What’s Up with Ancestry.com?

My clip – look at the 3rd image from the left side to see the red dot

Are you noticing some subtle changes on your Ancestry.com home page? I’m referring to the red dots on the right side of header above the leaf and sometimes the envelope.

What’s up with that? Clicking on the leaf I see that I have some Hints. Scrolling down the drop down Hint menu and clicking on “See all recent hints in” I still have the red dot. I also have a counter that is still not working:

All Hints= 1 & Photos=1 but I’m on the photo page and there are no hints!


Sometimes the red dot is showing above the envelope but it seems to clear away when I get a legitimate message from another member. I had a “1” showing for three weeks, even though I had read the message. I discovered that you must click in the “respond” box, even if you aren’t really responding, to make the counter reduce. That doesn’t work for Hints, however.

The dot seemed to appear about the same time that Ancestry changed the viewing of Hints but I’m not sure they are related. Seeing the information on the right screen side will take getting used to. I’m not complaining about it, just don’t see the need for that change when there are others that could be addressed.

I realize I am perseverating on a dot which is a picayune detail but as it’s time for me to renew, I am looking at the program with the price of an annual subscription in the back of my mind. How they can’t get it right after all these years is beyond me.

I blogged about the Newspaper.com free access a few weeks ago. I have Ancestry All Access Membership, however, over the last year, I’ve often clicked on Newspapers.com and received the message that the image isn’t accessible because I don’t have their premium subscription.

Here’s a little math since I love saving money! The Ancestry.com All Access membership for a year is $389.00 which includes Ancestry, Basic Newspapers.com and Fold3. Newspapers.com Access Everything membership is $74.90/6 months or $149.80/year. Their Basic membership is $44.95/6 months ($89.90/year).

If I select Ancesty.com World Explore membership for $149.00/6 months ($298.00/year) and purchase Newspapers.com separately ($149.80) and Fold3.com separately ($79.95/year) the total cost would be $527.75 annually. So, yes, I am saving money by going through Ancestry.com in order to access Newspapers.com and Fold3, however, I’m not getting full access to Newspapers.com which I sometimes need.

My local library has the full Newspaper.com subscription but it is only available at the library so that hasn’t been helpful. Here’s my work around – as I work on my personal genealogy, I’m making a list of any item I can’t readily access and then, will either check it out at the library someday or wait until the site has another free weekend. In a pinch, I’d use the Ask a Librarian option for a look up. For my research areas, Newspapers.com does not have the info that would be worth it for me to buy the Everything access. Your needs, however, might differ.

Newspapers.com Free This Weekend

John Koss was my Grandfather, Michael A. Milinovich was my God Father and Steve Milinovich was Mike’s brother. Typo in my Grandfather’s city- should be Gary, not Cart! 26 Dec 1956, c. 3 p. 2.

You may have a Basic membership through Ancestry.com to Newspapers.com but that’s doesn’t permit you to view all of the holdings. I spent a few hours yesterday rechecking my closest to me relatives to see if additional newspapers had been added since the last time I took advantage of a free special offer from the company.

I was delighted to find several articles that I didn’t know existed – such as:

Who knew that my grandmother Mary Koss had an obit in a Hammond, Indiana newspaper? I have the obit from the Gary Post Tribune but didn’t know about the Hammond Times. Likewise, my Uncle George also had an obituary in the Hammond Times. Must have been a deal hrough the funeral home I just wasn’t aware was in place. Funny as they rarely visited Hammond and to my knowledge, had not friends there!

Struck gold in the Zajenicar, a Croatian newspaper that my grandparents used to receive. I had been told that my name had once appeared in it. Evidently, back in the day, the Croatian Fraternal Union sold life insurance policies to the parents/grandparents of newborns and my grandparents had bought a policy for me that expired when I turned 18. I was told that the children’s names were printed in the newspaper so I searched for me but didn’t find myself. I decided to search for my grandparents thinking it might have been placed under them instead. Surprise, Surprise! Discovered that my grandfather, Kum (that’s God Father) and his brother had given $10.00 to the organization before my birth to help fund an Immigrant Museum to be built in Pittsburgh. Don’t think that goal ever materialized but it was a sweet find for me. I think they all would be pleased knowing I have tried to honor all of the family’s immigrants through my blog and family tree.

Interesting to me, I also understood why my Grandparents always paid for a lamb to be raised and slaughtered at Buncich’s Farm in Hobart, Indiana every year. Duh – they were sorta kinda related and I had no idea until I found an obituary that mentioned my aunt through marriage. One of her brothers had married the daughter of the owner of the farm. That would just be like my grandparents to support a family member if they could. I always thought they just liked the taste of the lamb!

Finding that obit was another aha! moment for me. I have one cousin whose name is “off” the naming pattern the family typically uses – we have a zillion John – George – Joseph – Nicholas – Michaels and those names move from first to middle so frequently it’s often hard to keep everyone straight. Since my cuz is still living and I don’t want to hurt feelings if he ever sees this I’m not typing the name but now I realize where he got it from – his mom’s brother’s middle name that had been a grandfather’s name. Who knew? ! I guess most of the family but me.

Since this weekend will be very cold in most parts of the states and we’ve had torrential rains already this morning in my part of the world – stay warm, stay safe and stay focused on your genealogy by taking the weekend to visit newspapers.com. No telling what you might discover!

A Sad Brick Wall Discovery


Certificate of Insanity, William Duer, May 1852; digital image, FamilySearch.org: Accessed 27 December 2020, citing Common Pleas Court civil records, 1825-1901 ; civil index, 1825-1900 Miscellaneous, 1846-1873 Miscellaneous (alphabetical), pre-1900 Depositions (chronological), 1886-1901. Film # 008271767, image 921 of 2904.

Usually, I’m happy when I climb over a brick wall but sometimes the find provides harsh reality of what the individual was experiencing. I recently had such a discovery and in all honesty, I put off writing about it for a month.

I’ve made a lot of progress on my John and Jane Duer line lately although several mysteries remain, like where is John buried, why does Jane’s tombstone say “wife of John Duer” when he was married to someone else at the time of Jane’s death and why does Jane’s youngest children, who were adults when she died, not tell their own children about Jane as evidenced by their death certificates stating mother is unknown?

