Creepy October – Music on My Mind

This is the last in my annual genealogy coincidence series. It was July 18, my maternal grandmother’s 123rd birthday. My family and I decided to go to the DeKalb County Fairgrounds to enjoy an evening concert given by the 38th Infantry Division Band from Indianapolis. One of my family members who attended is an Indiana Medical Guard.

I was a tad late in arriving as one of my book clubs happened to have been meeting immediately before the concert. Two of our local book clubs are held off-site from the library; one is at a microbrewery and the other at a vineyard. I typically don’t drink alcohol when I attend but driving through the vineyard to get to the group meeting site, I decided, in honor of my grandmother’s family vineyard that I had visited in Croatia earlier in the year and her birthday, I’d get a chardonnay.

After the book discussion ended I hurried on to the fairgrounds. The National Anthem was playing as I located my family. Hubby had brought me a sub sandwich and I devoured it while the brass quintet and then the big band played. Our outdoor theatre hosts many events throughout the summer and always has snacks to purchase with donations going to Riley Children’s Hospital in Indianapolis. Hubby wanted popcorn so he left us to get some. He arrived back as the big band began playing Back Home Again In Indiana, a fitting number as our family had relocated back to where our pioneer ancestors had settled in the 1820s and 30s.

The conductor mentioned that the solo performer would be SSG Ewigleben. I almost fell out of my chair! My favorite teacher was my kindergarten teacher, Bethel Ewigleben Mattingly. We remained connected until her death. She sometimes would call me when long distance was still a thing and leave a voice message on my answering machine to call her back. She’d always say she hoped I was being a good girl. My husband kidded me for years about those messages. I somehow knew she wasn’t going to leave many more voice messages in the future and luckily, I saved the last message. It’s still wonderful to hear her voice.

I have no idea if the Staff Sergeant is related to my kindergarten teacher but it did make me tear up to hear a song so appropriate to my family situation soloed by someone with the same unique name as my first and most favorite teacher in Indiana.

But of course, the way my coincidences roll, that wasn’t the end of it. The big band took a break while the concert band could set up. During the intermission, the first song they played was Almost Heaven, West Virginia. My family member who is in the Guard had done residency in Morgantown and our Duers had lived nearby when the area was still called Virginia. Weird!

Music often helps remind us of memorable past events, though on that beautiful summer night as the fireflies twinkled in the cool breeze, my thoughts turned instead to those departed family members, some of whom I never met. Without their choices, I likely wouldn’t have led the life I lead. I’m forever indebted to them and glad that they had once decided to make Indiana their home.

Creepy October – A Website Connection

Courtesy of

I had just returned from traveling to Croatia in April when I received the email below:


My name is [  ]. I am a Family History consultant. For a few years I have been trying to find the parentage of Joseph Emory DeLong 1814, married to Caroline Patterson about 1844 in Portage, Livingston New York. Joseph had a son named John, before Caroline, with Meritheue.

Could I ask, have you heard of any of these names? Joseph was a Blacksmith, as were his sons with Caroline. John died in the civil war. his mother’s name is unusual but I have not found anything.

I came across this website and to a shot in the dark to enquire.

Definitely, this was a shot in the dark and I was initially confused. The email came to my website email address and not through one of my online tree messages. I hadn’t recalled writing about anyone named DeLong on my blog and the subject of the email, “I have a question about someone in Nunda.” was even more intriguing because I knew where Nunda was located, having written a report last year for a client. That wasn’t anywhere on my website, either. I thought maybe the client had given my email to the writer but no, the message said it was from my website.

I went to the website and looked for a blog I had written about the DeLong family. Nada. I had written about the Long family but they were from Indiana. The name nagged at me so I went back to the research report I had done in 2022 for the Nunda location but no DeLongs were there.

