My Family Tree

Anna Maria Morgart

Thirteen years ago on this very day I lost one of the greatest human beings I ever knew.  My paternal grandmother, Anna Maria Morgart died at the age of 93 years and a part of me has been lost ever since.  On this anniversary of her death I will honor her.

Her Childhood

Anna Maria Morgart was born on 2 April 1914 in Broad Top Township, Pennsylvania at 11:55am to Charles Jackson Morgart and Margaret Dora Wise. She was named after her maternal grandmother, Anna Maria Leighty Wise. By the time she was 5 years old, her father would commit suicide and her mother would re-marry.  From the many stories I heard, my grandma thought the world of Irie Earl Custer, so much so my dad’s middle name was his middle name, and the name he (Mr. Custer) used, Earl.

She always told me about how much she loved school, and though she didn’t get the best of grades, she did love English and handwriting.  She loved to write.  Her handwriting was so distinctive, you can see it below in the “Blondie” on the photo on the right.

Into Adulthood

One of her first jobs, she told me, was how she cleaned a bank.  She claimed she got down and cleaned the floor with a little brush.  She may or may not have said tooth brush but as a little girl that’s always what I pictured so that might be where I got that idea in my head.  When I visited Pennsylvania last Summer my cousin, Hope, was so nice to show me where the bank was – and here it is – it’s where you pay your utilities in Saint Michael now.

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The photo below was taken of her in 1933 – she was just 19 years old.  It’s odd how much my dad looks like her in these photos.

Anna Morgart 5Mar1933

I never quite knew when my grandparents met, I’m still not certain how they met either.  I think I asked my dad but he isn’t entirely sure either.  However I did come across this article from the Everett Press from 7 July 1933 where it shows they attended a Fourth of July picnic together at my Grandmother’s aunt’s home (Mrs. Bartley Noggle was Anna Rebekah Morgart, sister of Charles Jackson Morgart).

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I Do

My grandparents got married on 24 April 1937 in Elkhart, Indiana.  I’ve not found any wedding photos or even a marriage announcement, but I have found a copy of their marriage license on FamilySearch.

My grandparents moved to Indiana because my grandfather, Leroy Blair, was offered an apprenticeship in sheet metal.  This was a much-preferred occupation as his father had passed away in the coal mines when he (Leroy) was just 14 years old, and according to my dad, Leroy also had an accident in the same “room” where his dad had died.

My Grandfather’s older sister Vada also lived in Gary, Indiana and she and my Grandma were best friends.  I often talked to Darlene, Vada’s daughter, and she always remembered how close they were.

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Left to right – Bertha Childers (her back is towards us), Vada Blair, Anna Maria Morgart, and Charles Blair “Buddy” Reese.

Despite living in Indiana, my Grandma still found a way to go back to Pennsylvania and visit her family.  She was very close to her family.  Her mom, Margaret Wise and brother, Charles Edward “Eddie” Morgart lived in Pennsylvania, but she would also head up to Detroit Michigan to visit with her older sister, Virginia. (Below are photos from 1940 of my Grandma, her with her brother-in-law, Joe Dipko, and lastly one of her and her sister, Virginia).

 My Daddy Makes 3

On 11 January 1943 my dad was born.  My Grandma was so happy to have a little one, and my dad was her only child.  They were still living in Gary, Indiana when he came along, and since World War 2 was taking place, amongst the photographs was the ration book that was used for my dad.

AnnaBlair-BobbyBlair-June1943

In the 1950’s my grandparents moved from Gary, Indiana to Akron, Ohio.  Initially they lived in a trailer but by 1955 they had money to move into a house.  My Grandma had never been so proud of a house as the one she made her home.  I couldn’t tell you how many photos she had of her house on Roslyn Avenue. That’s her standing in the door below. (She lived here the rest of her life).

NewHome-1449RoslynAve-17Mar1955

My favorite was the photo she had of how there was nothing in the yard so my Grandfather, aka Pappy, decided to grow ears of corn in front of the living room window (however I am not finding that photo at the moment).

Another story of how they found their house was that as long as my Grandma could walk to a store she was going to be happy (she didn’t drive, apparently when she was younger a suitor attempted to teach her but she ran off the road and never got in the driver seat again). Pappy did well, he found a home for her and my parents got her a shopping cart that she could push her groceries home.  She was also a master of coupons, and this was before couponing was a thing (or at least before I knew couponing was a thing).

