those sources are now housed.
But that wasn’t the taken away I got from the session…At the very end, a participant asked if Mrs. O’Leary’s cow was the cause of the tragedy. There was an extensive investigation after and both the cow and Mrs. O’Leary were cleared. There had even been a fire the evening before due to the extremely dry conditions. Shoddy building practices and older wooden structures permitted the fire to spread rapidly. A fire department that wasn’t well funded made the situation worse.
When I was a child I lived in the Chicagoland area. Although I don’t recall how I first heard about the fire, I do remember asking my mom about it. She said it was started by Mrs. O’Leary’s cow. My mom was not alive when the fire occurred. Neither were my grandparents or my great grandparents who eventually lived for a short time in the city.
In hindsight, I suppose my mom heard about the fire over 50 years after it had happened. Whoever told her had some knowledge of the original sources blaming the cow but didn’t follow the story long enough to discover what really happened.
Often our family stories are like that; passed from one to another over an extended period of time without fully investigating the information that has become a “fact.”
This week, plan on recalling one of your family stories and do some investigating. Who knows what awesome discovery awaits you! Please share, I’d love to know.
UPDATE: See this interesting story about the O’Leary kin and who might have been responsible for the fire. Note: story mentions that Chicago area children were taught that the cow started the fire so that is how my mom possibly got that information.
I’ve had a strange week. Last Friday I got approval to write a journal article on a unique family heirloom. I tried to make contact with the family who are the current caretakers of the object but the Facebook message link is broken and they didn’t answer their phone. I spent the rest of the day and most of last Saturday researching the heirloom’s purported history and how the family acquired the religious object.
Mid afternoon my husband asked if I could come outside and see something. My first thought was what broke now. I followed him outside and around the side of our home. Under the bushes was the rock pictured above. “Did you put that there?” he asked. I had no knowledge of it and immediately got goose bumps. I know that people have been placing decorated rocks around neighborhoods and in parks to boost people’s spirits during the pandemic but this was just odd. Who placed it there? Why? There was no note or sticker on the bottom. Our adult kids had no idea how it got there, either. I decided to go back to researching.
Later in the afternoon, my husband saw our next door neighbor in her front yard. He asked her if she had any idea where the rock came from. “Oh, yes, I was babysitting and thought it would be a good craft project.” Umm, sure. My husband explained that we were all confused as to how it came to be placed under the bushes. The neighbor said she was watching two little girls. One made a bumble bee design on a rock and the other, the cross. Our neighbor said, “I don’t know why but I thought of your family getting the cross and [another neighbor] getting the bee.” The other neighbor is a sweetheart – the most kind person you could ever meet. She really doesn’t do gardening. I don’t know, the bee better fits my personality lol! I love gardening and I can definitely give out a stinger.
So, this was all a coincidence that a religious symbol shows up in my yard within 24 hours of me researching religious symbols until two days later when the following happened…
I was volunteering at my local hospital when one of the employees related a story that had occurred the previous evening. In checking a visitor in through the lobby, she had forgotten to return the person’s driver’s license. A security guard said he would take it to the patient’s room where the visitor was headed. She had had a hectic day and a short time later forgot the guard was taking the license. She panicked when she didn’t see it on her desk. A student volunteer reminded her that the guard had taken it. She was embarrassed by her forgetfullness and still feeling tired, decided she would stand for a bit. Looking over in front of the computer I usually use when I volunteer, she noticed the object shown below:
The employee, not recognizing who it portrays, thought it had something to do with demons. She was partly correct; St. Michael was known for fighting demons. He was also prayed to during the first Black Plague after Pope Gregory the Great had a vision of Michael standing over Hadrian’s tomb in Rome slaying evil. When the plague subsided shortly after his experience, Gregory had a shrine built to St. Michael over Hadrian’s tomb which is still visitable today. Well, it would be if we didn’t have a pandemic and could easily go visit. Just sayin’.
Since the heirloom I was investigating for the article just happened to be about St. Michael I was able to tell the employee a little bit about him. Personally, I told her, I don’t think it’s a bad idea he just “materialized” (her words) in a hospital during a pandemic. If one believes in miracles, that would be a fantastic sign. If one didn’t, it was just a coincidence. I suspect that this was part of a key ring and somehow broke off when a visitor searched for their license. Miracle or not, it should go to the lost and found box.
I did take a picture for this blog since that was the 2nd weird happening since I began my research.
As I continued to research the family I noticed that the gateway ancestor who was responsible for securing the heirloom happened to get his social security card in Indiana. My husband and I are from Indiana so I said to my husband, “Wouldn’t it be weird if he happened to have gotten it in Gary?” Neither of us recognized the last name as someone we would have known growing up.
As I further researched, I discovered that the man’s daughter had lived for a short time in Gary, but it was long after we had left the area. What a coincidence, I thought.
I still hadn’t heard back from the family and I did have a few questions and needed clarification regarding conflicting info I had found. I mentioned this when I was volunteering at my local historical society and one of the employees told me that a family member was her neighbor. She texted her and asked her to give me a call.
A week to the day that I left the voice message she called me and was absolutely delightful. After discussing the project and getting some of the information straightened out I asked her if she knew where her grandfather had gotten his social security card in Indiana. She said she wasn’t sure but suspected it was Gary, “…since he and my grandmother spent summers up there.” I mentioned that my husband and I grew up there and I spent nearly every Sunday in the summer at the Croatian picnic grounds. The Greek picnic grounds was close, as was the Spanish, Italian and Polish. Beginning in middle school, we would take shortcuts through the woods to visit classmates who were attending their ethnic groups’ picnic. I can’t tell you how many times I went to the Greek picnic ground but it was often. I will never be able to prove it but I must have been in the same place at the same time as the couple. Another coincidence – 50+ years later I happen to get the idea to write about their family heirloom. Geez, wouldn’t it have been wonderful if I knew that then and could have interviewed them before they died.
Yesterday I continued to do additional research and discovered another coincidence. Evidently, there is a ritual of praying for 33 consecutive days to St. Michael for the protection of the Church and it’s Supreme Pontiff (the Pope). I got approval to write the article and began my research on August 27th. Umm, the time period for the ritual is 27 August through 29 September. For believers, clearly this is another miracle. For the skeptics, I’m just good at identifying coincidences.
Miracles or not, you have to admit it’s a small world after all.
