Finding a Long Lost Recipe in a Modern Way

During the pandemic, I updated a family cookbook that I originally compiled in 2002.  It is a collection of recipes and holiday customs passed down to my husband and I.  Unfortunately, most of the recipes are from my maternal side of the family.
Although I wasn’t close to my dad’s side, I do recall my grandmother’s cooking on several occasions.  Chicken or beef, mashed potatoes with gravy and another vegetable was all I can remember.  What does stand out is that she served dessert on the same plate that was used for dinner.  This totally grossed me out as a small child so I would refuse dessert.  She must have thought I was very strange to turn down homemade apple pie ala mode but I just couldn’t enjoy it if it was on the same plate in which my main course had been served.  
I have no idea why a dessert plate wasn’t used as I have inherited a set from my paternal grandmother’s mother so clearly they had the means to separate the courses.  I don’t know why it bothered me as I wasn’t one of those kids who wouldn’t eat if one food touched another.  The only food I refused to eat was pizza as it looked unappealing to me.  Of course, the only time I recall my parents going out to dinner with my paternal grandparents was to a restaurant where they ordered pizza.  I recall I had a child’s chicken plate instead.  
I don’t have many recipes from my husband’s side of the family, either.  Most came from a church cookbook that my mother-in-law purchased for me that contained her submitted recipes.  I’m not sure how many of those recipes were passed down, however.  Years ago, I made a beef stew recipe from that cookbook that was supposedly one of my sister-in-law’s favorites.  I complimented her on it and she had no idea what I was talking about.  My husband asked his mother and she said she entered it to see her daughter’s name in print.  I wonder how many other organizational cookbooks contain recipes that the “submitter” never tasted. Sometimes, records submitted are not correct!
I do have a recipe for Lickum, which has been handed down on the Samuelson line, probably from Sweden as it appears to be from that area originally.  There are several variations online.  Lickum is similar to a pickle relish made with onions, tomatoes and peppers.
Last week I went on a quest for a lost family recipe on my husband’s paternal line.  I had tried for years to get the recipe from his cousins but everyone I asked replied with a stricken expression and said, “You don’t want that recipe.”  My husband absolutely hated it as apparently, all of his cousins had.  The recipe was called oyster stuffing and though we’re still 6 months away from Turkey Day, my mind recalled, in a strange way, that I still haven’t discovered it. 
Through the Kindle library I read a short book about a true story of a pirate operating off Long Island, New York in 1860.  He murdered the captain and two deck hands on an oyster ship.  It was a true story and I was shocked by how large the oyster market was at that time.  
My husband’s family were originally from Long Island and my father-in-law had recalled his grandmother making the dish for holidays.  His grandmother, Mary Thompson, was born in Chicago, however, her mother Drusilla Williams, was born on long island and her father, John Hicks Williams, was a ship’s carpenter.  Although I will probably never know for certain, it’s likely the oyster stuffing recipe originated from the once abundance supply of oysters near the family’s home.
Several days after finishing the book, I had a strange dream.  I awoke from a deep sleep and only recall that I was looking at what looked like a television’s blank screen – grey with static – and a man’s voice saying, “If you want that oyster recipe you better ask for it soon before it’s too late.”  Kind of an ominous warning for a mere recipe that no one continued to serve.  
I told my husband the next morning and he posted on Facebook.  Within a matter of minutes one of his cousins had forwarded it to another cousin through marriage that had the recipe.  Apparently, it’s all over the internet.  From Martha Stewart to Chef John, what my husband’s family called Oyster Stuffing is now called Scalloped Oysters or Oyster Casserole.  Who knew?!  I have duly entered the recipe in my family cookbook.  
Reaching out on social media helped me discover that long lost recipe in minutes.  I don’t know why I never thought to do that before!