As She Grew Older

My Grandma always had a smile and a kind word for everyone.  She loved birds and family.  The below photo I shared before.  My Grandma and Pappy (right side) are playing with their bird, Skippy #1, while my Grandma’s mom, Margaret “Maggie” Wise, is laughing along with them, and Bertha Childers, Leroy’s mom, is just as grumpy as can be.

BerthaChilders-MargaretWise-AnnaMorgartBlair-LeroyBlair-Skippy#1-1961

My Grandma was one of the most generous people I knew.  During the summer months she would get up super early in the morning and go to a lady’s home, Mrs. Juhas was her name, she was the mom of one of my dad’s best friends growing up, and she would help her in her garden.  She shared green beans and tomatoes with my grandma as payment (though we use to go over weekly for my dad to help my Grandma with a very small garden she had in her backyard).  Until my Grandma got macular degeneration and could no longer can green beans, which was around 1997, I’d never had green beans in an aluminum can until about the year 2000.

Leroy/Pappy died on 14 May 1975 so I don’t really have any recollection of him (I was born in 1973).  But Grandma went everywhere with us.  She spent the night before Christmas so she was there to watch us open our presents.  She was always invited over to functions on my mom’s side of the family (she was 1 of 5 kids so there was always something going on).  My husband for the longest time didn’t believe this, especially when I began having trouble going places after my Grandma passed.  I realized Grandma was who I sat with at these functions so I could entertain her, and frankly so she could entertain me (I’m quite the introvert at times). But after my maternal grandma passed, my aunt gave us a bunch of photos that we were in that she had, in every photo was my Grandma Blair beside me.  I laughed so hard to prove my husband wrong.

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This is my maternal grandmother, Alberta Lou Fleming Metzger, 65th Birthday Party.  From left to right is me (in black), Grandma Blair (aka Anna Maria Morgart in pink), Thomas Ray Weekley (blue stripes), my mom, Cynthia Anne Fairhurst Blair (polka dots). Oddly, the little bit of curly hair between my cousin Tommy and the beer can is my Grandma Metzger (Alberta Lou).

When She Turned 93

The last six weeks of my Grandma’s life were not the best.  She had gotten a case of shingles on her legs and didn’t tell anyone.  It got into her bloodstream and made her pretty sick and she ended up in the hospital. This is where she was on her 93rd birthday.  I remember my dad and I going to visit her on her big day, 2 April 2007.

From there she was moved into a nursing home not far from my house to go through therapy so she could walk and move around again.  I would go and visit her often and slowly her appetite was decreasing.  My husband made her sweet potatoes and it was the last solid food she ate.  About a week later, I did what I didn’t want to do, which was tell her it was okay if she wanted to go “home”.

I’ve hated myself for 13 years for doing that.  I know it’s what she needed, I know it was probably the right thing to do, but a selfish part of me hates myself for doing it because my kids never got to know her.  My son was 7 months old and my daughter just 3 years.  She has vague recollections, but that’s it.

But the thing is my kids have gotten to know her.  I’ve shared with them all the wonderful stories I have of my Grandma Blair.  Just today I told my daughter of the time when my Grandma was watching my sister and I in 1976 after my cousin Tracy was born.  My mom helped drive my Aunt Barb to Texas to be with my Uncle who was in the Air Force.  Aunt Barb had been in my room so I was staying in Kellie’s room on bunk beds.  My sister had finally let me up on the top bunk and very quickly she decided I had overstayed my welcome.  She went to take me off the top bunk by force but I quickly pushed her off the top bunk and on to the floor.  My Grandma came back to see what was wrong, there was me on the top bunk and there was Kellie on the floor.  My Grandma reached up for me and told me it was time to leave Kellie alone.  As Kellie cried Grandma just told her that she would be okay and to get up off the floor.  I really dodged a bullet that day.  Don’t worry, some day I’m sure you’ll hear part 1 of this story when Kellie dragged me around the walls of the living room by my feet giving me rug burn (there is no love loss between my sister and I, even to this day).

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A little over 2 years ago as I sat at a band concert with my mom, I can’t even remember what we were talking about but my mom looked at me and said that every day I reminded her of more and more of my Grandma Blair.  It was the greatest compliment she could have ever given me.  And sadly she (my mom) passed away a few weeks later, so I’m glad she said it when she did.