My working theory is, among other reasons, because of the sad discovery I made regarding one of John & Jane’s children.

William Duer (1828-c. 1852) was the oldest son and oldest surviving child of John and Mary “Jane” Duer; he relocated with the couple from Trumbull County, Ohio where he was most likely born to Killbuck, Holmes, Ohio where he is shown residing with his parents and siblings in 1850. That census shows that William and his closest aged sibling, Thomas, was working on the farm with father John.

For years, I had difficulty discovering what became of William as he was not shown with the family in the 1860 census in Mercer County, Ohio where they had relocated, nor was he found in any census anywhere. He seemed to have disappeared in thin air as nothing was found for him anywhere. Until now and thanks to the images on FamilySearch.org.

I mentioned a few weeks ago how to access those images so click this link if you don’t know how.

My search for William took the usual path over the years – checking all the online sites, family trees and connecting with known relatives. I thought he had perhaps died in the Civil War which wouldn’t explain where he was in 1860, but I also had another missing brother from the 1860 census so I figured they may have been together somewhere and missed the enumeration. That brother, John B., eventually ended up in Adams County, Indiana. William was never found again. Until now.

I decided to look through the images for Common Plea Court Civil Records, 1825-1901, for Killbuck Township, Holmes, Ohio where the family lived to see if a record may exist for anyone in the family. That’s where I discovered the Certificate of Insanity for William Duer.

From the medical report, I learned that William was age 23 and free from infection. In March 1852 William complained of “feelings in his head” that lasted 1-2 weeks. He was last reported sane on 12 April 1852.

Apparently, insanity must have been shown for at least 30 days before the courts could be contacted. The physician diagnosed William with melancholy that was not related to hereditary or epilepsy. He was not violent. His past medical history showed bleeding and blisters but it does not clarify the cause.

Interestingly, the physician noted William had received “no education” and “worked hard” and had “no amusement” yet he was not “disappointed” by his life. The education information is verified by Historical Collection of the Mahoning Valley which stated “the public schools were few, with little interest taken in public education until 1840, when a new impulse moved the settlers” (p. 484). William’s early life was in Trumbull County which became Mahoning County.

The Justice of the Peace had also visited William at his home and found him insane. Since he was a resident of Killbuck, he was sent to the Ohio Lunatic Asylum to undergo treatment. His condition had been the case for less than 2 years. The reason cited for committing William was that “his being at large would be dangerous to the safety of the community.” Although this clearly conflicts with the physician report stating that William was not violent, father John Duer attested the same.

I do not believe William every survived the commitment. I suspect he is buried on the asylum grounds where there are numerous unmarked graves. I will be following up with an organization that holds the records which is currently closed due to the pandemic.

I hadn’t expected this would be the reason for the brick wall.

From searching through images, prior to this find, I discovered a letter to the courts regarding another community member’s request for an insanity hearing in the preceding year. The request was denied, not because the woman wasn’t insane, but because the county had already used up all of their bed space in the asylum. I have no idea from the records what the county’s allotted number was but it is telling that there were more community members who needed mental health assistance then there was available treatment for them.

This find leads me to a new working theory about William’s mother, Jane, that I will explore in more details next time.

An Unusual Source to Find a Deed

Timeline courtesy of INGenweb.org

What do you do when you’ve looked for a deed in all the usual places – county property appraisers office, FamilySearch.org or other online database of deed records, and even probate files but you come up with nothing? I was fortunate to find deed records in an unlikely place and you just might find this useful…

What do you do when you’ve looked for a deed in all the usual places – county property appraisers office, FamilySearch.org or other online databases, and even probate files but you come up with nothing? I was fortunate to find deed records in an unlikely place and you just might find this useful.

I wanted to locate a deed record for my John Duer (1801-1885) because I was trying to discover which wife might be named on it.  John married Mary “Jane” Morrison (1804-1866) on 29 July 1827 in Trumbull County, Ohio.  The couple would go on to have 11 children together and relocate first to Killbuck, Holmes County, Ohio by 1840 and then to Liberty, Mercer County, Ohio by July 1860 when they are found together living two residences away from one of their married daughters, Maria Duer Kuhn. 

The census does not state if the residence was owned or rented.  The couple owned property both jointly and separately when in Holmes County.  I’m not exactly sure when they relocated but the last deed of sale I find for them in Holmes was 27 April 1854.  

I began to look in Mercer County, Ohio for deeds between 1853 (when they sold another piece of land in Holmes-I figured they may have relocated then but couldn’t sell the other lot they owned until the following year) and 1864 when I knew John had remarried.  I tried all the usual places but came up with nothing. The property appraiser site found no John Duer.  The site doesn’t say how far back the records go but one of the options for age of buildings is 1800.  I then looked for old deed books at the various online genealogy sites and found nothing for Mercer County, Ohio.  I even tried the Familysearch.org image search that I blogged about two weeks ago but came up with a big zero.

Sometime after July 1860 and before 11 December 1864 John and Jane split up and John remarried widow Margaret Ann Martz Searight.  They had a child together, Charles Edward, born in February 1866.

Since emigrating from Germany, Margaret lived first in Hardin County, Ohio but relocated to Adams County, Indiana, perhaps after her husband, George Washington Searight died 8 April 1863.  John and Margaret, after their marriage, lived together in Adams County, Indiana.

My next search was for property in Adams County, Indiana as I knew, from John’s will made in August 1884, that he was leaving Margaret the property.  That meant she had not been a co-owner. He possibly bought the land prior to their wedding or for some other unknown reason, decided to buy land separately from his second wife as he had done in Hardin County, Ohio with his first wife.

His will states, in the case of Margaret predeceasing him, the property would go to some of his children (why he selected only 3 children in his will I do not understand.  He names the two children he had with Margaret and one of his children, Angeline, he had with Jane. Angeline had married and was living in Adams, Indiana.  What is odd is two of his sons, John B. and James William, were also living in Adams. Why he excluded them from his will I hypothesized in my last blog, Missing Tombstones.)