The recent pandemic was a wake up call for many parts of our personal lives. Perhaps you are now a member of your family’s “oldest” living generation. Maybe your grandparents or great grandparents are in failing health and you have questions about their history. Possibly you are reflecting on the events of the past year and a half and want to preserve your experiences for posterity. This would be a wonderful time to capture the memories! In the past week, I’ve received emails requesting how to info on this topic. Here goes… The simplest way is a face to face interview with a loved one. They know you and you know them – that relationship has already been established and trust is vital when sharing of personal information is about to occur. If you have a video recorder and a tripod you are ready to go. If not, check the capability of your smart phone. Mine has an awesome camera but a so-so recorder. There are work arounds in that situation; record with your phone and use a separate recorder for the sound. It’s not a wonderful solution but it’s better than not preserving the memory. Before you begin, think of who you plan on meeting with. This isn’t about you – it’s about them – so make sure you get permission to record the interview. Keep in mind, like the past year, a person’s life is not always rosy. Some of the memories may be painful. Some may cause hurt feelings to relatives that are still living. I’m not saying to avoid touchy situations. I’m cautioning you to think about what you plan to do with the recorded memory. Posting it online could be a major privacy problem. Make sure you inform the interviewee what your intent is with the finished product. You may want to even get written permission. As a professional genealogist I would most certainly do that. If it is between you and a close family member, you may, instead, mention that your interviewee has given consent for the interview and what you plan to do with the recording on the recording itself. The interviewee can acknowledge the agreement. Here’s how my family handled that situation in the 1980’s – When video recorders first came out my husband and I couldn’t afford one to film our first born. As a surprise Christmas present, my in-laws purchased a recorder for us. They were shipping it to us from the Midwest and my father-in-law wanted to make sure it worked. He then got a brilliant idea to go around to various relatives in his area and record them so that our child would be able to “meet” the family. He contacted the family members and arranged for a day/time that was best for them. Some of the filming was outside their home, others wanted to come to his house. He started every interview with “This is Dad. I’m at Uncle Bob’s house. Today is November 16, 1985. Uncle Bob is your Mom’s brother.” Then Uncle Bob is filmed and he says, “Hi.” He goes on to tell us about his day – some were planning on going to work, others mentioned that they just got home from church and the church’s name is given. Lots of genealogical breadcrumbs were given for future family historians who might not know this information. The important piece above is that you record who is interviewing, who is being interviewed, the date and place of the interview and the relationship. God bless my father-in-law! He had NO GENEALOGICAL background and he did an awesome job for posterity. That tape was done on the old clunky large VCR Beta format. Keep in mind whatever you are using will eventually become old tech. You will have to keep reformatting it to the latest and greatest in the years to come. I’d make a few copies. Give one to the interviewee. With the interviewee’s permission, you can give some to other family members. Why? Because bad things happen to good people! Houses burn down, weather disasters occur, people lose items. The more copies out there in different parts of the world the greater the likelihood that one will survive. Think of that old family Bible you are searching for. If there was more than 1 family Bible recording those birth dates from 1730 you’d be in great shape, wouldn’t you?! Now that you know who you will interview, you have permission and you have arranged a day/time that is best for the interviewee, it’s time to think about interview questions. Below are some ready made questions to choose from:
Or you can devise a list of your own questions. Some folks do better with a prompt instead of a question. For example, instead of asking “Where did you go to school?” you may prompt for school information by stating, “It’s almost back to school time, I’m interested in learning more about your school experiences.” Try to avoid asking a lot of closed questions which are questions that have a specific short answer. Asking for the interviewee’s date and place of birth is important. You would expect a few words to answer that query. Asking “Do you remember the location of where you first lived as a child?” will give a response of either yes or no. If the answer is “Yes” then you want the interviewee to elaborate and provide more information. Be cognizant of your interviewee – is he/she/they getting tired? If so, end the interview and arrange to meet again later. The length of the interview is determined by the interviewee. The content of the interviewee provided information is determined by the interviewee. If you ask about a topic that is uncomfortable for the interviewee – let it go. It is true you may never hear the individual tell you that “secret” information you are asking about. That’s hard, I know that from personal experience, but you must respect the interviewee. If they are not ready to share it you must accept it. I also recommend that you have tissues and water available. Your interviewee or you may not need them but it’s best to be prepared. At the conclusion of the interview, end the recording by stating “This is the end of the interview with (insert the name of the individual) on (insert the date) at (insert the place). If the information gets cut off at the beginning, you’ve got it at the end. It also lets listeners know they have the complete interview. Sure, all of this sound fairly easy but there may be some kinks in your plans. If you don’t have a recorder or are not able to meet face to face with the interviewee, consider using aps for Zoom, Go To Meeting or Teams. A video meeting can be scheduled and will record the interview. That’s a nice feature if you have permission to send other family members the recording – you will just need to send them the link of the recorded “meeting.” If you aren’t familiar with one of the companies I linked to, you may know of another that hosts meetings. I’ve used the three I mentioned and all are simple to use. Check out their FAQ page to get started. If you would like the interview saved with the Library of Congress, another option for recording is using StoryCorps. I have not personally used that program but think it is an awesome idea. Recording are limited to 40 minutes. Lastly, don’t forget you can interview yourself. Your story is just as important as your family members. Have I done that? No, but it is on my to-do list. Put it on yours, too.
During the pandemic, I updated a family cookbook that I originally compiled in 2002. It is a collection of recipes and holiday customs passed down to my husband and I. Unfortunately, most of the recipes are from my maternal side of the family. Although I wasn’t close to my dad’s side, I do recall my grandmother’s cooking on several occasions. Chicken or beef, mashed potatoes with gravy and another vegetable was all I can remember. What does stand out is that she served dessert on the same plate that was used for dinner. This totally grossed me out as a small child so I would refuse dessert. She must have thought I was very strange to turn down homemade apple pie ala mode but I just couldn’t enjoy it if it was on the same plate in which my main course had been served. I have no idea why a dessert plate wasn’t used as I have inherited a set from my paternal grandmother’s mother so clearly they had the means to separate the courses. I don’t know why it bothered me as I wasn’t one of those kids who wouldn’t eat if one food touched another. The only food I refused to eat was pizza as it looked unappealing to me. Of course, the only time I recall my parents going out to dinner with my paternal grandparents was to a restaurant where they ordered pizza. I recall I had a child’s chicken plate instead. I don’t have many recipes from my husband’s side of the family, either. Most came from a church cookbook that my mother-in-law purchased for me that contained her submitted recipes. I’m not sure how many of those recipes were passed down, however. Years ago, I made a beef stew recipe from that cookbook that was supposedly one of my sister-in-law’s favorites. I complimented her on it and she had no idea what I was talking about. My husband asked his mother and she said she entered it to see her daughter’s name in print. I wonder how many other organizational cookbooks contain recipes that the “submitter” never tasted. Sometimes, records submitted are not correct! I do have a recipe for Lickum, which has been handed down on the Samuelson line, probably from Sweden as it appears to be from that area originally. There are several variations online. Lickum is similar to a pickle relish made with onions, tomatoes and peppers. Last week I went on a quest for a lost family recipe on my husband’s paternal line. I had tried for years to get the recipe from his cousins but everyone I asked replied with a stricken expression and said, “You don’t want that recipe.” My husband absolutely hated it as apparently, all of his cousins had. The recipe was called oyster stuffing and though we’re still 6 months away from Turkey Day, my mind recalled, in a strange way, that I still haven’t discovered it. Through the Kindle library I read a short book about a true story of a pirate operating off Long Island, New York in 1860. He murdered the captain and two deck hands on an oyster ship. It was a true story and I was shocked by how large the oyster market was at that time. My husband’s family were originally from Long Island and my father-in-law had recalled his grandmother making the dish for holidays. His grandmother, Mary Thompson, was born in Chicago, however, her mother Drusilla Williams, was born on long island and her father, John Hicks Williams, was a ship’s carpenter. Although I will probably never know for certain, it’s likely the oyster stuffing recipe originated from the once abundance supply of oysters near the family’s home. Several days after finishing the book, I had a strange dream. I awoke from a deep sleep and only recall that I was looking at what looked like a television’s blank screen – grey with static – and a man’s voice saying, “If you want that oyster recipe you better ask for it soon before it’s too late.” Kind of an ominous warning for a mere recipe that no one continued to serve. I told my husband the next morning and he posted on Facebook. Within a matter of minutes one of his cousins had forwarded it to another cousin through marriage that had the recipe. Apparently, it’s all over the internet. From Martha Stewart to Chef John, what my husband’s family called Oyster Stuffing is now called Scalloped Oysters or Oyster Casserole. Who knew?! I have duly entered the recipe in my family cookbook. Reaching out on social media helped me discover that long lost recipe in minutes. I don’t know why I never thought to do that before!