During the pandemic, I updated a family cookbook that I originally compiled in 2002.  It is a collection of recipes and holiday customs passed down to my husband and I.  Unfortunately, most of the recipes are from my maternal side of the family.
Although I wasn’t close to my dad’s side, I do recall my grandmother’s cooking on several occasions.  Chicken or beef, mashed potatoes with gravy and another vegetable was all I can remember. What does stand out is that she served dessert on the same plate that was used for dinner.  That totally grossed me out as a small child so I would refuse dessert.  She must have thought I was very strange to turn down homemade apple pie ala mode but I just couldn’t enjoy it if it was on the same plate in which my main course had been served.  
I have no idea why a dessert plate wasn’t used as I have inherited a set from my paternal grandmother’s mother so clearly they had the means to separate the courses.  I don’t know why it bothered me as I wasn’t one of those kids who wouldn’t eat if one food touched another.  As a preschooler, the only food I refused to eat was pizza as it looked unappealing to me.  Of course, the only time I recall my parents going out to dinner with my paternal grandparents was to a restaurant where they ordered pizza. I had a child’s chicken plate instead.  
I don’t have many recipes from my husband’s side of the family, either. Most came from a church cookbook that my mother-in-law gifted me that contained her submitted recipes.  I’m not sure how many of those recipes were passed down, however.  Years ago, I made a beef stew recipe from that cookbook that was attributed to my sister-in-law.  I complimented her on it but she had no idea what I was talking about.  My husband asked his mother and she said she entered it to see her daughter’s name in print.  I wonder how many other organizational cookbooks contain recipes that the “submitter” never knew about. Sometimes, records submitted are not correct!
I do have a recipe for Lickum, which has been handed down on the Samuelson line, probably from Sweden as it appears to be from that region originally.  There are several variations online.  Lickum is similar to a pickle relish made with onions, tomatoes and peppers.
Last week I went on a quest for a lost family recipe on my husband’s paternal line. I had tried for years to get the recipe from his cousins but everyone I asked replied with a stricken expression and said, “You don’t want that recipe.”  My husband absolutely hated it as apparently, all of his still living cousins had.  The recipe was called oyster stuffing and though we’re still 6 months away from Turkey Day, my mind recalled, in a strange way, that I still haven’t discovered it. 
Through the Kindle library I read a short book about a true story of a pirate operating off Long Island, New York in 1860.  In The Pirate by Harold Schecter (2018), Albert W. Hicks murdered the captain and two deck hands on an oyster ship.  It was a true story and I was shocked by how large the oyster market was at that time.  
My husband’s family were originally from Long Island and my father-in-law had recalled his grandmother making the dish for holidays.  His grandmother, Mary Thompson, was born in Chicago, however, her mother Drusilla Williams, was born on long island and her father, John Hicks Williams, was a ship’s carpenter.  I have no idea if the pirate and my husband’s ship’s carpenter were related, sharing the similar surname of Hicks.  There were many Hicks’ in the area at the time.  Although I will probably also never know for certain, it’s likely the oyster stuffing recipe originated from the once abundance supply of oysters near the family’s home.
Several days after finishing the book, I had a strange dream.  I awoke from a deep sleep and only recall that I was staring at what looked like a television’s blank screen – grey with static – and a man’s voice saying, “If you want that oyster recipe you better ask for it soon before it’s too late.”  Kind of an ominous warning for a mere recipe that no one continued to serve.  My subconscious most likely paired the bloody Hicks to my husband’s Hicks and the Long Island oysters connected them even further.
I told my husband the next morning and he posted on Facebook.  Within a matter of minutes one of his cousins had forwarded it to another cousin through marriage that had the recipe.  Apparently, it’s all over the internet.  From Martha Stewart to Chef John, what my husband’s family called Oyster Stuffing is now called Scalloped Oysters or Oyster Casserole.  Who knew?!  I have duly entered the recipe in my family cookbook.  Husband says he is not eating it if I make it.
Reaching out on social media helped me discover that long lost recipe in minutes.  I don’t know why I never thought to do that before! I had wasted years asking relatives in person when I could easily have just posted a request.  Live and Learn!

To Travel or Not, That is the Genealogical Question!

I have always loved to travel, especially for genealogical purposes.  The past year has taken that privilege away but I discovered, like you, there was always work arounds in most cases.  I relied on others to obtain a document or check a source through Ask-A-Librarian or other email inquiry.  I was surprised to discover how much I could accomplish using those resources.

Now that my closest family has all been fully vaccinated, travel has become a hot topic. Should we or shouldn’t we?  

A week before the pandemic quarantine arrived, hubby and I had planned to travel later that summer to Sweden to mix genealogy research from both his mother and father’s lines with cultural immersion.  This year, we had planned to do the same with Croatia and next year, after a Mediterranean cruise, to stomp through France to explore more of my lines.  We guessed, by that time, Great Britain would have settled down somewhat after Brexit and we’d both explore our Welsh, Scotts, Irish and English roots.  

I realize that Croatia is open for travel now but do I want to do that?!  Is it wise to venture abroad and possibly bring home a new variant?  Do I want to travel wearing a mask and with more hand sanitizer then I usually pack?  On the other hand, am I contributing to Europe’s recession by not going?  

An alternative would be US travel.  After checking that archives have reopened, we could spend some time this summer traveling throughout the midwest or the northeast.  That leads to more questions – should we fly or should we drive?  With the rental car shortages and the great price increase in rentals, is it even worth flying?  Do I want to pack up the car and drive, which would require more frequent stops along the way and the possibility of still getting a covid exposure?  Sure, the chances of infection are small but they remain.

In all my years of traveling I was one of those foolish mortals that really didn’t worry about Montezuma’s revenge.  I swam in cenotes, crawled into caves, ate from food trucks in cities and with local villagers outdoors in rural areas, even consuming uncooked fruits and vegetables.  I was always fine.  The pandemic has reminded me of my own mortality and to not push my luck.

Even though I’m fully vaccinated, I’m reluctant to travel.  Ethics in genealogy go beyond being truthful and accurate.  Ethics include being responsible to others.  No matter how much I miss meeting new people, learning about different cultures and exploring archives new to me, I think I’ll take a wait and see approach to travel for now. 

Using Your Senses in Genealogy

First, an important message to those who follow my blog posted on Blogger….In July, you will no longer be receiving my blog directly to your email.  I’m so sorry!  Google has decided to cancel the email subscriber feature.  I’ll continue blogging and you can find me through Blogger or at my GenealogyAtHeart.com website where I also post.  

The photo above, which I discovered accidentally this week, haunts me.  It connects my past to the present in a special way.

Since the pandemic began, my husband and I have sat next to each other almost daily working separately but together from our home office.  When I began my career in the education field 44 years ago, if someone had told me this was how it would end I wouldn’t have believed them.  

I have been fortunate throughout this difficult time when so many have suffered untold losses.  Last Friday, as I was wrapping up the work week, I came across the picture above.  Before reading the caption, I was overcome with a vague memory.  I somehow recognized the building.  I dismissed that thought quickly.  The JSTOR Daily article title, Libraries and Pandemics:  Past and Present could be a photo from any Carnegie library in 1918 since most used the same architectural plans.  Except it wasn’t just any old library building.