The Adams County, Indiana property assessor’s office website is not very user friendly and I got lost in the clicking. I eventually found that “NEW! Electronic Records” were available but there is no link to where.  Trying to click on what appears to be a link stating “Adams County is now ready to electronically record all your documents through e-recording.” also didn’t work.  In small print, there is a note that the records are from 1990 to present.  Oh well!

I continued to click and thought maybe “History” would be helpful but it was just a few facts about the 12 townships in the county. Under “Residents,” I decided to click on “Genealogy.”  I was taken to INGenWeb for Adams County.  I was so excited to find a search box so I entered “Duer” and found 59 items.

At this point I had to decide, did I want to derail my search for a deed, which I figured wouldn’t be placed here, or just get more info about the Duer’s who had lived in Adams County.  I decided to stay focused but to do a new search for “John Duer” hoping that it would eliminate all of the other Duers except for John’s son, John B., known to also be living in Adams.  I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the search results were for 53 items. 

What immediately caught my eye on the first page (10 items show per page) was “Estate of David Tressler2 – 1862.xls.”  Who was David Tressler – certainly no one in my tree and how/why was John Duer associated with him?  Intriguing!

The image (above) was a timeline followed by scanned documents of David Tressler’s estate from 1862.  Using the Find trick (hold down the Ctrl and F keys and type in the box) I quickly found that John made a deed to purchase Tressler’s real estate on 8 September 1862.  Yippee!  So John had purchased the property IN HIS NAME ONLY prior to his marriage with Margaret which explains why she was not on the deed.  This also tells me that either he and Jane were having marital problems/separated/divorced by this time since Jane was also not a co-owner. 

After doing my happy dance, I went back to explore the remaining Duer findings on the site.  I was surprised to find another deed record – on 28 June 1860 John Duer purchased from Benjamin Shafer, the estate administrator for John Tressler.  Interestingly, this purchase was made ONE MONTH BEFORE the 1860 census records showing John in Mercer County, Ohio, which borders Adams, Indiana.  Jane’s name was not on that deed, either.  It’s likely the couple was already having problems with their marriage at that time.  The property description matches the property he left Margaret in his will.

So John Duer planned to relocate to the next county over even before he and Jane divorced.  (Yes, it would be wonderful to discover their divorce document but I have been unable to locate it in either county.)  

Of course, every find leads to more questions.  Now I want to know where and when John met Margaret.  Her first husband died supposedly at age 35 but I don’t know where.  I checked to see if he had enlisted in the Civil War but did not find him.  I can’t verify his date of death; he’s not on Find-a-grave/Billion Graves.  The date is unverified and comes from online family trees.  He was last known alive in Dunkirk, Cessna, Hardin, Ohio in 1860. 

My guess is one of Margaret’s sisters or step-sister was living in Adams and as a widow with a young daughter, Margaret moved to be closer to family.   I will have to search them to discover if that theory is correct.

It appears from plat records I also found on INGenWeb that Margaret owned 20 acres of her own land in 1880 in Adams, Indiana.  I don’t know when that land was purchased – before her marriage to John or after.  More research is definitely needed. It’s now clear where John met Margaret; they were property owners in the same neighborhood.

Moral of the blog….when you can’t find what you are looking for check out the local genealogy sites.  Kudos to those at INGenweb.org as they have done a phenomenal job in preserving local records and uploading them for FREE.  I also love how they insert a timeline of the scanned original documents.  I am deeply appreciative of your efforts.

I wanted to locate a deed record for my John Duer (1801-1885) because I was trying to discover which wife might be named on it.  John married Mary “Jane” Morrison (1804-1866) on 29 July 1827 in Trumbull County, Ohio.  The couple would go on to have 11 children together and relocate first to Killbuck, Holmes County, Ohio by 1840 and then to Liberty, Mercer County, Ohio by July 1860 when they are found together living two residences away from one of their married daughters, Maria Duer Kuhn per the census. 

The census does not state if the residence was owned or rented.  The couple owned property both jointly and separately when in Holmes County.  I’m not exactly sure when they relocated but the last deed of sale I find for them in Holmes was 27 April 1854.  

I began to look in Mercer County, Ohio for deeds between 1853 (when they sold another piece of land in Holmes-I figured they may have relocated then but couldn’t sell the other lot they owned until the following year) and 1864 when I knew John had remarried.  I tried all the usual places but came up with nothing. The property appraiser site found no John Duer.  The site doesn’t say how far back the records go but one of the options for age of buildings is 1800.  I then looked for old deed books at the various online genealogy sites and found nothing for Mercer County, Ohio.  I even tried the Familysearch.org image search that I blogged about two weeks ago but came up with a big zero.

Sometime after July 1860 and before 11 December 1864 John and Jane split up and John remarried widow Margaret Ann Martz Searight.  They had a child together, Charles Edward, born in February 1866.

Since emigrating from Germany, Margaret lived first in Hardin County, Ohio but relocated to Adams County, Indiana, perhaps after her husband, George Washington Searight died 8 April 1863.  John and Margaret, after their marriage, lived together in Adams County, Indiana.

My next search was for property in Adams County, Indiana as I knew, from John’s will made in August 1884, that he was leaving Margaret the property.  That meant she had not been a co-owner. He possibly bought the land prior to their wedding or for some other unknown reason, decided to buy land separately from his second wife as he had done in Hardin County, Ohio with his first wife.

His will states, in the case of Margaret predeceasing him, the property would go to some of his children (why he selected only 3 children in his will I do not understand.  He names the two children he had with Margaret and one of his children, Angeline, he had with Jane. Angeline had married and was living in Adams, Indiana.  What is odd is two of his sons, John B. and James William, were also living in Adams. Why he excluded them from his will I hypothesize in my last blog, Missing Tombstones.)

The Adams County, Indiana property assessor’s office website is not very user friendly and I got lost in the clicking. I eventually found that “NEW! Electronic Records” were available but there is no link to where.  Trying to click on what appears to be a link stating “Adams County is now ready to electronically record all your documents through e-recording.” also didn’t work.  In small print, there is a note that the records are from 1990 to present.  Oh well!