During the pandemic, I updated a family cookbook that I originally compiled in 2002. It is a collection of recipes and holiday customs passed down to my husband and I. Unfortunately, most of the recipes are from my maternal side of the family. Although I wasn’t close to my dad’s side, I do recall my grandmother’s cooking on several occasions. Chicken or beef, mashed potatoes with gravy and another vegetable was all I can remember. What does stand out is that she served dessert on the same plate that was used for dinner. That totally grossed me out as a small child so I would refuse dessert. She must have thought I was very strange to turn down homemade apple pie ala mode but I just couldn’t enjoy it if it was on the same plate in which my main course had been served. I have no idea why a dessert plate wasn’t used as I have inherited a set from my paternal grandmother’s mother so clearly they had the means to separate the courses. I don’t know why it bothered me as I wasn’t one of those kids who wouldn’t eat if one food touched another. As a preschooler, the only food I refused to eat was pizza as it looked unappealing to me. Of course, the only time I recall my parents going out to dinner with my paternal grandparents was to a restaurant where they ordered pizza. I had a child’s chicken plate instead. I don’t have many recipes from my husband’s side of the family, either. Most came from a church cookbook that my mother-in-law gifted me that contained her submitted recipes. I’m not sure how many of those recipes were passed down, however. Years ago, I made a beef stew recipe from that cookbook that was attributed to my sister-in-law. I complimented her on it but she had no idea what I was talking about. My husband asked his mother and she said she entered it to see her daughter’s name in print. I wonder how many other organizational cookbooks contain recipes that the “submitter” never knew about. Sometimes, records submitted are not correct! I do have a recipe for Lickum, which has been handed down on the Samuelson line, probably from Sweden as it appears to be from that region originally. There are several variations online. Lickum is similar to a pickle relish made with onions, tomatoes and peppers. Last week I went on a quest for a lost family recipe on my husband’s paternal line. I had tried for years to get the recipe from his cousins but everyone I asked replied with a stricken expression and said, “You don’t want that recipe.” My husband absolutely hated it as apparently, all of his still living cousins had. The recipe was called oyster stuffing and though we’re still 6 months away from Turkey Day, my mind recalled, in a strange way, that I still haven’t discovered it. Through the Kindle library I read a short book about a true story of a pirate operating off Long Island, New York in 1860. In The Pirate by Harold Schecter (2018), Albert W. Hicks murdered the captain and two deck hands on an oyster ship. It was a true story and I was shocked by how large the oyster market was at that time. My husband’s family were originally from Long Island and my father-in-law had recalled his grandmother making the dish for holidays. His grandmother, Mary Thompson, was born in Chicago, however, her mother Drusilla Williams, was born on long island and her father, John Hicks Williams, was a ship’s carpenter. I have no idea if the pirate and my husband’s ship’s carpenter were related, sharing the similar surname of Hicks. There were many Hicks’ in the area at the time. Although I will probably also never know for certain, it’s likely the oyster stuffing recipe originated from the once abundance supply of oysters near the family’s home. Several days after finishing the book, I had a strange dream. I awoke from a deep sleep and only recall that I was staring at what looked like a television’s blank screen – grey with static – and a man’s voice saying, “If you want that oyster recipe you better ask for it soon before it’s too late.” Kind of an ominous warning for a mere recipe that no one continued to serve. My subconscious most likely paired the bloody Hicks to my husband’s Hicks and the Long Island oysters connected them even further. I told my husband the next morning and he posted on Facebook. Within a matter of minutes one of his cousins had forwarded it to another cousin through marriage that had the recipe. Apparently, it’s all over the internet. From Martha Stewart to Chef John, what my husband’s family called Oyster Stuffing is now called Scalloped Oysters or Oyster Casserole. Who knew?! I have duly entered the recipe in my family cookbook. Husband says he is not eating it if I make it. Reaching out on social media helped me discover that long lost recipe in minutes. I don’t know why I never thought to do that before! I had wasted years asking relatives in person when I could easily have just posted a request. Live and Learn!
It’s been a slow genealogy week for me. One of our computers is down and another is acting wonky – freezes and shuts itself off. Since I’m still holed up at home this greatly impacts my genealogical research.
Last week I blogged about my 3rd great grandmother Jane Morrison Duer who was mostly forgotten by her children and I was seeking to discover why. I suspected that discovering the divorce documents may shed light on this mystery.
Jane married John Duer in Trumbull County, Ohio on 29 Jul 1827. The couple had 11 children together and relocated to Holmes County and later, Mercer County, Ohio. They are last found together in the 1860 US Federal census with their youngest children residing in a residence two units away from their oldest surviving married daughter, Maria Duer Kuhn.
John remarried widow Margaret Martz Searight in Mercer County on 11 December 1864. John was raised a Presbyterian so there most likely is a divorce document somewhere. In other words, I doubt he was a polygamist.
I suspect he asked for the divorce because Jane’s tombstone in Kessler Cemetery records her as “wife of John Duer.” But she wasn’t that at the time of her death, 10 July 1866.
When the second wife died, her tombstone, also in Kessler Cemetery, records her as the “wife of John Duer.” She actually was the widow of by the time of her death but she was also the widow of her first husband. I suspect that her children purposely engraved the stone to reflect what was on Jane’s.
No tombstone has been found for John. Family legend says he’s buried next to Jane, which is possible but unconfirmed because Kessler’s records are incomplete. There is a sunken space next to Jane that likely is a burial but who is in that space is unknown. Second wife is buried in another section of the cemetery and there are marked stones on both side of her so that is not where John lies.
