52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, My Family Tree

Week 18: Crime & Punishment

This week’s prompt for Amy Johnson Crow’s weekly 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks genealogical writing series was easy for me as I knew from when I looked through the entire years themes who I was writing about today, my second cousin twice removed, Ralph Reed.

The Early Years

I really do not have a whole lot of information on Ralph from his early life, most of the information I have is about his last year. But Ralph was born on 1 June 1921 to Thomas C. Reed and the former Margaret Philips in Johnstown, Cambria, Pennsylvania. His father at this time worked at a local steel mill while it appears that his mother stayed home to care for their 10 children. Ralph was their sixth.

By 1930 Thomas Reed was working in the coal mines, and I don’t think it was a good fit as by September 1937 he was admitted to the Torrance State Hospital for mental health issues and died 31 January 1938 of General Paralysis of the Insane.

What all this does to a growing boy I am not sure. I’m sure it wasn’t ideal.

The 1940 Census

In the 1940 census, 19-year-old Ralph is not living with his mother, Margaret, and the five children still at home. When I do a search of likely candidates, there are 2 Ralph Reed’s that are 19 that show promise, 1-is living at the Pennsylvania Indiustrial School in Huntingdon County (this is essentially a prision) and the other is living in Maryland as a lodger with his wife. I tend to go with the Huntingdon location simply because on his death certificate his mother (the informant) states he was single, though i suppose there is a chance she was unaware of his marrying Winifred (the name of his wife).

How 10 Seconds Can Change a Life

Yes, there is a possibility that Ralph was in jail prior to his crime from the 1940 census that I found above, and maybe I tend to try to look through rose colored glasses in regard to my distant cousin, but I always feel a bit bad about what happened to Ralph Reed.

I discovered Ralph Reed when I came across his death certificate and saw that his cause of death was “Electrocution by Legal Execution” in Franklin County, Ohio. To get the details I turned to newspapers to discover the story leading to Ralph’s end.

The Crime

Ralph Reed, along with 3 others: Samuel LaDuca, James Esson, and Edsel Ford Muncy decided to rob the payroll office of the Reliable Steel Plate Company in Cleveland, Ohio on Friday, February 6, 1948. One has to remember that in 1948 payroll was paid with cash, but the 4-men made a fatal error, they arrived before the money did.

Being greeted by executives of the company, the men decided to get something out of nothing and robbed the employees. While attempting to get money from George Margulies, Ralph shot him in the back with a revolver.

When they left they had approximately $63, which made the headlines even more brutal. As the 4-men drove off in the getaway car, 2-telephone repairman were working in the vicinity and watched where they drove off too, letting the police know where they went.

By the end of the evening all 4 were brought in and Ralph signed a statement saying he was the triggerman for killing George Margulies.

February 7, 1948 Edition of the Akron Beacon Journal

The Trial

They did not mess around back in the 1940’s like they do today in crimes and trials. Ralph Reed and the 3-others were on trial by 6 June 1948. Ralph was sentenced to death while his 3-co-horts were sentenced to life in prison.

The Zanesville Signal, 7 June 1948 (this particular article I saved from the library version of Newspaper Archive)

There is a Case Text of the trial on the internet (you can read here) where more details were given:

  • Ralph Reed had become acquainted with Sam LaDuca while both were serving time in the Mansfield Reformatory
  • Reed, Esson & LaDuca were the ones who went into the Reliable Steel Plate Company for the robbery, Muncy was the driver of the getaway car.
  • All were masked while Reed & LaDuca had loaded guns.
  • When they arrived there were 3 women in the office, and they forced all 3 into a washroom
  • 20 Minutes elapsed while they waited for the money to arrive at the payroll office by the bookkeeper, while they were waiting the owners of the business, Emanual and George Margulis arrived.
  • They demanded the payroll and when they owners said they did not have it, LaDuca pressed his gun into the stomach of the elder Margulis and demanded their wallets, as Emanuel Margulis turned his wallet over to LaDuca, Reed pointed his gun into the back of George.
  • As George began to lower his hands to retrieve his wallet, the telephone rang and that is when Ralph shot him in the back.
  • Ralph and LaDuca grabbed the petty cash box and left the office.
  • George Margulis died a half hour later at the hospital.

Other aspects of the trial that did not favor Ralph was when the police brought in James Esson the night of the burglary, he said he only knew Reed about 3-days but that “they needed to be careful when apprehending Reed as he was dangerous”.

But despite Ralph not setting out to shoot George Margulis, as his killing was not premeditated, because they (the 4-men) had planned the robbery and the others stated Ralph was willing to do “anything to get money” they found him guilty and sentenced him to death, because he had confessed to the crime, he was not allowed a new trial.

What Happened to The Others?

As was stated in The Zanesville Signal above, James Esson, Samuel LaDuca, and Edsel Ford Muncy were all sentenced to life in prison for their part in the robbery and murder of George Margulis. But did they?

Edsel Ford Muncy

Edsel Ford Muncy was the driver of the getaway vehicle. I am unable to get to the Ohio History Connection as they do not have the files online, and due to Covid has been closed since March 2020, but I have found records on Ancestry.com stating that in 1972 he got married, divorced in 1985 and died in Beauty, Kentucky in 2001.

Samuel Charles LaDuca

Samuel LaDuca was the other fellow holding a gun when the trio of Ralph Read, Sam LaDuca and James Esson entered the payroll office at the Reliable Steel Plate Company. LaDuca also did not spend the rest of his life in prison. I was not able to find as much information about him as I did Edsel Muncy, but he died in Cleveland, Ohio in 1979.

James Esson

James Esson did die in prison on 19 May 1977. Sentenced to life in prison, in 1954 James Esson was transferred to work at the London (Ohio) Prison Farm on 31 August 1954. Esson worked himself to honor status but then on 27 May 1956 he stabbed a prison guard and then jumped out of the truck and fled.

Article from Wilmington News-Journal, Wilmington, Ohio from 28 May 1956

Esson stayed on the run until he was caught in Kansas City, Missouri when he was hitch hiking and offered a ride by a couple, Mr. & Mrs. Carl Wegner (Wagner?), who were on their way to an Air Force base in Kansas. He ended up locking them up in their trunk and was reported by a passing motorist. (The below photos were taken from The Tribune (Coshocton) on 19 August 1957).

Ralph’s Execution

Despite at least 2 stays of execution by the governor, Ralph Reed was executed on 4 May 1949 at 8pm. He was pronounced dead by 8:10pm. He had one of the least exciting final meals in the memory of the Ohio State Penitentiary warden: mushroom soup, chocolate cake, coffee with cream, and lemonade and he smoked cigarettes. His final visitors were his mother, Margaret (Phillips) Reed, his sister, Margaret (Reed) Smith, and his brother, John Reed. I’ll let the newspaper article describe the details of his electrocution in “Old Sparky” as journalism is just not this descriptive anymore.

Lima News, 5 May 1949

Ralph Reed wasn’t an ideal citizen. He most likely is the Ralph Reed in jail in Pennsylvania in the 1940 Census, and at some point between then and 1948 he was in the Mansfield Reformatory. But did Ralph deserve to die for shooting George in the back (oh, the back of all places). I say no. In todays world he would have been sentenced probably to 40 years to life (just a guestimate of an untrained person) and may have gotten out on good behavior on parole. But I don’t think in todays world, even shooting George in the back would have gotten him a death sentence.

Ralph Reed went into the Reliable Steel Plate Company to rob the payroll office. They knew who was suppose to be in the office when they went in there, but their timing was bad. I exaggerate with my 10 seconds, but it just shows how in a matter of minutes, be it 1 or 20, your life can change just like that (imagine my snapping my fingers here). That’s what happened with Ralph.

Oddly enough Ralph is my daughter’s favorite ancestor. I guess we all like to find one scoundrel in our midst, but Ralph was also only 27 when he died, and I don’t think his life was the best it could have been. But every time I look at his picture he just has this look of pure orneriness in his face, but not a cold-blooded killer.

Below is a photo of his headstone where he was buried with his family at Headrick Union Cemetery in East Taylor, Cambria County, Pennsylvania.

Photo added to Find a Grave by MPD

As for the unfortunate soul in all of this, may George Margulis Rest in Peace.

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, My Family Tree

Week 17: Lucky Place

My “lucky place” in my world of genealogy is Bedford County, Pennsylvania. Not only is it home to a majority of my dad’s family, but even a branch of my maternal side leads to Bedford County, too.