I continued to click and thought maybe “History” would be helpful but it was just a few facts about the 12 townships in the county. Under “Residents,” I decided to click on “Genealogy.”  I was taken to INGenWeb for Adams County.  I was so excited to find a search box so I entered “Duer” and found 59 items.

At this point I had to decide, did I want to derail my search for a deed, which I figured wouldn’t be placed here, or just get more info about the Duer’s who had lived in Adams County.  I decided to stay focused but to do a new search for “John Duer” hoping that it would eliminate all of the other Duers except for John’s son, John B., known to also be living in Adams.  I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the search results were for 53 items. 

What immediately caught my eye on the first page (10 items show per page) was “Estate of David Tressler2 – 1862.xls.”  Who was David Tressler – certainly no one in my tree and how/why was John Duer associated with him?  Intriguing!

The image (above) was a timeline followed by scanned documents of David Tressler’s estate from 1862.  Using the Find trick (hold down the Ctrl and F keys and type in the box) I quickly found that John made a deed to purchase Tressler’s real estate on 8 September 1862.  Yippee!  So John had purchased the property IN HIS NAME ONLY prior to his marriage with Margaret which explains why she was not on the deed.  This also tells me that either he and Jane were having marital problems/separated/divorced by this time. 

After doing my happy dance, I went back to explore the remaining Duer findings on the site.  I was surprised to find another deed record – on 28 June 1860, John Duer purchased from Benjamin Shafer, the estate administrator for John Tressler.  Interestingly, this purchase was made ONE MONTH BEFORE the 1860 census records showing John in Mercer County, Ohio, which borders Adams, Indiana.  Jane’s name was not on that deed.  It’s likely the couple was already having problems with their marriage at that time.  The property description matches the property he left Margaret in his will.

So John Duer planned to relocate to the next county over even before he and Jane divorced.  (Yes, it would be wonderful to discover their divorce document but I have been unable to locate it in either county.)  

Of course, every find leads to more questions.  Now I want to know where and when John met Margaret.  Her first husband died supposedly at age 35 but I don’t know where.  I checked to see if he had enlisted in the Civil War but did not find him.  I can’t verify his date of death as he’s not on Find-a-grave/Billion Graves.  The date is unverified and comes from online family trees.  He was last known alive in Dunkirk, Cessna, Hardin, Ohio in 1860. 

My guess is one of Margaret’s sisters or step-sister was living in Adams and as a widow with a young daughter, Margaret moved to be closer to family.   I will have to search them to discover if that theory is correct.

It appears from plat records I also found on INGenWeb that Margaret owned 20 acres of her own land in 1880 in Adams, Indiana.  I don’t know when that land was purchased – before her marriage to John or after.  More research is definitely needed.

Moral of the blog….when you can’t find what you are looking for check out the local genealogy sites.  Kudos to those at INGenweb.org as you have done a phenomenal job in preserving local records and uploading them for FREE.  I also love how you insert a timeline of the scanned original documents.  I am deeply appreciative of your efforts.

Missing Tombstones


Photo courtesy of Cousin Becky, Find-a-grave

Last week I wrote about my awesome find locating the deed for one of John and Jane Duer’s children, Mary, in Mercer County, Ohio.  I mentioned that no one knows where John Duer was buried and that it is my guess he is buried next to his first wife, Jane.  

It is frustrating when we can’t find a burial location so before I get into why I believe that is where his body lies, I want to take a moment to list reasons of why someone may not have a tombstone.

1.  Lack of Money – many families, especially if a breadwinner died in his/her prime, would have certainly been impacted by the loss of income.  If it is between feeding the children and memorializing the dead, it is understandable that the living become a priority over the tombstone. 

2.  Family Dissension – unfortunately, as we all know too well, families don’t always get along.  In my own, I know of a brother and sister who lived only a few miles from one another but did not speak after the death of their mother due to a disagreement over the mother’s care in a nursing home in her last year of life.  The sister had no other living relatives when she unexpectedly passed except her brother and a few step-siblings that lived far away from her.  The sister’s friends reached out to the brother when she died, taking up a collection and paying for the cremation.  They wanted to know what to do with her ashes but the brother stated he didn’t care.  The brother emailed me two months after his sister’s death to inform me she had died.  He never told me about the ashes or the disagreement.  I sent my condolences via an online memorial site.  The friends saw my post and contacted me inquiring what I would like to do since I appeared to be the next closest relative to the brother.  I accepted the ashes.  I paid for the internment in the cemetery where the mother is buried as the friends stated that was the deceased’s wish.  I did not pay for a stone as I believe that would be out of line while the brother is still alive. Perhaps I will have a small stone placed there someday. But what happens if the brother outlives me?  Then there will most likely never be a stone.  If a researcher ever checked with the cemetery, the records will clearly show that I requested the internment and where the location was.  I do not own the rights to the deceased’s Find-a-grave or Billion Graves memorial so no information has been placed there.  Perhaps someday I will and then I will add the burial location.  Sadly, in the interim, no one seems to have been concerned where the cremains were interred.  

3.  There is NO Burial Site – Regarding cremains, the family may have scattered the ashes as requested by the deceased. Placing a tombstone in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico just isn’t an option!

4.  Deceased Requests No Memorial – The family may be keeping with the wishes of the deceased who wants the “ashes to ashes, dust to dust” to be literal.

5.Religious Preference – My example here is poor because I really don’t know if this was the case with my husband’s 4th great paternal grandfather, Wilson Williams (1754-1831).  He is buried next to his wife, Margaret Hicks Williams, in Christ Church Cemetery, Nassau New York.  She has a lovely stone.  He has zilch.  The family could afford a stone and there is no indication that there was family dissension.  Although his death location is not noted in the current church’s records, it was recorded in an old work of cemetery transcriptions by Josephine C. Frost in 1913.  (Thank you, Josephine!)  In what appears to be empty space next to Margaret was once  “a common field stone marked W.W.”  In a past blog, I wrote that Wilson was a member of the Dutch Reformed Church and a common burial practice was marking a grave with a field stone.  Over the years, the stone has been lost and for a time, so, too, was our knowledge of where Wilson was buried since the church cemetery records are no longer in the church at that site.  If not for the Frost transcription we would still be wondering.