Where had I heard that name? I’m good at remembering surnames from years of researching and I knew something about this name but I couldn’t place what it was. I turned to my personal tree and discovered that I did, indeed, have a DeLong in my tree. I hadn’t researched her, however, as she had married into my husband’s Harbaugh family. Here’s where it gets weird…

Born in Ohio, she relocated with her parents to the small rural Indiana county where I now live, as did her soon-to-be husband who I had extensively researched because he was part of a surname study I had done in the early 2000s. I didn’t recall he had lived in my current county. They married in the courthouse less than 5 minutes from where I live. Gave me the eebie jeebies!

How did this individual take such a wild shot at emailing me about a name that I didn’t have on my blog and I was able to connect the unique surname to someone in my personal family tree that just happened to live in the community I just moved to? The frequency of that surname in the U.S. is 1:13,755. I have no idea why the writer connected to me but her shot in the dark had a great aim.

Creepy October – The Castle Connection

Fountain on bottom middle. Photo by Lori Samuelson

Last week I wrote about the painting that resembled my mom in our first hotel room in Croatia. My grandmother also chose to haunt us on that trip!

We had signed up for a Gate 1 tour that began in Zagreb, Croatia and took us also to Slovenia and Monte Negro. My grandmother had visited Croatia with her singing group in the summer of 1960 and brought back the picture above of a castle. As a child, she told me the story of our family defending a castle but made it clear the castle in the wood cutout picture was not the same one. I had no idea where she bought the picture but a clue in the bottom corner said Bled.

On our third day, we arrived in Bled and sure enough, there was a castle that closely resembled the picture I inherited from my grandmother. We toured it and learned it had been built in 900 AD. We shared a glass of wine with a monk on the top floor, visited the museum with artifacts from over the centuries, and shopped in an adorable beehive-themed room that had a live beehive in the middle.

I remarked to my husband that my grandmother must have also visited this site as in the gift shop were wooden angels that resembled the type of wood used in the castle picture we have. I inquired if they had available larger wooden pictures but they no longer do.

We returned to our hotel, which had the exact same view as the one from the picture I had and I remarked to my husband it was uncanny. The only thing missing from the woodcut was a large fountain that had been in front of the lake that our hotel faced. I mentioned this to a hotel employee who told me the fountain is still there, across the street from the hotel, behind a fence. Hubby and I went on an adventure to find it. Sure enough, obscured by overgrowth, water trickled from this ancient fountain:

Photo by Lori Samuelson

I then learned that our hotel, built in 1980, had replaced a hotel that had been on the same site. Likely, we were staying on the same land that my grandmother had stayed in 1960! Nothing like following in the footsteps of your ancestors, even when they were just on vacation.

And because it’s October – here’s a night picture of the castle:

Creepy October Begins – Mom’s Return!

It’s Creepy October and of course, I’ve had several weird, unexplained happenings as I researched my family this past year. One of the creepiest was on April 13 when my husband and I checked into the Zagreb Croatia Sheraton and were assigned a room with the painting shown on the left. Our flight from Munich had been delayed by over 5 hours and we were exhausted when we finally made it to our hotel room. I had wanted to spend the afternoon researching at the Croatian State Archive but unfortunately, with the flight delay, that wasn’t an option. As I unzipped the suitcases to take a quick shower before we went out to explore Zagreb, my husband said,“Lor, you got to see this.” I looked up and he was pointing at the picture. I immediately noticed the resemblance to my mother. It was her birthday eve, too. It was one of those pictures whose eyes seemed to follow you wherever you went in the room. Although those Halloween pictures creep me out this one didn’t. It was comforting to think of my mom, whose parents were both from the nearby village of Dubranec from where we were staying. Pic on the right is of my mother from her communion at St. Marks Roman Catholic Church in Gary, Lake, Indiana..

Her hair darkened as she aged and she always wore it short. Her brown eyes seemed to get bigger and brighter, too. Her long face, slim nose, and lips that never smiled broadly reminded me of the painting. The white attire also caused my brain to make a connection. Of course, I had to take a picture of the picture and share it with all of you!