Genealogical Kindness Needed

Seriously, folks, I’ve had my fill this week of dealing with difficult people. IMHO, life’s too short for bad manners.

I have a very large online public tree on several sites. The reason it’s large is because I’ve done surname studies over the last 20+ years for several lines with unique names – Duer, Harbaugh and Leininger. Taking the last family history book published, that would be 1947 for the Harbaughs and 1973 for the Leiningers, I’ve add all the info into the tree from those sources and then tried to prove the info was correct by adding additional citations. I then tried to update the original works going forward so that family could reconnect. The Duer information was unpublished; I received it from a family historian about 2010.

The gateway ancestor’s for all of these lines died in the 19th century or earlier so some of those included in the tree are far removed from my direct line. I don’t personally know these people. I made the tree public to help reconnect and aid in correcting any errors.

Three times this week I have heard from distant relatives and the comments/emails were rude. One woman told me my tree was confusing her. I offered to help but needed to know what was confusing about it. She said I had no pictures for a person she was interested in. Huh? I understand visual learning but really, you’re complaining because there was no picture.

Later that day, someone posted a comment that they were sure I was wrong about a gateway ancestor because they had their Y-DNA done. I responded to please share and I’d be happy to look further. No response. I wouldn’t have been concerned if the individual had emailed me privately but to post a comment and then not respond when someone is willing to check further is wrong.

That evening, I hit the trifecta when someone commented on another line that he was certain “you must have made this up.” I was taken aback. Did you not look at the citations? Did you not see my comment that mentioned I concurred with other researchers that it was possible two brothers were confused so I included both names as the possible father?

The old adage we can choose our friends but not our relatives applies here! That last comment ticked me off so much that I considered making my tree private. I haven’t done so because I think the good outweighs the few thoughtless individuals.

Thanks, dear readers, for reading my rant. Please help me spread genealogical kindness this week. It’s sorely needed.

I will be taking a much needed vacation so will not have a blog post until I return the end of July.

Robert Flenner Honored by The National Law Enforcement Memorial Fund

Last fall I blogged about my search for relatives of Robert Flenner, a police officer who died in 1908 from injuries received in the line of duty. The National Law Enforcement Memorial Fund contacted me after finding Robert in my public Ancestry.com tree. Robert married a woman who was the grand daughter of a Harbaugh; I have completed a surname study of all Harbaughs in the U.S. so that’s why Robert was in my tree.

After blogging about my hunt to find living relatives I was contacted by a great grand daughter of the couple. She and her father will attend the ceremony.

I’m sure other relatives of Robert are out there and I wanted to make sure that it’s not to late to attend in spirit if not in flesh. Here’s the link to attend the service virtually:

“Patrolman Robert Flenner’s summary has been included on the Memorial website at:
http://names.lawmemorial.org/officers/f/flenner42335.html

You may join us via live webcast for the Candlelight Vigil which will be held on May 13, 2017 at 8:00 p.m. by signing up at United By Light at http://www.unitedbylight.org
The Memorial will honor 394 fallen officers on May 13th, of whom 143 died in 2016.

Please forward this to anyone who may be interested!

Sincerely,

Carolie Heyliger
Memorial Programs Research Manager
National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial
901 E St, NW Suite 100
Washington, DC 20004-2025
Phone: 202.737.7136 Fax: 202.737.3405”

I will be flying back from the National Genealogical Society conference in Raleigh and am hoping there won’t be any flight delays so I can view the webcast.

Privacy and the Genealogist – Part 2

My last blog was about ways to find the living who might have the genealogical information you need without making them feel threatened that their privacy had been invaded. Today, I’m thinking about how much more private our lives are then in the past. Thomas MacEntee mentioned this, too, in an interactive webinar he recently did. If you don’t believe that, check out an old newspaper and you just might find something like this:

1

2

3

4

5

These are just a few of the times that George Harbaugh was noted in three local papers between 1900-1909. From the first notice we know that there were two individuals who were professors who traveled together to Missouri. Today, a notice like this would alert burglars and the professors might return home to find a break in had occurred.
The second item confirms that George was an educator. Did they send junk mail back in the day? He’s fortunate that there were no big box office supply stores sending him ads based on his job description.
Next item lets us know not only his residence but that he has a son with the same name and that they visited Plymouth, Indiana. Great information from a genealogical standpoint; we’ve got relationship confirmation! The fourth notice lets us know that George visited nearby Walkerton, Indiana on a Saturday. Together, both notices are kind of creepy. Can you imagine every time you leave your town that it would be published in your local newspaper?! Sure with public figures, every movement is tracked and reported today but George wasn’t famous. Looking at the other statements surrounding George’s show that this was common practice; we know that G.S. St. John of Tipecanoe also visited Plymouth and Ed Cook purchased from William Burger a “fine carriage.” Seriously, when you buy a new vehicle or a major appliance, we certainly wouldn’t expect it to be published in the newspaper.
Today, we continue the practice of placing family relationship information and residence locations in obituaries as item 5 did. We can connect George to his father and two of his brothers. Another clue to finding George’s whereabouts on a Sunday might be the Dunkard church as that’s where his father, grandpa Harbaugh, attended. Since grandpa lived with George more information about George might be found there. Again, nice for a genealogist and even nicer for a crook who knew the family wouldn’t have been home during church service. Don’t think they had robberies in those days? George’s aunt, Mary Ann Eyster Johnson, wrote in her diary on 10 April 1898 that “Today we found that the Meeting House had been robbed. Tablecloths, aprons, dishes, knives, and forks and baskets all gone. No clue to the robbery.”6 Interestingly, I never found the story of the church robbery in the newspaper.
Clearly, it was not just a slow news day but a standard practice to record the comings and goings of residents a century plus ago. Your personal whereabouts is fairly safe these days, although it can be gleaned from public records courtesy of your property appraiser. Don’t despair, so is your neighbors! The only difference between property records now and in the past is we can look the information up quickly using the internet instead of having to drive to the assessor’s office.
Although our privacy is more assured, future genealogists will not find the gems that we do in newspaper archives. All the more reason for you to start writing about yourself!

1 “Lapaz Items,” Marshall County [Indiana] Independent, 27 April 1900, p. 5, col. 5.
2 “Lapaz Items,” The Plymouth [Indiana] Tribune, 2 July 1903, p. 4, col. 4.
3 “Saturday,” The Plymouth [Indiana] Tribune, 1 September 1910, p. 5, col 2.
4 “Saturday,” The Weekly [Walkerton, Indiana] Republican, 14 March 1912, p. 2, col 3.
5 “Lapaz Items,” The Plymouth [Indiana] Tribune, 28 January 1909, p. 5, col. 6.
6 Mary Ann (Eyster) Johnson, “Diary,” 10 April 1898, n.p.; privately held by the Pine Creek Church of the Brethren, North Liberty, St. Joseph County, Indiana.

Perseverance Amidst Adversity – The Ancestry of Three George Harbaughs

Happy New Year! I started the year off by completing one of my resolutions – to publish an eBook. Perseverance Amidst Adversity – The Ancestry of Three George Harbaughs (ASIN: B01N7O2NOE) was submitted for publication about an hour ago. It will be available on Amazon.com within 72 hours at the bargain price of $3.59. Extensively researched, this true story follows three generations of Georges and their loved ones during a time of tumultuous change in the United States. Perseverance is the background story for the next eBook I’m writing, Thanks to the Yanks, which will detail the experiences of an Indiana farm boy during World War I. I also plan on indexing a diary and then publishing it as an eBook which will be the 3rd in the series.
I plan to continue blogging twice weekly and will be a guest blogger for several genealogical organizations, too.
I’d love to hear your goals for 2017. If you haven’t identified them yet, no worries – I’ll give you some ideas in my next blog. In the meantime, I wish you a year full of great genealogy goodness!

Hints to Get Your Needed Records During the Upcoming Year


I’m not sure what it is about holidays – maybe it’s the food, knowing time away from work is coming or the spirit of the season but I’ve learned that when I have a needed record to obtain those are the best times for me to secure it.

The good news is there are holidays all year long and you can use that to your advantage! Here’s what has happened to me and maybe this “Month of the Year Research Calendar” will work for you, too:

January – Last year I was writing a Kinship Determination Paper for by Board for Certification of Genealogists portfolio on the Harbaugh family and I needed clarification about their religious beliefs. Most of the first generation was buried in a Lutheran Cemetery in Indiana but the second generation was buried in a Brethren Cemetery. I was trying to understand when the change occurred so I called several churches in the area during the Christmas season seeking parishioner records from the 1880’s. The timing was wrong – churches are extremely busy then. I followed up via email in January and reminded them of the prior phone call, mentioned I hoped they had an enjoyable Christmas and before they got busy with Lent, would love them to check their parish records for me. It worked! By Valentine’s Day I had pictures of relatives I had never seen, a copy of the parish record book, an understanding of why the family went to a different denomination (it was across the street from where they lived) and a diary on DVD in which a parishioner had recorded daily life in the area that just happened to record ALL of the births and deaths of the family I was searching. January is for me, the best time to obtain church records!

