12 Ancestors in 12 Months, Maternal Side, My Family Tree

Month #7: Identity

Three years ago, I learned the identity of my great-grandfather, Paul Harrison Geer (or at least who I am pretty sure is my great-grandfather). Today I am going to do the best I can to outline his life as I never got the chance to meet him in the 11 years that our lives overlapped.

Paul Harrison Geer

Paul Harrison Geer was born on 21 September 1905 in Akron, Summit, Ohio. He was born at home to Clyde Ellsworth Geer and Gertrude Van Buskirk.

This was found on Ancestry.com in the Birth Card Index for the state of Ohio. Standard birth and death certificates did not begin in Ohio until 1908. Another index lists the home as 102 E York St, which is where the Akron City Directory for 1906 has Clyde and Gertrude living as well. These places were just around the block from each other.

Paul was only 3 years old when his mother died on 26 October 1908 of acute pneumonia. From there he was raised by his maternal grandparents, George Van Buskirk and Lydia Cunningham. Though Paul was not listed in the 1910 census in his grandparents’ home, he is not listed with his dad, Clyde, either. (It appears Clyde lived with his brother, Fred, and his family after Gertrude passed away). Paul’s older brother, George Ellsworth Geer, and his younger sister, Ruth Cloe Geer, were both accounted for on the 1910 census, my guess is that Paul may have just been missed. At this time the Van Buskirk’s lived in Akron at 745 Elma Street (this house no longer stands).

The photo that allowed me to figure out my DNA puzzle, was the headstone of George VanBuskirk, Lydia Cunningham VanBuskirk, Fred VanBuskirk, and Gertrude VanBuskirk Geer. This photo was taken by William A. Davies III and was found on FindAGrave. It was also selecting George VanBuskirk that lived a few blocks from where I presently live to research that helped to point me in the right direction.

Being an adolescent between 1910 and 1920 there is not a paper trail of documents to be found for Paul. In the 1920 census, he is listed as living with his grandparents still. They have moved to Lake Township in Stark County, Ohio, and live on Akron Canton Road.

By the 1925 Akron City Directory, Paul and his siblings began living with his dad, Clyde, and his second wife, Helen (they got married on 23 April 1921) at 71 Rosalind Court in Akron. He was a driver at this time, an occupation he would have later in life as well.

Paul Meets Mildred

But by living at 71 Rosalind Court I know Paul has now met my great-grandmother, Mildred Laura Dunbar as my 2nd-great-grandmother, Mazie Lorenia Warner, and her second husband, Samuel Randol, had lived at 75 Rosalind Court since moving to Akron in 1916.

This photo was taken from Google maps (as it would be a tad odd to get out of my car on a dead-end street to take photos of these homes, or maybe that’s just me). Both are still standing and according to the Summit County Auditor’s real estate tax website, these were the homes that both families lived in. 75 Rosalind is on the left, and 71 Rosalind is on the right.

I am not certain how long Paul and Mildred knew each other as it may have been prior to 1924 when Clyde and Helen are known to have moved into 71 Rosalind Court. I believe that Clyde Geer worked at Swinehart Rubber Company for an overlapping year with Samuel Randol, Mildred’s stepfather. I think the two men may have become friends, which may explain Clyde moving next door to the Randol/Dunbar household.

But even if it was by just sheer coincidence, Paul and Mildred became neighbors in 1924, and with my great-grandmother being sweet sixteen, I imagine that Paul was her first love. Fast forward a few years to 17 September 1927 and the happy couple gets married by Reverend Orris W. Haulman (a popular local minister) at the Grace Reformed Church when it was still located at 207 North Portage Path.

Found a copy of Paul Harrison Geer’s and Mildred Laura Dunbar’s marriage license using FamilySearch

After they married the Geers settled at the Randol’s former residence of 75 Rosalind Court (with Mazie and Samuel moving to 622 Carpenter Street, not far away). Their happiness was short-lived as Mildred filed for divorce on 15 January 1929.

Before I took my DNA test which is how I learned Paul was most likely my biological great-grandfather, I thought him to be this horrible person, that my great-grandmother was lucky to be rid of him. Now I hope my great-grandmother exaggerated as she just didn’t want to be married to him anymore. On the chance that what she stated was true, well, I like to think that Paul changed for the better over the years, and maybe he was just young and stupid.

Mildred’s reasons for her divorce are as follows (the below is quoted directly from the records I received from the Summit County Probate Court):

Page 1 of the divorce filing by Mildred Laura Dunbar to Paul Geer, I obtained from Summit County Clerk of Courts in October 2016

He “has been grossly neglectful of his marital duties towards her in that ever since March 1, 1928, he has wholly failed and refused to provide her with food or clothing or the other necessities of life and that she has been compelled to rely upon her own resources and her parents for sustenance and clothing” and “that the defendant has willfully wasted the real and personal property which they possessed at the inception of their married life and that he worked for a short interval at any one place and that he wasted his earnings in gamboling houses and other places of ill repute”.

The divorce record stated no children, and I don’t believe there was one in January when she filed as my grandmother, Alberta Lou Fleming was born prematurely on 2 October 1929. The story goes that Mildred was sent home from the hospital with my grandma and a hot water bottle and if she (Alberta) survived by morning for her (Mildred) to feed her. Lucky for me she lived.

Anyhow, I digress, I do not know how much of a preemie my grandma was, but I’m guessing Paul and Mildred had one more amicable night together before the divorce was final. That my great-grandmother married Albert Nank on 30 September 1929 and listed him as the father of Alberta on her birth certificate must just show how much she wanted Paul out of her life.