The caption identifies the librarians sitting on the steps as protecting themselves from the influenze pandemic in October 1918 in Gary, Indiana.  As a child, I climbed those steps many times with my mother, who would have been 6 months old when the photo was taken.  Her father and maternal grandfather would bring the influenza home to the rest of the family three months later. Joseph Kos[s], who I’ve blogged about previously, would succumb to the disease.  

The last time I visited that library was about 55 years ago.  It has long been closed, not because of age or lack of use, but due to mismanagement of city finances.  Six years ago I was told that most of the holdings were still inside, waiting for the day that funds became available to reopen.  I don’t know if that’s still the case though it appears that it re-opened after a renovation in January 2018 but has been shuttered again.  

I wonder what the librarians pictured above, who worked hard to preserve the library’s contents even during a pandemic, would think about the state of the library today.  No doubt, like me, they would have found it difficult to fathom what the future held.

I also wonder about the condition of the contents remaining in an environment that is unheated in winter or cooled in summer.  As a child, I well remember the annual heat wave in July where temperatures would sore to 100 degrees.  We managed with the windows open and portable fans to catch the breeze blowing off Lake Michigan.  The winters could be brutal with snow falling as early as October and as late as April.  

But this blog isn’t about record loss; my thoughts today turn to sensory memory. After all these years, I still recall those steps that were so hard to climb when I was small.  The angle the photo had been taken no doubt helped me recall the building.  Being short in those days, the view I visualized and stored in my mind would have been from looking up at the entrance.  

Using our senses can help recall those distant genealogy memories we carry.  Smelling and tasting one of my grandmother’s recipe takes me to another time.  For my husband, remembrances of holidays past are easily recalled when we share food around the table held in his maternal grandmother’s china.  Hearing my departed relatives voices recorded on our old movies gives me that goose bump sensation as if they are still here. The sound of those voices helps me remember other events to which I associate them.  

Partaking in a former activity can also help recall long forgotten memories.  Early last year, my husband salvaged a bike that was placed for trash pickup.  We have two bikes which we never ride and he couldn’t explain why he brought it home with its rear flat tire.  I was drawn to the bike, too.  Watching my husband tinkering with the bike recalled memories of my grandfather who had once been in the same position as my husband was, fixing the chain.  After the repairs were complete I decided to take it for a spin.  It was a cool spring morning and I felt like I was 8 years old again.  The only thing missing was my apple red wind breaker my mom had purchased from Montgomery Wards on sale. I can’t explain why that one block bike ride made me remember that long forgotten jacket. Most likely it was due to my sense of macro reception, balance and movement on the bike, that enabled me to think of the past. 

There is also that 6th sense, intuition, that is yet unexplainable.  Somehow, we just know where to find that tombstone or missing document.  Perhaps this sense is a compilation of the others mentioned when we relax and let the thoughts enter.  

Using your senses in genealogy is another asset for your toolbox, however, caution is needed.  Memory alone does not suffice; examination of records and the input of others who may have shared that memory are necessary.  

All About Surname, aka One Name Studies

Several times a month, I’m contacted by someone who is interested in the findings of my surname studies.  If you haven’t embarked on a surname project or want more information on what a one name project is all about, today’s blog is for you.

A Surname or One-Name study is a research project recording ALL individuals with the same surname.  That differs from the intent of a typical genealogy project of identifying the parents of someone with a particular surname.  The results of a surname project may provide relationships but the main purpose is not to determine descendancy or pedigree. The purpose of a surname project is to identify everyone with the shared surname.

So you’re thinking, I can’t even identify my 3rd time great grandmother’s maiden name, why would I focus on researching unrelated people of one particular surname?  A surname study might help you discover relationships since, back in the day, people tended to marry distantly related family members or siblings frequently wed the neighbor’s siblings.  Embarking on a surname study to discover a maiden name would be a waste of time, though, as the results are hit or miss.

People begin surname studies for a variety of reasons.  My first surname study was identifying all the Leininger surname in the U.S.  My interest was because it is my maiden name and I didn’t know much about my father’s family.  In middle school, I discovered another Leininger family living in my community and I asked my mom how they were related to us.  Her reply, “They’re the rich ones.” clearly didn’t answer my question. When I pressed for more information she said my dad had asked them and a common ancestor could not be identified.  This was long before DNA.  Fast forward to relocating 1200 miles away and discovering another Leininger, this one a priest who was the spitting image of my father.  When my mother asked him about the relationship he had no interest in a discussion.  My surname project to record every Leininger in the US resulted from these two situations. If a connection was found, great, and if not, that was okay, too.  I was more interested in identifying everyone with this uncommon surname.

Before you begin, let’s review surnames.  Typically, surnames are derived from the family’s place of origin.  Although Kos is not a common surname in the U.S., it is well used in Croatia.  Kos translates into blackbird or crow.  Croatians call themselves “Cro’s.”  See the connection? 

Besides place of origin, surnames may also denote a historical occupation, like Smith or Baker, or historical title, like the [House of] Leiningen, a title for Princes of the Holy Roman Empire.

Sometimes they are derived from a location, such as Harbaugh. The family was thought to have originated in Denmark or Switzerland but most likely the name is derived from the German words, har for master and bach for brook as the original spelling was Harbach.  Their origin appears to be in a small village outside of Kaiserslautern and you guessed it, the farm was located alongside a stream.  My Hollin[g]shead family lived by the “head” of the hollin bushes. Hollin is middle English for holly.

