Amazing Info Found – The Net As a Beginning Tool

Life has returned to semi-normal after the recent hurricanes. By semi, I mean the county still hasn’t collected the debris, milk and gas aren’t available everywhere and several parks remain closed due to damage. When our power was out for several days, I limited my internet usage to conserve my cell phone battery. It wasn’t until I went to clean my spam filter for my website, Genealogyatheart, that I discovered a message from a distant cousin. He had discovered my site and our connection through our great grandfather by simply Googling the last name.
I replied to his comment and he included one of his nieces on our messages. Between the 3 of us, family puzzles began to be solved quickly. In the past week, I discovered that my paternal grandparents had hosted a small family reunion at their farm in the 1960’s. My parent’s divorce was finalized by that time so my mom knew nothing of the event. Without my cousins input, I wouldn’t have known about it, either.
That got my brain going about unidentified people on an old movie I had inherited from my father. Hubby and I have had all our 8 mm films and VHS tapes professionally saved to a DVD. (Side note: If you think your VHS tapes aren’t so old they need to be saved, think again. The oldest VHS tape from 1984 was fading away while some of the 1950 movies looked as good as new). The DVD contains still photos of some of the movies so hubby took those of the mystery people, along with another CD we had made of all the old family photos we had scanned years ago, and sent them off to both cousins for help in identifying these unknown folks.
We’re fairly certain that the picture above is of my grandmother, Lola, and her older brother, Stanley. Why? I have the photo and they have the photo. They are descended from Stanley and it was in their box of photos of his family. My step mother had placed all the old photos in one box so I was never sure who any of my unlabeled people were. Were they a Leininger, Landfair, Kuhn, Kable, Kettering, Bollenbacher, Adams or Duer? I had tried the old Google Picassa facial recognition feature and it helped somewhat but I didn’t have enough identified photos to have it match effectively.
These cousins sent me a few other photos electronically over the past week to see if it would help but Picassa is no longer supported by Google and it kept freezing so no answers there! I’m hopeful they’ll be able to match some of the photos on the CD to photos in their box so at least we can categorize by surname.
The cousin who initially contacted me stated their tale is that the family originated from Ireland and not Bavaria as my line recalled. I tend to believe them for several reasons. I’ve had another family member misidentified’s country of origin as Germany instead of being born in the U.S. Maria Duer Kuhn’s death certificate states she was born in Germany but she was born in Ohio. Her son was the informant. Her husband was the one born in Germany. It seems like my Great British ancestors assumed the German culture of those they married in Ohio. Additional support for their story is that my DNA has a much higher likelihood of Great Britain then it does of German. Further, Landfair is not a German surname. When I questioned that years ago I was told that it probably had been changed from Lamphere. Could be but no proof of that was ever discovered.
One of the cousins also has a copy of my great grandfather’s funeral program which she will send me. I’ve blogged about him previously – he’s the gentleman who “accidentally fell from a platform” and there was a followup investigation a few months after his death resulting in additional paperwork after the death certificate. The lesson there was make sure you get the complete records you request.
This gets me to the point of today’s blog – there remains A LOT of additional information about your ancestors out there – in attics, basements and the brains of the living who recall the unrecorded stories past down. The internet can help you get to those that hold the key you need but alone, the internet is not enough. Reach out to long lost family and you just might discover the info you seek. Happy Hunting!

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.

Youtube and the Genealogist


A source that I under use for genealogy is Youtube. Lisa Louise Cooke reminded me at a local seminar I attended about the valuable information that is available on the site.

There’s two ways to find what you’re looking for – do a Google Search (duh!) or use the search button on Youtube. If I type in Google the following – youtube genealogy – I get 8,660,000 results. Using the search bar on Youtube, I receive 190,000 results for the word genealogy. Most of those hits are instructional videos. Youtube can assist your genealogy more personally, though, and help you find information you didn’t know was out there.

Try this: In the Youtube search bar type a surname you are interested in and the words “family history” in quotes. I did this with my Leininger surname and the first link is to a family reunion in Ohio. Bingo! Need to know who has the family Bible or a photo of great grandma? The folks you’ve found on Youtube just might hold the key.

You don’t stop there, though! I then decided to check out video to be more specific of the location since Ohio is a large state. I entered “Celina, Ohio” Kuhn (another family surname I’m interested in and the residence of the family) and more hits are available.

This is a wonderful way to reconnect with family that remained in the hometown, see what the area looks like today and the time investment is minimal as many of the videos are less than 15 minutes in length. Enjoy!

John Duer, Where Art Thou Buried and Other Duer Mysteries?!