However, the term “lucky” can also be quite sarcastic as Bedford County is not always the easiest of counties to find the information you are seeking. But this week I am going to try to give a brief history lesson of the county, and give some statistics of Bedford County’s influence on my genealogical world.

A Little History about Bedford County, Pennsylvania

Bedford County started out as a trading post called Raystown after it’s first settler, Robert MacRay, a Scots-Irish immigrant. This began in 1750 and wasn’t the friendliest of places as they often dealt with raids from Indians, and then in 1754 by the French and British during the French & Indian War (or if you are from European descent you would know this as the Seven Years War).

Fort Bedford

The County ended up getting it’s name from Fort Bedford, built during the French & Indian War it was named in honor of John Russell, the Fourth Duke of Bedford. It was an essential base for the British as they expanded the war westward into the Ohio Country, primarily being used for supplies.

This photo found at By Internet Archive Book Images.

Tall tales with some supported facts claim that Fort Bedford was the first fort to be taken in the early stages of the American Revolution by James Smith. Some evidence states there is truth to this, others feel the fort was simply evacuated in 1766.

By the time George Washington came to Bedford County in 1794 during the Whiskey Rebellion, the fort had already been razed, as this was the general area where his troops stayed.

Mother Bedford and Her Baby Counties

Bedford became the 9th official county of Pennsylvania on 9 March 1771, formed from Cumberland County. It’s population had a boost due to the migration of people westward, and the large county it began as (known as Mother Bedford) slowly made way for new counties: Huntingdon on 20 March 1787, Somerset on 17 April 1795, Cambria on 26 March 1804, Blair on 26 February 1846, and lastly Fulton on 19 April 1850 (some of these new counties were also created with lands from adjacent counties, too).

The Whiskey Rebellion

The Whiskey Rebellion, also known as the Whiskey Insurrection, was a tax protest that began in 1791 when the newly formed United States decided to chose alcohol as it’s first domestic product to tax to assist in raising money to pay off the debt the country incurred during the Revolutionary War. The farmers of the western frontier (which at this time was Western Pennsylvania) resisted paying this tax, as many were veterans of the American Revolution.

In 1794 the protest came to a head when General John Neville, who was the tax inspector, home was attacked by over 500 armed men. President George Washington rode to the area with 13,000 militiamen to confront the protestors, but all had left by the time he arrived.

Despite there not being a formal confrontation, 20 men were arrested but were later pardoned. This instance showed that our new government was not a force to be reckoned with. And for the record, my fifth great-grandfather, Peter Morgart, was one of the men who resisted paying the tax, but did pay his fines.

The “whiskey tax” continued to be a difficult tax to collect and was later repealed during the Jefferson administration.

The Bedford Springs Hotel

One of the large and fancy hotels that still stands in Bedford County is the Bedford Springs Hotel. It was built in 1806 near a spring with a high mineral content and was said to have “healing powers” by Native Americans who would come from miles to drink and bathe in the waters.

It soon became a vacation destination for those from the east as their cities were beginning to become polluted due to increase in industrialization. Bedford still offered a country feel.

It became a meeting place of presidents including William Henry Harrison, James K. Polk and Zachary Taylor. During James Buchanan’s presidency it became known as the “Summer White House”, with the first trans-Atlantic cable sent from England to the United States being received at the Bedford Springs Hotel as that is where President Buchanan was at when it came on 12 August 1858.

The Bedford Springs had different medicinal qualities. A “Bedford Cure” was given to guests over their 3-week stay which included the “Magnesium Spring” for tummy ailments, or the “Iron Spring” for healthy bones and iron deficiencies.

The Bedford Springs Hotel is still an operating hotel and is owned by the Omni Hotels & Resorts.

Not the world’s greatest photo, but I took this photo of the Bedford Springs Hotel from the front seat of my husband’s truck when we visited in 2019. I wish I could have gone and checked it out more thoroughly.

Coal Mines

There were 2 coal fields that were in Bedford County. The Broad Top Field was located in the northeastern area of the county. With many of my relatives coming from and living in Broad Top I believe this is the area where many of them worked.

The second field was in the southwestern border, Georges Creek Field.

My Genealogical Statistics

I chose Bedford County because I’ve often told my children as I enter source citations into my Legacy Family Tree that I wish I had a dime for every time I entered Bedford County (well, Pennsylvania in general would have me sitting pretty about now). So I decided to run a report of my family that has the name “Bedford” in their birth or death location.

I have 424 ancestors out of 1,871 that I know had a birth/death location of Bedford County. That is almost 25 percent of my people. Mind you, I have lots of people with “, , Pennsylvania, United States” because I do not fully have proof what county they were born in (but there is a good chance Bedford could be it). And I am sure I have more people still to add (I have collateral people that descend from Peter Morgart that I know will add more people, and others that are in the 4th-great to 5th-great area).

Included in these 424 people, 36 of my direct line ancestors either were born or died in Bedford County, Pennsylvania. One of these includes my 4th-great-grandfather on my maternal side (because having just my dad’s side wasn’t enough, my mom had to get it on Bedford too).

Seeing as I’m on statistics, I opted to run a report of how many of my ancestors were born in Pennsylvania (my mother’s side comes from northern Pennsylvania in Potter County so I knew this would be interesting). The total of my 1,871 people in my program that are born in PA: 1,297.

And this is why I may never get out of Pennsylvania.

That’s okay, it’s a great place to be (even if I wish it had records like Massachusetts – that is where some of the Potter County people came from, others came down from New York).

My Sources

I did get an abundance of my information from the following locations:

Wikipedia – Bedford County: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bedford_County,_Pennsylvania; Bedford Springs Hotel – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Omni_Bedford_Springs_Resort; Fort Bedford – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fort_Bedford

History of Bedford, Somerset, and Fulton Counties, Pennsylvania. Chicago, Waterman, Watkins & Co., 1884

Other stuff is just in my head now from all my research over the years (like the tidbit about Peter Morgart – I found it in a book at the Bedford County Historical Society).

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks

If you are into genealogy and want to begin writing about your family, you should check out Amy Johnson Crow’s 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge. Each week she gives you a prompt to help encourage you to think out of the box when writing about your people. You can sign up here.

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, My Family Tree

Week 16: DNA

This week’s prompt for Amy Johnson Crow’s writing challenge, 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, is DNA. It has been almost 2 years since I took my DNA test on AncestryDNA in order to solve a family mystery (you can find that story here). But it has given me the opportunity to meet extended members of my family I may have never had the chance to know. A few I have begun corresponding with on a regular basis and like to call them friends.

I’ll give you a heads up now, I am writing this but respecting my cousin’s privacy, so they will be referred to as “her” as they are all girls.

My Second Cousin

One of my first contacts I reached out to from my DNA match list was my 2nd cousin who is the great niece (grand niece?) of Anna Maria Morgart (aka my Grandma Blair)!

Going through my Grandmother’s photos I have a lot of pictures of “her” grandparents (my Grandma’s sister and her husband), but sadly only a few of her dad, but it was so nice to reach out and communicate with family from my Grandma’s side. We both have vague memories of Gammy (Margaret “Maggie” Dora Wise) as she is both of ours Great-Grandmother.

The below photos were from the collection of Anna Maria Morgart Blair – the one on the left is a photo of Virginia Morgart Dipko and Anna Maria Morgart Blair in 1940, and the one of the right is a photo of Anna Maria Morgart, Joe Dipko and Joseph Dipko, Jr. in 1930 (Joe Jr would be about a year old).

My First Cousin Once Removed

One of my more recent matches was a first cousin once removed on my maternal side of my family. My mother always had happy memories of “her” parents, which her mom was the youngest sister of my grandfather, Harold Fairhurst.

When she came up as a match, it took me a few weeks to summon the courage to message her. I’m not sure why as she is quite lovely. She even supplied me a photo of my great-grandmother, Phoebe Boone, which was just tremendous as I had no idea what she looked like. My mom had no photos and my aunt (my mom’s youngest sister) only recalled ever seeing her in her coffin (I believe my aunt was only about 8 when Phoebe passed away in 1962).

I have attempted to keep the lines of communication open with her as I want to be able to keep our families in touch.

Phoebe Boone

My Second Cousin Once Removed

I’ve actually discussed each lady as I have come into contact with them. My last cousin I saw her for some time listed amongst my DNA matches on Ancestry and then I attended RootsTech and there she was again, on my list of family members that they had. FamilySearch expanded their “relatives around you” feature and let you see the relatives that you are most likely related too (assuming the one big tree was accurate) that were attending RootsTech.