I was hoping to find the divorce document to get a better understanding of the circumstances. I guessed that John asked for divorce; I reasoned Jane would not have wanted all eternity to be known as his wife if she had wanted out of the relationship. She did not remarry so likely was not involved in another relationship.
I did not think finding the divorce document would be difficult but is has proven to be. In Mercer County, the Common Plea Court holds divorce records and they are not available online. I wrote to the Clerk and was informed that a search was made between 1860-1866 and no divorce record was found.
I then thought that perhaps the divorce was granted in Adams County, Indiana where John had purchased property in June 1860 when he was still married to Jane and where he eventually resided. He was shown with his second wife, their children, a child from her first marriage and two children from his first marriage in Adams in the 1870 census.
In March and May1863, John sued in Common Plea Court in Mercer for money owed him in the sale of property he had made in November 1862. Jane was not mentioned in the court document so it’s likely that she was not on the deed.
Why he remarried in Mercer and not Adams is another mystery.
I reached out to Adams County this week and was informed yesterday they have no divorce record.
So, do I give up. NOPE! I did ask both Mercer and Adams County Clerks where I might look and neither answered that question. My next step was to email a genealogist who lives in the Mercer area for recommendations.
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!
My blog plans have changed due to the events of this past week. Originally, I was going to share a find I discovered by accident on Christmas evening but that will wait.
When I began Genealogy At Heart, my goal was to post blogs to further the genealogical education of everyone interested in family history. One of the ways I would accomplish that objective was through sharing heartwarming genealogical finds.
My heart hurt this week by the lack of respect and the irresponsibility that was shown by the mob that attacked the Capitol in Washington, DC on January 6. Their denial of the truth and their selfish actions are abhorrent. Although I have only once previously written about my personal political beliefs I cannot remain silent on what occurred on Wednesday.
I suspect, based on your belief system, you may stop reading this – here’s why you shouldn’t do that and try to keep an open mind. We can’t pick and choose our ancestors. You need to be open to all the records of their lives so it would be in your best interest now to practice that today and continue reading.
A genealogist needs to be respectful, responsible, honest and hard working. I believe those 4 traits are beneficial to all people in every career field. Today, I’m providing some genealogical education since it appears, based on the latest poll, that 45% of U.S.Republicans believe that the mob’s behavior was acceptable. Please know I am not bashing Republicans as my own family had been members since the days of Abraham Lincoln. My intent today is to reflect on the events of January 6, 2021 and compare it to my family research. Wednesday was a historic day for our nation and my family was a part of much of the United States’ history.
As an educator, I often give non-examples to students and I intend to use that method below.
What is a “patriot”? Google’s dictionary states its “1. A person who vigorously supports their country and is prepared to defend it against enemies or detractors.”
Those who believe that storming the Capitol is acceptable behavior are calling themselves patriots. Donald Trump and his daughter also used the term, though she deleted it. I vehemently disagree with them.
I vigorously support my country and I am willing to defend it against enemies/detractors. The key word is “enemies” which the Google dictionary defines as “a person who is actively opposed or hostile to someone or something.” I am not hostile (unfriendly/antagonistic); those who took part in the assault on the Capitol were and they were violating the sanctity of our country’s rules of law. The legislators tasked with certifying the election results were not the enemy; they were following the law. They were voted in by their constituents to do that job. Those who tried to prevent them from their jobs are the enemies and are not patriots.
An enemy is not someone who merely disagrees with you. An enemy uses violence because they want it their way and believe their view is the only one that matters. Patriots DO NOT act in that manner.
Here are some examples of Non Patriots and Patriots:
Photo texted to author by colleague. Wearing the shirt “Camp Auschwitz” exemplifies being a NON PATRIOT. There are no words I can use in a family blog to describe someone who mocks the 1.1 MILLION who died at Auschwitz.
PATRIOT George Willard Harbaugh (1924-2004) served in World War 2. He was captured and held by the Nazi regime in Camp Stalag Luft 4 Gross-Tychow & after the notorious Black March, was confined at Camp Wobbelin Bei Ludwigsloft. He earned a Purple Heart. I knew this Patriot; he would be appalled by what happened on Wednesday. He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery. He is my husband’s uncle.
Photo on site by Simon Davis-Cohen, no photographer noted. Antagonizing those who are serving to protect and defend the citizens of this country who follow the rules of law are NON PATRIOTS. Granted, this country needs to clean up the folks in blue as not all of them are fit to serve. It is still inexcusable to resort to violence.
Patriot George Bryant Harbaugh (1893-1954) served in World War 1. He was injured at Chateau-Thierry, France on 14 July 1918 & in the Argonne Forest on 1 Oct 1918 supporting France from the “enemy.” He earned a Purple Heart. He and wife Elsie (1896-1968) to his right, were the parents of PATRIOT George Willard Harbaugh & they are my husband’s maternal grandparents.
Photo by Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP. Carrying a flag does not make you a Patriot; standing for the ideals of the country does. This clown, Jake Angeli, (clearly man is not the right word; my middle school males are more manly then this person) needs someone with sense to tell him it is not Halloween, he isn’t a shaman, Q Anon is FAKE NEWS, nor is it appropriate to mock the hallowed halls of Congress. Screaming is also inappropriate. Guess he never learned how to choose a positive peer group either based on those surrounding him who are allowing his poor conduct. All pictured are NON PATRIOTS. (I just keep thinking – where were the women in these men’s lives? How could you raise a son to act this way? Why would you date/marry someone with these character traits? Come on, ladies, step it up to become Patriots!)
PATRIOTS are not found just in the Military. On 4 Jul 1923 these Patriots were celebrating our country’s independence. They were immigrants who were mocked for where they happened to be born & the religion they chose to follow, worked their entire lives in dangerous low level jobs, endured a KKK cross burning yet they so strongly believed in the ideals of this nation they became citizens. Left to right, boarder living with my grandparents, my maternal grandmother Mary Koss (1900-1985) & my great uncle Joseph Koss Jr. (1902-1993).
Getty Images/Photographer unspecified. I have no idea what the above person’s education level is, however, he made a poor choice in breaking into the Capitol. Did he never pass Civics?! That “duh” look on his face shows he has perfected playing stupid over the years to get out of trouble. Education or lack of it does not make one a Patriot. Storming the Capitol to interrupt the important business of certifying a national election to attest the leader of the free world is most definitely something a NON PATRIOT would do.
My maternal grandfather, Ivan “John” Koss (1892-1970), left, did not have the opportunity to attend even 1 day of school. He often endured the slur, DP, at his job with U.S. Steel in Gary, Lake, Indiana. He wanted to become a U.S. citizen so badly but feared he would not pass the test due to his illiteracy. The girl pictured below him is his daughter Mary Lou (1931-1999). She tutored him and he successfully passed to become a citizen in 1942. She is shown on the bike she was given for her help in allowing him to reach his dream. She went on to volunteer with her chosen political party as an adult for years to ensure that everyone eligible could exercise their voting rights. Even though he had a wooden leg, John hobbled in the cold Indiana weather to vote in every election. They were true PATRIOTS even though they belonged to different political parties.