Paul Meets Juanita

I have been unable to find Paul in the 1930 census. He is single as the divorce from Mildred was final on 5 September 1929. He does pop up in the 1934 Akron City Directory working at Goodyear and living at 209 West Center. In 1937 he is still working at Goodyear but moved to 166 West Center. Then he marries Juanita Dodd on 30 December 1939, in a joint ceremony with his father, Clyde Geer, who was marrying Juanita’s mom, Stella Long, at the First United Methodist Church. (As a side note, it has always pleased me that Paul took an entire decade to re-marry. If he truly was guilty of all the things my great-grandmother accused him of in her filing for divorce, I like to think he learned his lesson).

The record of Paul Harrison Geer’s marriage to Juanita Dodd was found on FamilySearch

By the time the 1940 census came about, Paul and Juanita had moved to Detroit, Wayne, Michigan where Paul was working as an assembler in an auto factory, but by 1943 they have returned to Akron, living at 207 Carroll Street, #4 (no place of business is identified). By 1946 he and Juanita have a daughter and he is once again working for Goodyear, living at 571 North Summit. By the early 1950’s they have settled in Akron, living at 230 West South Street, and Paul has begun a career as a truck driver for Dixie-Ohio.

This was saved from Newspapers.com, the article is from the 5 April 1955 edition of the Akron Beacon Journal

I don’t find a whole lot of other information about Paul and his family. On 24 November 1960, he won tickets to see a movie at the Strand Theater, I wonder what movie did he see?

This was published in the 24 November 1960 edition of the Akron Beacon Journal, which I found using Newspapers.com

Two years later in December 1962, Paul’s father Clyde died of an acute myocardial infarction at the age of 82. Clyde had been living with Paul and his family for at least 6 years (the things you can learn using City Directories).

This was found on Newspapers.com, it is the 16 December 1962 edition of the Akron Beacon Journal

Twelve years later his brother, George, died in 1974, and then his sister, Ruth, in 1975. Paul lived to age 78, passing away on 27 February 1984.

Here is a shortened version of Paul’s obituary that ran on 28 February 1984 in the Akron Beacon Journal, I’ve cropped it so it does not include the names of the living. This was found using Newspapers.com

The photo in his obituary, and one other in that of his wife’s obituary, are the only 2 photos I have of Paul. You can read about my adventure in discovering through DNA how I figured out Paul was my great-grandfather here. After 3 years of composing a letter, I did reach out to Paul’s daughter to see if she could share with me what he was like as I’m quite curious. I mailed the letter out in early to mid-July and have not heard anything. To say I’m bummed is an understatement, but I understand. It took me 3 years to summon the courage to mail that letter to her simply because I was afraid of rocking her world. But to my knowledge, I don’t think Paul had any idea he had a child with Mildred. But it doesn’t lessen my curiosity at all.

But going back to that photo above, his cheekbones. My grandmother had those cheekbones. My cousin does as well, then again, she really looks like my grandma.

Here is a photo of my Grandmother, Alberta Lou Fleming. She had these taken some time in the 1990s. From my personal collection.

I’m still hopeful I’ll hear from Paul’s daughter, my half-grand-aunt. Not only did I ask what Paul was like, but Clyde, George, and Ruth as well. I want to know about all of them, I wish I could get answers about his mother, Gertrude, but that is pretty much a lost cause unless I come across another family historian who talked to people years ago.

I am gathering up names to do another genealogical visit to the Summit County Health Department to gather birth and death certificates, and Paul is on my list to discover what his cause of death was.

To finish this up properly my hubby and I went out to Greenlawn Memorial Park where Paul and his wife, Juanita are buried. It took us about 50 minutes to find his grave as the layout of section Y was a bit challenging, but for me worth it. You always get that feeling of closeness when you are near your departed relative, even if you never met them in person.

My own personal photo of the headstone of Paul & Juanita Geer from Greenlawn Memorial Park in Akron, Ohio, taken 12 August 2022

I’m glad I took the time to do this timeline about Paul Harrison Geer. From the comments on his wife Juanita’s obituary, they seemed like a very nice couple, which led to my coming around about him not being as bad as the divorce document states. In the end, isn’t being a good person what you want to learn about your ancestors?

Book

The Woman They Could Not Silence by Kate Moore

Though in the midst of reading a book about George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, I went to the online offerings of my local library to see if there was anything that could interest me. I discovered “The Woman They Could Not Silence” by Kate Moore and became sucked in immediately.

Elizabeth Packard

The book is the story of housewife, Elizabeth Packard. She was the wife of minister Theophilus Packard, who was a bit more of a free spirit compared to his more conservative religious views. Elizabeth, having been a teacher before marrying Theophilus, felt that women were equal to men. Trouble was this was 1860 and not too many others felt this way.

So Theophilus did what many men were doing in 1860, he began making a case that Elizabeth was insane. Soon he had a majority of the town stating the same, and on 18 June 1860 Elizabeth was carried from her home to the train station where her husband then accompanied her to Jacksonville, Illinois where the Illinois State Hospital was, leaving her six children behind (Theophilus III, aka Toffey, Isaac, Samuel, Libby, George, and Arthur).

What Elizabeth discovered once she was settled in the asylum were many women who had been admitted by their husbands who were perfectly sane. Dr. McFarland, the superintendent of the Jacksonville asylum initially thought her sane, but as Elizabeth began to despise her husband for locking her up, this is when McFarland began to view her has mad, how could she be angry at her husband? I’ve scratched my head many times as this was referenced repeatedly in the book, trying to figure out how obtuse a person could be to not see why she would hate her husband for locking her up.