And there she was, my DNA match (she had the same nickname on FamilySearch as she does on Ancestry) and I decided to contact her at once. And I am so happy I did because we have gone back and forth first via FamilySearch messenger and now we are Facebook friends.

My message to my DNA Match – my 2nd Cousin 1x Removed

I am so happy that I sent that message and hope to learn more about her (she was very nice and gave me all the information on her family for my software this evening, too! Yay!).

We are related on my Boone side. Her grandfather, Isaiah Boone was the older brother of Phoebe (they are back to back siblings), and he died in a mine explosion at Wolf Run, Ohio, in 1935.

Why Reach Out?

You obviously can’t befriend every DNA match on your list, but there are so many things you can learn by taking a moment and reaching out and learning more about other parts of your family.

Two of the matches I referred to I’ll admit I know nothing about that side of my family. I was always dumbfounded when my mother told me that she thought she had only met her paternal grandparents at most 5 times her whole life, which leads to the lack of information on two branches of my tree. That made me so sad (not the lack of information, though that is sad, but that she never knew anything about an entire side of her family).

Granted, I discuss my Grandma Blair (Anna Maria Morgart) more than my Grandma Metzger (Alberta Lou Fleming) simply because Grandma Blair was always there (my dad was an only child so Grandma Blair went everywhere with us). Grandma Metzger had moved to Florida when I was 3 or 4 years old and stayed living there until I was in high school.

But it is so easy for families to become estranged, maybe DNA will be able to bring families closer together. I know I will do my very best to try and bridge the gaps.

Genealogy

What I Learned from the 2021 OGS Conference

The past 4 days were fun days for me. I took 3 days off work and spent 4 total days doing nothing but taking genealogy classes. This is always a dream come true. I love genealogy, obviously, because I have an entire blog dedicated to my hobby.

Keynote Speaker: Peggy Clemens Lauritzen

As usual, Peggy Clemens Lauritzen did a fabulous job with her keynote speech which was entitled “Let’s Leave ‘Em Something to Talk About” and was all about leaving your own story behind. It is so easy for us to get wrapped up in our ancestor’s lives but we often forget about leaving our future ancestors information about us. She gave a bunch of simple suggestions on how to do this, such as scrapbooking, writing down our stories, our favorite vacations, leaving a journal and just writing down whatever pops into your head on any given day. Talk about your favorite car, your favorite movie, family trips, how you spent holidays… all these things that make up our lives. I left her talk feeling so inspired – it should have been the last talk instead of the first (you know, so I could start sharing the information about my life).

Live Sessions I Attended

I attended some outstanding live classes during the 3-days (the first day was specifically workshops). Between classes on the wonderful session entitled “Beyond Belief: The Wealth Genealogical and Historical Societies” by D. Joshua Taylor, a class taught by Andi Cumbo-Floyd that taught me the benefits and how to use ArchiveGrid (don’t laugh, and I never realized how much it had to offer!), to Colleen Robledo Greene informing many on how to use the HathiTrust Digital Library. Both ArchiveGrid and the HathiTrust Digital Library always make those top places you should check out for your genealogy but always seemed a bit intimidating at the same time. But no more!

Ari Wilkins gave a fabulous presentation on “How Weather Affected Our Ancestors”, it was so informative and gave me so much more to look into with where my own relatives were and the aspects of the Johnstown Flood (they lived in the surrounding counties in Pennsylvania), I attended another great session by D. Joshua Taylor again pertaining to “Online Resources for Colonial America” (and most were free!), and then James Beidler gave 2 sessions that I attended on “An Average Ancestor Seen Through Newspapers” and then closed it out with “Courthouse Research in Pennsylvania” (we all know I can’t resist classes on Pennsylvania).

Recorded Sessions

I’m still working on recorded sessions. They are open for us to watch through Tuesday. So far I’ve watched ones dealing with the history of railroads, marketing and publicity for your genealogical society, methodology sessions about research projects and being your own brick walls (so far I don’t think I am my own brick wall but I wouldn’t put it past myself either).

Such a wide variety of programs and each class is so enjoyable.

What I Took Away From My 2nd Conference

The exact same thing I did my first – I need to use a research log when beginning a project. And last night I did just that – I printed off the research log from my program and started writing things down as I went. So proud of myself. Was also analyzing census forms and printed blank ones of those as well so I could write down the tick marks (1800-1810 census forms) to better analyze who could be candidates as Abraham Childers parents.

The other thing was to pay close attention to the forms and analyze everything. You never know what little tidbit of information may blow your case wide open.

Recommendation

If you have never gone to a big genealogical conference I recommend checking it out. It’s not going on presently but the sessions offered at RootsTech in February are up on FamilySearch.org, all you need is a free account to view the many classes that they have on their website. They are available throughout the year.

The one thing I missed this year was being able to chit chat with my fellow genealogists. Though I am huge introvert (I become a little more chatty once I feel comfortable with people) I never had a difficult time 2 years ago when I attended the OGS Conference in 2019. It was so much fun, and it was nice talking to people and having them give me suggestions on the spot. It was simply fabulous.

Something to look out for is a day long program offered at your local Family History Center. I attended my first one in 2018 and enjoyed it so much this is why I went to the OGS Conference in 2019. It was a day filled with 6 classes and included lunch. Such a wonderful day with a variety of topics (DNA, Methodology, How To Use FamilySearch, Ancestry, etc.). Often these are offered in October during Family History Month. Libraries offer excellent classes throughout the year, and even by Zoom presently.

You can never know too much, and you never know when you attend a conference like this, a simple class you take may be just what you need to find that bit of missing information on your person.

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, My Family Tree

Week 15: Brick Walls

With Amy Johnson Crow having a prompt like “Brick Walls” for week 15 you all probably think I’m going to write about Andrew Blair and Susanna Akers. Well you’re right. And I’m going to throw their son, George Washington Blair into the mix as well (though to be honest I contemplated writing about someone else, but then I started to laugh).

Andrew & Susanna

Andrew Blair and Susanna Akers are my 3rd-great-grandparents on my paternal side of the family. When I began working on my family history again in college, Andrew and Susanna (also found as Susannah, Suzanna, and Susan) were also the brick wall of my cousin, Darlene. So here is what we have, because when her daughter sent me the gedcom file for her research, we had the same information.

Andrew and Susanah show up out of nowhere on the 1850 Census living in Conemaugh, Cambria, Pennsylvania. He is a laborer aged 35, she is a housekeeper aged 25, and neither can read nor write. They have 2-children at this time, Sarah Catherine age 4, and William age 1 and they were all born in Pennsylvania (I have boxed their information with a red square).

1850 Census – Conemaugh, Cambria, Pennsylvania

Our next document is the 1860 Census. They have moved to Huston Township, Blair, Pennsylvania and there are more of them. Andrew is still a laborer and is suddenly 50 years old (yes, he is 15 years older in just 10 years), Susanah is 34 (which could be possible as 1850 census was taken in November, and the 1860 census was taken in June). Sarah is 14, William is 10 while we have three boys to add to the family: Andrew J (my direct descendant) is 9, George Washington is 6, and Samuel A is 4. With 4 out 5 children attending school, we now only have Andrew being unable to read and write (I’ve often wondered did Susanna learn as her children did?). The value of his personal estate is $50 and again, everyone was born in Pennsylvania.

1860 Census – Huston Township, Blair, Pennsylvania

In the 1870 Census Andrew, Susanna and family are once again in a different town and county, Broad Top Township in Bedford County Pennsylvania. Andrew is still a laborer and is 59 with a personal estate of $800, Susanna is “Susan” and is 44, the oldest child living at home is now Andrew who is a wood chopper and is age 19, next is George who is an apprentice shoemaker and age 17, and lastly is Samuel who is 13 and still in school (outside info: Sarah has married and is the next family listed under her parents and siblings; William has passed away, but I don’t know from what). I question the marks for Andrew and George about being blind, deaf, dumb or idiotic (being a direct descendent of Andrew, no one wants to see that of their ancestor, it also says they can’t read or write but the previous census did have them in school).

1870 Census – Broad Top, Bedford, Pennsylvania

Our last census is 1880 where Andrew and Susanna are living in Coaldale, Bedford, Pennsylvania. It is just the two of the now, all of their children have married. Andrew is still a laborer but has been unemployed for 8 months of that year, and he is 68 years old. Susanna is 54. Both are listed as having been born in Pennsylvania, and both are listed as having their parents being born in Pennsylvania too. Their son, Andrew, and his family are living 2-households away (oddly enough a non-direct descendent on my grandmother’s side lives between them, with another member of my Wise branch living on the other side of son Andrew).