February through Easter and October through December- This might not work for those somewhere other than Florida but I find those months the best time to meet folks from New England, Mid Atlantic and the Midwest as they are temporary residents here and frequently attend local workshops. So, if you’re residing in those locals then do this on the months I haven’t recorded! I pick their brains on resources from their home area, get leads on people back home they know who might help with my research and sometimes, meet a cousin. I’ve blogged previously about a serendipitous meeting I had in October 2016 (Less Than 6 Degrees of Separation and December 2015 A Transcription Treat).

March – April and November – I don’t know why these seem to be less busy times at archives but I’ve always found that the staff was readily available to help and the sites sparse with visitors. I’m talking about the Family History Library in Salt Lake and the New England Historic and Genealogical Society in Boston. I guess most researchers are either on spring break in a warmer climate or too busy getting ready for Thanksgiving during these times leaving the facility vacant. I’ve also had quick responses from state libraries via email during these months.

May – September – Need a tombstone photo? This is the best time to get one! Why? Simply because people visit cemeteries most between Memorial Day (duh!) and Labor Day. Put a request for a photo on Find-A-Grave a week prior to Memorial Day has almost always gotten me the photo I need. Think about it, who in their right mind would go out in a blizzard to take a cemetery photo? Well, yes, I would and have but that was because I was visiting the area and wouldn’t have gotten another chance to find what I needed. If I lived in the area, I would wait til the snow melted.

Thanksgiving – December – I was pining for the marriage record for one of my 3rd great grandparents. It’s not online and I needed to verify the date I found in family records as some of those were slightly off. I had called the small town in Ohio Clerk’s Office in August and was told to follow up with an email. I gave the couple’s names, dates of birth and what I thought was the marriage date. Two weeks went by and I didn’t hear anything so I emailed again. I got a response that the clerical workers were too busy. Waited another two weeks and emailed once more. Got the response that they were still busy and wouldn’t have time to look it up. Emailed the office manager and got no response. I left the email as open in my email account as a reminder I needed to pursue it. Well, on the Monday before Christmas I sent the following: Dear (clerk’s name), I’ve been a good genealogist this year and I’m hoping that you can assist Santa in bringing me the marriage record for my great grandparents – Emma Kuhn and Francis “Frank” Landfair. It’s all I want for Christmas! Wishing you a joyous season, Lori” I got it the next day. The response also explained why it’s never been scanned and online – evidently the book is in poor condition and won’t photograph well. I’ve also used a similar tactic the day before Thanksgiving. I called a cemetery for records and the office worker finally agreed to fax them to me because I told her I was having family over the following day and we just had to know who was buried in which plots. This cemetery is located in a not so nice area so I never could get anyone to take a photo and the clerk had previously refused to release the info due to privacy previously. (BTW-the dead don’t have privacy rights but she was insistent the cemetery rules prohibited her from releasing the plot information).

Hope this helps your hunting as you plan your research for the year!

The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund

Last week I received an email via Ancestry.com from the Research Manager with the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund (NLEOMF).  The group will be having a candlelight vigil in Washington, DC in May 2017 and reached out to me as I have in my Main Tree an individual that was selected to be honored.

We are not closely related to the fallen officer; Robert Flenner was my husband’s 4th cousin, 3 times removed through marriage to the grand daughter of a Harbaugh.  Since I have updated all the Harbaugh/Herbach family in the U.S., Robert appears in my tree.

I had never heard of the organization and did a little research.  The NLEOMF was founded in 1984 for the purpose of honoring and remembering law enforcement officers who have been killed in the line of duty.  I’m not sure how they select the officers to be honored; Robert Flenner died in 1908.