Photo by Mike Theiler, Reuters
Parading into the Capitol with the symbol of racism from THE LOSING SIDE in the Civil War is demonstrating NON PATRIOTISM, along with prejudice, white supremacy, a disregard for the feelings of others AND the stupidity of not realizing that the south lost the Civil War over 155 years ago. Get over it and stop believing the lie that the war was about state rights.
My 1st cousin, 3 times removed, Jacob Wilson Parrott (1843-1908) was left orphaned at age 10. He later became a private in the Union Army, Company K, 33rd Ohio Infantry in 1861. He volunteered in 1862 to infiltrate Confederate lines and hijacked the locomotive, The General, from Atlanta, Georgia. He was successful in destroying the train, however he was captured and severely beaten 110 times in an attempt to make him talk. He refused to be broken and later escaped. Captured again, he was exchanged in a soldier swap. He was taken to Washington, D.C. where he met President Abraham Lincoln and was the first recipient of the Medal of Honor. This PATRIOT, like John McCain and George Willard Harbaugh who were captured, was not a “loser” as the current individual residing at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue would call him. A loser and Non Patriot is someone who incites others to “be worst!” and then watches the events unfold from safety. In other words, they are cowards.
Photo by Saul Loep/AFP/Getty Images. If you are proud while breaking the law you are a NON PATRIOT. Taking what doesn’t belong to you makes you a thief, aka criminal. This individual did not come to unite the country but to take home a souvenir. Shallow and selfish!
This is the grave marker for my immigrant 2nd great grandfather, Henry Kuhn and his wife, Maria Duer. Henry, born in Bedesbach, Pfalz, Bavaria arrived at 16 in the U.S. At age 30, in 1862, he joined the Union Army & served as a private in the 45th Regiment, Ohio Infantry, Company 1 in the Civil War. He didn’t have to, he wanted to. He is a PATRIOT and I am proud to be a Daughter of the Union Veterans because of his belief that our country be “UNITED.”
Photo by Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Image. Richard “Bigo” Barnett of Gravette, Arkansas – you are a NON PATRIOT. Poor baby, was it too long you had to stand that made you have to sit at someone’s desk and put your feet up? You are not even close to being George Patton Reincarnated as your Facebook page is titled. Taking mail that doesn’t belong to you makes you a thief. Leaving a quarter doesn’t make it right. Your actions show your lack of character. You would think by age 60 wisdom would have been involved but clearly Small Minded Bigo has none .
Like Henry Kuhn, PATRIOT Samuel “August” Samuelson (1839-1908) was an immigrant from Stora Haddebo, Vastra Harg, Ostergotland, Sweden who arrived in the U.S. at age 12 with his family. Settling in Indiana, he chose to join the 73rd Indiana Infantry Regiment as a private in the Civil War. He was seriously wounded and left for dead at Stone River, Tennessee but he survived. Although he suffered the remainder of his life from his injuries, this PATRIOT refused to give up and went on to become a prosperous farmer. He is my husband’s paternal 2nd great grandfather. You would never have seen this man breaking into someone’s office, rifling through their belongings and putting his disabled leg up on their furniture.
CNN article by Harmeet Kaur, no photographer noted. Vandalizing property is only done by NON PATRIOTS. Destroying historical property is only done by thugs and idiots. No “good” person would act in this manner.
My husband’s 2nd great maternal grandfather, John A. Long, (he was the grandfather of Patriot John Bryant Harbaugh) so hated slavery that he was run out of Morristown, Jefferson, Tennessee at age 16 because of his views. Relocating to Indiana, he decided to enlist, at age 49, as a teamster with Union Army Company I, Indiana 9th Infantry Regiment. His experiences took him all the way to Texas. He mustered out on 28 September 1865. John Long demonstrates you can be a PATRIOT at any age.
Photo by Melina Mara/Washington Post. Leaving a mess behind for someone else to clean up is what a NON PATRIOT does. Did no one ever teach this group to leave your area better than how you found it?
Leonard Harbaugh (1749-1822), my husband’s 5th great grand uncle, was a carpenter who helped build the original White House, the contractor for the War and Treasury Buildings and the Foreman of Carpenters for the Capitol after it needed to be restored due to the previous siege by the British in August 1814. He and his wife are buried in the Capitol Cemetery in Washington, D.C. I can only imagine how that PATRIOT would have viewed those who vandalized his hard work. Bet he always left a clean job site!
Jenny Cudd – seriously, grow up. You are a NON PATRIOT and act like a spoiled child. As a white woman you sicken me! Maybe you need to think about your actions as it probably explains why you weren’t elected mayor in Midland, TX in 2019. Kudos to your community to seeing what you represent.
Above is the grave marker from Covententer’s Cemetery, Jackson, Mahoning, Ohio, of my 5th great grandfather, John Duer (1748-1831) who served as a private in the Sussex County, New Jersey Militia for the Continental Army. He had a son who served in the War of 1812 and a grand son who served in the Mexican American War. Clearly, this PATRIOT led by example and instilled in his descendants the importance of protecting our democracy.
Photo by Katherine Frey/Washington Post. Only a NON PATRIOT would think it was acceptable to deface something that does not belong to them. For all those real Patriots who were injured doing what was right, the NON PATRIOT’s action makes a mockery of what real Patriots endured. This statue purportedly was vandalized with blood. Only a mentally ill person or someone who has no understanding of the dangers of body fluid transmission would do something like this. Guess that explains why the vast majority of the mob didn’t wear a mask or social distance.
My husband’s maternal 4th great grandfather, Christian Thomas Harbaugh, a member of the Moravian Church that opposed violence knew it was the right thing to do to stand up to the invading British Army. Christian was commissioned in Christian Smith’s Company as an Ensign on 29 March 1779 in Frederick County, Maryland. Putting your country first demonstrates being a true PATRIOT.
Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images. NON PATRIOTS believe stealing is acceptable. You might not expect that from a father of 5 with a physician wife but Adam Johnson from Parrish, Florida thought his white male privilege made him cute and justified his actions. It does not – he needs to be in jail. He’s a danger to raising those children. I wouldn’t want his wife to provide me medical assistance even if I was near death. He is maskless and not social distancing. When he gets home he can easily spread covid to his family. She needs to lose her job.
Patriot Sadly, there is no picture for Wilson Williams (1754-1831), my husband’s 4th great paternal grandfather who served in Hempstead Harbor, Long Island, New York’s Militia Company in 1775. In keeping with his religious belief, his grave was simply marked with a stone that has disappeared over time. He is buried next to his wife in the Dutch Reformed Church Cemetery, Long Island, New York. Family lore states the Hessians invaded his home but were driven out as the soldiers thought the fireplace was possessed by the devil. It actually was chestnuts, stored on a niche in the fireplace, exploding from the fire. Wilson and his sons were able to use the Hessian’s arms to keep them from returning. What a PATRIOT!