1880 Census – Coaldale, Bedford, Pennsylvania

After this I have nothing on Andrew and Susanna other than the death certificate of their son, Samuel Alexander Blair in 1932 (or as the death certificate states, SA Blair). This is the only document I’ve seen with Susanna’s last name of Akers being identified.

This death certificate was part of the Pennsylvania Death Certificate collection on Ancestry.com

My Search for Andrew

Since multiple census proclaim that Andrew and his parents were born in Pennsylvania, I have tried to use previous censuses to find his parents. But with having the hash ticks and just the head of house hold available on the censuses from 1790 through 1840, I have not been successful. It probably doesn’t help that Andrew has had a wider range of ages on the different censuses from 35 in 1850, to 50 in 1860, to 59 in 1870 and lastly 68 in 1880, so with tick marks it could end up being in a wide variety of columns throughout his life depending on what year is the correct year.

I did come across a family tree on MyHeritage where it was noted by someone that Samuel (Blair) had told one of his son’s that his dad was born in Franklin County, Pennsylvania. Of course I am unable to find this statement on MyHeritage at the moment but I’m going to guess that I read it somewhere as I wouldn’t have it in my mind otherwise.

Sarah Permelia Blair

My biggest puzzle is that while using the MyHeritage Library Edition (I can use it free at home using my library card) I found someone’s tree that lists a Sarah Permelia Blair as Andrew’s sister.

An excerpt of someone’s tree using MyHeritage Library Edition giving Andrew a sister,
Sarah Permelia Blair

And then last year when I began playing with my DNA and grouping people into 8 groups and lo and behold I have a match with a person. Below is my Thrulines with her on my AncestryDNA (she is represented by the red square box), and she is related to me via Sarah Blair. When you click on Sarah she is married to David Points same as the above Sarah from MyHeritage.

I have done my due diligence researching Sarah Permelia Blair but more than half of the records I have come across state she was born in Maryland, Washington County to be exact. What makes this somewhat interesting? North of Washington County, Maryland is Franklin County, Pennsylvania.

I decided to then look to see what Blair’s were in Washington County, Maryland in both 1810 and 1820 census, on the chance they were there 6-years before Sarah was born, or 4 years after. There were 2 suspects: James Blair who is aged “over 45” in both, and Andrew Blair. Obviously with so many other Andrew Blair’s in my tree, I’m sure you have guessed who I liked for a possible person (that, and I honestly think that Andrew is one of James’ older sons who married and moved out first, in the 1830 Census there were many more Blair’s in the area and less in James’ house).

In the 1820 and 1830 Census, there are children (even with Andrew’s wide range of birth dates) that line up for this to be a true person of interest to be Andrew and Sarah’s dad. I will go on to further check out this Washington County, Andrew Blair, who disappears by 1840 (at least from Maryland, and I’m not having any luck in finding him in Pennsylvania either).

But I feel I’m on a good track so I’m really liking that I had this prompt. Fingers crossed that maybe I can tie people together once I work on more of the tree, maybe I have another DNA match that could wrap everything together in a pretty little bow.

Okay, I am laughing again.

My Search for Susanna

The elusive search for my 3rd-great-grandmother has been a slightly more difficult journey than Andrew. At least with him I’m fairly confident of his last name. Trouble with Susanna is that most census records indicate she was born in 1826 repeatedly, so I truly feel that is her birth year. But all the Akers that I have found in the Bedford County area don’t have a daughter that matches up to Susanna’s age. This is how I have begun to doubt her maiden name.

This is where my search for her second youngest son, George Washington Blair, comes in to play. Like his parents, George and his wife, Julianne (July Ann, possibly Julia Ann) disappear after the 1880 census. His daughter, Amanda, married John Lear and I have records for her, and the death certificate for his youngest daughter, Elizabeth born in 1882, but nothing after 1880 for George, Julia or their sons, Harry and Alexander.

I came to realize that George was also a brick wall when it came to my recollection that if I found his death certificate, it would give me either the same name for his mom’s maiden name, Akers, or give me another possible lead.

When Andrew Jackson Blair of 1851 passed away, the death register at the Bedford County Courthouse just has listed “Susannah Blair”.

My only real lead for thinking that George survived the 1880’s and as still living in Pennsylvania was his younger brother, Samuel’s, obituary (by the way, George and Samuel married sisters – Julia Ann was the sister of Samuel’s wife, Margaret). If you notice the second paragraph, it says, “He came to this city to live with his brother 18 months ago after the death of his wife, Mrs. Margaret (O’Neal) Blair”.

Taken from the Altoona Tribune, Saturday, September 27, 1932 edition from Newspapers.com

At this point in time Samuel’s only surviving brother was George. William passed away in 1865 and is buried in Hopewell Cemetery, and Andrew Jackson Blair in 1899 of a paralytic stroke (he is buried in Duvall Cemetery, which is also where Samuel and his family are laid to rest).

But I have yet to find any record of George Blair living in Blair County, Pennsylvania at this time. It does not help that there is another George Blair who is living in Blair County with a wife named Annie, but I am 99% certain this is a different George (though it is coincidental that my George’s wife’s middle name is Ann).

A Census Search for Akers

Another logical step I’ve done is do searches for male Akers in the 1830 and 1840 Census that would have females in their homes of the proper age with a basis of Susanna being born in 1826 (3 out of the 4 census documents that I have from 1850-1880 insinuate 1826 being the year of her birth). Only 1 individual in the greater Bedford County area seems to match up and that is a gentleman by the name of John Akers. But seeing as these census are only the tick marks and no names, it is hard to know for sure. Add on that I am not even 100% certain that her last name is Akers and it makes me doubt things that much more.

I have found some probate records for when John Akers passed away in 1866 but it is primarily just inventories. Oddly enough, when I did my searches on Ancestry someone does have a middle name of Andrew listed for John Akers (all the more reason my great-great-grandfather could have been named Andrew).

Making Some Cracks

I know I still have a great deal of work to do on my search for Andrew and Susanna’s parents. But each day I feel I am making more progress. If I ever begin to knock it down it will be such a happy day. If you remember the tv show “Perfect Strangers” I imagine it will be similar to Balki’s dance of joy.

But that day is not today. But hopefully I will get my dance, whatever it is, and share if that blessed day ever comes.

Genealogy

Bringin’ It Home 2021

Today is an exciting day! It’s the first day of the Ohio Genealogical Society Conference with the theme of “Bringin’ It Home”. When the co-chairs came up with the theme they had no idea that we would still be living in a virtual world, but here we are, having the conference from the comforts of our living rooms, or porches, or attics, or dining rooms!

The first day is workshops and this year I signed up for one. When I went to my first conference 2 years ago when it was in Mason, Ohio (a suburb of Cincinnati) I opted to do the meet and greet. This year I am attending my first workshop that will discuss what it takes to be a professional genealogist.

Then Thursday through Saturday we begin the many classes and online exhibitors. What makes this years a little more unique is that any session that is pre-recorded you can watch anytime through April 20 so you can try to seize the “live” sessions so you can get even more knowledge than you thought!

I’m looking forward to learning a great deal. Last week I attended a couple of sessions that the Indiana Genealogical Society offered and on Saturday, Lisa Louise Cooke was the speaker and what stuck with me was her comment about how every day we are a better researcher than the day before because we are always learning new things. And that is so true. You are never looking at the same document in the same way because every day we become more knowledgeable with what we are doing and learning.

So keep that in mind when you go check out at an old document, you have probably learned quite a bit since you last looked at.

Wishing all those attending this week’s Ohio Genealogical Society Conference a wonderful time!

The official logo for the Conference and it’s main sponsor, Vivid-Pix.

Genealogy

Week 14: Great

Great. That is this week’s prompt for Amy Johnson Crow’s 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks. I’ve learned to go with my gut when writing for the weekly topics and I’m not going to stray (that probably wouldn’t be so “great”), and the first thing that popped into my head was going into my genealogy program and finding out my furthest back direct relative, and that happens to be my seventh-great-grandparents on my maternal side, Lt. David Ryther and Martha Shattuck.

Oddly enough in trying to find a bit more information on my 7x-great-grandparents, their house is still standing! It was just sold a few years back but here is a photo I found on the “Captivating Houses” website. If you decide to peruse through the photos of the home and its property, my favorite part was the mentioning of the addition that was built in 1800.

Lt David Ryther & Martha Shattuck’s home built in 1745. Photo from Captiv

David was also one of the people who helped found Bernardston, Massachusetts. I found this pretty cool and see a visit to the town in my future.