Surnames are sometimes descriptive, such as Small or Shortt. That description might not hold true today as it once did!

Sometimes a surname will change with each generation.  The ancient Nordic practice of patronymics, adding “son” or “dotter” to the father’s first name resulted in each generation having a different surname.  Jon’s son, Carl,  had a last name of Jonson.  When Carl had a son, that son’s last name became Carlson. 

Keep in mind surnames evolve for other reasons, as well.  My maternal Kos became Koss because it looked more Anglocized.  Herbach became Harbaugh possibly because a teacher insisted that was the correct spelling, as the family story goes, or because the dialect changed once the family relocated. 

Sometimes a surname is made up, think Elton John whose given name was Reginald Kenneth Dwight.  I have two cousins who legally changed their surnames, one to make it more Anglicized and the other make it more ethnic. 

Children who were adopted also have a surname change. 

If you are thinking about beginning a surname project, UNCOMMON is the key to selection!  You would not do a surname project on a common surname hoping to find relationships.  Sure, all homo sapiens are related but trying to record every Johnson or Williams would be so time consuming you would never finish.

Once you’ve identified an uncommon surname you are interested in researching, do an internet search to see if others have already begun a surname study group.  If they have, you can join and begin sharing your acquired information. If there isn’t one, you can create one. With DNA now available, you can make many more connections than I could have when I did my studies in the early 2000’s. 

Did you know there is  a society called the Guild of One-Name Studies that has resources and education available? Their website has a surname index of their members’ surname studies.

Before I explain how I did my study – a word of caution!  A study group is different than simply Googling a surname.  A study group is composed of those interested in genealogy and research.  They differ from the many websites that offer questionable  information about surnames for a price.

I’m not suggesting to not do a simple internet query of a surname.  The information can provide you hints but be aware that the information may not be relevant.  Remember – correlation doesn’t equate with causation!  In the case of Harbaugh, Google states it is one of the oldest Anglo-Saxon names in Britain and was derived from herebeorg, an Old English word for a person who ran a lodging house.  It does not state that the word is probably older and derived from the Teutonic dweller at a shelter.  Perhaps the English line of Habaugh’s originated with the man named Harbo who purportedly accompanied William the Conqueror to Britain or an earlier Viking (in Scandinavian, baugh means poor).  None of that applies to the U.S. gateways of the surname I wished to research.  The majority came from the Palatinate region.  I have found one Harbaughs from Great Britain emigrating to the U.S.

Like Google, Wikipedia often lists names of unrelated individuals under a surname but beware of the name’s description which is often not cited.  Sure it’s interesting but not necessarily relevant or connected to your surname of interest.

When I decided to do my Leininger surname study I looked for surname projects but didn’t find any as the internet was still young.  I then took genealogy books I found that listed Leiningers and Harbaugh and entered that information into my tree.

All of the information is public in my Main Tree on Ancestry and MyHeritage.  You can add people without connecting them to others in your tree.  To do that, enter the name and information under anyone, then under “Facts” click “Edit” on the upper right.  Next click “Edit Relationships” and click the X next to the father and mother’s names.  You will now have the individual in your tree but not connected to anyone.  You will then research their line as you would your own.  If you find they are connect to your line, you will add them to wherever they belong by selecting “Select someone in your tree” option.  If you never find a connection, no worries!  They are still visible and you can easily find them by using the search feature.

To help identify what I call my “loose lines,” I maintain a table housed under Gallery of all the gateways with that surname. If I’m contacted by someone inquiring how we are related and I do not see a notation on the heading under the individual’s death (such as 3rd great-grandfather showing in the above picture), I know that the inquiry is regarding a loose line. 

Since completing my Leininger study, I’ve identified 27 Leininger/Lininger gateway individuals born between 1742-1830, who emigrated from the Palatine and settled in Pennsylvania or Ohio.  I am unable to connect them to my line.  DNA has shown that 3 of the gateways were distantly related to me but the key to discovering a common ancestor for probably all of these lines lies in Europe at least 500 years ago. 

Of the Harbaugh/Herbach/Hurbach study, I have 13 individuals I cannot determine a connection to my husband’s line. I have not reached out to descendants for DNA but perhaps will in the future.

Surname studies are an investment in time but the energy is worth it if you are interested in stretching your genealogy skills and leaving a legacy of research that provides a bigger picture of a family surname.   

2021 Conferences to Attend

Hopefully, by 2022, we’ll resume traveling to in-person conferences.  In the interim, genealogy education continues to be offered online.  Here are some coming up soon that may be of interest to you:

National Genealogical Society (NGS) Annual Family History Conference that was to be held in Virginia takes place online May 18-20 and with the package you select, on demand lectures begin on June 15th.  Register at NGS soon to take advantage of the Early Bird special.

The International German Genealogy Conference will be held July 17-24.  Early Bird specials have ended but you can still attend virtually by registering here.

The Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research has a few open seats left for their online conference to be held July 25-30.  Check out what’s available on their site.

Association of Professional Genealogists (APG) Virtual Professional Management Conference is for those interested in a career as a professional genealogist.  There are 3 sessions over 3 months:  August 24-25, September 21-22 and October 19-20.  Sign up for those most interesting or attend all sessions offered by taking advantage of their Early Bird offerings.  Register at APG.

According to FamilySearch, there are over 9,000 historical and genealogical organizations so the few I highlighted are just a sampling.  Google conferences near you so that you can begin to make new connections.  I’m looking forward to meeting my new “cuz” I discovered at RootsTech soon who is working on the same Morrison line that I am.  It’s a small world after all! By attending a conference from your home you may also discover family you never knew who just may hold the key you are looking for to unlock your family mystery.  That’s definitely worth the price of the conference.