Life in the asylum goes from bad to worse as she is moved to a harsher Ward. One of the ways that Elizabeth kept her sanity in the asylum was by writing. And it was also the way McFarland found to punish her, he’d take her paper away. She still found ways to write, often hiding her pages within her linings of her clothes, trunks, and even in the back of her mirror. She recorded the things she had seen and heard.

Life After the Asylum

Elizabeth is finally released by the trustees 18 June 1863, being considered “incurable”. Her husband didn’t allow her to return home, taking her to her cousin’s home to live. Theophilus told her she was not to return to her family. Initially she listens and stays with her cousin Angeline, but then after four months opts to defy her husband.

On 20 October 1863 Elizabeth returns home to Manteno, to be with her children. As I read this I remember becoming full of dread, the only way I can describe it is like when you’re reading a Nicholas Spark’s novel and you just sit there waiting for the bad things to happen. This is the same way I felt when I read Elizabeth was returning to her home. You see, before she left the asylum there were rumors that Theophilus was going to send her to a far worse hospital located in Massachusetts, so why would she risk it? Well, easy, a woman loves her babies.

And though it took a while, eventually Theophilus locked her in her room again, without heat, hoping to once again commit her. But Elizabeth outsmarted him with her “four meddlesome friends” as he called them, by obtaining a “writ of habeas corpus” where a person being held prisoner was to be brought before a judge and have a reason to be held hostage in her own home. Theophilus tried to once again convince the judge that Elizabeth was insane. But there was one huge difference this time, the judge made him prove it.

My Summary

Elizabeth Packard was an eloquent woman who made it her life’s mission to prevent women from being incarcerated in insane asylums for no reason. She made it so each woman would have a trial before being committed and truly made a difference. Though her name is not as common as Susan B. Anthony or Elizabeth Cady Stanton, she did create legislation that helped women all across the United States.

If you are looking for a book that will have you rooting for the underdog and wanting a positive ending, look no further. I’ve tried to highlight Elizabeth’s story but didn’t want to go into details and give it away. The book was nicely done using quotes from many of Elizabeth’s books that she wrote that she initially used “crowdfunding” to produce. Drawings within the book showed you what Elizabeth looked like, her husband and children, along with their house in Manteno.

In the future I plan on reading Kate Moore’s other popular book, “Radium Girls”.

12 Ancestors in 12 Months, Paternal Side

Month #6: Conflict

One of things I wish I could achieve in my genealogical journey would be to join a lineage society, specifically Daughters of the American Revolution (as I am a huge fan of the Revolutionary War). However, with this goal also lies one of my largest conflicts in my family history as I would like to join under my 5th-great-grandfather, Peter Morgart, simply because this is through my Grandma Blair’s (Anna Maria Morgart) family, as I had always had a special bond with her and my obsession with genealogy began as I was missing her back on 10 August 2016, and I signed up with FamilySearch and the rest is now history.

My conflict exists because both my Grandmother’s birth certificate and death certificate have the same incorrect name listed for her father. Instead of the correct name of Charles Jackson Morgart, A Jackson Morgart is listed instead.

Certificate of Birth for Anna Maria Morgart, obtained through the Pennsylvania State Archives
Death Certificate of Anna Maria (Morgart) Blair obtained at the Summit County Health Department

Now, in my dad’s defense, who was the informant on her death certificate, his paternal grandfather’s name was Andrew Jackson Blair, so I can relate to his boo-boo in his time of grief. But no one was more surprised than me when I ordered up my Grandmother’s birth certificate from the Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission back in January 2020 to find her dad’s name would once again be listed as A Jackson Morgart instead of Charles Jackson Morgart.

To cause me more grief is the fact that Charles Jackson Morgart committed suicide on 24 July 1917, and with my Grandmother being born on 2 April 1914, there is no census that has both listed on the same document as father and daughter. I’ve also never found an obituary or death notice in the newspaper to shed light on his death, so nothing that would state that he had a daughter named Anna Maria Morgart (or at least not yet).

I do have her marriage license that states her father’s name is Charles Jackson Morgart, but would that document be enough?

The above marriage certificate was found on FamilySearch as part of Indiana Marriages, 1811-2007

I suppose if I needed more evidence I could hope that the birth certificate for his older son, Charles Edward Morgart, which does have the correct name listed would work, and that I could hope that I have a DNA match with one of his descendants which could give me the argument I need to prove I am his great-granddaughter, and connect me to the rest of the lineage that would lead to Peter Morgart.

Has anyone out there in cyberspace had this sort of genealogical problem? How did you get around it? Is the marriage license enough?

12 Ancestors in 12 Months, Genealogy

Month#5: Social

For the 12 Ancestors in 12 Months challenge for this month the word is “social”. I find myself talking about myself again but it’s because I am not a social type of person. I am an introvert to the nth degree, and this is a part of my personality that I really need to work on if I am going to be the person I truly want myself to be.

Why did this come about now? Because last night I learned that on 6 June 2022 one of my older relatives passed away. I feel horrible as my dad always thought to call her later in the day and with her being 88 he didn’t want to call at that moment in time and wake her up. When he couldn’t reach her I threw her name into Google and her obituary came up. And then I cried as I had met Hope on more than one occasion, and she was a lovely woman. My most recent meeting was when I went back to Pennsylvania in 2019 as she was excited to share with me the photo she had of her great-grandparents, my 2nd-great-grandparents. You see, Margaret Hope Dipko was my first cousin once removed on my dad’s side of the family.