My last post, Records Breadcrumb Trail May Lead to Wrong Conclusions, and an earlier post, Circular Migration Patterns-How History Repeats Itself, 30 May 2015) noted my research of my Duer line.  My latest hurdle is finding the burial location of John Duer, my 3rd great grandfather.

I know from his Indiana probate records that John died on 25 February 1885 in Adams County, Indiana.[1] John and his second wife, Margaret Martz Searight, were living in Jefferson, Adams County, Indiana in 1880, along with their two children Charley, age 14 and Lucinda, age 12.[2]  Adams County, Indiana is adjacent to Mercer County, Ohio where both had resided with their first spouses.  I’m descended from John’s daughter, Maria, with his first wife, Mary Jane Morrison.[3]

I’m discovering some interesting information regarding John and Margaret and I wish I could connect up with relatives who might be able to shed light on my findings.  The first “odd” event was John and Margaret’s marriage on 11 December 1864.[4]  How that is odd is that first wife, Mary Jane, did not die until 10 July 1866.[5]  No divorce documentation has been found.  Nothing leads me to believe that John was a polygamist; he was raised as a Presbyterian and his father, Thomas, was buried in a Presbyterian cemetery in Trumbull County, Ohio.[6]  The Justice of the Peace for the second marriage was a third great uncle of mine on another line, John Leininger.  The Leiningers were Lutheran.  Since Mary Jane’s tombstone clearly states she was “the wife of John Duer” and there was only one other John Duer living in the area at the time who happened to be her son who was married to a Carolina Kuhn, this isn’t a case of mistaken identity.  I’m positive that the John Duer that married Margaret was not John and Mary Jane’s son John (Jr.) as I have his marriage certificate to Carolyn in 1863.  John Jr. and Carolina’s first child, John (of course!) was also born in 1866.  Likewise, John Sr. and his second wife, Margaret’s first child, Charles, was born in 1866.  I haven’t been able to find the exact birth date but remember, first wife didn’t die until July 1866.

If John Sr. and Mary Ann had divorced, why would Mary Jane’s tombstone inscription note her as a wife?

Figure 1Mary Jane Morrison Duer Tombstone[7]

To further support I have the correct John Duer, his will probated in Adams County, Indiana not only mentions his children from his second marriage to Margaret, but Angeline, his youngest daughter with his first wife, Jane.[8]

John and Jane had ten children; at the time of his death six were known to be living.  Yet, he did not note any child from the first wife in his will except Angeline.

There could be several reasons for the omission.  Perhaps his older children, as well established adults, did not need financial assistance.  Maybe there was a falling out and the older children were no longer speaking to their father.  Angeline, Mary and James, children from his first wife, were living in Adams County, Indiana while the other children were living in Mercer County in 1870.  Although geographically these counties are next to each other, perhaps John decided only unmarried children living in Indiana would receive compensation.

I’ve searched for an obituary for John and Jane and haven’t been able to find one.  I’ve also been unable to find where John was buried.

Kessler Cemetery records are incomplete.[9]  Jane is mentioned in the records, however, John is not.  According to one of the county trustees, the older section of the cemetery has no empty plots.  There is an empty space in Jane’s row so it is possible that John was interred there with no stone.  If they had divorced, why would he be interred close to his ex?

To rule out a burial elsewhere, other cemeteries in Mercer and Adams counties were examined.  No burial location for John was found.  John died before death certificates were mandatory in Indiana so there is no clue to be discovered there.

John’s second wife, Margaret, was also buried in Kessler Cemetery and her burial is notated in the records.  There are no empty spaces in Margaret’s burial location and all surrounding graves have readable tombstones, very similar to Jane’s.  Like Jane, Margaret’s stone denotes her as the wife of John Duer:

Figure 2 Margaret Ann Martz Searight Duer Stone[10]

Margaret was first married to a Mr. Sea(w)ri(gh)te.  She had a daughter, Effie, from her first marriage that was born in 1856.  Effie was born in Ohio so Margaret had emigrated from Hesse, Germany prior to that time.

I’ve never been able to determine where Margaret’s first husband was buried, either.  Oh, these missing men!

Here’s the second odd situation with this family – John and Jane’s daughter, Maria (not to be confused with Mary, another of their daughters) married Henry Kuhn Jr.  Henry was also an immigrant from Germany; he was quite prosperous and well known in the German community in Mercer.  The Leininger family (the JP for the second marriage) were much like the Kuhns; born in Germany they adapted quickly and held many political offices in the community as well as being successful farmers.  Surely these individuals would have all known each other.  Maria and Henry’s tombstone is ornate and also in Kessler Cemetery.  They could have well afforded a small stone for John. Why doesn’t John have one if he was buried there?