After receiving the email and checking out the group I went to my tree to remind myself who Robert Flenner was.  I have a large tree and I didn’t recall him.  The citations I had were the 1870, 1880 and 1900 US Federal census, a death certificate that didn’t mention he was a fallen officer (cause of death-cancer of intestines; occupation of deceased-house duties), Pennsylvania Probate, Find-A-Grave memorial and a Social Security record for one of his children.  I did find it interesting that the death certificate noted he was buried in Harbaugh Church Cemetery.  I had visited there on my July research trip looking for the grave of one of my husband’s several times great grandmother.  I must have walked past Robert’s resting place as I was all over that small cemetery on my unsuccessful hunt.  Passed him without giving him a thought!  None of  my found records provided me the event that occurred to warrant being honored.  I looked for an obituary and found the following provided by KimTisha on Find-A-Grave:

Robert Flenner

Ironically, the same day I was contacted by NLEOMF I received a copy of my paternal great grandparents’ divorce records.  I had always suspected the root cause of the divorce was alcoholism because I had found a newspaper article written shortly before the divorce mentioning that great grandpa had been fined for providing alcohol to a known alcoholic.  I was also very aware that NO FAMILY member on that line drank.  So I was not surprised when the divorce documents mentioned that my great grandfather had had a drinking problem for 25 years.  I was stunned, however, by the long term physical abuse my great grandmother had been subjected to when great grandpa was inebriated.  He was definitely a mean drunk!  The records mention the severity of the abuse and it made me sick.

Reading the obituary for Robert Flenner and knowing the arrest he made had prevented another woman from receiving further abuse I was determined to find a closer relative who could represent him at the DC event.

The problem was, I had been unsuccessful in finding any close family members for my husband’s line when I visited the area three months ago.  What to do?!

The internet is a wonderful way to connect so I thought I’d try to locate family by following the bread crumb trail of known records.  I updated Robert’s line and discovered one of his two children had married and had children.  I emailed every Find-A-Grave memorial creator through Robert’s great grandchild.  Most didn’t respond but several wrote back that they knew of closer descendants and would forward the information to them.  I’m hoping that someone is able to attend the Candlelight Vigil in which he will be honored.

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.

Another Find Where It Shouldn’t Have Been!

Originally published on genealogyatheart.blogspot.com on 26 Dec 2015.

Okay – here we go again!  I found the missing information in a place that that was not anywhere close to where the ancestor had lived but ironically, was only 5 minutes from where I work. 

Earlier this month I blogged about the importance of revisiting places previously checked as sometimes the needed information becomes available due to persistence.  You can read that blog here – Why Persistence Pays in Hunting Records.

That blog was about my difficulty in obtaining a death records for my husband’s maternal great grandmother, Louise Carlson Johnson.  I had a death year (1937) given to me by his mother but no proof of death.  Previously, I had written to Lake County, Indiana where I assumed she had died, for a death certificate.  They told me they didn’t have one.  I then contacted the Gary Health Department thinking they may have some record but they said they had nothing on Louise.  I contacted both hospitals in existence in Gary at the time of her death – Methodist Hospital (the Protestant hospital) and Mary Mercy (the Roman Catholic Hospital) but they couldn’t help me.  I checked both hospitals because many of our Protestant relatives used Mercy Hospital as they had a very good staff back in the day.  And seriously, when you’re in pain who cares who helps you! 

After discovering that Louise was buried in Ridgelawn Cemetery in Lake County, Indiana I decided to write to Indianapolis (for my non US readers – that’s the capitol of Indiana) to see if they had the death record.  Maybe it had been sent from the local to the state level.  I received the response via snail mail on December 22– no record found.  Geez!

The cemetery didn’t seem to be the kind of place that makes any exception to rules (see Ashes on the Doorstep for those places that do!) so I believe the death certificate was presented for burial.  With that thought in mind I decided there was only two reasons that there was no death certificate in Lake County:  1) she had remarried and her name was no longer Johnson or 2) she died somewhere besides Lake County.

I checked Ancestry.com for City Directory information for Gary for 1937 and found her residing with one of her married daughters.  Her name was still Johnson and she was listed as a widow.  I wasn’t exactly sure when the City Directory was published but the chance of her marrying in the few months after it was published and before her death was remote as she had been a widow for 31 years.  That meant she must have died out of the county.

Louise had 3 children – all married in 1937.  She resided with daughter Elsie in Gary.  Daughter Ruth lived nearby.  Daughter Helen, however, was living in Porter County – the county next to Lake.  Louise also had 10 step children and although I’ve been unable to trace many of them, some were also living in Porter County.  From letters that I have it didn’t appear that Louise was close to most of the step children but the possibility existed that she may have been visiting one when she passed away.  Porter County seemed the most viable place to look.