In my family tree, I have more than the 12 Patriots I have highlighted above but these were the individuals that came to mind as I watched in horror on Wednesday at the events unfolded at the Capital.
My Patriots were NOT perfect people, just like every other human. They did, however, strive to do what was right for their country. I honor their courage and spirit. As you reflect on the events of the past week, please think of your Patriot ancestors and pledge that you will follow in their footsteps. We have a lot of work to do in this country and now is the time to get involved.
My backyard poinsettia is in full bloom, the radio is playing holiday tunes and I should be baking and partying with those I love. Except I’m not. I hope you aren’t either. With a reported 16,000,000 million cases and nearly 300,000 deaths in the U.S. from covid as of today per Google, I can’t stop thinking about the picture above.
Yes, it is morbid, depressing and haunting. Taken outside the Croatian Church, then located on 23rd Avenue in Gary Indiana on the 21 February 1919, the deceased man in the center in the coffin is my maternal great grandfather that I never met because of his untimely death at age 43 of broncho-pneumonia brought on by influenza. Joseph Kos was one of the estimated 675,000 U.S. deaths from the 1918-1919 H1N1 Pandemic.
We’re approaching half way to the number of deceased from 100 years ago and we’re not yet close enough to see the end of the spread of covid. That saddens me immensely! For all of the advances in health care in the past century you would think the current death rate would be low. Interesting how we rely on modern medicine when simple old fashioned hand washing, distancing and masks could have significantly lessened the death toll.
My mother, Dorothy Koss Leininger, didn’t remember her grandfather as he died when she was an infant but his death changed the course of her life forever. History is repeating itself again and still we haven’t learned.
Joseph emigrated from Croatia, then part of Austria-Hungary, in January 1910. This was not his first time in the U.S., as he had initially come in 1893 but returned home to marry Ana Katherine Grdenich on 10 February 1895. Family lore says he joined the military and served in the cavalry but after sustaining a kick to his head from a horse while it was being reshooed, he developed epilepsy and was forced to leave the service. With jobs scarce he decided to return to the U.S. After his arrival in New York he worked as a laborer for the Pullman Company. He’s found in Chardon, Geauga, Ohio in the 1910 U.S. federal census as an alien speaking no English.
With his Pullman job, Joseph traveled the country and ultimately ended up in Chicago in 1913. Residing in Pullman housing, he sent for his wife and two children, Mary, my grandmother, and Joseph Jr. (Josip), to join him. Ana was soon pregnant and gave birth to daughter Barbara on 14 Sep 1914 in Blue Island, Cook, Illinois.
Joseph arranged for daughter Mary to wed John (Ivan) Kos, a villager and purported second cousin who had happened to also arrive in Chicago and worked for the Pullman Company. Mary and John wed on 28 January 1917 in Chicago; their first child, my mother, Dorothy, was born in Pullman housing on 14 April 1918.
The family moved sometime in the latter part of 1918, renting a home at 1521 Garfield Street in Gary, Lake, Indiana. Joseph and John found work with the I.I.B. Teaming Company which supplied laborers to U.S. Steel Corporation. To save money, instead of using the available street car, Joseph and John commuted the 1.5 miles to work and back daily via bicycle. With contract tracing unavailable in those days, it is not known where or how Joseph contracted the flu. My grandmother believed it was from work which was likely, as the conditions inside the mill were brutal – unheated, with poor ventilation and large numbers of unmasked men toiling round the clock and then riding home exhausted in a cold rain would lower anyone’s resistance to infection. As an immigrant with WW1 being fought overseas and knowing you are the bread winner your family depends on added further stress.
The last photo taken of Joseph, shown above, shows the funeral attendees maskless and not socially distancing. I have no idea why. Perhaps they were mask slackers but I doubt that as my grandmother always washed her hands as soon as she came in from any errand. I suspect they didn’t know they should. I suspect that U.S. Steel did not mandate that workers wear a mask. By clicking through the death certificates on Ancestry I can see many men who worked as laborers dying of the same conditions during the same time period as Joseph. Possibly Joseph caught the flu from one of the men who died shortly before him, perhaps not. John also was ill but he recovered.
The man on the far left of the photo was the funeral home director; maskless, he clearly did not require a face covering be worn. The man holding the wreath to the back left of the coffin is John Koss, Joseph’s son-in-law. The young man holding the wreath on the right is Joseph Jr. Next to Joseph (look closely) is my grandmother Mary, hidden by a black veil. I like to think she was the only one with any sense to wear the face covering but knowing her well, I think her choice was due to a fashion statement. Next to Mary was her mother, Ana, Joseph’s widow. The others in attendance were neighbors and parishioners of the Croatian Catholic Church. Missing was my infant mother and Barbara, Joseph and Ana’s youngest daughter. Who was watching those girls is unknown.
How Joseph’s untimely death affected my mother was profound, though as a baby she was unaware of the event. John became the only breadwinner in the family and with the loss of Joseph Sr., the family’s income was cut in half. Joseph Jr. was forced at age 17 to leave school and seek work. Money would become even tighter as Mary was pregnant with her second child, Anne Marie, who would be born 6 months after Joseph’s death.
More tragedies came in quick succession to the family – a scarlet fever epidemic that infected both children required the family to quarantine. With no money for a physician, my grandmother relied on her neighbor’s home remedy advice to treat the family. John then had to have a leg amputated as a result of an injury at the mill. When recovered, he could no longer ride his bike to work and had to spend money on the street car. The KKK threatened the family and burned a cross in the empty field in front of their home. A fire started by a candle caused extensive damage and burned my mother’s only toy, a doll.
A little over 10 years after Joseph’s death the Great Depression hit. John’s wages were cut, the family took in boarders, raised vegetables, rabbits and chickens to survive but it wasn’t enough. Dorothy, as the eldest, quit high school at the start of grade 10 to work in a hardware store. Her lack of a diploma hindered her job prospects for the rest of her life.
During the current pandemic I’ve been thinking a lot about the 1918 one. If Joseph hadn’t succumbed to the flu would my mother have been able to finish high school? She had always aspired to be a dietician but going back to school was out of the question. Her working enabled Anne Marie and her younger siblings, George and Marilou to obtain their diplomas. How would my life have been different if my mother had found a career she loved and that paid better than the minimum wage jobs she held? Would I be the frugal genealogist I am today if money hadn’t been so tight while I was growing up?
My memories of my great grandmother are of an old woman always wearing black who sat quietly in deep thought. What was she thinking about? Never remarrying after the man she loved so dearly died, she spent the next 47 years of her life residing with her adult children, changing residences every few years depending on the needs of their growing families. If Joseph had survived, how would her life have turned out?
My grandmother, the apple of her father’s eye, missed him the rest of her life. His death was a loss that could never be replaced. The extra burden of being the sole breadwinner put a strain on my grandfather, John. Would his health have been better and would he have lived a longer life if Joseph had lived?
The pandemic fatigue I’m feeling is put into perspective whenever I compare it to the 1918 pandemic my ancestor’s experienced. I do not want my adult children to miss my husband and I as my grandmother missed her father for the remainder of her life. I do not want any grandchildren I may someday have to wonder about the grandparents they didn’t get the opportunity to know. I’ve learned from my family’s experiences that thriftiness is beneficial. I don’t panic over shortages of goods. I’ve always kept a fully stocked cupboard and supplement with my garden. My children do the same.
The holidays will be different from past ones for all of us. In a season that personifies hope, I’m remembering the past and hope 2021 will be brighter. I am taking the next two weeks off from blogging but will return in the new year. Be smart – stay safe!
It’s October and even though 2020 has been a nightmare, it’s my annual month to blog about the creepy in genealogy. Last week, I wrote about my new neighbors and this week, I got another new set as a family moved into the rental next door.
When you were a kid, I bet there was a house in your neighborhood that the older kids told you was haunted or where a witch or a monster lived. In my memory, there were two homes that I was warned to stay away from late at night. (In reflection, I was never let outside late at night so why in the world I would be afraid is beyond me today.)
The first house supposedly had been used during the Civil War as part of the underground railroad. Late at night, anguished crying was heard coming from the basement.
The second house, though, was only two homes east of my grandparent’s house. It was on the main road, route 6, and set far back from the street. The small front yard was overgrown with vegetation and even midday from the sidewalk, you couldn’t really see a house. My one year older than me neighbor, Carol, insisted that monsters lived there and would eat children. She heard this from her older wiser brother, Tony. She dare another neighbor, Raymond, and I with walking up the front door and knocking on it. We must have been about 8 or 9 years old. I took the challenge but only got a few steps toward the house when I turned and ran back to the safety of my friends. Raymond got about as far as me and also turned back. When we challenged Carol to do it, she shrugged and said she wasn’t stupid and wouldn’t take the risk.
Just like holding our breaths when we passed a cemetery (ironic, isn’t it, as genealogists we certainly don’t do that now!), we’d stop breathing when we rode our bikes or roller skated past the house. Later that summer, on the wooden telephone pole on the south side of the sidewalk, a nail had been driven into the pole and lots of leaflets hung down. I ripped one off to read it with my friends but we didn’t understand most of what we were reading. We decided it was dangerous so we ripped all of the papers down and debated what we would do with them. Should we leave them on the ground? That was littering and not good. Should we take them and throw them in a garbage can? But if they had a spell on them we would be transferring it to our home. Guess it never occurred to us to walk around the block, down the alley and place it in the spooky home’s own garbage cans. We opted to leave the papers on the ground.
Shortly after, my mother somehow got wind of what we had done. Perhaps our next door neighbor, Mr. Bauer, had spotted us or our loud arguing over what to do had alerted her that something was up, since no one had air conditioning in those days and everyone knew everyone else’s business. I was so proud of myself for fighting “evil” I told my mother I had ripped down a pamphlet and it was from the monster and we were stopping others from getting eaten. I remember the pained look on my mom’s face. She told me I must go back, pick every pamphlet up and put them back where I found them because there was this law that said there was free speech and I was breaking it. Huh?!
I didn’t like disappointing my mom and now I was afraid as my friends weren’t with me for back up on my newest quest. I tried to get out of it by saying I would do it after lunch. Mom said no lunch until I did the right thing. I told my mother if I never came back for lunch it was because the monster ate me. She told me, as she had many times before, no monster was going to do that. She said she would accompany me and I immediately felt better.
I picked up all the papers though some had blown into the street. She retrieved those. We tidied them up and I couldn’t reach the nail nor did I have the strength to punch the paper through the head. She ended up doing that for me; one pamphlet at a time. We then went home for lunch.
Over lunch, mom asked me why I thought monsters lived there. I related Carol’s story. She told me that two people lived there, an elderly widow and her invalid son. We should respect their delicate condition. After lunch, she told my friends the same thing.
Carol must have told her parents as the next day she told me that her parents said my mom was liar and that the family were monsters. Calling someone else’s mom a liar was fighting words and things got heated. We didn’t come to blows but we did huff off mad at each other.
At home, I told my mom what happened and she laughed. I saw no humor in the situation. I wanted her to tell Carol’s parents they were liars. My mom sat me down to explain that people have different views of life and that Carol’s parents had fled Spain’s dictator, Franco, just a few years earlier and that they would consider a Socialist sympathizer a monster which evidently, was what was on the pamphlets. That afternoon my mother explained political systems. Prior to then, my understanding was democracy was best and per the the nuns in school, we should always thank God for not being raised in communist Russia because there, the government made children tell on their parents who prayed at home and the parents would be killed.
So before I start getting hate mail, my mother was a staunch Republican. Those long dead nuns probably wouldn’t be happy with me for thanking God that my mom didn’t live to see the current state of the world but that’s really what I’m most glad for this week.
Today, I live between two families who are strongly supporting opposing candidates. My neighborhood is up in arms over one of the signs that has a word I would not publish in my blog and is visible to children who play in the park across the street. Others are saying it’s free speech. The neighborhood association rules prohibit political signs but the board refuses to act.
When the world gets to be too much, I find solace in genealogy. I always get insight from those dusty records and the lives of the deceased.
I decided to do some genealogical sleuthing to discover info about the occupant “monster” from my childhood neighborhood. It was a good way to take a break from my own brick walls (had a major disappointment that I’ll share in the future, sigh) and learn a little bit more about the people I knew as a kid.
I approached the task the same way I would with a client; writing down everything I did know. Using Google maps I got the address. Looked at the property tax records which wasn’t very helpful since the family I was searching was long gone. From previous experience, I know that most of the city records are missing; when the city went into foreclosure the county requested the property records but not all were delivered according to county officials. The city officials dispute that (of course). I would also have tried to check the vertical file at the library but unfortunately, the city has shuttered all of their libraries due to financial difficulties.
Using online sources only, I began to investigate the family residing in the home. Census, death certificate info, immigration records and family tree information gave me additional information to ponder. I never met the family that lived in that house in the 11 years I lived two houses away. I now have a greater insight on them; they really did have a difficult life.
Maybe the answer is praying that more people take the time to learn from the past so we can all have a harmonious future.