Relatives That Get Me to My 7th Great Grandparents

Obviously it takes several people to get you back in time to my 7th-Great-Grandparents (however, if I go by FamilySearch.org and the big tree, I could technically go back farther, but these are not verified relatives) and I will go through them going from me to David and Martha.

My Mom

The first stop (well, after myself) is my mom, Cynthia Anne Fairhurst. She was born 22 December 1947 and passed away 28 May 2018. As I told in a post two weeks ago, she was the oldest in her family, went to school to be an LPN at age 40 and loved being a scrapbooking grandma.

Cynthia Anne Fairhurst – she liked this picture.

My Grandma

My Grandma was Alberta Lou Fleming, mother of 5, outstanding bowler and lover of big band music. She had the sharpest wit of anyone I knew, so much so that if I had one trait I could have wished from her it would have been her clever comebacks. Alberta was born on 2 October 1929 and passed away on 24 July 2006.

Alberta Lou Fleming on V-J Day

My Great-Grandma

Are you noticing a trend? Don’t worry – there are two more ladies to go and we finally hit a male! My Great-Grandma was Mildred Laura Dunbar and she was born on 15 March 1908. I’ve written about her as well. Mildred was a modern woman her entire life, initially being employed as a stenographer, but later branching out into other administrative roles. She was a mom to a daughter and 2-sons and I loved her taste in jewelry as I inherited many pieces of her collection to play with for dress-up (and her shoes as she had small feet!). She passed away on 8 Jan 1982.

Mildred Laura Dunbar, my favorite photo of her since I was a little girl

My Great-Great-Grandma

If you have frequently read my blog you will be familiar with Mazie Lorenia Warner as for some reason, she is my favorite relative I have learned about while doing my genealogy. I find her to be so strong and so beautiful. Mazie was born on 21 July 1877. She had 3-daughters and a son with her first husband, Arthur James Dunbar, who died in 1912 from Polio. She re-married Samuel Randol with whom she had a son who passed away when he was just a few months old (her son with Arthur died from bronchitis before he was a year old). Samuel and Mazie moved to Akron in 1916 where they settled and made their home. She passed away on 19 May 1945.

Mazie Lorenia Warner, not sure when it was taken but will never forget the day I had a face to go with the name (and my bangs curl the same every which way just like hers)

My Great-Great-Great-Grandfather

Finally a boy! Winfield Scott Warner was born on 14 Apr 1847 and passed away on 21 Mar 1899. He was a farmer who left his fields to fight in the Civil War. He was married at the age of 22 and had 4-daughters (Mazie was the oldest).

My Great-Great-Great-Great-Grandfather

Oliver Charles Warner was the father of Winfield and was born in Franklin, Norfolk, Massachusetts in 1809 and passed away 21 Dec 1878 in Potter County, Pennsylvania. Oliver was the relative who moved this portion of my family “west” (though he may have come with his father, Joel, still trying to determine that). He was a lumberman, was married 3-times but seems to have only had children with his first wife, Mary A. Jones.

As the photo says, Oliver Charles Warner, it is a photo I found on Ancestry.com

My Great-Great-Great-Great-Great-Grandfather

Joel Warner was the father of Oliver and also was born in Massachusetts but moved to Potter County, Pennsylvania before his days were over. He was born on 19 Jun 1773 and passed away on 5 May 1854. He was married twice and had 3 children with each wife. Oliver was the youngest child with his first wife, Thankful Chapin. He had a second wife, Rebecca Putnam and they had 3 children as well.

My Great-Great-Great-Great-Great-Great-Grandmother

Hannah Ryther was born 10 May 1746, the oldest of her parents children, and married Ichabod Warner on 7 Jan 1766. She had 7-children (Joel being the 4th-oldest). She passed away 6 Aug 1815 in Bernardston, Franklin, Massachusetts.

Finally We Make It to David & Martha

Seven generations back – that’s a long time ago. Lieutenant David Ryther (though sometimes seen as Rider/Ryder due to religious persecution that was common around this time) was born 15 Aug 1719 in Sherborn, Middlesex, Massachusetts. Martha Shattuck was born 2 Apr 1725 in Northfield, Hampshire, Massachusetts. They were married in 1745 and their oldest daughter was born a year later. While Martha raised their 11 children, David fought first in the French & Indian War and later, at the ripe old age of 60, in the American Revolution. Martha passed away 12 Nov 1802 while David died less than 2 years later on 6 Jun 1804.

I enjoyed learning about my great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandparents, and look forward to learning more about them. I didn’t delve into Martha as much as I would have liked, but I’m sure that’s another story for another day. For a man who seemed to stand-out, my guess is that Martha had to be special to stand-out to him.

Genealogy

Timelines: The Unsung Hero of Genealogy

An important tool for genealogy research is a timeline. It can be as simple or as complex as you want it to be, as long as it helps you on your family history journey.

The timeline allows you to put your family member’s life events that you are aware of in chronological order. These events include:

  • Birth
  • Marriage(s)
  • Death
  • Birth of Children
  • Death of Children
  • Death of Parents
  • Census Location
  • Historical Events: National, State, Local

Once you have all of your events listed, you will see how they migrated, or even stayed in the same area, or if you are missing information all together over a period of time, you can determine what records you need to fill in the gaps. But most importantly, a timeline can help you get to know your ancestor in a way you hadn’t before.

Types of Timelines

There are primarily 3 different ways you can create a timeline for your genealogy. Timelines can be found in genealogy software, Ancestry.com, FamilySearch.org, you can draw them by hand or you can create in a spreadsheet. Below I will go into detail of all of these.

Genealogy Software Programs

If you use a genealogy software program to keep track of your ancestors, you probably already have a timeline or chronology section for this purpose. I use Legacy Family Tree and here is a timeline for my great-great-grandmother, Mazie Warner.

You can see her age in the left hand column and you may find a gap of where additional information is needed. This is is not a complete picture, it’s what would fit on my screen so you can still read it.

Online trees such as Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.org offer timelines too. On Ancestry it is easy to miss as it’s the “Facts” view on a person’s information page.

My Ancestry page on my great-great-grandmother, Mazie Lorenia Warner. You can see how the years are off to the left going down in a timeline form.

To access the timeline for a person on FamilySearch.org you just need to highlight the second option (to the right of “Details”) to show the chronology of your person’s life. If nothing else this exercise has brought to my attention that I do not have the 1880 census as a source for Mazie on FamilySearch.

Draw a Timeline By Hand

Sometimes simple is best and the easiest way is to draw a timeline by hand. For many this is a great way because by writing out the documents you have in chronological order, you see how their life progressed. I feel using colored pencils may nice to use because you could have selected Green for all birth dates, Red for all Death Dates, etc.

My attempt at a hand-drawn timeline.

Using a Spreadsheet

I discovered a YouTube video done by Anne Mitchell for Ancestry.com on how to create a simple timeline using a spreadsheet that included a column devoted to “Thought’s and Comments” which was a space that included your analysis of the timeline, and where you could add the types of records that you needed to look up for any gap you may have found. This type of timeline can be used with a Spreadsheet in Excel or Google Sheets, or by creating a table in Word or Google Docs.

Creating Timelines to Better Understand Records and Families – by Anne Mitchell via Ancestry.com was a YouTube video I watched that instructed me on this homemade table/spreadsheet

I found this to be extremely helpful when working on my family members. By typing out what I had and knew it allowed me to not only really look at each document closely, but pointed out what documents I still needed to find.

Original Research

What do I mean by “original research”? It’s the research you do when you are looking for something specific that you don’t have. Something not handed to you in the form of a hint on a database program (such as Ancestry.com’s leaf hints or the “Research Help” suggestions on FamilySearch.org).

By creating a timeline of your ancestors you can then move onto original research as you find the missing documents to fill in the gaps that you find. For example, I only have a date of my great-great-grandparents marriage from a Marriage Index I found but I do not have the actual marriage license confirming the date of 2 January 1894. I need to go in search of this record that took place in Wellsville, Allegany, New York.

As you continue to see what information you are missing for your person, think about what records you need to find. For example if you find that your people are moving around, try to find them in city directories, or look through land records to see if you are able to find where your ancestor was either the seller of their old property or a buyer for their new (they should be listed on both). If your person fought in a war look to see if maybe they had any land warrants for serving.

Also remember that not all records are found online. There is that chance you may have to research in person for the records that you seek. Sometimes you will be fortunate to contact someone in the records/archives where you people lived and will have time to look for you (though a price may be involved).