6. The Missing – for those individuals that are no longer in touch with their family for any number of reasons, a falling out, an abduction, etc., the location of their burial is unknown so family cannot place a stone.  Some families do place a memorial to the deceased in a cemetery as evidenced by the many fallen soldiers interred overseas who have a memorial in their hometown.  

7. Avoid Remembering – deceased murderers often do not have a stone to ward off those who seek out the grave to disrespect it.  Being eternally unnamed and forgotten is a final punishment for heinous crimes committed.

8.  The Stone was Lost – tombstones sink, they fall over, they are vandalized or some idiot decides they would make great construction material and steals them.  My 4th great paternal grandfather, Thomas Duer’s stone had toppled over in a rural Ohio cemetery that had become abandoned.  A local genealogy group righted the stone and moved it to be in line with the other stones but its present location is not exactly where he was buried.  

9.  The Burial Site Relocated -My husband’s 2nd great maternal grandfather’s child, Lincoln Mordecai Harbaugh’s (1846-1847) was once interred in a cemetery adjacent to the family church in Waynesboro, Franklin, Pennsylvania.  The church sold the property long after he died and the family relocated to Indiana.  His remains are interred in a group burial site in Green Hill Cemetery after the new owners wanted to expand the building.  

10. Chaos Following an Emergency – In some parts of the world today, due to the pandemic, those who have died are being buried in mass graves.  This is not a new phenomena.  During an ongoing emergency the need to inter takes precedence over individual burials.  Whether the site will eventually be marked with a memorial may or may not occur.

Perhaps you can think of more reasons why tombstones might not be found. 

In the case of my John Duer (1801-1885), I can only point to examining further family dissension as the reason why he doesn’t seem to have a stone.  At the time of John’s death he had a second wife and 8 surviving children, 4 of whom were prosperous and have elaborate tombstones of their own (Maria, John B., Sarah Jane and James William).  John died in Jefferson Township, Adams County, Indiana where he was residing with wife Margaret Ann Martz Searight Duer.  He knew he was ill as he made a will in August 1884.  He did not name his prosperous children in the will or his daughter Mary Ann, possibly because they didn’t need the money or perhaps, because he was not on speaking terms with them.  Children Angeline, Charles and Lucinda were all named to receive John’s property, along with his wife.  I also know from the will that John requested “that my body be burried (sic) in a manner suitable with my condition in life.” John wasn’t well to do but he did own 80 acres that he farmed and had few debts at the time of his death.  A tombstone was not against his religious beliefs; he was raised Presbyterian as a child but there is no church membership found for him as an adult.  

Mary “Jane,” his first wife who died after his second marriage and a few months after he had a son with his new wife, is buried in Kessler Cemetery, Chattanooga, Mercer, Ohio.  The cemetery records are not complete and do not state who or when her plot was purchased.  The family owns a plot next to her that is sunken and may contain the body of John.  Family tales state he is buried in Kessler.  His second wife is also buried in Kessler but not close to Jane.  There are tombstones on both sides of Margaret’s gravesite so he is not buried next to her.  

No death certificate has been found for John, nor an obituary or church records that may shed light on where he was interred.

Perhaps John’s older children did not think he needed a marker as his name is on Jane’s stone.  It would have been awkward putting a stone next to Jane’s that said “John Duer, husband of Margaret.”  Perhaps the children decided to ignore the situation and leave his plot unmarked.  Since Jane died AFTER John’s remarriage, her stone’s inscription of “Wife of John Duer” holds a clue.  Perhaps she didn’t remarry as she believed that one only marries once.  Maybe she had no preference but her surviving children had the stone engraved as a way to voice their unacceptance of the second marriage.  

The only way I’ll ever know if someone is buried next to Jane is if ground penetrating radar is used and I’m not planning on doing that.  Even if someone was found to be buried there I wouldn’t know for sure it was John unless the body was exhumed.  So, I’ll have to leave this Duer mystery unsolved for now.  Sigh.

A Unique Genealogical Find on Christmas Night

I absolutely adore those unexpected finds, don’t you?!  During my two week hiatus I decided I’d try to solve a John Duer (1801-1885) mystery.  I wasn’t able to do that yet but I have made some tremendous progress and want to share how I came to put the pieces together to answer my question – Why is it written on Mary Jane Morrison Duer’s 1866 tombstone “Wife of John Duer” when John was married to Margaret Ann Martz Searight Duer at the time of Jane’s death? I have never found a marriage record for the 2nd marriage nor have I found a divorce record for the first wife.  Was there more than one John Duer? (Yes, there are many!) Was John polygamous?  (Could be but I haven’t found that in the Duer line.  They were Quakers, Presbyterians and then Independent Christians.) 

John and Jane are my paternal third great grandparents.  No one ever mentioned them but in all fairness, I was not close to my father’s side of the family so I never got much family information about anyone. Duer cousins I have connected with have no information, either.

I love researching the Duers for several reasons – 1.  They are complex in that they reuse the same names every  generation – John, William, Thomas, and they all have large families so separating who is who is a wonderful mind puzzle.  2.  Records are scarce – they don’t leave many records and they just disappear in thin air.  3.  Somehow, every time I go back to working on those lines a strange event occurs to help me find the information.  That kind of happened again Christmas night which I think was the most perfect gift I received.

The week before Christmas I re-analyzed all the information I had on the family and began to sort out some anomalies.  I discovered that a Find-A-Grave memorial for a John Fred Duer is in error.  I’ve written to my distant cousin to have it corrected.  The mistake was in plain site on the page and I’m embarrassed I didn’t catch it years ago.  The memorial shows that the man was 102-3 when he died – possible but unlikely.  Looking at the individual who requested the tombstone, I realized that two Johns – John Fred and John B. had been merged.  The birthdate for John B. was entered with the death date for John Fred.  The tombstone does not provide a birth date.  