Remembering the Forgotten Ones – A New Project

The Daughters of Union Veterans of the Civil War (DUVCW) have embarked on a new project, The Forgotten Soldiers and Sailors.  This legacy organization will be accepting documentation through the end of 2021 about those that left NO DESCENDANTS due to their death in battle or from injury/disease due to their war service for the Union.  

This project is dear to my heart because I try to honor my ancestors by selecting a different individual for each lineage society that I join.  I’m sure you have in your tree many people that died childless and had you not recorded them, would have been forgotten.  I see this endeavor as a way to remember true patriots who would not likely have their stories told.

When I first learned of the project I looked through my tree, which combines both my husband and my sides, to list all those that would qualify.  I identified 15 people.

I then looked at the records that I had already found to see if any met the criteria.  For example, I have an Adam Kuhn who died during Reconstruction purportedly from wounds sustained in battle, however, he would not qualify as he left 5 surviving children. Since the descendants could join DUVCW based on Adam’s wartime service he would not be eligible for this project. If his children had died childless then Adam would meet qualify to be listed in this project.  

I never took the time to deeply research the children of my several time great grandparents or thought much about the impact their deaths had on the family until I was heavily investigating my John Duer line in the past few months. That family lost a son to the Civil War – Prosser.  That was the first form I submitted.  

Next, I went up a generation and looked at the siblings of  John and his first wife, Jane, to see if those siblings had also lost a child due to involvement in the Civil War.  Sadly, I identified another Duer who qualified, Isaac.  Isaac’s story was interesting as his father, Mark, likely whom one of John’s son was named after, left home when Isaac was 6 to serve in the Mexican American War where he was killed in service in Onischalala, Mexico in 1848.  In researching Isaac, I learned that his widowed mother, Jane Skelly Duer, fell upon hard times when Isaac went off to war and had to rely on community charity from her Holmes County, Ohio neighbors to survive.  

Another Mark Duer, son of John’s brother, Thomas, had been killed in battle, too.  Thomas, like his brother, Mark, served in the Mexican American War but returned to settle in Missouri where he was discharged.  Father Thomas and son Mark signed up together to serve in the Civil War.  Neither survived the war.  My heart goes out to Frances Bonhanan Duer, wife and mother of those killed as her second son, Thomas decided to enlist after his brother’s death.  He was not killed and returned home after the war ended.

I then looked for other individuals in a different line, the Landfairs.  I quickly found Davidson who died while serving in Hampton, Virginia.  Davidson was the first cousin of Jacob Wilson Parrot, the first Congressional Medal of Honor recipient awarded for his bravery and I would add, audacious behavior, during those difficult times.  Remember that old movie, The Great Train Robbery?  That was about Jacob.  

I have 11 more individuals who served for the Union I will be submitting documentation for so that they may be remembered. These lives, cut short too young, should not be forgotten.  If you are not a member of DUVCW but would like to submit a Union soldier or sailor to be remembered, please email me at genealogyatheart@gmail.com and I will be happy to help you.  

Hmm, What to Do When You Can’t Find The Record You Seek

It’s been a slow genealogy week for me.  One of our computers is down and another is acting wonky – freezes and shuts itself off.  Since I’m still holed up at home this greatly impacts my genealogical research.

Last week I blogged about my 3rd great grandmother Jane Morrison Duer who was mostly forgotten by her children and I was seeking to discover why.  I suspected that discovering the divorce documents may shed light on this mystery.

Jane married John Duer in Trumbull County, Ohio on 29 Jul 1827.  The couple had 11 children together and relocated to Holmes County and later, Mercer County, Ohio.  They are last found together in the 1860 US Federal census with their youngest children residing in a residence two units away from their oldest surviving married daughter, Maria Duer Kuhn.  

John remarried widow Margaret Martz Searight in Mercer County on 11 December 1864.  John was raised a Presbyterian so there most likely is a divorce document somewhere. In other words, I doubt he was a polygamist.

I suspect he asked for the divorce because Jane’s tombstone in Kessler Cemetery records her as “wife of John Duer.”  But she wasn’t that at the time of her death, 10 July 1866.  

When the second wife died, her tombstone, also in Kessler Cemetery, records her as the “wife of John Duer.”  She actually was the widow of by the time of her death but she was also the widow of her first husband.  I suspect that her children purposely engraved the stone to reflect what was on Jane’s.

No tombstone has been found for John.  Family legend says he’s buried next to Jane, which is possible but unconfirmed because Kessler’s records are incomplete.  There is a sunken space next to Jane that likely is a burial but who is in that space is unknown.  Second wife is buried in another section of the cemetery and there are marked stones on both side of her so that is not where John lies.  

I was hoping to find the divorce document to get a better understanding of the circumstances.  I guessed that John asked for divorce; I reasoned Jane would not have wanted all eternity to be known as his wife if she had wanted out of the relationship.  She did not remarry so likely was not involved in another relationship.  

I did not think finding the divorce document would be difficult but is has proven to be.  In Mercer County, the Common Plea Court holds divorce records and they are not available online.  I wrote to the Clerk and was informed that a search was made between 1860-1866 and no divorce record was found.

I then thought that perhaps the divorce was granted in Adams County, Indiana where John had purchased property in June 1860 when he was still married to Jane and where he eventually resided.  He was shown with his second wife, their children, a child from her first marriage and two children from his first marriage in Adams in the 1870 census.  