I hope I make my Grandma proud.

And I hope she misses me as much as I miss her.

Genealogy

Court Records for Your Genealogical Search

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Bedford County Courthouse, 17 July 2019

One of the many types of records that can be beneficial for your genealogical search is court records. “Court records include information about adoption, debt, divorce, naturalization, lawsuits, guardianships and appointments. Probate records relate to the death of an ancestor and the distribution of their estate. These records often include wills, inventories, accounts, bonds, etc.” (from the PBS “Genealogy Roadshow” web page).

Why Court Records are Important

Court records are important on your family history journey because they inform you of family relationships, locations, land ownership, occupations, and descriptions of individuals.  For those of African American heritage, court records are critical as they include slaves and slave relationships. Courthouses also can have the registration of free blacks as well as marriages and slave children (from “Genealogy Roadshow“).

Tips for a Successful Search

When going in search of court records it is best to have a plan.  Below are some steps that will hopefully lead you to a successful trip to the county courthouse.

1. Have an Objective

Don’t go into a courthouse expecting to fly by the seat of your pants.  You must have a clearly stated goal of what it is you are seeking when you visit so you are not wasting your time, or those who work at the Courthouse.

Information that you can find on your ancestors include:

  • Your ancestor could have been a juror, witness, victim, defendant or plaintiff in a civil or criminal court case
  • Naturalization applications
  • Pension affidavits
  • Divorce filings, separation or paternity claims
  • Property records
  • Tax records for personal property
  • Estate records
  • Vital records

All of the above were records that were at one time found at courthouses.  Today there may be other places where you can find this information.  Vital records, for example, might be found at county health departments, or older records may have been consolidated at the state capital (this is the situation for Ohio, birth certificates have no restrictions and can be accessed at our health department, however death certificates from 1908-1953 can be found on FamilySearch, 1954-1963 can be found at the Ohio History Connection, the state historical society, and you can purchase for $7.75 which includes tax; 1964-present are available at the health department of the county where the person died; birth certificates can be retrieved from anywhere in the state from 1908 to the present).

2. Do Research Before Leaving Your Home

When you are getting ready to do a courthouse visit, make sure you research where the records are before you go so you haven’t gone to the wrong place for the records you need.  Most county courthouses have websites (or at least the counties do) and it will often tell you exactly where the records you need are located.

If the website is vague, call or even email the person you think lines up with what you are looking for and ask.  I know last year when I went to Bedford County I had emailed someone in advance just to make sure I didn’t need an appointment before just showing up.  I didn’t but they also told me (as I commented about how I was travelling from Ohio) that they had online access that I could also use for a fee.  I was able to get a bunch of needed records about my ancestors that I could find there (and the ladies that work there were extremely friendly and helpful), but as I find other information for non-direct line ancestors, I keep a list so I can look those people up online.

But not everything may be in the courthouse, by calling in advance of when you’re going to be there, they may have records in a storage facility and by calling they could make sure what you are looking for is on-site for your visit.

Also, make sure you have done your due diligence with boundaries and where the information was located at the time you are looking for.  Counties are formed all the time (well, not so much now but 150 years ago counties were still being formed within states).  Make sure that information you are looking for is where you think it should be.  I know in Pennsylvania Blair County was one of the latter counties to be formed in the south western portion of the state, so land and tax records of your ancestor in 1860 that is Blair County could be in Bedford County 20 years prior because Blair county was formed in 1846.

Lastly, make sure that some of your information is not already online with one of the subscription sites.  As I mentioned before, Ohio death certificates can be found on FamilySearch from 1908-1953.  Sometimes you have to go person by person because the transcribed name may not match up, but they are there (warning: they go in clumps via county and time of death in a year – so you may have a bunch of May deaths together and they are all arranged alphabetically by county, I would often just jump ahead every 25-50 names to get through counties I knew I did not need). Pennsylvania birth certificates from 1906-1910 and Pennsylvania Death Certificates from 1906-1967 can be found on Ancestry.  Birth certificates from 1911-1914 can be purchased from the Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission for $5 per certificate (I recently purchased my grandparents birth certificates in January of this year, my grandfather was born in 1912 and my grandmother in 1914).