Searching online I could find no database for Porter County deaths.  I had previously checked newspaper archives for the Vidette Messenger, the Valparaiso (Porter County seat) newspaper but found no obituary.  I had also checked for an obituary in the Gary paper, The Post Tribune, previously but was unable to find a paper from that year as the paper had been sold a number of times and some years are missing in the archives.  Of course, 1937 was one of those years!

I went to familysearch.org to check their catalog and discovered a book that might be helpful – Index to death records, Porter County, Indiana, 1931-1959Right place, right years – could be helpful. 

Checked Worldcat and found a copy locally so Wednesday morning I called the Genealogy Department at the Tampa Public Library and David not only found the book on the shelf, he did a lookup for me.  Happy Holiday to me!  Sure enough, Louise Johnson was listed in May 1937.  Now I know where I can write for the death certificate! 

Louise is the only recent relative that I don’t have parent information for so hopefully, the death certificate will give me a clue or two.  Also, her dna is very interesting so I’d really like to find out more about her line.

Due to holiday closures David volunteered to scan and email the page to me.  I attached it to the death certificate request to expedite it.  Like the song says, “waiting is the hardest part!”

After I put the death certificate request in the mail I decided to just recheck newspaper archives and what wonders did I behold!  Some kind folks have entered the obituary information for the Gary Post Tribune and now 1937 is available!  I immediately requested a librarian to look it up.  Keeping my fingers crossed that my youngest brick wall is about to be scaled.  

Why Persistence Pays in Hunting Records

Originally published on genealogyatheart.blogspot.com on 3 Dec 2015.

On 6 August 2010, I called a cemetery in Indiana requesting records of the family plot. I know I called that day and I know who I spoke with because I wrote a note on the ancestor’s burial citation on my Ancestry.com tree.  I was told it was against the cemetery’s policy to release burial record information. I told the employee that I planned on visiting the cemetery and needed to know where the grave was located.  That grave location was given to me and I dutifully recorded it. 

That day I created a Find-A-Grave memorial for two of the individuals in the family, the husband and wife.  I thought it was odd they were buried in Grave 2 and 3 but since the cemetery employee refused to give me who was buried in Grave 1, I had no way to know.  I immediately put in a request for a photo on Find-A-Grave hoping that the mystery of burial space 1 would be revealed.  No one ever came through with the photo.

In September, I wrote for the death certificate of the other spouse as I decided I would use this family for my Board of Certified Genealogist certification portfolio.  It took 2 months, and several phone calls to Indianapolis, before I FINALLY received the record.  I’m not understanding why the website says “Average Processing Time: 2 weeks (5-10 business days). Processing times could increase during peak times (holiday, travel, income tax months and school enrollment) and may take up to 3 weeks (5-15 business days) to prepare your order for shipping.” when it took them 2 months but that’s another story – I kept being told that it was a busy time.  I was very excited when the record finally arrived and it confirmed that the burial was in the same cemetery as the wife.  I decided the day after Thanksgiving to call the cemetery again to see if maybe their policy had changed and I could obtain a copy of the cemetery record.

I love getting the cemetery records because I have uncovered some very interesting info – names of children I had never heard of, confirmation that the family was in the area earlier than I had thought based on the purchase date of the plots and married names of female relatives who were listed as the next of kin.

Unbelievably, when I called the cemetery I got the same person I spoke with 5 years ago.  She again told me that records weren’t available.  I told her I needed a picture of the stone and had placed a request on Find-A-Grave but no one had fulfilled it.  She said that maybe there was no stone.  I told her that I was interested in having a stone placed on the graves so I needed to verify that there was no stone.  She agreed to pull the file which actually was only an index card.  She stated there was no mention that there was or wasn’t a stone.  I asked how I could know for sure.  She said I’d have to look. I told her I lived 2000 miles away and couldn’t do that.  She told me she couldn’t give me any further information because she had no proof I was a relative.

I asked her how she would like me to get her proof – fax or email?  She said to send via email so I scanned the 2 death certificates, one of their children’s birth certificates, the grand child’s birth certificate and my driver’s license.  Moments later she sent an email with a copy of the burial card and that’s when I did a double happy dance!