John B. was John and Jane’s son; John Fred[eric] was the son of Charles Edward and Almeda Buckmaster Duer.  Charles Edward was the son of John and 2nd wife Margaret Martz Duer.  John Fred’s mother had requested the military tombstone for her son who had served in World War 1.  John B. was dead before World War 1 and too old to serve.

I can understand how the mistake happened – most of John and Jane’s children are buried in Kessler Cemetery, Mercer, Ohio.  John B., however, is not – he is buried in Backestro Cemetery, Adams, Indiana.  John and Margaret lived in Adams, Indiana so you would think they would be buried there but Margaret, Charles Edward and John Fred are buried in Kessler.  No one knows where John, husband of Jane and Margaret, was buried.  My guess is Kessler in an unmarked grave.  I’ve checked with those who oversee the cemetery and there is a depression next to Jane’s grave that was possibly an interment.  My guess is that the family didn’t pay for a tombstone.  More on that in another blog sometime.

My working theory is that some of John and Jane’s children were not wild about  his second marriage to Margaret.  Hence, they would put the “wife of John” on Jane’s tombstone to validate their mother’s marriage to their father.  I wanted to narrow down the time period of when the couple split and try to determine how John met Margaret since she was in the next state.  I’ll write more about that another time, too.

My thought was to check out, in detail, all of the players – meaning looking more closely at all of the children of the two couples and their spouses.  I used Excel to list all of them, the date and the place where I had a record they could be found.  I realized there was a lot I did not know.  I’ll be writing in the next few weeks about some of the interesting and sad finds I made but for now, back to the Christmas night find.

I was using FamilySearch.org image feature which I highly recommend.  If you haven’t used it you must because almost all of the wonderful information I have compiled lately on this family is from this unindexed, convoluted place.  You must try it! Images do not mean pictures as in photos. Images mean they are a picture of a document.  They look just like the other microfilmed documents that are indexed on the site.  The images are not always orderly, meaning you might find a death record next to a marriage consent.  You must take it slow, examine closely and click away.

To use images, sign into Familysearch.org, on the ribbon click “Search” and the “Images.” Under “Place” type whatever area you are researching.  In this case, I was looking for a deed record for Mercer County, Ohio because John and Jane were last found together there in July 1860 in the US Federal Census.  I entered in Place “United States, Ohio, Mercer” and clicked Search Image Groups. When I try to duplicate that search today, however, it will only let me enter Ohio, United States.  Don’t know why it’s been changed but no worries!  On the left hand side of the screen “Places Within” is a drop down so I will scroll to Mercer [County]. There are 321 record types to look at – woo hoo, that’s a lot of info that may or may not be relevant.  

The 1860 US federal census showed John and Jane living two residences away from their married daughter, Maria Duer Kuhn, in Liberty Township, Mercer, Ohio. Liberty Township should have been where I was looking for a record of the deed for the property but I didn’t find that township specifically.  (I first tried the Mercer County, Ohio property appraiser site and did not find the record there).  With the options limited, I clicked on FamilySearch.org on Celina, Land Record 1834-2003, etc.  I was thinking that Celina was the county seat and that’s where the deed may have been recorded. 

Remember, these images are not indexed so I decided I would open the page to as full a view as possible (meaning I clicked the > on the right hand side and was just mindlessly clicking image after image zeroing in on the years 1850 (when I last knew the family was in Killbuck, Holmes, Ohio based on the census and 1866 when John and Margaret had their first child together and Jane died. Sometime in those 16 years perhaps there was a deed in Mercer and I wanted to know which wife was on it.) Turns out that wasn’t correct but that’s another story…

It was a very good practice that I had first become familiar with children and their spouses.  After just a few minutes, on image 130 of 1112, I discovered the record at the top of the page.  Look at the second from last entry above for Grantees Ceraldo, John F. & Mary Ceraldo.    

John and Jane’s daughter, Mary Ann, has been elusive and here I found a deed record for her and her husband in 1887.  I about jumped out of my chair!  

All I knew of Mary was that she had married twice, to a James Furman in July 1875 and to John L. Ceraldo in April 1879, both in Mercer County, Indiana.  I can’t find her in the 1860 or 1900 census. There is a child, Daniel, listed with the couple in 1870 US federal census, however, it must be from a previous relationship of John’s.  That is the only record for the child I could find. No marriage record for a possible first wife.  No burial records.  Nada!

John Ceraldo was a naturalized citizen having been born in Mexico and serving in the cavalry for the Union during the Civil War.  He could not read nor write so his name is spelled in multiple ways in the few records found.  The couple eventually ended up in Michigan where Mary died in 1909.  Sadly, John, the informant, knew John Duer was Mary’s father but did not mention Jane as her mother.  The mother space is recorded as Unknown.  Jane, having died in 1866, probably never met John but why didn’t Mary ever talk about her?  This seemed to be a pattern with the younger children of John and Jane as James William and Angeline’s death certificates list an incorrect first name or record unknown.  More Duer mysteries!  Why was Jane forgotten by her youngest children?

What was so awesome about this find was that I wasn’t looking for it.  I also was able to place the couple in Ohio as they had not yet relocated to Michigan. The gap between 1880 and 1900 is large so any find in that period is just wonderful.  I also discovered they continued living in Jefferson Township, since at least 1870, and not Liberty Township where siblings had settled.  

I don’t know the relationship of Daniel Webster, also listed as a Grantee, is to the couple.  That’s another clue I have to pursue.  

I’m looking forward to more Duer finds this year.  Since my top 10 blogs from 2020 showed that my readers love the unexpected, I thought you might enjoy the following article in the Washington Post (3 Jan 2021) Near the End of life, my hospice patient had a ghostly visitor who altered his view of the world, by Scott Janssen, originally published in Pulse – Voices From the Heart of Medicine.  If only John or Jane would give me a visit!

Have an Enslaved Mystery? This New Online Site May Help.

On Tuesday, a new FREE database became available – Enslaved:  People of the Historic Slave Trade lists 500,000 individual names of the once enslaved.  You may browse by entering a person’s name, place, event or source.  I gave it a whirl yesterday and although I didn’t find what I was looking for, think it’s a wonderful source to add to every genealogists’ tool kit.