As the memes on social media highlight, “a library has been lost”. Because of Covid I wasn’t able to get back to Pennsylvania and ask Hope questions I should have asked about my Wise side of the family. I thought she may have had answers about the Morgart side as I was semi-focused on them when I visited in 2019 but she was unaware. I wasn’t prepared for Wise questions and now I’ll never know (she attended the Wise Family Reunions with my grandmother years ago).

So, in honor of Hope, I am going to learn to get out of my comfort zone and begin talking to people. I’ll start out locally and begin interviewing those I know, (but do I really know them?) in order to practice on those I am not as familiar with. I’m going to make sure I interview my relatives and be more social and learn as much from those who are still here. Genealogy is a social hobby, how else am I going to fill in all those dashes, the important part of a person’s vital statistics.

Go be social. Talk to your relatives. All of them. You never know what kind of wonderful information is lurking in someone’s memory just waiting to entertain you with a fabulous story about their life. One of the best ways you can honor your relatives/ancestors is to keep their spirit alive by sharing the story of their life.

12 Ancestors in 12 Months, Maternal Side

Month 4: Check It Out

I have to laugh even now that I have completed half of the local cemeteries that I need to visit. I laugh because it was 3 years ago this week I packed up my husband and a few belongings and we headed 4 hours away to Pennsylvania to do a cemetery hop, some research at the Bedford County Historical Society, and went to the Courthouse to view probate records and deeds of the ancestors on my paternal side.

What is comical is that I haven’t accomplished any of those things for my ancestors who lived here in Akron, Ohio. So, this past Saturday I began by visiting 2 of 5 local cemeteries where my ancestors are buried. I flew solo this time as my husband was assisting with parking for the Bridgestone Seniors Golf Tournament at Firestone Country Club. I can admit I truly missed the second set of eyes. It began getting a little toasty so I stopped, knowing that I can finish up at a later time because that’s what happens when you are visiting cemeteries close to home. The urgency is not there because who knows when you will return (which has been the case for me and Pennsylvania during this time of Covid).

Chestnut Hill Memorial Park

My first stop of the day was Chestnut Hill Memorial Park where my maternal granduncles were both buried. Edwin Fairhurst was killed in Saigon during World War II while his older brother, Wilfred, died in 1956. Wilfred also fought in World War II for the Marines and was in Saigon when his brother, who was in the Army, was killed.

Oakwood Cemetery

Oakwood Cemetery was literally the cemetery about 5 minutes (driving) from where I grew up. I passed it every day on my drive to Cuyahoga Falls High School as Oakwood Drive was the street both my dad and neighbor took to take me to school for all 4 years. The interesting part was that my great-grandparents, James Fairhurst and Phoebe Boone Fairhurst were buried not far from the fence that I drove next to every day. They were who I searched for first as I entered the larger than it seems cemetery in the middle of the suburban city of Cuyahoga Falls.

The Fairhurst’s

It was interesting. I wasn’t sure how to react to their gravestone. As I felt so sad for the death of their sons (Wilfred and Edwin were their children), it was more complicated for them. My grandfather, their youngest son, was never a very nice person. He was physically abusive to his wives and children. As I’ve picked up stories about James and Phoebe, all those stories aren’t very promising either. Maybe I’m mistaken to blame his cruelty on them, but sometimes things just start and never end. I believe this is why I’ve never been big on trying to find out more about this branch of my family. Granted, it takes me to England right away as both James and Phoebe came here in the early 20th century, but it’s hard to get excited for people who you hear of just not being nice.

The Dailey’s

The next stop in my cemetery adventure was looking for the headstone of Andrew Dailey and Maria Munson Dailey, who I am pretty sure are my 4th-great-grandparents on my maternal grandmother’s side of the family.

I haven’t really learned a whole lot about Andrew Dailey and Maria Munson. This is one of those things I plan on delving into as I settle back down into focusing on my research. I know Andrew was born in this area back in 1814 so he has been a settler here in this area for a very long time. Researching here in Ohio will be a change of pace, as I am so use to Pennsylvania.

The gravestone was very worn and if there were words are the other sides they were completely washed away. Andrew passed away in 1886, Maria in 1898.

Albert Nank

I opted to include Albert William Nank as I knew he was buried in Oakwood Cemetery. Albert is the man named on my maternal grandmother’s birth certificate as her father, but to my knowledge I have not discovered any DNA evidence from when I took my test 3 years ago to support that. That’s why I have the Dailey’s above, they are branched off of who I think is really her father’s family.

But I began looking for my 7th-grade-teacher’s final resting place and I remembered that Albert was not buried far from him. He was still my great-grandmother’s second husband so I guess he deserves to be memorialized as well, even if he wasn’t very nice either. I think he knew he wasn’t her dad but must have thought it wasn’t his place to say so.

I know I’m probably not suppose too, but I do wish I could take a weed whacker to his headstone so you can see it in its entirety again.

Mr. Muster

This last one is not a relative of mine, but rather my favorite teacher. I had Mr. Muster for a combination of geography and Ohio History in 7th grade at Roberts Middle School. He was a teacher that you either loved or hated, there was seldom an in-between. My sister did not have Mr. Muster but her good friend did. Heidi told horror stories about how mean Mr. Muster was. She was heavy-set and apparently he gave her a hard time about that. I found this odd as he himself was heavy-set. And he smoked a pipe. We had B lunch so our class went a half hour, we had lunch, and then we had another half hour, and I always remember the smell of his pipe when we returned to class.