Some individuals do not want a stone but I find no reason that John would have been one of those folks.  His father, mother and grandfather had stones, as did both of his wives.  It seems to me that his passing wanted to be forgotten.

As I was researching obituaries I came across the following unsettling article:

John’s wife, Margaret, had met a similar fate[11]

Figure 3 The Fort Wayne [Indiana] Daily News

The son that lived nearby was Charles.

Figure 4 The Evening Republican

Figure 5 The Fort Wayne [Indiana] Evening Sentinel

Figure 6 The Indiana Tribune (in German)

John and Margaret’s son, Charles Edward Duer, was married to Almeda Buckmaster.[12]  I thought she was the “Mrs. Duer” who had died on 1 June 1894[13].  I began to wonder if there wasn’t a sinister side to this line but I’m happy to report that upon analysis, there were two Charles Duers, one in Indiana and one in Ohio.  Both had a loved one die by fire but they were not one and the same.  Whew!  Thought I was identifying a murder suspect for a bit.  Guess it’s just a creepy coincidence!

__________________________________                              [1] “Indiana, Wills and Probate Records, 1798-1999,” John Duer, Volume A-C, page 484-486; digital image, Ancestry.com (http:  ancestry.com:  accessed 16 October 2016), citing Adams County, Indiana Circuit Court.

[2] 1880 U.S. census, Jefferson, Adams County, Indiana, population schedule, page 6 (handwritten), family/dwelling 54, John Duer; digital image, Ancestry.com (http:  ancestry.com:  accessed 16 October 2016), citing FHL microfilm 1254263.

[3] See previous blogs for citations.

[4] Ohio, Marriage Intention Application, John Duer,

[5] Find-A-Grave, database and image (http://www.findagrave.com:  accessed 16 October 2016), memorial page for Jane Morrison Duer (1804-1866), Find A Grave Memorial no. 22503919; memorial created by Teresa citing St. Kessler Cemetery, Chattanooga, Mercer County, Ohio; image by Cousin Becky.  Tombstone states “Jane, wife of John Duer” and clearly shows 1866 as the death year.

[6] Find-A-Grave, database and image (http://www.findagrave.com:  accessed 16 October 2016), memorial page for Thomas Duer (1775-1829), Find A Grave Memorial no. 57798621; memorial created by BLJns75 citing St. Pricetown Cemetery, Newton Falls, Trumbull County, Ohio.  No tombstone pictures but confirmed with a local genealogist in Trumbull who had tripped over Thomas’ fallen stone and had it reset, the cemetery was for Presbyterian’s only.

[7] Find-A-Grave, “Jane Morrison Duer,”

[8] “Indiana, Wills and Probate Records, 1798-1999,” John Duer, Volume A-C, page 484-486

[9] Author to       , Mercer County Trustee, Phone and Email, date, .  Author is deeply appreciative of         for not only scanning and emailing the cemetery records for the Duer family, but including other family members who were interred in the cemetery.            Also physically went to the gravesite to verify that there was no stone for John Duer.  She took pictures of surrounding stones and emailed to the author.  Her dedication is exemplary!

[10] Find-A-Grave, database and image (http://www.findagrave.com:  accessed 16 October 2016), memorial page for Margaret A. Duer (1823-1904), Find A Grave Memorial no. 22546617; memorial created by Teresa citing St. Kessler Cemetery, Chattanooga, Mercer County, Ohio; image by Cousin Becky.

[11] “Burned in Her Home,” The Fort Wayne [Indiana] Daily News, 29 December 1904, p. 1, col. 3.

“Aged Woman Cremated,” The [Columbus, Ohio] Evening Republican, 30 December 1904, p. 1, col. 2.

“Aged Woman Burns to Death in Home,” The Fort Wayne [Indiana] Evening Sentinel, 30 December 1904, p. 1, col. 3.

“Radridten and Indiana,” Indiana Tribune, 30 Dec 1904, No. 110, p. 1, col. 6.

[12] “Indiana Marriage Collection, 1800-1941,” Charles E. Duer and Elmeda Buckmaster, 6 March 1886; digital image, Familysearch (https://familysearch.org:  accessed 17 October 2016); citing FHL microfilm 002321466; citing Adams County, Indiana County Clerk Office, p. 124.

[13] “Fatal Burns,” The Lima [Ohio] Times-Democrat, Vol. X, No. 195, p. 1, col. 1.

Native American Ancestry Uncovered

Originally published on genealogyatheart.blogspot.com on 25 Nov 2015.