In  March and May1863, John sued in Common Plea Court in Mercer for money owed him in the sale of property he had made in November 1862.  Jane was not mentioned in the court document so it’s likely that she was not on the deed.  

Why he remarried in Mercer and not Adams is another mystery.  

I reached out to Adams County this week and was informed yesterday they have no divorce record.

So, do I give up.  NOPE!  I did ask both Mercer and Adams County Clerks where I might look and neither answered that question.  My next step was to email a genealogist who lives in the Mercer area for recommendations.  

I’m looking forward to the reply.  

Forgotten Jane Morrison Duer

Courtesy of Cousin Becky on Find-a-Grave. Burial in Kessler Cemetery
Courtesy of Cousin Becky on Find-a-Grave. Burial also in Kessler Cemetery. John Duer was married to Margaret at the time of his first wife, Jane’s burial, in 1866.

Why was Jane Morrison Duer divorced from her husband John after about 37 years of marriage and eleven children together? Jane followed John from her native Trumbull County, Ohio to Killbuck Township, Holmes, Ohio and on to Mercer County, Ohio over their long years together. What would cause the relationship to end? I have a working hypothesis but no proof. This was a family most likely stressed by societal and personal crises.

Of the 11 children, 5 predeceased Jane. The couple’s first child, a female, died between 1830-1840. We only know of her existence from the 1830 census record’s tick mark that she was in the age group as being “under 5.” No grave has been discovered for her so she remains nameless.

The next child, William, was certified as insane at age 23 in Holmes County and sent to the Ohio Lunatic Asylum. There are only two other records found for William. In the first, he was listed in the 1860 U.S. Federal Census as an insane laborer, age 30, residing in the asylum in Columbus, Franklin, Ohio. That is correct but his birth in Germany is not. That’s interesting to note as his sister and several siblings did marry into the Kuhn family that were immigrants from Germany. Maria, William’s oldest surviving sister, had her birth place listed in error as Germany on her death record provided by her son. William and Maria most likely were born in Trumbull County, Ohio before the family relocated to Holmes County in the late 1930’s.

The second document is a notice in the newspaper, the Holmes County Farmer, on 14 March 1861 recommending that community members write to him and the 7 other “inmates.” I infer he must have been the longest committed as his name appears first. Although alphabetically his surname would be recorded first the others listed are not in alpha order. The article states that “some of these poor unfortunates are supposed to be incurable.” Most of his family had moved on to Mercer County, Ohio by the time the clip was published. No death date has ever been found for William so I suspect he died at the asylum. I am waiting for the organization that holds the records to reopen as they are closed due to the pandemic.

Next oldest son, Thomas Ayers, relocated to Winterset, Madison, Iowa by 1860, enlisted in the Civil War and died unmarried and likely childless of Febris Typhoides on 5 May 1862 in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Daughter Maria wed Henry Kuhn and the couple lived two residences away from Jane and John in 1860. Henry enlisted in the Civil war, leaving Maria to raise their young children. During this time period, John and Jane divorced. Although no record has been found, John remarried in 1864, two years prior to Jane’s death. John relocated with his second wife to Adams County, Indiana where he had two deeds for land. Neither deed had then wife Jane’s name on them. When John died, Maria is not named in his will. Maria’s death certificate names both of her parents.

Son John B. had married first in 1860 but his wife Keziah died a few months after the marriage. He then married Carolina, one of the sibling of Maria’s husband, in 1863 and moved across the state line to farm in Adams County, Indiana. He seems to have had a falling out with his father as like Maria, he is not named in John’s will, even though he was residing in the same county as his father. Marriage records found do not name John B.’s parents. No death certificate for him as been located.

Mary Ann was found living with John and his second wife in 1870, however, she also was not named in his will. She may have had a falling out with her sister Maria as shortly after mother Jane’s death in July 1866, Mary Ann took Adam Kuhn, Maria’s brother-in-law, to court in Mercer County. Pregnant with Adam’s child, the unmarried couple could not agree on a financial settlement. Adam, in December 1866, was jailed by Jacob Baker, who married my 3rd great aunt, Caroline Bollenbacher, as Adam refused surety.

Sister Maria and her husband Henry was close to Adam as evidenced by their naming their son, born in February 1866, after him.

Mary Ann and Adam’s child must not have survived as there is no further court records of payment. He married an Elizabeth or Catharin Harper in Van Wert, Ohio 16 January 1868 and went on to have 5 daughters before dying at age 44, possibly due to injuries sustained during the Civil War when he fought in Union Company F, 99th Ohio Infantry.

Mary Ann married first, James Furman in 1875 who must have died shortly after the marriage as she married second John L. Ceraldo in 1879. John’s first wife had probably died as the child, Daniel, shown living with Mary Ann and John in 1880 would have been too old to have been theirs together. No record is ever found again of the boy who is presumed to have died. Mary died in 1909 in Michigan; her husband named John Duer as her father but her mother’s name was unknown. Although she had married after Jane’s death, why would she have not informed her husband in their 30 years of marriage what her mother’s name had been? Like Maria and John B., Mary Ann was not named in her father’s will.

Son Prosser remained in Holmes County, Ohio after the rest of the family relocated to Mercer County. He enlisted in the Civil War and died at Stones River, Tennessee on 2 January 1863. He did not marry or have any known children.