I hope you enjoyed learning about the different ways that you can create timelines for your research and I hope you begin to implement them in your family history journey.

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, My Family Tree

Week 13: Music

The theme for Week 13 of Amy Johnson Crow’s 52 Ancestors in 52 Week’s is Music. I know I myself absolutely love music – all kinds from pop music, classic rock, alternative, classical, Broadway tunes, and due to my son being in a volunteer band while learning to play the trumpet in school, I’m evening expanding into jazz.

But when I think of my relatives and music, both of my grandmother’s come to mind and below you will read about these special ladies and their love of music.

Alberta Lou Fleming

My maternal grandmother, Alberta Lou Fleming, loved music. She was one of those people who loved to dance and listen to the big band music of the 1940’s. When chatting with my Aunt she was able to tell me how when she was growing up, every Sunday they (Alberta, and her children) would go over to their grandma’s (Mildred Laura Dunbar) for dinner and they would put on the big band music and sing their heart’s out and dance. That must have been something to see in her living room.

Alberta Lou Fleming, New Year’s Eve at her friend, Margie’s, house (I love how she is all dressed up to dance and party, just wish the photo hadn’t looked like it had partied too)

I know my Grandma’s (Alberta) favorite song was “In the Mood”. I can’t say that I blame her, when I hear songs from that era, it is one of the ones that really gets my toes tapping as well. I can imagine it would be hard to not get up and dance.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_CI-0E_jses

Terry Mildred Fleming

The apple didn’t fall far from the tree when it came to a love of music. My Aunt, who would have been 72 years old today (April 2), loved music as well. Her younger sister told me that her favorite was music by the Beetles. Here is a photo of my Aunt Teri (she changed the spelling over the years) from her High School Yearbook – she was always so fashionable and I love this photo.

Can’t you just see her dancing? Photo from the Cuyahoga Falls High School Yearbook

Though I was unable to confirm it, I thought I remembered my mother telling me how she had bought my aunt a life size doll to dance with. I asked my other aunt (my mom and aunt Teri’s younger sister) and my own sister, but neither remember. Initially I wasn’t going to add it, but it seems to me I wouldn’t have ever thought to make something like this up, but I like what my aunt also said, it totally sounded like something my mom would have done. So if she didn’t, I’m sure she must have thought about it.

Anna Maria Morgart

My Grandma Blair (as I know her) loved to hum. It didn’t matter what she was doing, she hummed. When she did dishes. When she crocheted. She could be sitting in a chair and daydreaming and she would hum. Even when I called her on the phone and there was that slight lull in the coversation.

She would also listen to her radio to church music and the like as well. But when I think of her I think of her humming. And there are times now that I am older when I am doing something and I don’t have music on, I hum too. (Just to add, today, April 2, would have been my Grandma’s 107th birthday).

Grandma Blair (aka Anna Maria Morgart). Not necessarily a moment when she was humming, but it is a photo that makes me smile (I believe she had finished dishes and was flinging water at us with her fingers). Not sure when this was taken, but it was in the mid-late 1980’s in her kitchen)

To me nothing brings back memories better than music. Often a song will come on the radio and it’s as if I am going through all the emotions of the that moment as if it just happened. No other sense is as powerful for me. So when I hear “In the Mood” I think of my Grandma Metzger (aka Alberta Lou Fleming) and how she made me laugh with her fabulous sense of humor that I wish I had, or when I find myself humming in a room by myself, I smile as I know wonderful people before me did the same.

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, My Family Tree

Week 12: Loss

As a human being, we all lose members of our family. But when you lose a parent it’s comparable to losing a limb. This week’s theme is Loss for Amy Johnson Crow’s 52 Ancestor’s in 52 Weeks, and I’m going to discuss one of the biggest losses of my life, my mom, Cynthia Anne Fairhurst, and you will get some of her insights as I have used her scrapbooking pages from her own blog to aid in my telling about her life.

Cynthia Anne Fairhurst

My mom was born on 22 December 1947 at 2:31am in Akron, Ohio, the oldest child of Harold Fairhurst and Alberta Lou Fleming.

It wasn’t long before others came along. My Aunt Terry was born in April 1949. Here is a photo of the family of four that following summer.

In July 1950 my Uncle Eddie was added to the mix and then my Aunt Debbie 4 years later.

Her Childhood

My mom’s early years had her living in the North Hill area of Akron. By the time she was in second grade her family had moved to Cuyahoga Falls.

Third grade had her going to Grant Elementary School (which is now a community center in Cuyahoga Falls as they consolidated schools when I was in 5th grade and closed 3 elementary schools down).

Below is a photo of her from 4th grade when she attended St. Joseph’s Catholic School.

Cindy was always very close to her grandmother, Mildred Laura Fleming, spending a lot of time at her house. Below is a memory she had of Christmastime.

My mom and her siblings love to go and hang out at the Gorge, one of the Summit County Metro Parks where you can hike, fish, and ice skate (there are 3 different hiking paths that are a part of the annual hiking spree at this location alone). My mom, who wasn’t an overly nostalgic person (I have gotten all my pack rat sentimentality from my grandmother), still had a pair of her ice skates hanging in the room underneath the steps in our home. Most of her fondest memories of growing up were of her and her siblings playing at the Gorge. Below are some pictures I’ve taken over the years when I participate in the Fall Hiking Spree, but two (the black and white ones) I found on a Facebook Post (I think). The other I did re-find and is a photo by John McMillan.

From left to right on the top: A photo of where the ice skating pond is in the winter time, next is a photo of the Gorge hiking trail leading to Mary Campbell’s Cave (the others not shown are Highbridge and the Glenns), the pipe is a spot my mother claims to have crossed over countless times and I find this hard to believe as she was extremely afraid of heights, next is a photo of the Cuyahoga River looking towards the Falls (which is to be torn down soon – they claim there is another falls behind this but this is actually part of the dam used by Ohio Edison or FirstEnergy for electricity), next up is just a photo of the river again (I must have thought it looked artsy and wanted to share), then there is the photo I’m not sure where I found it but it was on my phone of kids using one of the heaters in the winter months, and lastly a photo by John McMillan of ice skating. I remember sending this photo to my mom and joked that maybe she was somewhere in it! She actually went on to scrapbook a page using the photo.

This scrapbooking page can be found at my mom’s blog at Gramma’s Happy Place, my mom loved to scrapbook, it became one of her passions the last years of her life.

After graduating high school in 1966 my mom worked as a nurses aid at Green Cross Hospital (which changed to Cuyahoga Falls General Hospital and is now Western Reserve Hospital). My mom loved working in the hospital and it was her dream to become a nurse.

Getting Married & Having a Family

At the age of 19 she got married to her first husband, Joe Sullivan and had my sister. Things didn’t work out with that relationship, Joe wasn’t the right guy for my mom, being a more fly by the seat of your pants type to her responsible nature. Eventually they divorced and my parents met while she was working as a bartender at Falls Recreation, a bowling alley, and I believe she worked in a bank during the day.

On October 2, 1971 my parents got married, oddly enough on my Grandma’s birthday (my mom’s mom). A year-plus later I came along and her family was complete (you do stop at perfection, right? Okay, I’ll stop before my sister gets mad).

By this point in time Cindy became a “stay at home” mom. But she didn’t believe in pampering us, we walked to and from school, even in the rain (that’s what umbrella’s are for – I tell you, I wish I still had an umbrella now like I had when I walked home from school – it was clear with red trim and a red curved handle and the top completely wrapped around you, so your entire top stayed dry, not just your head!). This caused issues with the other parents because they wanted her to help with carpools.

But in the grand scheme of things I can’t complain about my childhood. I had chores to do (dishes, floors, bathrooms – nothing horrible – but ask 18 year old me and I’m sure I would say something completely different). But she let me be a kid, and for that I am eternally grateful. She didn’t make me feel bad for sneaking downstairs to my play room and play with my dolls when many would have thought me “uncool” (though when I was 5 she did hide my Fisher Price People from me, and that hurt).

Mishaps

I have so many times when odd things happened that always looked bad for my mom. For example one night, I was probably in third grade (I think?) and my mom and I were sitting at opposite ends of the couch. She stretched out and ended up kicking me in the mouth. The next day at church people asked me happened, and me being my usual, blunt self stated “my mom kicked me”.