3. Evaluating Your Finds

Remember, you are going to a courthouse to find court records and they will be riddled with legalese you may not understand.  It may take a few readings to figure out the true meaning of the document, as well as figuring out the lingo of a hundred years ago. You may also have difficulty with penmanship, big words and bad writing can make for a big headache.

You will also want to make sure you record your findings, along with what you did not find.  Sometimes this will be a clue as to where you can look next, or inserting it into a timeline may give you insight on why an event occurred (person moved, went to prison, etc.).

(More info on the above points can be found at Family Tree Magazine)

4. Manners Matter

In so many ways genealogy can be a casual hobby but when you plan on heading to the courthouse you should make sure that you dress nicely (casual chic would work great here, if not in a more professional manner) and that you show respect to those working.  Some of the people you will be dealing with are elected officials, but more importantly these people are helping you, so make sure you go out of your way to be grateful for what they are doing for you.

(This last point I added from an article at GenealogyBank).

Enjoy The Moment

This might seem like an odd point but you are going to be messing with books and records that could be hundreds of years old.  Even if they are copies, it can still be exciting to be working with these old records.  Some may even have your person’s signature on them, and that could just be about as thrilling as it could be – especially if you are like me and find yourself having favorite relatives (I do).

Digging up information of any kind about your people is extremely satisfying.  Enjoy the moment but make sure you stick to the plan you have laid out for yourself.

Stay focused and have fun!

 

 

 

 

 

Genealogy

Obsessed With Your Brick Wall?

Like most people, I have a lot of ancestors that I can research over the 4-primary branches of my family tree.  But are others of you out there like me, obsessed with your brick wall ancestors?

Whenever I read a book on genealogy, any time a new idea is brought to me as far as considering how to find people, the first thing I think of is can I use this new method to find more about Andrew?

Andrew is referencing Andrew Blair, born about 1812 in Pennsylvania and for whom I have no parents.  He just shows up in my 1850 census with his wife and 2-children and I can’t find him before or after.  His wife, Suzanna, also a brick wall, is born around 1826.  And no other Ancestry trees have anything more than I do.  Even my late cousin, Darlene, couldn’t find any parental information for Andrew or Suzanna.

Ways to Get Over the Brick Wall

There are many suggestions out there for overcoming a brick wall.  Ancestry has 7-points to do to find the answers you seek.

  1. State a clear research problem (specifying your problem succinctly)
  2. Back-up a generation and review (do you know all there is to know about their children?
  3. Use ALL the records (have you searched through all possible documents to find them?)
  4. Create a timeline (this one is pretty self explanatory)
  5. Account for inconsistencies (if records give you differing information, rationalize them)
  6. Research the FAN club (friends, associates, neighbors)
  7. Ask for help (hire a professional genealogist in the area where your ancestors lived)

FamilySearch is a bit more thorough with their suggestions for dealing with brick walls.  They have 33 points that they spread out in 7 larger areas:

Preliminaries:

  1. Start with the most likely records
  2. Go from the known to the unknown
  3. Focus on one question at a time
  4. Look for alternate spellings and nicknames
  5. Do not trust indexes
  6. Do not trust copies selected by someone else
  7. Make friends with librarians and archivists

Fundamentals:

  1. Start with a well-documented family group record
  2. Research logs – keep good research logs for each family
  3. Document and organize as you go
  4. Search worldwide indexes for your family name
  5. Look for death documents
  6. Local histories, biographies and genealogies

Advanced Research Strategies:

  1. Draw a timeline
  2. Organize, review and evaluate evidence
  3. Use forms to create new brain connections and raise questions

Expand the Number of Sources Used:

  1. Be thorough
  2. Substitute record types
  3. Use Wiki articles as a checklist
  4. Switch jurisdictions
  5. Area searches
  6. Try an exhaustive preliminary survey
  7. Search more libraries and archives

Search Records of Kin, Neighbors and Associates:

  1. Find your relatives children
  2. Research neighbors and relatives

Use Logic, Deduction, Inference, and Inspiration:

  1. Create a master research plan
  2. Correlate and integrate records of neighbors
  3. Study migration patterns
  4. Try to disprove uncertain connections
  5. Listen to your feelings

Continue Education and Follow-Up:

  1. Get an education
  2. Get help
  3. Share and collaborate

Genealogy in Time, an online magazine, wrote about 50 different ideas to tackle your impossible to find ancestors, here are a few suggestions:

  1. Search for maiden names
  2. Use middle names as first names
  3. