Small, Small World

Disney is right – it’s a small world after all! Just back from my travels through the jungles of Central America with a family member and the similarities I’ve encountered were quite interesting.

First stop was Grand Cayman; our driver gave us historical insights as he took us around the island. The cemeteries, above ground, reminded my of New Orleans. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out if you can’t go down you go up! The colorful island flowers left on graves was a custom that I’ve found everywhere. It’s nice to see the commonality of remembering our ancestors.

Next we visited Honduras which reminded me of the West Tampa neighborhood. At the beach we met a local who told us about his educational journey from the island to the mainland for high school. He received a technical degree in air conditioning but was unable to find work so he returned to his birth island. Sure, wars, religious persecution, natural disasters and limited marriage opportunity influence migration but I’ve found with my own ancestors, it was mostly the desire to find work that created wanderlust. I truly believe that Maslow should have put work as a basic need on his hierarchy. We, as genealogists, need to keep in mind occupation as an important factor for movement.

I love Belize! Any country that only has 5 working stoplights and people with a warm and funny attitude is my kind of place. It was in the jungle, however, where I met 3 guides that shared their love of genealogy. All had had their DNA done. Two were 100% Mayan and one was 1/3 Mayan, Spanish and African. In a remote jungle would be the last place on earth I think I would be talking DNA with someone I met but well, it happened. Their genealogy is oral which is probably wise since we all know what happens when computers crash. In their case, there isn’t electricity close. I wish I could have the capacity to remember my maternal and paternal lines as well as they do.

Our last stop was an adventure at Tulum, Mexico and spending half a day on Mayan land. We had authentic lunches in both Belize and in Mexico and I had to laugh at the staple similarities – chicken, beans, rice, and fruit with slight variations in preparation – different seasonings. When I came back and spoke with family, friends and colleagues I got similar comments which applies to my own family. If your grandmother was known for a specific dish and your mom and you tried repeatedly to replicate it with no success, well, that seems to be a worldwide commonality. I cannot for the life of me make my mother’s flaky apple turnovers. She came up with her recipe because she couldn’t make her mother’s to die for apple strudel. A friend told me she has given up making her mom’s fruit iced tea because she can’t get it right, even with her mom standing over her. The patient guide in Belize gave me the recipe but I bet when I make it, it will not taste as delicious. Guess I’m just going to have to go back!

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.

Making the Most of Your Research Trip – Cemeteries – Part 4

Originally published on genealogyatheart.blogspot.com on 21 Aug 2016.

Last time I wrote about my meeting with the Cemetery Director on a recent research trip I took.  His records did not direct me to the grave stone I was seeking but gave me an area in which to look.  That was due to the re-internments of the stones from an older cemetery, Union, that had been exhumed when the land was sold.

I drove by the building that housed the re-internments.  I thought it was a large shed to contain the tools to maintain the cemetery.  Hmm.  Nothing noted it to be a mass grave.

When the road started turning I knew I had somehow passed where I needed to be so I turned around and looked again.  I parked and decided I might do better on foot.  Very quickly I saw the older stones laying flat on the ground.

The grass had recently been cut and the stones were covered with debris.  Having flown and then taken a rental car, I did not have my cemetery tools with me.  It was about 8:45 AM and already starting to get hot.  I hated to get all dirty and then have to be in that condition the rest of the day as I had two historical museums and a return trip to the library.  It looked like rain so I decided to go for it.

Let’s give a cheer for fast food!  I returned to the car and grabbed a knapkin I had from the Dunkin Donut stop earlier that morning.  This is what I was dealing with:

Underneath all that brown stuff in the picture was tombstones.  One lone Dunkin Donut knapkin and a bunch of dirty tombstones from the early to mid 1800’s.  Oh, joy!

After taking the pic, I started at the bottom right hand corner and walked hunched over using the knapkin as a fan to blow the grass and dirt off the flat stones.  It didn’t work very well but I kept at it.

By the time I got to the 3rd row (that’s the one the tall stone is in) and the 6th from the right (not visible above), I had found my man!  There was Bart Bear’s stone (not his real name) in far worse condition than when it was first photographed for Find-A-Grave.  To the immediate right was a smaller marble stone that was completely unreadable.  It sort of looked like there had been a lamb shape in the center at one point but maybe it was just my mind trying to make sense of the senseless.  I had assumed that per the cemetery and church records, that this stone listed as “Unknown” would have been Bart’s maternal grandfather’s marker as the church records stated they were buried next to each other.  These were the only two stones that were made of the same marble but why the grandfather’s stone would have been so small didn’t make sense to me.  Perhaps this was the marker for Bart’s missing sister, Barbara, who had not been recorded in church or cemetery records.  She had also been missed in census records having died between census years.  The only reason I knew of her was that one of her siblings had given her name to a family member who had written a genealogy of the family years later.

I cleaned the two stones the best I could and verified that the stone to the left was not a family member.  It, too, was difficult to read and I wasn’t sure at first.  After taking pictures, I then walked quickly through the remaining stones using the same fanning technique but with the knapkin a mess at this point.  I found nothing else.

I stopped back at the cemetery office to let the Director know I much I appreciated his help.  I guess I looked disarrayed as he asked if the stones were clean.  I told him they were not and had tried to blow off the grass and dirt with a knapkin.  He shook his head and told me the people who maintained the cemetery were not responsible workers and he would report them to their parole officer.  Yikes!  Wish he had warned me before I was out there alone wandering around. Would I have done something differently?  Probably would have kept my phone in my hand and not in my pocket.  Please keep this in mind when you’re out stone hunting.  I’ll soon write about some other unsafe really dumb things I did on this trip that I would not do again (well, I probably would but I shouldn’t)- stay tuned!

Making the Most of Your Research Trip – Cemeteries – Part 3

Originally published on genealogyatheart.blogspot.com on 17 Aug 2016.

Today’s blog is all about cemeteries!   Actually, I’ll have to split the blog as I have too much info!

I like to get an early start when I visit cemeteries in the summer as it gets HOT during the day.

My first stop of my recent research trip was Green Hill Cemetery in Waynesboro, PA.  Opened in the late 1800’s, by 1923 it had accepted re-internments from Union Cemetery when the church who owned Union sold the property and the new owners didn’t want the bodies.

What saddens me about that decision is the property was sold from one church to another.  Union meant what it said – it was the “Union” of all of the burials of the 3 churches in the town – at that time it was Evangelical Lutheran, German Baptist and Presbyterian.  From histories of the area I read on GoogleBooks, I learned that in the mid 1800’s there was only one church in town and that all 3 denominations used it on a rotating basis.  Due to structural problems and it needing repairs, one of the churches decided to rebuild on their own.  The other two continued together.  By the 1920’s, the two combined churches had split and the property was sold to the church who had first separated. How weird is that?!  That church’s former parishioners had been buried in that space for years but the church didn’t want the bodies of the other denominations so part of the real estate deal was to have the seller get all the bodies moved.  (I’ve seen this happen so many times – I’m glad I selected a City Cemetery for my own final resting place.  I want a public referendum for a change!)

The selling church tried, but as was the case with the families I was researching, no local family members would have seen the newspaper notice that they needed to claim the bodies.  Any body not claimed was dug up and re-interred at Green Hill in a combined location.  The stones were placed on a hill, laying flat, supposedly in the same order in which they were originally placed.  They are in horrible condition!

I met with the Cemetery Director and he provided me a map of the location where the old stones were kept.  My dilemma was twofold.  I had the names from church records that two family members were buried at Union but on Find-A-Grave, Billion Graves and the cemetery itself (I had called twice before) only one of the family members names were recorded as re-interred there.

Since I was using these people in my Kinship Determination Paper for my Board for Certification of Genealogists (BCG), I’m hesitant to use the real names I was researching so I’ll be using some assumed names to make this understandable.

Adam Apple was in the church records as buried next to his grandson, Bart Bear.  Find-A-Grave has a photo on the memorial for Bart Bear but no mention of Adam Apple.  Neither are on Billion Graves.  The cemetery records have only Bart Bear listed.  I was told twice by cemetery personnel that they believe their database is complete as it was based on the original Union Cemetery records they had received from the church.  Those records were supposedly housed in the Alexander Hamilton Free Library and the cemetery had a copy of those records since 1923.

To complicate the story, Bart Bear had a sister, Barbara Bear.  The only way I knew about Barbara was from a family genealogy text that had gotten the info from a sibling of Bart and Barbara. Barbara supposedly had died as an infant, in between census years.  The text has no year of birth or death.  The church has no record of her.  Neither does the online resources or the cemetery.  Where was she buried and when?

Bart and Barbara’s paternal grandfather – I’m calling him Alex Bear, and his wife Amanda Bear, are also missing from every source I’ve consulted.  Alex’s will was indexed but is missing so all I know is that it was probated in 1874 in Franklin County.  I suspect he died towards the end of 1874 as the probate was in late November but I don’t know that for sure.  He may have been buried in Union as they still accepted internments at that time.

My mission was to answer the following:

  1. Why was Adam Apple not listed in the cemetery records but was in the church records?
  2. Why was Barbara Bear not listed in the cemetery records or church records?
  3. Was Alex and Amanda Bear buried in Union or Green Hill?
  4. BONUS QUESTION:  Was Adam Apple’s wife (name unknown) buried next to Adam?

I also wanted to see Bart Bear’s tombstone.

When I met with the Cemetery Director I explained why this information was important to me.  I also explained that I had visited the Alexander Hamilton Free Public Library the evening before and they couldn’t find any records for Union Cemetery.  Of course, the Cemetery Director was basing his information on what he had been told as he wasn’t even born when the reinternments occurred.  He did admit that he had original records from Union Cemetery but due to their delicate nature, they were not be copied.  I understand and asked if I could simply view them.  This took quite some negotiation. I was given all the standard reasons I could not see them – the transcriptions that were placed on the cemetery database were complete, the paper the original was on was so thin it was too delicate to handle, the writing was very difficult to read and I wouldn’t be able to read it, and he wasn’t supposed to share the information as it contained family information for others that had not given permission to view the records.

Of course, I had an answer for each point.  I acknowledged that whoever transcribed from the original most likely did their best but that it was always advisable to have someone check your work as humans inadvertently make mistakes.  I would not handle the paper – he could and it could be placed on the desk with the minimum amount of handling.  I have taken classes in reading old handwriting and told him one of my most recent client transcriptions was extremely difficult as the writer had turned the paper 90 degrees and written in cursive from the middle of the 1800’s, on a boat, during the Civil War, over what had previously been written.  Not only had I transcribed it successfully the article was published in the Florida Genealogist in June and I could show him a sample of that work.

The sticking point became the appropriateness of my viewing the records of other internments.  My rebuttal was that the gravestones had been photographed and were online.  I brought up Find-A-Grave on my phone and showed him Bart Bear’s information. I reminded him that the Union reintenrments consisted of families that had NO KNOWN LIVING RELATIVES in 1923 and that HIPPA and confidentiality were not the law at the time the bodies were moved.  He reluctantly agreed.

Bringing back a small business envelope he removed several folded pages.  I was so disappointed.  All were written in the same handwriting – this was not original records.  This was a derivative from another source, uncited.  Geez.  Now I understood why  Adam Apple wasn’t in the cemetery records. Whoever copied the current cemetery record from the original most likely had overlooked him and who knows how many others, probably Barbara Bear, too.  I explained that to the Director.  He had no idea where the original records were housed.  He assumed, if the library did not have them, that the church did.  REMEMBER:  When researching, staff you will meet with may not have the knowledge of records that genealogists do.  They don’t understand the difference between original and derivative.  Educate briefly while you’re there – it’ll save time for another researcher who comes along later.

Personally, I believe that the church has the originals somewhere in their archives and that the current office staff has no knowledge of that.  If the cemetery book was donated to the Alexander Hamilton Library it most likely would have been listed as one of their holdings, which it is not.  Now that library was not organized so the possibility remains that they do have holdings that aren’t catalogued.  I know they don’t know the valuable resources that they have as I had planned to see at the Library of Congress a rare book written by one of the individuals I was researching and it was just sitting in the stacks – same edition – like it was just a regular old book for check out.  I didn’t say anything as I figured it’s safer on the shelf than letting the staff know and having someone pilfer it and sell it on Ebay.  (I’m not saying the library staff has no scruples, I just don’t want that scenario to occur. Someone had already ripped out indexes of several books that were in the stacks so I think it’s better to keep my lips sealed).  But, back to the cemetery…

Interestingly, next to Bart Bear on the “original” derivative cemetery records it was clearly written as “unknown.”  I first suspected that the unknown individual may have been Adam Apple as that would confirm the church records that stated Adam was buried next to Bart.  I gave the Cemetery Director a copy of the church records I had received (which he didn’t have – go figure!) and wrote a note on it that I believed that space had been Adam’s.

The records did not list the other individuals I was seeking.  They could have been accidentally omitted or they may never have been buried there.  Who knows?!  I was on to visiting the gravesite.

Next time, I’ll blog more about being in the cemetery.