Disclosure: Genealogy At Heart may receive a small amount of compensation if you choose to purchase products via some of the links below.  Opinions expressed are my own and all products listed are what  I recommend for my personal use.

In honor of Thanksgiving, I’m thinking about Native Americans.   

My husband loves to go garage sailing and just discovered a children’s book published by Lyons & Carnahan in 1924 titled Why We Celebrate Our Holidays by Mary I. Curtis.  Looking through it I was astounded at the number of holidays that are no longer celebrated, such as Bird Day, Forefathers’ Day and American Indian Day:

Evidently, American Indian Day was the brainchild of the Society of American Indians who proclaimed on 25 September 1915 the purpose was to strengthen the fellowship bond between “the red men and the white.” p. 73.  The New York governor agreed and the first holiday was celebrated the 2nd Saturday in May.  Other states soon followed but the date chosen varied.  The book does not say how the holiday was celebrated.

I’m not sure when most states discontinued the holiday but I never heard of it.  November is deemed Native American month in my area so maybe it morphed into that.  I met a Seminole Native American reenactor of Abiaka “Sam Jones” at one of my school sites for Great American Teach In last week:

We spoke about the the lens people have on historical events.

This got me thinking about changes in word usage and how we need to remember what once was acceptable might no longer be. We no longer say “Indians” as its not only inaccurate, it’s offensive.   Fifty years ago, as a Brownie Girl Scout, I learned the following song with hand motions at Camp Meadowbrook:

“Indians are high minded,

Bless my soul, 

They’re double jointed.

They climb hills

and don’t mind it.

All day long!”

The person who taught us that little ditty was a Native American, supposedly one of the last of the Potawatomi tribe:

Campers at Camp Meadowbrook in Lake County, Indiana

I loved anything Native American because I believed I was genetically related.  My mother told me that my father had told her that there was Native American ancestry in his past.  I looked Native American by skin tone, eyes and hair.  I decided I must be Potawatomi because that tribe resided where my father’s family farmed.  Years ago, my husband even had a bust made of a Potawatomi chief as a visual reminder to me that I would one day discover that unknown lineage.  

Then, dna became inexpensively available and I discovered I had NO Native American ancestry.  So why did my dad think he did?

Climbing the family tree instead of hills uncovered what I think was the root of the story.  

My dad was Orlo Guy Leininger.  His great great grandfather, Jean “John” arrived in America in 1827.  There were several other Leininger branches that had come to the U.S. before and after John’s line.  Although we haven’t identified who the original Leininger was, tests on several of the males from varying branches show that there was one Leininger ancestor from the Bas Rhin region of what was then owned by Germany.  

The earliest Leininger emigrants settled in Pennsylvania and later ones, like my line, in Ohio.  With large families and limited land the families moved farther west.  While I was growing up there was another Leininger family in the same locality where my father lived.  He had no knowledge (and neither did they) of how they were related.  Their gateway ancestor first settled in Pennsylvania and that is where I believe the mistaken tale of Native American ancestry began.

Sebastian Leininger immigrated in 1748 to Pennsylvania with his wife and four children.  The family farmed on the then farthest western boundary in the new world.  One day, Sebastian’s wife and oldest son, Johan Conrad, took the wagon to town.  Sebastian remained on the farm with his youngest son and his two daughters, Regina and Barbara.  A culture clash was arising in the area between the French, British, German and Native Americans.  A band of Native Americans attacked several homesteads that day.  The Leininger cabin was one of those targeted.  Sebastian and his son were killed while daughters Barbara and Regina were taken as captives. The girls were separated and moved into the Ohio valley where they remained for a number of years.  

There are two young adult books available that tell the story in more detail.  Interestingly, they are written with the point of view from different sisters – I Am Regina (Leininger) and Alone, Yet Not Alone is Barbara Leininger’s story. The last book was also made into a movie with limited release in 2013 and an Academy Award controversy over the title song – Alone, Yet Not Alone [Accompaniment/Performance Track] (Daywind Soundtracks Contemporary)

I believe the Leininger abductions became twisted in the retelling and that was why my father thought the Leininger family was Native American.  

Want to know if you have Native American ancestry?  Check out Genealogy Today’s recent blog 5 Clues You May Have American Indian Ancestry.

Wishing you a wonderful Thanksgiving!

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.

The Apple Doesn’t Fall Far From the Tree – The Real Life of Johnny Appleseed

Originally published on genealogyatheart.blogspot.com on 16 Oct 2015.

When I think of fall I don’t think about pumpkins and leaves like most.  Instead, I think of apples.  I loved apple picking as a child and I knew what would come soon after, my grandma’s apple strudel. We bobbed them, tried to bite chunks out that were dangling from the ceiling and dunked them in caramel.  My neighbor, Carol, and I would twist the core while reciting the alphabet to determine the initials of who we would marry someday. Sweet or tart, there’s an apple for every one’s taste.

When my in-laws moved to a rural part of northeastern Indiana in the 1980’s, hubby and I always knew where to turn on the unmarked road – just look for the old abandoned apple orchard on the corner.  The trees were gnarly and the fruit small and withered.  It always looked creepy to me, even on a bright sunny summertime day.  I remarked to my father-in-law that it was a shame the trees were neglected.  He said that he had heard that they were once owned by Johnny Appleseed.  Little did I know how right he was.

I knew Johnny Appleseed was a real person named John Chapman.  With a romantic notion of him traveling the west to plant apple seedlings so that pioneers could benefit from the delicious fruit on their journey, I knew little else about him.

I passed on the story of Johnny Appleseed to my children every fall when I made my mother’s apple salad. They wanted us to plant an apple tree but in our part of Florida, that wouldn’t work.

Imagine my surprise when I discovered this newspaper clipping with my father’s papers after his death in the late 1990’s:

Like most everything my family has left me, I have no idea of the source.  Grrr-no newspaper name or date. Did Dad save it because the name Leininger was mentioned or was he, too, related somehow to Johnny Appleseed?  Dad and I weren’t close but there was an apple tree on my grandparent’s farm in Hobart, Indiana that I used to climb.  Wouldn’t someone have told me if Johnny Appleseed was a relation?

John and George Leininger are common names in the family – I’ve got 19 John’s and 18 George’s. In addition, I’ve got combined John George and George John.  I knew John Chapman never married and I had no Chapman’s in my tree so I assumed the clipping was because of seeing the Leininger name. Yet, there was some other oddities that made me wonder.  My step-grandmother was from Michigan, close to Hastings, and the Leininger family first settled in Ohio, though it was not Ashtabula.  My aunt’s name was Bonita and she once lived near Columbia City, Indiana.  Hmmm.

It wasn’t until a distant cousin emailed me his Leininger records that I learned that John Chapman was involved with the Leininger family and that spooky old orchard did in fact once belong to him.

“According to a deed signed by President Martin Van Buren, John Chapman owned 74.04 acres in the South 1/2 of the N.W. 1/4 Sec. 3 Twp 24 Range 15.  The deed was dated March 11, 1836. This land is located in the far northeast corner of Jay County, on the Wabash River.  It was on this land that he planted a nursery of appletree seedlings…. John Leininger purchased through a deed, entered July 1, 1839, 128.60 acres of the S.E. fraction of Sec. 15 of the same township. This land was located about two miles south of Chapman’s land.  John Leininger also purchased eight acres of land in Mercer Co., Ohio, on the other side of the State Line from his larger purchase.  He built his house and buildings on the eight acres, so that he could send his children to Ohio schools, which were better at the time than Indiana’s.  Please realize that this area was practically wilderness at this time.”1  My dear readers know I’ve written earlier about my family’s interesting ways to get their children into the best school districts – see blog of 20 August 2015 Education Across State Lines.

Map of Johnny Appleseed's farm (John Chapman) and John George Leininger's farm
The John Chapman and John Leininger Farms – Map courtesy of Robert LeRoy Leininger in his book, Leininger Family History and Genealogy (1970) p. 7F

So here’s how John Chapman is connected to the Leininger Family.  John’s step-sister, Percis Chapman (15 Nov 1793-28 Jun 1859), married William Broom (1792-1 Mar 1848).  Percis was known as John’s favorite sibling so he remained close to her, even after her marriage to William. Percis and William had 4 daughters, Mary, Lucy, Elizabeth and Harriet.  Elizabeth (10 Sep 1829-2 Jun 1863) married John George Leininger (7 Feb 1826-31 Mar 1917).

Elizabeth Broom
Elizabeth Broom Leininger Photo courtesy of Jill on Find-a-Grave

John George and Elizabeth had 6 children before her death.  He remarried to Sarah Hough in 1864

Sarah Hough and John George Leininger Photo courtesy of  Robert LeRoy Leininger

and had 5 more children.  John George is my 2nd great uncle, sibling to my 2nd great grandfather Jacob Leininger.

Henry Leininger and Jacob Leininger
John George’s brothers Henry (left) and Jacob (my 2nd Great Grandfather-right)  Photo courtesy of Robert LeRoy Leininger

I’ve written about John George in a previous blog (see 26 June 2015 Planes, Trains, Automobiles & Barges, Oh My!) and how difficult it must have been for my 3rd great grandmother, Marie Gasse Leininger, to have to journey to America with young children.

Marie Margaretha Gasse Leininger Photo courtesy of Robert LeRoy Leininger

According to family recollections, Johnny Appleseed lived with Percis and William when he came back to Indiana.  William tended Johnny’s land in his absence and when Johnny died in 1845, Percis inherited Johnny’s 1200 acre nursery.2  Johnny was a wealthy man at the time of his death.

I don’t know what religion Percis and William followed but their daughter, Elizabeth, married into a Lutheran family.  Johnny, however, followed the tenets of theologian Emmanuel Swedenborg.  At the end of his days, Johnny was a barefoot vegetarian who preferred to treat everyone and everything with respect.  Since that included Native Americans, animals and insects, Johnny was viewed as eccentric.

Here’s some things I bet you didn’t know about Johnny:

  • Johnny’s dad was one of the Minute Men in Boston during the American Revolution.  When Johnny’s mom and brother Nathaniel died in 1776, his dad returned home from the war.  Johnny was raised by his step-mom.
  • If you were a Girl Scout and sang the Johnny Appleseed blessing you really were singing Johnny’s favorite traveling song. (Ohh, the Lord is good to me, and so I thank the Lord, for giving me, the things I need, the sun, the moon and the apple seed, the Lord is good to me.)
  • The trees he planted weren’t designed for eating – they were designed for drinking.  Yep, Johnny was helping the settlers produce hard apple cider.  No wonder they loved him! Johnny didn’t believe in grafting which is the only way you can get an edible apple.  Planting apple seeds produces a fruit that may be just plain awful (but not if you’re going to use it for an alcoholic drink).  Apple liquor was easier to make than corn liquor and cured quicker.
  • He didn’t just sell apple trees – he also had a business selling herbs.  Native Americans purchased their herbs from Johnny.
  • Johnny was the “Paul Revere of the Western Frontier.”  During the War of 1812 he warned settlers in Mount Vernon, Ohio that the Native Americans were planning an attack by racing 30 miles through dense forest.  His actions saved the entire town.
  • His pet was a wolf that he once freed from a trap.
  • The west that Johnny ventured to was what we consider the midwest.  He planted in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Indiana.  There is some who think he went as far south as northwestern West Virginia, then known as Virginia, but that hasn’t be authenticated.
  • Johnny was the first person to travel between nursery sites.  He’d plant, stay a bit, then travel back to nurture a site he previously planted, move to a new site to plant and then move on to visit one he already planted.  This enabled him to have supplies in various places and not lose a crop due to poor weather conditions.
  • He’d rip out pages of his Bible to give to settlers and the remains of the last one he wore stuck in his belt was last known in 1970 to be in the possession of Waldo Dock, a descendant, in Celina, Ohio.

So the real Johnny would have fit right in the 1960’s as a hippie type that would have approved of Boone’s Farm Apple Wine with his special herb mixture.

Oh, and that newspaper article – seems that it was from the Ft. Wayne, Indiana newspaper around 1931 when Robert Harris was interested in finding descendants.  So it wasn’t cut out by my dad after all.  Most likely either my grandmother or grandfather clipped the article as that is where they were living at the time. Robert Harris published a book in 1946 about Johnny.

One more mystery remains – that apple tree I used to climb on the family farm.  I wonder if it was one of Johnny’s.  We couldn’t eat the fruit as my mom said it was “bad” and my grandparents were from the Ft. Wayne area so it just might have been one of Johnny’s.  Too bad we’ll never know.  The farm is now a subdivision and the apple tree was cut down in the


1 Leininger, Robert LeRoy Leininger Family History and Genealogy Two Centuries of Leiningers Manchester, IN:  Self Published, 1971, Appendix F.

2 The Straight Dope:  “What’s the story with Johnny Appleseed?” Straightdope.com.  Retrieved. 11 Oct 2015.

Education Across State Lines

Originally published on genealogyatheart.blogspot.com on 20 Aug 2015.

Education was extremely important to my Leininger lines and I have an interesting story to share about my gateway 3 times great grandparents, Jean “John” (20 Nov 1801-1 Dec 1868) and Margueritte “Margaret” Gasse (27 Jan 1801-4 Apr 1886) Leininger who emigrated from Endenhoffr, Alsace-Lorraine, then Germany to America in 1827.  Previously, I’ve blogged about what a difficult trip it must have been for the family but the following story illustrates how quickly they acclimated to the “rules” of America and bent them for the benefit of their children.