It’s been a rainy, windy week in my area with Tropical Storm Cristobal passing off shore. I spent my free time catching up on two books I’ve always had on my “To Read” list but never got around to checking out – Henry Z. Jones’ Psychic Roots and More Psychic Roots. If you’ve followed my blog for some time, you know I occasionally write about the unexplainable and downright weird things that happen to me when I am deep into a genealogical research problem. I get a hunch, am driven to reach out to follow through on that thought and voila, a long lost photo or document or knowledgeable individual miraculously provides me what I am seeking. Several years ago, one of my blog posts was selected by a major organization to be featured in their newsletter. One of my dear readers and the editor of the newsletter both suggested I ready the books but I was so involved with other projects, I didn’t have time. I finally made time when I saw that both titles were available through genealogical.com which I subscribed to for 3 months during the pandemic. Does reading about coincidences increase them?! It seemed to work for me this week. Perhaps it’s like opening a communication link. You have internet access, however, if you don’t go on you’ll never be connected to the wealth of information out there. That’s my take on how this all works and you’ll see why in a moment. I really enjoyed reading the events that others experienced, especially when I have met some and others are my followers. One of my husband’s distant ancestors was also mentioned, Thomas Harbaugh and his wife, Polly. Thomas’ story always was one of my favorite Harbaugh recollections so I wasn’t surprised that his descendants would have a strange event when they sought information on him. Just like the author cannot explain his passion for Palatine research, I can’t explain mine for the Harbaughs. I’m not one, bloodwise. Some have married into some of my related lines but the connection hasn’t been close. The Harbaughs’ are my husband’s maternal line. I was never close to my mother-in-law and his grandfather had passed before I met him. Why did I take the time to enter every bit of Harbaugh data into our family tree? Beats me but I was (and am) obsessed. I would work late into the night entering information and trying to connect all the Harbaughs in the US since the 1947 Cooprider & Cooprider book on Harbaugh History was published. I’m a quick reader so I finished both Jones’ books in three days. Each night, I had a genealogical related dream. The first night I dreamt that the Gateway Ancestor for the Harbaugh’s was not Yost but Jost and if I looked for records for Jost I would find them. I told my husband the next morning and he laughed, pointing out in German that was probably correct. I don’t know German and my husband and I have been a couple since our high school days. He knows that renown Harbaugh historians have puzzled over the oddness of a Swiss first name of Yost. Did my husband ever mention that the name wasn’t odd at all in German? Nope. Later that day I was reading a different book on genealogical.com and sure enough, it explained German names. Everyone assumes that the Harbaughs emigrated from Switzerland so no one looks at the surname as being of German origin. In the German book I looked at later in the day, Harbaugh is recorded as meaning being near a brook (baugh). I’ve read that before but somehow it never sunk in. The family lived for a time in Kaiserslautern, in the Palatine region of what is now Germany. How did I miss the obvious all these years? How did everyone else researching this family? I don’t know! This helpful hint from beyond will be useful going forward. I’ve been working on finding proof for one of my Gateway ancestors, Daniel Hollingshead for a lineage application I submitted. He is not listed in any of the typical texts that show emigration so I’m required to document more fully. He left Saxelby, England for Barbados in the early 1700’s, possibly indentured (according to family tales). He married in 1710 (have the record), wife, Ann from whom I descended died in 1714 (record) and he remarried in 1716 (record). The family relocated to New Jersey via Pennsylvania (Philadelphia) about 1720 (land and tax records). One of his children from his second marriage even moved back to Barbados with her husband. The rest of the family remained together in the colonies. I can prove he left Barbados and lived in what is now the US but I can’t prove how he got to Barbados. My second night’s dream had me standing in front of a mirror but the reflection was not mine, it was blurred, like a computer screen without my glasses. A male voice told me to look in the mirror and to look “smaller.” What the heck did that mean?! I shared that dream with hubby, too. He laughed and said he thought it meant the information was in front of me but I wasn’t seeing it all. Hmm. We’ll come back to how this played out. After finishing the second book, the third night I dreamt my deceased maternal aunt was taking me to her new home. We entered the back door into a kitchen and I saw my grandmother and mother. Everyone was glad to see me and I was taken to the kitchen counter where a box was being unpacked. It contained the most beautiful clear glass plates I’ve ever seen. My aunt asked me to help unwrap them and put them into the cabinet. I thought we should wash them first but she said they were fine. The bowls were exquisite and I remarked I wished I could find a set like this (on my side of the universe). I then said they wouldn’t work for me because I don’t have a wooden table but a glass one where they wouldn’t show up well on it. When I awoke I instantly knew one of my family members will be dying soon and the “move to a bigger house” was to prepare for their “homecoming.” I don’t know who that will be but I have a hunch between 3 individuals. None are ill. I’m keeping my mouth shut to see how this turns out. In the meantime, my second dream’s meaning surfaced… Thursday afternoon I got an idea out of the blue to contact a local woman who does British research. I searched for her email address, which I know I have as I distinctly remember writing it down a few years ago after she gave a lecture. I couldn’t find it but I did clean up my office! I decided that evening to email the former president of my local society who I thought would surely have her email. I hate asking someone to give me a phone or email address without the individual’s permission so I requested he forward the email I would have sent to her. Three hours later he responded that he had tried but the email bounced back as undeliverable. He had used it recently and was surprised. He gave me her phone number and suggested I call. It was late in the evening and I told him I would follow up the next day and let him know if we connected. I then sent the email, which didn’t come back as undelivered. I decided to give her a day or two to respond before I called (since the weather is inclement and knowing our power would be up and down for the next few days). Knowing that my power would be out is also weird, as you’ll see in a minute. While writing the email to her I had rechecked several sources I had used to try to find emigration, census and indentured records online. Typically, I close out any work I’m doing on the computer when I stop for the day to insure I don’t lose anything. I thought I had done that but perhaps I hadn’t. On Friday morning our doorbell rang and an employee of our power company informed us that we were scheduled to get a new meter installed so he was requesting we turn off all appliances, televisions, computers and the air conditioner while he installs the new device. I distinctly remember walking into our office and turning off my and my husband’s computers, then turning off the A/C. The new meter was installed quickly but I was reading on my Kindle so I had no reason to immediately turn the office computers back on. Later that afternoon I decided to restart mine but I walked away before it was fully up. I can’t recall what the reason was that made me go back to my desktop Friday evening because what happened next totally threw me. I sat down at my desk and saw that the Google was already up on my right screen. I thought my husband must have used my system for some quick need since his computer hadn’t been restarted. I clicked and what was displayed was a page from the National Archives of England (shown at the top of this blog). I remember thinking that was odd since there is no reason my husband would ever have gone to that site. Something caught my eye on the bottom right corner so I scrolled down and what did I discover? A link to Caribbean Connections! I clicked and discovered that an online lecture will be held on June 19th at 2 PM London time. I immediately signed up for the class.
You can see for yourself from the top picture above what I saw when I clicked on my Google browser. I had to scroll down to see the map on the right (shown directly above). If not, I would have missed it. Even odder, how did that website show on my computer when it had been shut down for the installation of a new meter? I got the eebie jeebie feeling for sure! I told my husband that the strangest thing had just happened and asked if he had used my computer. No, he replied. I then told him his explanation of my dream was correct. The information was in front of me but I wasn’t seeing it because I was only seeing a small part of it. I can’t wait to attend the lecture and I’m hopeful I will be finding the information I am seeking soon. I love these strange experiences and hope they keep coming. I hope you find all that you are seeking, too.