The site is definitely a work in progress but then, so is every genealogical database.  The goal is to enter as many names/places/events that documented an enslaved individual.  With many records held in private hands, that has made the endeavor all the more difficult.

It’s been estimated that there were over 10 million Africans who survived the passage to the new world in bondage.  The majority were transported to South America, Brazil in particular.  

The enslaved who resided in Roman Catholic areas were often Baptized.  Hence, names are more likely available. Unfortunately, that was not always the case.  Entering the search term “Brazil” in the database provided me with 45,753 responses but the majority do not provide a name for the enslaved.  Instead, a name of the seller or purchaser is given with a date.

I have been trying to identify the names of the enslaved individuals who were probably brought from Barbados to the New Jersey Colony by my 7th “great*” STEP grandmother, Thomasin Hassell Holinshead about 1720.  Thomasin’s father was a sugar planter in Barbados.  No records have been found of his death or the sale of his plantation although the location has been discovered on island maps.  

Thomasin’s husband, my 7th great* grandfather, Daniel Hollin[g]shead was not a man of means but happened to marry for the second time the sugar heiress’ daughter.  Within four years of the marriage they had relocated to New Jersey where Daniel sold vast tracks of wilderness.  He died intestate (of course!) in 1730.  

I only know of the enslaved individuals from Thomasin’s will of 3 Jan 1757 made in Somerset, New Jersey.  She interestingly selected her youngest daughter, Elizabeth, to serve as administrator.  Records exist that Thomasin was not pleased with her oldest son, Francis, who had served as administrator for his father, Daniel’s estate as he squandered most of the funds. Thomasin left him and her other surviving children 1 shilling, about $15.30 in today’s money.  Says alot!

The clip above shows the part of the will that provides me the clue that Thomasin had enslaved individuals.  I do not know:

  • How many?
  • Ages?
  • Gender?
  • Names?
  • How long they had been with her?

I have tried to find a will for administrator Elizabeth but her life is sketchy.  Mug books mention that she married late in life and had no children.  Her husband’s name has been recorded as Thomas Dean of Abington but that, too, is odd.  Elizabeth’s brother, William, had relocated to Bucks County, Pennsylvania and named a daughter Elizabeth.  That Elizabeth was the second wife of Thomas Bean of Abington.  I’ve seen dates of birth for Thomas Bean ranging over 20 years so maybe there was more than 1 as there was more than 1 Elizabeth Hollinshead.  No record for a Dean was ever found.  

I tried the enslaved database to see if I could find any sale for a Holinshead (with multiple spellings) for New Jersey or Pennsylvania.  Zilch.  Then tried for New Jersey which lists 78 people and Pennsylvania, showing 244. None were in the areas I was looking for – Somerset County, New Jersey and Buck’s County, Pennsylvania.  

Although I wasn’t successful I applaud the site for it’s compilations so far, ease of use and making it free which ironically, lists all those who weren’t.  

*NOTE – clearly they weren’t so great enslaving individuals and other records found show Thomasin wasn’t so great to my 6th great grandmother, her only stepchild, but that’s another story.  

2020 Genealogy Holiday Gift Guide

With the holidays around the corner and the zingers of 2020 impeding the typical holiday shopping spree, I’m providing my guide early this year to insure the shopper stays safe and the receiver gets the gift on time.  

Most of these items can be purchased locally so do try to support your small businesses and organizations.  Others can be purchased online but please buy soon so that the chain of folks that helps you get the item aren’t stressed even more than they already are.  Let’s show some gratitude we’ve survived this wretched year and spread the kindness!

My gift guide includes items for a few dollars and up into the hundreds as I understand it’s been a tough year financially for just about all of us.  As my mom used to say, “It’s the thought that counts.”  

1.  A comfortable desk chair – Hubby and I purchased two in May as we were spending so much time in ours and mine refused to let me adjust the height.  We had it delivered and assembled ourselves but if that’s not an option use NextDooor to find a local handyperson who can do the assembly on the porch. Your genealogist’s back will thank you. 

2.  A Second Computer Screen – If your genealogist is using only one screen it’s time to add another; I’ve had two for years but I honestly could benefit from more.  Sometimes I put the laptop next to my work area for a 3rd view when needed. Sure, we know how to change the size of what we’re viewing but with old documents, sometimes we just need the whole screen.  Your genealogist’s eyes will thank you!

3.  A Magnifying Glass – If the To Do list includes going through boxes of old family letters or photos, a magnifying glass, with or without a light, is a must.  Think Sherlock Holmes, here – the smallest clue might be missed that could solve the mystery so an inexpensive magnifying glass might just save the day.  

4.  Assorted Coffee/Teas or a reusable water bottle – whatever is the preferred non-alcoholic drink is a well received gift for anyone but especially the genealogist who needs a quick caffeine jolt or calming tea.  I stress the non-alcoholic for a reason – your genealogist needs clear analytical reasoning so skip the booze. A reusable water bottle with a tight fitting lid is also a great idea to stay hydrated without risking a spill.  

5.  A foot massager – which can fit nicely under the work area.  If it has a heat feature it makes it even better on those long cold winter nights of researching.

6. An elliptical for sitting – When in the researching zone, we often forget to get up and move.  This handy exercise device allows for individuals to sit and move the lower legs.  I love to see how many “miles” I’ve gone without leaving my desk.  If your genealogist has a standing desk, the device still works. Until we’re able to go back to running up archive stairs or parking in remote and walking to the library, the sitting elliptical will get a lot of use.

7.  Gift Cards – to your genealogist’s local restaurant, grocery or office supply store.  If you aren’t sure what your favorite genealogist’s office needs are, know they have to eat!  Less time cooking means more time researching and you’re supporting the local economy which makes this a win-win for all.

8.  An annual subscription to a new site – This year I joined Academia.edu and I absolutely love it!  I was trying to research Barbados in the 1600’s  and there isn’t many records that I found useful.  I wanted to better understand what life was like there and Academia.edu helped me with that goal.  Journal articles are available on a wide range of topics and the site also hosts members to have a webpage so others can connect with them.  JSTOR.org is another awesome site that provides journal articles and books that may be of interest. Plans start at $19.50.