I don’t remember much about the geography portions of class except the Africa test. It was a map test and you went up and pulled a slip of paper from a hat and you selected which test you would take. You then went up in front of the entire class and had to point out where things were. I lucked out and pulled the easiest one – so I had to point out the Nile River, Egypt, South Africa, and Zaire… all the really big and easy things to find. My friend Pam ended up selecting the most difficult test…. I don’t even remember what was on it but I was prepared and wish I could have helped her.

Ohio History was the fun part of class. I love history. And there was a cannon that was famous in Ohio named Old Betsy (gosh, I can’t remember why?) and Mr. Muster had a cannon that he claimed was a replica and he began shooting it in class with caps (like what was used in cap guns). I had a similar cannon at my grandma’s so I brought it in one day and fired back. He asked me if my cannon had a name, I said yes, Victory. So he then went on to inspect his own cannon, all we could find was “Made in Taiwan”.

Mr. Muster’s son was also in the same grade as my sister, so I hunted him down at graduation that night to discover how I did on my final exam. I’d missed 2. But that I found him was quite a feat as the Richfield Colosseum was huge (it no longer exists) and my sister had a very large class (but not as big as my mom’s).

I went back and visited Mr. Muster often as I went to high school. It’s amazing how teacher’s really have that impact on you. I had a few in high school and my favorite English teacher is someone I am friends with on Facebook (he taught my all-time favorite class – Enriched World Literature – it’s where I began my love of classical music).

Old Betsy

I just Googled “Old Betsy Cannon” and it was used at Fort Stephenson during the War of 1812. It was the only cannon the fort had so Major George Croghan decided to move it around the fort to make it appear that they had more fire power than they did. In the end 150 British and Native Americans were killed and the United States only lost 1 soldier. You can learn more here.

I found this photo of Old Betsy at Ohio Memory.
12 Ancestors in 12 Months, Genealogy, My Family Tree

Month 3: Females

The dynamic between mothers and daughters is one of the most intense relationships that I feel has ever been developed. I’m not sure why, exactly. I know for the past year especially I have had more issues with my daughter than I have at any other period of her life. Between skipping school, arguments about grades (apparently I’m offensive because I wanted C’s or higher? To be fair my son gives me the same amount of lip about it and as a person who got more A’s than C’s in high school, I feel I’m being generous), and the latest one seems to be about curfew (so angry at this she up and left a month ago and has yet to return, I’m quite confident she isn’t coming back, my hubby seems to hold out hope – she feels she is 18 and doesn’t need a time to be home, I feel she is living in my house and should still follow some rules, but let me add I’ve included if she just lets us know where she is she can stay out later, just let us know when you’re going to be home). But I digress.

I remember a year or so ago when I was researching my second-great-grandfather, Randall Childers, that one of his daughters knew where he was at when he up and left Pennsylvania and moved to Tennessee. Well, maybe I am overstating, I’m not sure if Jennie Childers May knew where her father had relocated, but seeing her name as the “next of kin” on his paperwork was a surprise to me.

I remember when first finding the memorial for Sara Jane Fesler on Find A Grave where in the paragraph below it stated the “issues” that Randall and Sara had in their marriage. When I saw that Randall had died in Tennessee, I just assumed he’d left his family behind for a different life. I was never approving of his marrying a second time, and I always wondered what Sara thought. Was she happy he was gone? Sad? Mad? I could see myself going back and forth between the latter two emotions.

But for some reason things changed for me when I found a document on Ancestry from the US Homes for Disabled Soldiers that noted in 1905 that Randall was a widower and that his next of kin was Mrs. A. S. May, I was somewhat blown away. I suppose there is that chance she had no idea… but what if Jennie knew? I don’t think I’d be happy if my dad told the government my mom was dead when she wasn’t.

But what if Jennie didn’t get along with Sara? What if she was a daddy’s girl? (As I myself am). Did she know of her dad’s new life in Tennessee? Did she keep such information from her mother? Did Sara even want to know? These are questions I’ll never have the answer too.

My own situation has really got me thinking about my own ancestors and how well all the mothers and daughters got along. I believe my mom got along with my grandma pretty well, at least I don’t recall her getting into any big kerfuffle with her. Now my older sister and my mom use to get into it, I didn’t as much but I watched and learned. I saw how mouthing off to my mother didn’t get my sister anywhere, so I would make my mom mad by sitting there and just letting her get her anger out. I often thought my mom wouldn’t even be that mad at my sister, she was just looking for someone to argue with and she happened to be an easy target. Well, maybe that’s being a bit too blunt, my mom knew exactly what to do to push my sister’s buttons. And frankly, my sister did the same to my mom.

I feel that females have much stronger emotions compared to men. Granted part of that could just be our ability to overthink everything. And I believe that these feelings tend to get the best of us, but this is what makes us females so wonderful.

Did you have some feisty females in your family? Feel free to share in the comments below.

Genealogy

Stuck in a Rut?

Have you ever found yourself constantly trying to solve brick wall and really not getting anywhere with it? I have found myself in this situation before, normally involving Andrew Blair and Susanna Akers but this time around it’s on my mom’s side of the family with Oliver Charles Warner and trying to prove that Joel Warner and Thankful Chapin are his parents. Every new angle seems to lead to a dead end.

So I began with a simple task that did not even involve researching, it was running a report in my family tree program and finding out which relatives I needed the FamilySearch number for. And it was a good task for me to do as 12 pages of individuals and I’m halfway done. This is a task where you can feel proud if you can figure out on your own where a specific person actually lies on your tree. Sometimes I’m doing fist pumps in the air in a congratulatory way, other times I’m slapping my forehead questioning how I could have forgotten someone.

Inspiration via YouTube

I’ve also tried watching videos. Late last year I became a member of AmericanAncestors.org and along with a great website I’m slowly acclimating myself to, I find myself heading over to their YouTube page and watching videos. I opted to watch an interview they had with Brian Matthew Jordan, a history professor at Sam Houston University who is originally from Northeast Ohio. He wrote a book called “A Thousand May Fall: An Immigrant Regiment’s Civil War” about an Ohio regiment made up of German’s fighting in the Civil War. I’ll admit my mom was a nurse at his doctor’s office as a kid and she always thought it neat his love of history at such a young age, I believe as a teen he wrote a book on Franklin Pierce, simply because no one else had (that may be an overstatement, but he is one of the president’s hardly written about).

Anyhow, I digress, he mentioned in his talk about if you don’t have any information about your ancestor and what they went through during a war, in this case he was referencing the Civil War, he spoke of researching through newspapers and looking up stories in relation to the regiment that your ancestor was in, because many smaller towns received information about the war from the letters that the soldiers would send home to their loved ones. So, this is my latest endeavor, as I have not been able to obtain my pension file from the National Archives due to it being closed, I am going to search for the Company K 13th Regiment of New York Heavy Artillery that my 3rd Great Grandfather, Winfield Warner, fought in during the Civil War to obtain more information on what he faced.

The AmericanAncestors.org video from their American Inspiration series when Brian Matthew Jordan spoke about his book “A Thousand May Fall: An Immigrant Regiment’s Civil War”

Okay, so maybe my new topic to take my mind off of my brick walls is not so far away from my brick wall (Winfield Warner is the youngest son of Oliver Charles Warner), but I think it will be fascinating to delve into a period of history that I am not as familiar with (I was always more of a Revolutionary War girl myself).

You never know where inspiration can hit you. If you have an hour, watch the above video, it was really interesting. Dr. Jordan was a great speaker and really highlighted a lot of details as he has written a few books on the Civil War. And I hope to share what I find on the Company K 13th Regiment out of New York with you all soon.

Maternal Side, My Family Tree, Paternal Side

Who Did You Find in the 1950 Census?

Ever since the clock struck midnight on Friday, April 1 the genealogical world has gone crazy trying to find their ancestors in the newly released 1950 census. Were you prepared to know where you had to search for your loved ones? I was a last-minute person, looking up the enumeration district for my mom and giving my dad a call to find out what state he was living in when 1950 rolled around. You see this was the first census my parents are in so I will admit I was a little excited.

I contemplated staying up until midnight when it was released to the world, but I was so tired I knew I wouldn’t have been able to stay awake that long. So, I made sure I got up at my usual 6:11am (the time I normally get up to get ready when my kids are going to school, they happened to be on Spring Break last week, so I was able to sleep in an extra hour), got ready, ate early and made sure I had a good solid hour before having to head out the door to focus on the 1950 census.

My Mom

Of my parents, finding my mom was a little easier. I thought initially she and her parents were already living on North Main Street in Akron, Ohio but I was wrong. I am glad I took the time to look up their information in the City Directory to find them living in Cuyahoga Falls, which is where I myself was born and raised (and it’s literally a 2-minute drive in either direction from where I live presently). It made it even easier for me to find except I selected the wrong enumeration district. Where they lived on Second Street there were multiple choices. It was odd though, I never had paid attention that they lived there before and here I drove by where their house was every day when I took my kids to school, or when I was a member of the Natatorium a few years back. (It appears that it’s a vacant lot where the building once stood).

I found my Mom in the 1950 using the National Archives website in enumeration district 77-69 for Summit County, Ohio. They were of course on the very last page. Harold Fairhurst was the head of household.

On my mom’s side of the family, I found her parents, Harold Fairhurst, Alberta Lou Fairhurst, herself, Cynthia Anne Fairhurst, and her younger sister, Terry (Teri) Mildred Fairhurst.

My Dad

My dad was a little trickier. I had called him the night before to ask if he knew if they were in Ohio yet, or if they (he and his parents) were still living in Indiana. My dad would have been 7 in 1950 and apparently all of his schooling was here in Ohio, so that narrowed it down. However, when they first moved to Ohio, they didn’t live in Akron, they lived in the Village of Lakemore, which was near Akron. This is one of those places that I have heard of, but I am not sure if I have ever been there.

I threw “Lakemore” into the enumeration district page to see if anything came up, but it wasn’t helpful. Luckily Google exists. I searched Lakemore, Ohio and luckily it came up and I was able to discover the zip code for it.

I then went to the Ancestry.com and they had a tool you could throw in your zip code and such and it would provide the enumeration districts for the area. So, I put in 44250 and I was able to narrow my search to 77-114, 115, 116, or 117, which translates to about 100 total pages to scan.

I lucked out, they were halfway through 115, and not only did I find my dad and grandparents, but my grandfather’s brother was living right next door with two of their kids as well! So, the total family I found for my dad was his dad, Leroy Blair, his mom, Anna Maria Morgart, his uncle, Donald Blair, his aunt, Anna Smzrlich, and two of their children.

My grandfather, Leroy Blair, is about 4 people down and is the head of household. This can be found at the National Archives website.