Daughter Sarah Jane married another sibling of Maria’s husband, Phillip, in 1870, four years after Jane had died. Sarah was also not named in her father’s will. Although she died in 1920, no death certificate or obituary has been found for her.

Son Mark Duer disappears from records after being found in 1850 with the family in Holmes, Ohio. He likely died there but no burial location has been found.

Son James William was found living with John and his second wife in Adams, Indiana in 1870 yet he, too, was not named in John’s will. When James wed in 1887 he named his mother as Sarah J. Marisum sic Morrison. James would have been 18 years old when his mother Mary J[ane] died. How did he not remember her name? Perhaps because she was called by her middle name and he thought of his sister Sarah and not Mary as having the first name as his mother. He spent the rest of his life living in Adams County where he was killed in a bike accident. He death certificate names his father as John but the mother was listed as unknown. It was completed by his son, Elra Leroy. Elra was born 6 years after his grandfather John had died. How did he remember John’s name but not the name of his grandmother Jane?

Youngest child, Angeline, was named in her father’s will. She is the only child of John and Jane’s to be named. She was living with him and his second wife in 1870. She married in 1874 and remained in Adams, Indiana until her death in 1933. Like her siblings, her father John is named on her death certificate. Her mother is recorded as Catharine, born in Ohio. The information was provided by Angeline’s daughter, Effie. Effie probably remembered her grandfather as she would have been 9 years old and living in the same area as him when he died. Where Effie came up with her grandmother’s name as Catherine is unknown as there is no Catherines in the family; her paternal grandmother’s name was Nancy.

Jane is buried in Kessler Cemetery and according to the trustees, the records are incomplete. They do not show who purchased the plot or if her husband John is buried next to her as family lore claims. There is a sunken area that appears to be burial next to Jane but records do not exist to state who is interred there. There is no tombstone. John’s second wife was buried in Kessler but in a different location. John is not buried on either side of his second wife. What is obvious is Jane’s tombstone that is boldly engraved “wife of John Duer” even though she wasn’t at the time of her death.

I suspect daughter Maria purchased the headstone as she was the only child still residing in Mercer County at the time of Jane’s death that had the means to afford it. Maria’s husband was a prosperous farmer and active in the community. In my opinion, Maria wanted the legitimacy of the first marriage noted for eternity.

It’s likely that Margaret’s children paid for her tombstone and wanted to show the world they, too, were legitimate so also engraved their mother as the wife of John.

The year 1866 must have been a tremendously difficult time for Maria. She had 5 children age 7 and under, her parents had recently divorced, her father remarried, her husband was away fighting for the Union in the Civil War, she has a brother that was committed to an insane asylum, 5 deceased siblings and her sister files a bastardly charge against her brother-in-law. What a mess!

But my underlying question is why did Jane and John’s children not hand down their mother’s name to their spouses/children?

Perhaps the state of the union, along with the loss of so many children caused Jane to suffer from the same melancholy as her son, William. John may have abandoned Jane for a new relationship with the widow who owned property close to his newly purchased land across the state lines in Indiana.

I believe Jane was forgotten by her adult children because it was too painful to remember those difficult times. They did not want to inform their children of their mother’s and brother’s mental state. No family member I have reached out to was aware of Williams insanity commitment. The family just didn’t speak about painful situations.

Last week I received a call from a clerk with the Mercer Ohio Common Plea Court. She had searched for a divorce record for John and Jane between 1860 and 1866. None was found. Perhaps John abandoned Jane and the paperwork was filed in Adams County, Indiana where I’ll be searching next. It’s possible that single document may help me better understand the straw that was the backbreaker of the relationship. The search continues!

Genealogy Lemonade – a Reflection on the Year

You might be thinking I’m being a prolific blogger this morning as this is my 5th post but the truth is I only planned to write about the one year anniversary of changing practices due to the pandemic.

I started the morning on routine maintenance to my website – genealogyatheart.com and in the process, somehow noticed that 4 older posts, 3 since June, had never posted. I don’t know how that happened so I hit the “publish” button and see that 3 of the 4 are live. Going to figure out when I’m done with this blog what’s up with the last one! Three were on strange events and one was on volunteering to identify WW2 vets. Since the past year has definitely been strange and there has been so many unnecessary deaths it seemed fitting I discovered the drafts this morning.

Was it the technology or the person (me) that was responsible? Don’t know! I usually like to find out the reason for mistakes to prevent them from reoccurring but on this beautiful almost spring morning where I’ll be losing an hour this weekend anyway, I’m choosing to focus instead on the future.

It was 1 year ago today, Friday the 13th, that I spent my last day in person at my education job. I was supposed to meet a genealogy client and do volunteer work on the 14th at a local library but that was cancelled due to the unexpected covid-19 closures. Like most of the rest of the world, I had spent March 11th bringing home items from work that I thought would be essential to use to continue doing my job from home and on the 12th, discovered there was NO hams, turkeys or toilet paper left in the first 4 grocery stores I stopped in on my way home from work.

A year ago, my guess was the pandemic would last about 6 weeks. Yeah, don’t ask me to make any forecasts! I based that assumption on the amount of time since I had first heard about Wuhong’s cases – towards the end of January – and watched with amazement how quickly they were building hospitals. By March, they had stopped so I guessed wrongly that it would just take a short time to get up to speed in providing medical assistance and our lives would be back to “normal”.