But even before that when I was probably 4, my mom would take my sister and I to the band show at the high school. My favorite was always watching the majorettes, I always thought their costumes were so pretty. Anyhow on this particular hot August day I was to clean my room. When my mom came in to inspect she found a faux rhinestone bracelet on the floor. She got mad and flung it at me and where one of the clasps that was missing a stone cut the skin just below my eye. All of the sudden there was blood everywhere – and that night as I had a small gash when the people around us asked what was wrong with me, I just said “my mom threw a bracelet at me”.

I’m pretty sure there was at least one more instance like this that I am forgetting, I really am surprised that social services was never called to our house.

When I Was Sick

I was a sickly kid. Not in a really super bad way, but I was a kid who every year during the change of seasons, I came down with a cold. Actually, it was more than a cold, it was croup (most people get this once a lifetime, I got it at least 3 times a year – when I was a teen it was more like laryngitis that lingered forever, oddly it went away when my mom quit smoking when I was 19 years old and my dad began smoking outside only).

Anyhow, my mom always took good care of me. When I had to have my tonsils out. When I came down with the chicken pox (she figured it out because we were watching Donny & Marie and I didn’t want any popcorn. I kept itching my side and that’s when she made me pull up the top of my shirt and see I had a spot. My sister had already had chicken pox so it wasn’t a big deal. It was the second half of second grade that I came down with it. Daddy got in trouble because he went out to work in the garage while my mom and sister went to church and I did the one thing I wasn’t suppose to do – I itched a spot on my face and made the scab come off – RIGHT UNDER MY EYE. I was fortunate, only on a bad day can you see the scar (like when I’m super tired). But she didn’t know that (my sister has a spot in the middle of her forehead).

Another memory of when I wasn’t feeling too good my mom always called me pumpkin, not sure why, but thinking of it now brings a smile to my face.

When My Grandfather Fairhurst Moved In

When I was in fifth grade my Grandfather Fairhurst moved in with us. His third wife (the one he married after my grandmother) decided she wasn’t going to put up the abuse anymore and divorced him. He returned to Ohio and somehow ended up at our house, living in the basement.

As I’ve said before in a previous post, my grandfather was not a nice man. I didn’t mind it when he first moved in because I wasn’t aware of how my life and my mom’s was about to change. After about 6 weeks I acted like my grandfather wasn’t even in my presence (which I think freaked my mom out a little). He sat across the table from me and I’d act like he wasn’t there. He took over the television (which for an 11 year old is a big deal after school in the winter time), we think he is part of the reason my first dog disappeared, and didn’t have too many nice things to say about anything.

While all this happened, my mom slowly began to change. She became a shell of herself, and just began sitting at the table while she smoked cigarettes (several packs a day) and played solitaire. Her dad sat on the opposite side of the table doing the same thing.

Finally Harold met someone and got married again, Connie was her name. They didn’t stay married for long, my dad always figured that she must have thought he was loaded or something. Was she in for a surprise. But his stint at our house had taken it’s toll on my mom. She slept all the time and began complaining of headaches and she was just a mess. All the suppressed memories and horror of her childhood caught up with her when her dad moved in. And like my dad will say to this day, it never hit him how long my grandfather had lived with us.

After a while my mom was encouraged to get some professional help. In the span of 5-8 years, my mom saw 2 therapists. The first encouraged her to do the one thing she had always wanted, she went back to school and became a nurse.

Cindy Becomes a Nurse

In the Fall of 1988 my mom enrolled in a year-long program to become a licensed practical nurse at the W. Howard Nichol School of Practical Nursing. Never had I seen my mother work so hard (well, except for cleaning). Every night she made flash cards to learn her anatomy, studied with some of the other students in the mornings at Arby’s and came up with clever ways to remember who did what (no disrespect to people with mental issues – but the one that I always remembered was “Dingy Dorothea” as a way to remember Dorothea Dix who advocated on behalf of the mentally ill, it may have not been the most positive way to remember her, but here it is 31 years later and I still know this fact).

Cindy didn’t miss a day of school and she came in 2nd in her class (and that made her so mad). I remember attending her graduation in September 1989. On October 25 she made her way to Columbus with her other classmates and took the State Boards. She passed!

What Cindy journaled: “I always wanted to be one, but could not get there right out of high school. I even participated in a vocational program my senior year of high school. I worked as a nursing assistant at the local hospital in the mornings and went to school in the afternoons. I was the oldest of five children and my dad worked in heavy construction so no work in the winter, so they could not afford to send me to nursing school, besides I did not have a car so no transportation besides the bus. I would have been willing to ride the bus back and forth but no money for tuition. So I worked as a nursing assistant for several years. I would have joined the Waves also to have them pay for my education but my dad was dead set against that.
So life went on, I married, had a daughter, Kellie. I then divorced and then met and married Bob. I was a stay at home mom for many years-until Kellie decided she did not want to go to college and Becky was still in high school. I finally got my chance. It was May 1988 when I scheduled to take the entry exam into nursing school! Then we got the news that my Mom had throat cancer. I knew she was going to need support. I took the entry exam anyway. I was told I would hear from them in a couple of weeks about my results. Lo and behold they called me the next day and asked me to come in for my interview. I had tested so well they were offering to let me start in September. My Mom’s treatment would be over by then, so I was accepted into the W. Howard Nichol School of Practical Nursing. It was 1988-I was forty years old! Was I crazy? Had I lost my mind?
I went anyway!
I worked very hard studying every night but Friday and Saturday the first half of the year. Then we made it to Capping-yes they were still wearing caps then! After that things got harder! Learning the normal body the first half, then the abnormal the second half of the year. So I only took Friday nights off from studying then. I loved every moment of my schooling. The human body is such a miracle.
I graduated second in my class of thirty students. I was proud I worked so hard! I was finally a Licensed Practical Nurse-In my life that was and to this day is

AWESOME!!!!!!

She initially got a job on 3rd shift working at a nursing home but it didn’t take her long to realize that was not her calling. A few months later she got a job working for allergists near Akron Children’s Hospital and this was the job she loved. She ended up learning how to make the allergy vaccines and giving a majority of the shots.

Her Real Calling

While my mom worked as a nurse, I finished high school, went to college (twice) and then finally found someone to marry. But this is when I gave my mom I believe to this day was the one thing she truly loved being more than anything else, “Gramma”.

You can tell by the way she is looking at them how much she loves them!

I have always said to my kids that I wish I had their Gramma as my mom. She did things with them that she never thought of doing with me – swimming in the backyard pool (you know the ones, the blow up wading pools), took them to fairs (they were unsafe when I was little) and pretty much got them everything their hearts desired along with a hefty dose of her love.

Scrapbooking

As you can tell from this post, I’ve filled it with my mom’s own thoughts from her scrapbooking pages. She loved to scrapbook. I took her to a crop at my aunt’s in I think 2011 and she was hooked. I recommended she do what I did when I began a few months before, pick an event where you have a handful of photos and go. She did and never looked back. Here is one of my favorite photos she did – a picture of her as a child and as she looked when she did the page.

This photo is actually my background on my phone
No one was surprised more than me when my mom decided to take up fishing!
Biking was another hobby she tried but it would wear her out too quickly
Left to right: My sister, my mom, me, my kids, and my dad

Influenza B

Sunday April 1 was Easter Sunday and it was a wonderful day. We had dinner at my parents house, we played a board game and I showed both parents the many photos I took from my family’s trip to Washington D.C. over Spring Break (we missed the cherry blossoms by a few days). I honestly can’t remember a better holiday.

Then the day after Easter 2018 our world was blown apart. While my kids were at her home after school my mom suddenly got very sick and an ambulance was called to take her to the hospital. She ended up being there for about a week and had to be hooked up to a respiratory tube to breath. It took them a while to figure out that she had Influenza B that attacked her lungs. She was already struggling with atrial fibrillation and having difficulty breathing but this was a lot. I still have the message she left me on my phone, telling me she was going home that Saturday. They wanted her to go into an assisted living place so she could undergo physical therapy of walking up and down the steps again but she refused and did it at home.

I taught my kids the sign language sign for I Love You when the were itty bitty so that I can wave it to them and they know in school, up on a stage, etc. It came in handy for this post and truly touched my mom’s heart, it was her last posted page on her blog, everything else was cards she had made.

As time went on my mom continued to have issues with her breathing. She began going to see one of the doctors she worked for wondering if some of her issues could have been handled in a different way as one of her doctors for years had chalked it up to her being overweight and needing to lose a few pounds. But she was barely eating and I think that played havoc with her body as that can make you not lose weight sometimes too.