9.  Donation to a local genealogy/history society – with long term closures and the deaths of members, many organizations are suffering.  If your genealogist says – “Don’t get me anything!” then follow their directive but give in their name to an organization that they support.  Typically, I’m a doer and not a donator but this year I have given to several organizations that I wasn’t able to support in person.  

10.  Last but not least – Give the recipient time by listening.  I’m serious.  Although this monetarily costs nothing it is probably the most valuable gift that can be given.  We know you could care less about your fourth cousin twice removed who married your third cousin once removed.  Just try to look like you care.  Back in the day when the world was “normal” we could attend conferences and meetings to share with others the great discoveries we made. Simply listening is a wonderful gift to give!

The Mysterious Byrd Family

Skipped blogging last weekend because I was consumed by work from my other job – lots of teaching units were cut in my district and I was tasked with making new schedules for students.  Planned on blogging yesterday and got attached by wasps so my hand is swollen and I’m typing with only one hand now so this will be short!

Did the Tombstone Cake work in helping me find new info on my brick wall ancestors?  Sort of!  I ended up selecting Hannah Byrd, one of my paternal 4th great grandmothers, who was born in New Jersey and died in Ohio.  

With all the way to spell Byrd – Bird – Burd – Berd, it’s always made the search difficult.  

My mistake was thinking that she was born in Sussex, New Jersey as that is where her husband’s family was from.  I decided to research the only other Bird that lived in Trumbull County, Ohio at the same time she did and discovered he was born in New Jersey but not Sussex.  Looks like his father was born in Sussex but moved shortly after marrying to southern New Jersey.  So I’ll be following the trail to see if I can connect the two as they are about the same age and could be siblings or cousins or not.  

Funny, though, I decided to randomly pick a Kindle free book for October and chose Spellbreaker, a fiction story about a young witch in London who does not cast spells but breaks them.  Sort of like a female Robin Hood who helps the peasant farmers when the Baron claims they never paid rent and have to repay.  Had to laugh as one of the main characters just happens to be from Barbados.  My goodness, those Hollingsheads just won’t let me move on!

A Strange Way to Select a Genealogy Research Project

Had a strange Sunday morning courtesy of my family.  

I got a wake up call from one of my adult kids asking me to list my top 12 dead ancestors that I needed  info on.  That made me laugh as I was thinking yesterday I need to move on from my Duer-Hollingsheads who I found a wealth of info for over the summer and now things have dried up.  Like most of the world, I’m over the pandemic and am starting to make plans for when we can travel again. While gardening, I thought I would list relatives I planned on researching by geographic region so that I could identify areas for trips in 2022 (yeah, I’m being overly cautious here.)

Within minutes I emailed my kid a list of 24 ancestor brick walls – 12 on my side and 12 on my husband’s side.  

A few minutes later I got another call that said, “Mom, you have to pair that list down to 12 total!”  Okay, sigh, 6 from each list.  

Since I was already on email I started reading and found I had two Ancestry messages over night and one email message addressed to my website.  Two were regarding Leiningers and one was Harbaugh.  People who discovered books and photos as they were cleaning and looking on Ancestry or my blog, found the named folks on my tree.  They were hoping to give the items a new home. Since I didn’t list one Harbaugh or Leininger on my brick wall list, this was personally hysterical as those two lines always seem to nudge me when I am working on other family.  

Minutes later, my kid brings over the cake pictured above.  On each tombstone is one of the names I had supplied that are a brick wall.  The chocolate pudding cake with cream cheese frosting was delicious.  The “dirt” on top is crushed Nilla wafer cookies dyed with food coloring.  Child had bought the cake mix at the start of the pandemic and said, “Let’s bury this thing and move on.” I agree!

I also got a homemade awesome Ancestor Hunter T-Shirt.  Neither of my kids have interest in genealogy but they are crafty and when the mood strikes, no telling what they’ll come up with.  

The weather was beautiful so we decided we’d have cake and coffee outside.  I was walking down the cobblestone path my husband had installed several years ago and took one step off onto the “grass.”  Unbelievably, my right leg sunk to mid calf.  My kid grabbed me as I sunk, originally thinking I had lost my balance and was about to fall. 

There is a reasonable explanation of why the ground gave way in that spot – we had a heavy rain last night and several years ago, a 200 + year old oak tree had been growing there.  We had to have the tree removed after a third of it blew down in a hurricane. The roots have been decaying for years and we guess, with the heavy rain, the ground just collapsed.  

I’ve never been stuck in quick sand but it was a creepy feeling to all of a sudden just sink into the ground.  I had difficulty pulling my leg back out of the hole.  Don’t know if my ancestors were ticked off or not but it was weird to be holding Daniel Hollingshead’s candy tombstone while I sunk over a foot into the ground. Yes, I know I need to move on from Daniel but I am still searching for his lost Bible so he remains up on the top of my list. 

We settled down to eat a slice of cake and child says, “I had real trouble with one of the tombstones. Catherine Jarvis’s keeps falling over and hitting Wilson Williams.”  Umm, Catherine was Wilson’s daughter-in-law!  They lived near each other in Long Island, however, Wilson’s “stone,” which I have blogged about in the past, is no longer in the cemetery next to his wife, Margaret Hicks.  It was this same child of mine that had discovered that at the Family History Library several years ago.  Of course, with no interest in genealogy, there was no remembrance of the names and the finding. 

If there’s a message in all this I have no idea what it would be.  I re-read my original Wilson and Margaret posts you can find here and here. They are still on my brick wall list as I need further proof of their parents.  Family lore gave me the parents’ names but I have no proof of that.  I’m thinking that’s who I need to research this afternoon, along with Catherine Jarvis.

If I find something wonderful I will definitely share it and use this unique approach again!  Since the world has certainly gone insane a novel way to research just might be what’s needed.  Consuming the name of a dead relative on a candy tombstone is weird but fits right in with the spirit of the month.  Happy Hunting!