That gets me to the ham and turkey on my shopping list – I thought I’d hunker down at home and my meal planning to get through lockdown was influenced by my childhood upbringing. The grandchild of immigrants and the child of a Great Depression parent, we always had a large pantry in the basement known as the fruit cellar. I’ve blogged before how it got it’s name – that’s where my grandparents kept the illegal vino they were producing during prohibition. By the time I came along it held canned goods, soda “pop” bottles in case company came and spices. An extra chest freezer was housed on our enclosed front porch with a doily over it so it didn’t stand out. It was always filled. This was all beneficial to avoid panic buying before a snowstorm hit. Cooking a huge meal mid day Sundays resulted in having food for the rest of the week. I figured we’d have a ham with the fixings and then Monday, use leftovers for sandwiches, Tuesday would be omelets, soup from the hambone on Wednesday and Thursday, any remains mixed with macaroni and cheese on Friday and the week was almost through! I would do something similar with the turkey and chicken to get through 6 weeks of lockdown. Except, I couldn’t find turkey and ham.

I do have a large pantry and an extra fridge in the garage but I never kept them as well stocked as my grandparents did theirs. My shopping foray last March changed that practice and I scrounged for whatever I found left in the store – 3 corned beefs, 2 whole chickens, some ground beef and hot dogs. I found the ham and turkey at the 5th store I went to which was the one closest to my home. The toilet paper was discovered by a suggestion from another shopper at Big Lots. My bookkeeper at work had found hers at Staples. This was clearly a tipoff that that world was changing in a strange way.

I pivoted my education job by working through what was supposed to have been my week off for spring break. I was up and running with that quickly and easily with a plan to keep the students engaged the week we were transitioning to online learning to give the teachers time to get their lessons prepared. My genealogy business was placed on hiatus but I decided to keep writing the blog.

Reflecting on the past year, my biggest surprise is that I’m really okay with working from home. This has been the longest time since adulthood that I haven’t been on a trip or to a visit to a library. I’ve got several ideas of where I’ll do research once the world reopens fully. I’m okay with being patient for when that happens. In the meantime, I’ve created a list of where I need to research, what I need to find and some of the archives I’ll be visiting.

Thinking back, I now have no idea how I endured for years the long commute I made 5 days a week. I’ve only topped off my car with gas 4 times since last March 13th. Sometimes I would have to stop for gas more than once per week. I have spent the over 2 hours per day that I had lost driving on other tasks. Initially, I spent a lot more time on my education job but now that I’m in the groove, that has lessened. I’m now using the extra time to listen to podcasts and do my own personal genealogy research. I updated my family’s cookbook and included a section on Pandemic cooking for future generations. It’s got a great substitution chart – can’t find cake flour, here’s what you do! We also switched our hydroponics to aquaponics, took in 2 hens that were hatched 2 weeks before the pandemic at my school and froze the loquats and lemon juice from our neighbors tree for use the rest of the year.

I am amazed at how much genealogy research I have been able to do by being housebound. Granted, much has been because of the dedication of staff at archives who have done look ups for me over the past year. Due to the special offers that were available last spring, I took advantage of mining through online resources I hadn’t explored before. That was an awesome use of my time and money.

I donated some of my time by volunteering and I’ll blog more about that soon. I also donated some cash to organizations who were extremely helpful and are now in desperate need of funds. I plan to do more of this in the future.

By working fully from home I was thankful that hubby and I had renovated our home in the past few years, especially our office. We had to make some adjustments but that was mostly due to our primary jobs. I use a whole lot less paper (and printer ink!) then when I was working outside of the home. I’ve cleaned all of our closets and reorganized the kitchen and bath cabinets for efficiency. Those tasks I always put in “some day” category as in “after I retire.” Now they’re done and that will give me more time later.

I also now understand why my grandmother always washed her hands when she came in from leaving the house and why she changed her clothes after attending a funeral. The lessons she learned from the 1918 flu epidemic stayed with her 40 years later. I wonder if I’ll be doing the same.

Take this week and think about how you and your family have changed routines and practices. It is amazing how flexible and versatile we all are. No matter what the future holds we will be taking these characteristics with us. That gives me hope.

Turning lemons into lemonade takes some amount of work but it’s worth the refreshing result. As my grandparents would say, Zdravlje – To Health!

Reuniting the Lost and Found

Somehow – this was not published when originally written so it’s made available today.

Last blog I wrote about the very worthy Fields of Honor database project in the Netherlands that memorializes fallen World War 2 soldiers. Strangely, as I was writing that article, I was contacted by an Ancestry.com member who I first connected with last spring about her DNA. One of her parents was adopted and she was trying to see if we were related as I had placed information from the same geographical area she was researching on my Ancestry.com tree for the same surnamed individual. There were other coincidences – they had the same occupation, religion, place where they immigrated from and where they immigrated to about the same time (early 1900’s). We were thinking they were related but after comparing our DNA results, they weren’t blood relations.

The Ancestry member had received an email from another member who was contacted by someone in the Netherlands who found World War 2 dog tags using a metal detector and wanted to send them to family. I was contacted since we had the same surname – Koss – as the found tags who once belonged to Joseph E. Koss who died in 1944 in Holland.

I reached out to the memorial owner at Findagrave.com. If you are a family member please email me (see contact me page) and I will happily connect you so you can get the tags.

I’ve blogged in the past about scammers and dog tags – you can view that here. This does not smell like a scam to me but to keep my readers safe – I’ll play middleman for you. Using a metal detector and finding a lost object is typical in my world as that’s one of my husband’s hobbies and he has found lost articles for people for years.

Funny how I’ve been contacted by folks living in the Netherlands twice in the past few weeks – maybe that’s where I should go visit next!