Monday, May 28, 2018

I know her body was still weakened after having the Influenza B and on Monday, May 28 in the morning, my mom died. It happened quick. One minute she was talking on the phone to her above friend/doctor, she had chatted with one of her co-workers about how she was feeling on Facebook Messenger that morning, sent my dad to Wal-Mart to pick up some things. Then reminded him he needed to water the flowers, he came in and saw her struggling and called 9-1-1.

My mom knew she wasn’t feeling well all weekend. She had told me a couple of times on the phone that she may go to the hospital for a breathing treatment. So when my dad called me and told me they were headed to the hospital I poorly assumed that this was the case. I took my time getting ready, it was going to be a while before they were going to let me see her.

Little did I know when I got a second phone call a half hour later from my sister what was really happening. I live the closest to the hospital they took her too, the one I told you about before where she worked as a nurses aid after high school, Western Reserve Hospital, aka Green Cross Hospital.

My husband and I weren’t in the ER waiting room long when the doctor came out and said they had done everything they could. I never cried so much at once. Never had my chest felt so heavy. And for days.

The paramedics began working on my mom as soon as they got to the house. A neighbor claims they were punching her chest pretty good as they left the house and got into the ambulance with her trying to re-start her heart. My dad said that they did get it going briefly in the ambulance and once again in the hospital. But as I am the family historian and when I made a genealogy appointment at the health department and I got a copy of her death certificate it was called before I ever got to the hospital. My dad kept having them work on her, but after 45 minutes he finally said stop. They already had.

A Mix of Feelings

I don’t think you can ever be prepared to lose a parent. I was not expecting to lose my mom that day. If you notice I stress the date. That is what I do. She died on Memorial Day. I can’t have every Memorial Day ruined now because it happened to land on the observed day of Memorial Day (it’s bad enough it was the day before my husband’s birthday – yeah, she really screwed him, and she really liked my husband).

Telling my kids was one of the hardest things I ever had to do. Especially my daughter, as my mom had made her the center of her world. She could do no wrong, and she pretty much knew it. My son on the other hand you have to be careful even now. He went the other way with things, getting mad at her for never going to the hospital and having that breathing treatment.

My dad, he was really mad for a very long time. I think he was a bit like my son, wondering why didn’t she do the breathing treatment, why didn’t she tell us she was as sick as she was.

But in the end, her quality of life was going downhill and maybe it’s good it happened fast, that she didn’t have to suffer anymore than she did.

But on Monday, May 28 you couldn’t tell me all this. I was the one who was told the least (well, outside of my children that is). I was the baby of the family, and in many ways my mom still saw me as such. When she had doctor’s appointments she told me what was going on but in layman’s terms so I understood it all (I can’t stand the sight of bags of blood so I knew a medical career was never for me). She also knew I got anxious when my parents had to get procedures. I was the internal worrier even if I didn’t let the world see it.

My mom and I had a very complex relationship. But until the end she was my mom. For me we were never friends or buddies like many mom’s and daughter’s do. She was the mom and I was the child. She was critical of me even the day before she died. My last phone conversation was her hanging up on me because I was in the middle of fixing a taco salad for dinner and wouldn’t rush off to turn on the Cleveland Indians baseball game. Later that night she messaged me how it ended and that was our last interaction.

Cynthia Anne Fairhurst was a woman who only saw black and white, right or wrong. It was a world with no grays. So I often disappointed her because she couldn’t understand why I did things (for myself or with my kids even). My dad could, and most of their arguments stemmed around why my sister and I did things that my mom thought was just not the way to do it (yeah, examples of this are escaping me at the moment).

More Memories

I remember after I graduated from college in 1996 (the first time, the 2nd time was when I went for 1 entire year and got my history degree, that was 1999). Our family had planned a vacation to Williamsburg (family being me, my mom and my dad). My dad ended up having jury duty so he didn’t go. He thought being a fireman would get him out of it, he was wrong, but stating he had vacation plans would have (insert person slapping their forehead emoji here). So my mom and I went on the trip together.

This still makes me laugh because I love history and my mother doesn’t. Williamsburg was fun, for some reason she only ever remembers George Wythe’s House (he was a lawyer and a signer of the Declaration of Independence, last odd fact, if you do relative finder using your FamilySearch.org account, I’m supposedly related to George Wythe on my mom’s side of the family, she would have been so excited!). She also thought it weird when I got emotional at Yorktown – I could have been walking where George (Washington) walked! How does she not see that as thrilling (and must not have noticed me doing the same thing 7 years before when my parents and I visited Washington, D.C. and we went to Mount Vernon). I can’t even remember what she was lecturing me about but we didn’t even make it to Jamestown because I was done. I remember her telling me the exit is there but I didn’t care – I was going home. And that is what I did.

I still have yet to see Jamestown.

But I do have a lot of funny memories of that trip. Somehow every time we tried to get to our hotel (the now defunct George Washington Inn) we ended up at Camp Peary (here I thought it was an Army base but it’s apparently a training place for the CIA – that’s even funnier). It was always our turn around point. Here my husband figured it out on our honeymoon seven years later, there are 2 highways side by side and we always got on the wrong one to get to the hotel. Oddly enough he couldn’t find Camp Peary so the one day I drove and found it in minutes. I’m talented that way.

But my mom and I did have some really good times. In 2000-2001 we signed up for the National City Bank Broadway Series in Cleveland where once a month we went and saw touring Broadway shows. That year they had some really good ones – Tony & Tina’s Wedding, Fame, Cabaret, The Scarlet Pimpernel (so funny!), Swing!, and my mom’s favorite, Fiddler on the Roof. She enjoyed hearing “If I Were a Rich Man” the way Theodore Bikel sang it. When I emailed who I thought was Theodore Bikel’s agent to see if such a recording existed (it does not) I ended up chatting via email with Theodore Bikel himself!

Another love of my mother’s was watching the Radio City Music Hall Rockettes, so back in 2002 when they came to Cleveland the first time I took her. And we had front row seats (I thought we were going to be row 2). She was so happy, she always commented to everyone that if the girls hadn’t shaved she would have known it as she was so close she could count the hair on their legs (sadly no photos, we didn’t have phones with camera’s quite yet, or if the world did they weren’t common yet).

We also watched a lot of baseball and football together. She was the die-hard Cleveland fan where my heart took me to other places. I love the New York Football Giants (because Bud Carson cut Matt Bahr before the 1990 season and then Raul Allegre got injured and Matt joined the team, I’m sure it helps the Giants won the Super Bowl that year but 30 years later I’m still a fan) and the New York Yankees (I thought I was a fan of both teams but in 1997 during the Divisional Playoffs my mom and I went to game 5 with my cousin and her husband, I claimed I didn’t care who won with my Omar Vizquel jersey and my Yankees baseball cap, but when Sandy Alomar hit that home run off of Mariano Rivera in the bottom of the 9th and the Yankees lost, I wasn’t happy Cleveland won, I was devastated the Yankees lost, and that’s how I discovered I was a Yankees fan). Anyhow – we went years watching games together. And though Cleveland went to a couple of World Series but never won, I am happy she watched my Yankees with me to see them. She was happy. And though she preferred the Indians I know she was like me and enjoyed watching those Joe Torre led Yankees teams of the late 90’s and early 2000’s. When Derek retired I remember her posting a story on my Facebook page stating “can you believe we watched his entire career?” It was wonderful.

Granted, I’ve cried a river writing this blog over the past 3 or 4 days. Normally tears I shed for my mom are often unexpected. In the middle of the grocery store when I see something I know she would love and I pick up my phone to tell her only to remember she is no longer here. When I see something happen with my sports teams that I know she would be excited about (for example Mariano Rivera making it into the Hall of Fame unanimously – she liked Mo and Derek Jeter a few years later though he missed unanimously by 1). When the kids do something awesome and go to share it.

When my mom surprised me with a 40th birthday party. She laughed as I walked in with many friends and family and I said “I guess this means no chicken pot pie” she made the best homemade chicken pot pie, it’s what she made me every year for my birthday.

I miss my mom. At times I feel like I was still nothing but a disappointment but more and more it’s just the fun memories I remember. Everyone tells you this but it’s the truth, tell your parents you love them. Hug them (I know it’s difficult presently because of Covid, so glad my mom wasn’t around for this). You never know when that last time might be.

This was taken when we spent a day at the farm in southern Ohio I believe in 2014. My mom was not fond of this picture, but I love it as she looks happy as she was wearing my son’s hat while was riding the ATV with his dad and had a helmet on. Overall, it was a fun day!

Thank you for going through this journey, I surprised I found so many items on my mom’s blog to use. I rather enjoyed having her words intermingle with my own to tell her story.