The card, interestingly, showed that 7 burial plots were purchased in 1927.  At the time of purchase, the couple had 2 children and the wife was pregnant with the third child.  I could understand purchasing 5 plots but they purchased 7.  Reviewing the record I learned that the wife’s mother was also interred in one of the plots.  I had tried to verify where this woman was buried for 10 years!  Although I had her death date from family member recollections no one could remember her maiden name or where she was buried.  I tried writing for a death certificate but was told that there wasn’t one on file.  I tried to get hospital records as there were only 2 hospitals in the area at the time of her death but was told by both sites that they don’t have records that old.  I tried contacting what I thought would have been the funeral home but they are no longer in business.  I was so happy to finally find where this woman was buried!  Unfortunately, the card did not list her maiden name.

I was also shocked to discover that an infant grandchild was buried in the last space.  I knew of this child as I had found his birth certificate among family papers but  I never knew where he had been interred.

I can only assume that 7 plots were purchased as the couple planned to have additional children but did not. Perhaps they were unable to have more children or the economic times was a detriment.  Maybe they purchased the extra spaces for their young children’s spouses.  This was a family that really planned well so that, too, remains a possibility.  All I know for sure is that I’m thankful that I was persistent and called again to get more information.  Sad that it had to take 5 years to get information that was available.  Since there are no relatives left in the area, I think I’m going to contact a reputable (meaning I’ve used them before and been pleased) monument company in the area to verify that there is no stone since the cemetery worker refused to leave the office and check and no one on find-a-grave has picked up the request.  

Being Thankful for Genealogy Goodness

Originally published on genealogyatheart.blogspot.com on 15 Nov 2015.

Last Sunday I wrote about genealogy bullies and record thieves.  I reflected this week, and with Thanksgiving around the corner and the heinous events in Paris,  I wanted to take a moment to think about all the kindhearted genealogists out there that far outweigh the small number of bullies.  So with here’s what I’m thankful for…

  • Maggie Landfair who responded to a Rootsweb bulletin board posting I did in 1999 and provided me with so much info she had collected on her husband’s side and put me in touch with the author of two Leininger books so I could learn about my dad’s side of the family.
  • Bob Leininger who shared his electronic files with me while he was half way around the world.  I’ve referred to those documents (and his books) time and time again.  Just wish he would update them! Hint, Hint
  • Edgar Duer Whitley who somehow figured out that my DURE family should be DUER and shared his lifelong work with me just weeks before he passed away.  I never found out how he got my email address but I was sure thankful he did.
  • Librarians across the country who have done lookups, gave advice and went above and beyond to help me solve so many family mysteries.  Come to think of it, I don’t think I ever met a librarian that didn’t help me.
  • Countless distant relatives who have contacted me via online sources willing to share what they’ve discovered and nicely correcting wrong info I may have put out there.
  • Jenny Mig who I’ve never met but is the complete opposite of the bullies I mentioned last week.  Here’s an email from her:  “Hello, I just purchased a family bible from ebay that belonged to John Travis Harbaugh. I know it’s weird that I bought a family bible that has nothing to do with my family, it was just heartbreaking for me to see someones family history being auctioned off like that. Most of them are hundreds of dollars, but I was able to get this one cheap. I will be scanning all of the hand written pages as soon as it arrives, then I am donating it to the Perry County Chapter of the Ohio Genealogical Society. Please let me know if you would like copies of the records that are written in the bible.”  Jenny did just what she said she would.  How inspirational that she cares so much about history and record preservation to reach out to a perfect stranger.
  • All my ancestors who took a stand for what was just.  It took great courage and I let them serve as a role model for me.
  • My ancestors who didn’t make the right choice.  That may seem odd to be thankful for but it reinforces our humanism and allows me to learn from their mistakes.
  • My emigrating ancestors who circled the globe to seek a better life.  Their acceptance and acclamation of different cultures amazes me.  Tolerance and acceptance, we could all use the reminder.
  • and I’m most thankful for my husband, daughter and son who put up with my incessant talking about dead people they never knew and dragging them to countless cemeteries, libraries, museums, courthouses, and old homes around the country for years.  They still talk about how I got them lost in the Dismal Swamp on a road trip back from Washington, DC on December 30, 1999.  No GPS, the AAA triptics were wrong, we were running out of gas, it was getting dark AND we were all concerned that maybe Y2K really would be a problem.  We made it home safely and I continue the family search.

Please take a moment to reflect on the good in the world and make it a goal to tell someone today you appreciate them.