Everybody Else

I’ll admit I have hundreds of people I am sure I need to look up and find in the 1950 census. My great-grandparents on all sides of my family would have all been alive and kicking still, but I’m more than happy to wait until I can search by name and save it that way. I figure if I come across someone else that I just need to find, I will, but I have time (and not fully understanding the layout of Pennsylvania towns, who knows how long it would take me to find them).

Did you enjoy the fun of finding your ancestors in the 1950 census? How many people did you find? Share in the comments below!

Genealogy, Maternal Side

Research Logs

One of the most important tools you should use when doing your family history is completing a research log. I will admit, I am horrible at getting one out and using one but I am also a very scattered researcher. I flit from one side of the family to another and don’t think anything of it, and I also duplicate my efforts because as good as my old noggin’ is for remembering things, I can’t remember everything.

And that is where a research log comes into play. Not only do they allow you to visually look at what you have discovered in a specific source (be it a census, book, magazine, newspaper, etc.) it allows you to see where you didn’t find information, and that can be just as valuable.

Where Can I Find a Research Log?

Research logs come in many different formats and can be found pre-made for you to download. I know the one I tend to use can be printed from my Legacy Family Tree software. I can imagine most of the other brands of genealogy software have research logs ready-made for you as well. In the screenshot of my program below, I have boxed in red the “research log” tab where you can print one off lickety-split.

Here is what the research log looks like that Legacy offers. I’ll also show an example I downloaded from FamilySearch.

Legacy Family Tree Research Log
FamilySearch Research Log

If you prefer to have an “online” research log, you can always create a document in either Excel, Google Spreadsheets, or even creating a table in Word or Google Docs. Thomas MacEntee has this handy dandy sheet available by just Googling “genealogy research log in excel”, it was the first item that came up, I clicked and it led straight to the directions on creating your own spreadsheet.

Every Good Research Log Should Ask a Question

Like my subtitle above states, a research log should always ask a question, and you should use 1 research log for 1 question on 1 individual. If you have another question about the same individual, you begin a new research log. And the question should be very specific in reference to your person.

I do not have any concrete evidence of who the parents of Oliver Charles Warner, my fourth great-grandfather on my maternal side of the family, are. I sadly must have done the biggest of no-no’s and just gone off the one big tree for who his parents are, so here I am, doing my due diligence to prove his parents are Joel Warner and Thankful Chapin (as Thankful would have been Joel’s wife in 1809, but now that I think about it, many don’t even have Oliver listed as their child, many only have Sharon Burke Warner, their oldest daughter).

Who are the parents of Oliver Charles Warner, born approximately 1809 in Franklin County, Massachusetts?

You are best to be as specific as possible for your question, to make sure you are not confusing the person you are researching with another potential candidate. I’d like to think that my Oliver Charles Warner was the only one born in 1809 in Franklin County, Massachusetts. But we shall see.

When I make a log for the documents that I do have on Oliver Charles Warner, not one mentions who his parents are. He is married in all the census records I can find, and his death record, which I should be able to open at a Family History Affiliate, came up empty when I went to the library (a FamilySearch affiliate). One day a Saturday will be free for me to visit the Family History Center nearby to see if I have luck there.

My starter research log on Oliver Charles Warner, listing the documents I have found for him and realize none list his parents.

With Oliver Charles Warner being born in approximately 1809, this is the world of tick marks on the census. My goal is to first find a census that will show Oliver being born on the census with Joel and Thankful in 1810. Please note this will not give me concrete proof of any means, it’s just a start to see if Oliver is in the household with Joel in 1810.

When I go to consult my files, I find it strangely ironic that the only census I am missing for Joel Warner is the 1810 Census. Ideally, this census should show Joel Warner as the head of household, and other dependents including his wife, Thankful, his daughter, Sharon Burke Warner, and two sons, Anson, approximately 5, and Oliver, approximately 1 (possibly less).

When I found the 1810 Census using Ancestry.com, it had not yet been indexed so that could explain why the 1810 Census had been missing in my files and on my profile of Joel Warner on Ancestry (however, the 1810 census is now saved in my computerized files).

The above 1810 Census can be found on Ancestry.com, J Warner is boxed off near where the word “Bernardston” is written on the left-hand side of the page.

The perplexing challenge I face with the 1810 Census is that it states that “J Warner” and his spouse (at this time I do not know for certain if this is Thankful) are raising 1-boy under 10; 2-girls under 10; 1-girl 10-16; and both the man and the woman in the house are between the ages of 26-45. Why this is perplexing is that many records have Joel having another son, Anson, born in 1805, with Oliver Charles supposedly being born in 1809, which leaves him with 2-sons under 10. I am also unaware of any daughters under 10 and this lists 2.

This census also lists Joel’s siblings, Pliny and Roswell, which is why I’m confident my “J Warner” is Joel. Both of his brothers are listed as having sons under the age of 10 as well (or at least boys in their homes). Pliny has 4, while Roswell has 3, more possibilities on who Oliver’s parents might be. (Joel also has one other younger brother, Seth, who could also be a parental possibility, and Seth, like Joel, moved to Potter County, Pennsylvania).

Now while looking through some of the birth records from Bernardston, Hampshire, Massachusetts, it’s quite odd that on 15 November 1804 Alson Warner was born to Pliny and Jerusha Warner. I now wonder if the mysterious “Anson” could be “Alson” (the Anson I have found was born in 1805 and I’ve never seen any other record relating him to my Warner’s, I have a hunch I have found information on an Anson that doesn’t belong to my family as there are many Connecticut ties). But does that mean that Oliver Charles Warner is the “boy under 10” on the 1810 Census for Joel?