The family emigrated with 2 sons – Theobald and John George.  Settling in Stark County, Ohio the family grew, adding sons John and Jacob.  In 1835, the family relocated to Mercer County, Ohio.  GGGgrandpa opted for a career change from blacksmithing to farming.  Sons Henry and Samuel were born after the move.  On July 1, 1839, John purchased 128.60 acres of land in Wabash Township, Jay County, Indiana with an additional 8 acres of land on the adjoining Ohio side.  John then built a home across the state line. This benefited the family greatly as they could easily relocate from Ohio to Indiana and back to Ohio without ever leaving their home.  They simply moved their furniture from one side of the house to the other.  Why would someone do this?  Family lore says it’s because of the variation in educational opportunities.  When the school teacher left Mercer, the children could easily continue schooling in Jay, and vice versa.  Personally, I think this was ingenious and says so much about how the family valued education.  They were in the forefront of the School Choice movement!

I’d love to visit the home but it was destroyed by fire in 1970.

My dad pulled the same stunt in the 1960’s.  His farm was on the county lines of both Lake and Porter in Indiana.  He preferred the Porter County school district so my step sibs were sent to Porter County schools. Technically, the house was built on the Lake County side so I’m not sure how he got away with it.

My great great grandfather, Jacob Leininger (11 Nov 1832-Jul 1908), served as town trustee and a long term school board member in Mercer County, Ohio.  I guess he preferred the Ohio to the Indiana schools after he grew up!

My great grandmother, Emma Kuhn Landfair (20 Jun 1864-21 Feb 1914) and grandmother, Lola Landfair Leininger (27 Apr 1891-30 Jan 1964) were teachers for a short time before their marriages.  School must have been important to them as they saved their remembrance cards and all of my dad’s report cards.

john-d-kable

The above school Souvenir was for my grandmother Lola’s 1st grade year.  Her teacher, John D. Kable, would become her 2nd cousin through her marriage to my grandfather, Edwin Leininger. Edwin’s parents were Theobald Leininger, son of Jacob the School Board member and Caroline Kable. Caroline’s brother, John, had a son, John, who was the teacher at Wild Cat School (above).

My grandparents were in the same class – Eddie Leininger (1st column # 1) and Lola misspelled as Lora (2nd column #16):

eddie-leininger

My husband and I are high school sweethearts.  It’s an awesome thought to think that my grandparents were grade school sweethearts!

leininger-landfair-wedding

All grown and graduated, Eddie and Lola (above) married in 1914.

The Bakers-Kuhns-Landfairs-Leiningers all intermarried for several generations so many of the classmates were also related.

wm-kuhn

In 1904, William Kuhn was on the School Board:

William Kuhn was my grandmother, Lola Landfair Leininger’s uncle.

Below, School Board member Henry Bollenbacher was another relative – he was my grandfather Edwin’s 2nd cousin:

henry-bollenbacher

It’s an amazing thought to reflect on the amount of impact the Leininger line had on education at the turn of the last century!

Planes, Trains, Automobiles & Barges, Oh My!Planes, Trains, Automobiles & Barges, Oh My!

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

As you read this I am somewhere along I-77 on my 2nd driving trip from West Virginia to Florida in the past 2 weeks.  The 18 hours, nearly 1000 miles, distance is my last planned journey between these destinations and I can’t express how grateful I am to be through with this move.

My 3x great grandfather, Jean “John” Leininger, from Endenhoffr, Mietesheim, West Bas Rhin, Alsace, France (but sometimes Germany!) emigrated with his family in 1827 on the Canaris, a ship leaving Le Havre, France with an arrival in New York City on 30 Jun 1827. “According to an old note, they went ‘by rail’ to Buffalo, New York.  From there they went by canal to Canton, or Stark Co., Ohio.” 1

The family’s choice of transportation was the quickest for the time period. Since the rails ended in Buffalo, canal travel was faster than overland by horse and wagon.  I think about my great grandmother, Marie Margueritte, with two small children on this journey.  No airport playrooms, electronic games, readily available food or bathroom facilities.  Makes me rethink complaining about the traffic slow down around Charlotte on my journey!

My husband’s 2x great grandmother, Drusilla Williams DeWolf Thompson relocated to Chicago from Troy, New York in the 1850’s.  We’ve never been able to identify the exact year she moved.  We know her son, John Calvin DeWolf. was born in Albany, New York in May 1851. First husband, Calvin DeWolf, died of consumption in May 1852 but there is not agreement on whether Calvin died in New York (from the family Bible written years after his death) or in Rock Island, Illinois (Illinois death information found online).  Grandma Dru (my nickname for her) remarried widower Thomas Coke Thompson in Chicago (per family Bible record) in 1857 so we know that Dru relocated to Illinois within a 5 year time period.  How did she get there?  Family legend says it was by covered wagon but I find no proof of that.  It is more likely that Dru traveled via the then modern convenience of railways.  By 1854, Orphan Trains were shipping children from New York to the Midwest as train travel became more commonplace.2   In 1850, Chicago was a city of 30,000 served by one rail line, the Galena & Chicago Union Railroad.  By 1852, Chicago had 5 rail lines and by 1856, 10.3  The 1855 population in Chicago rose to 83500. 4

In 1851, the Hudson River Railroad connected Rensselaer with New York City.5

c.1855 Map of New York & Erie Rail Road and Its Connections6

In 1854, the cost of the fare from New York to Chicago was $26.00.7  In today’s dollars, the cost would be about $628.57!  The trip took about 42 hours, as the time from New York to St. Louis was 48 hours. It was not a restful experience, either.  Although sleeping cars were first included on the New York & Erie run in 1843, the heavy weight made them unfeasible so the concept was ended until George Pullman re-engineered the design in 1864. 

I definitely prefer a 3 hour plane ride or even an 18 hour car commute


Leininger, Robert LeRoy. First Annual Supplement to the Leininger Family History and Genealogy. Columbia City: Self Published, 1974. 36. Print.

“Orphans in Orphan Asylums New York.” Orphans in Orphan Asylums New York. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 June 2015.

Harold M. Mayer & Richard C. Wade, Chicago: Growth of a Metropolis (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1969), 35. 

Fourth Annual Review of the Commerce, Manufactures, and the Public and Private Improvements of Chicago, for the year 1855, with a full statement of her system of railroads: and a general synopsis of the business of the city, Copied from several articles published in the Daily Democratic Press (Chicago: Democratic Press Steam Printing House, 1856.), 49. [Hereinafter referred to as Annual Review for 1855.] 

5Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 14 June 2015. 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_York_Central_Railroad

“The Railway Conductor.” Google Books. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 June 2015.

“Michigan Historical Collections.” Google Books. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 June 2015.

Ibid

“Trains Across the Continent.” Google Books. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 June 2015.

Memorial Day Memories

Originally published on genealogyatheart.blogspot.com on 24 May 2015.

Most holidays start with Happy – Think Easter, Thanksgiving, and New Year. So every year, when I hear about the upcoming “holiday” sales in honor of Memorial Day, I cringe.  I don’t consider Memorial Day a holiday.  Yes, it’s a 3 day weekend.  Yes, school is almost over for the year.  Yes, it’s even a time to spend with family and friends but it is not a holiday.  On Memorial Day I believe we should all honor those that came before us allowing us the freedom we have today.

I will not be visiting graves this weekend as all of my family is buried far away from where I reside.  That doesn’t mean I won’t be thinking of the sacrifices of my forefathers and my memories of past Memorial Days.

As a child, my grandmother, Non, always took me with her to tend to the graves of her father and uncle.  As a first generation American, she had no fallen soldier graves to care for in this country but I remember the cemetery filled with small flags to honor American veterans.  Non was lucky her Sonny, my Uncle George, had made it home safely after serving in the Coast Guard during World War II.  

George and Betty Mione Kos

As Non and my mother pulled weeds and clipped grass growing around the stones, I would read the inscriptions if I could, because my multicultural neighborhood had many markers engraved in languages other than English.  Although I could not read the Polish, Lithuanian, Greek, Italian and like my Great Grandfather’s memorial, Croatian, I knew that the men buried there had shared a common experience in a war.  The back of the cemetery held the graves of World War I veterans, the middle section seemed to be for those killed in World War II and in the front, Korean and Vietnam veterans.  Too many lives cut short too soon. 

I am also fortunate to have my father’s diary from World War II while he was stationed in Alaska.  

Orlo Guy Leininger

His war time experiences were very different from my husband’s uncle.  With a German surname, my father was not sent to Europe but to the Pacific theatre instead.  My dad’s sister, Mary Ellen Leininger Tronolone, enlisted as a Yeoman, First Class, in the Navy.  Most of her service was in Washington, DC.

Mary Ellen Leininger Tronolone

Having known most of these family members I am proud of their bravery and thankful for their service.  You can read more memories of soldiers by visiting a Crestleaf blog, Real Letters of Love, Hope & Inspiration Written by Soldiers – A Memorial Day Tribute