Also, Oliver was supposedly born in Franklin County in 1809. And though Franklin and Hampshire are next to one another, was Oliver born in Franklin County or in Hampshire? It’s entirely possible they moved, as Thankful died in Franklin County as well in 1812. In fact, it appears that Bernardston has changed what county it is in (or at least I have it down as two different counties, maybe Franklin was formed from Hampshire). A simple Google search provides me the answer, Franklin county was formed in 1811 “from the northern third of Hampshire county”.

So now my latest deduction is if Oliver Charles Warner was born in Franklin County, how accurate is his 1809 birth year since Franklin was formed in 1811? Oliver is not listed in any birth records for Bernardston, only Sarah Burke Warner, the oldest child of Joel and Thankful, is listed as being born in the vital records of Bernardston, Massachusetts. None of the other children that are represented on the 1810 Census are listed either. So, my next task is to look through other city’s vital records in Franklin County to see if Joel Warner is listed with offspring. This also includes me creating a new research log with the question:

Where in Massachusetts was Oliver Charles Warner born in 1809?

I’ll keep the year the same because as I look through the documents listed I’m sure if he was born a few years later I should still find him. It’s possible as I find the vital records about Oliver that maybe I will find information about the girls under 10 that are also listed in the 1810 Census under Joel Warner.

Other research logs I could work on were extending my research to the collateral members of the Warner family, finding out the name of the children of Pliny, Roswell, and Seth Warner as well, to make sure my Oliver Charles didn’t belong to them. It’s always possible that the girls listed with Joel could have been nieces of his, nothing is guaranteed that the girls are his daughters.

Research Logs Keep You Focus

If nothing else research logs keep you focused. You may end up working on multiple research logs simultaneously but it’s worth it to keep yourself from duplicating work. Not to mention we all know how easy it is to go down the rabbit hole when you get distracted by bright, shiny objects, I’m not saying you won’t still do that, but hopefully, you will have a new research log for each hole you go down, and then some.

As for me and Oliver Charles Warner… I am still in the throes of trying to find towns in the vicinity and going through the online records. Many of these vital records have been digitized but you have to go through each record page by page. Where Bernardston’s records are all alphabetical and are just beautiful, not every town is Bernardston. It is just taking me longer than I anticipated to narrow down areas and figure out where to look. Part of me thinks I should do more of the collateral search first to discover all the children of Joel’s brothers to verify the names of all of their children to aid in my search, and that finding those records may assist me in narrowing things down. But I am determined to find what I need, hoping beyond hope that Joel and Thankful are Oliver’s parents.

12 Ancestors in 12 Months, Genealogy, My Family Tree, Paternal Side

Month #2: Branching Out

If I’ve learned anything from the countless classes, webinars, and presentations I have attended/watched over the last six years is that you need to branch out to get the full story about your ancestors. Branching out includes researching your collateral relatives and even researching the town(s) where your family lived.

Collateral Relatives

In case you are not aware of what a “collateral relative” is, it is your aunt, uncle and cousins, however distant they may be. It may seem strange to investigate these non-direct relatives, but sometimes you can learn things about your direct relative as researching their sons and daughters can find missing pieces of your own genealogical puzzle.

As I was looking up information on my Grandma Blair’s older brother, Charles Edward Morgart, referred to by my Grandma as “Eddie”, I came across both his birth certificate and a delayed birth certificate that they went and applied for on 11 January 1943. I don’t even have to look the date up, as I thought it was funny that they went and got this delayed birth certificate the same day my Grandma gave birth to my dad in Indiana. But that isn’t the only interesting thing I found out, when signing her name to the delayed birth certificate, my great-grandmother, Margaret “Maggie” Wise signed her full name, Margaret Dora Custer (she was married to her second husband, Earl Custer, at the time). Until this document I was unaware of what the “D” stood for.

Revised or delayed birth certificate for Charles Edward Morgart found on Ancestry.com

Another reason searching for information on your collateral family members is a smart thing to do, sometimes names are spelled incorrectly, and people don’t always show up in search results. By getting as many documents as possible for your extended family you may find missing relatives intermingled with others. For example, parents and grandparents can be found living with their children or grandchildren.

Cities and Towns

You can indirectly learn information about your ancestors by researching the cities and towns they lived in. If they were farmers, you can get an idea about what type of farm your relative had by researching the area where they lived, which comes in handy for someone like me whose relatives live in a state where the agricultural index for the census has been destroyed.

Sometimes you may be lucky enough that your family was important enough to be written about in a book about the history of the town. I was lucky enough to have the Morgart Tavern listed in a photographic book about Bedford County. My elation when I recognized names when I came across the book, simply trying to find out more about Bedford County, I wanted to jump up and down for joy. It’s a shame one has to be quiet in a library. (I thought I had taken photos of the book to share with others, but apparently I didn’t – presently hanging my head in shame).

The book Bedford And Its Neighbors by Arcadia Publishing

Branching out in your genealogical research is essential to finding everything you need to know in your family tree. I always research all siblings and children of my relatives. I don’t always research parents of spouses of extended people because sometimes you have to stop, but there are times when I still do, like siblings married siblings so sometimes when you can’t find where a person is the answer may be with the other set of associated parents (I have done this with George Washington Blair, son of Andrew Blair and Susannah Akers, as he is married to his younger brother, Samuel Alexander’s wife’s sister).

Have you found out any interesting facts about your direct line ancestors by researching collateral relatives or where they lived? I would love for you to share in the comments.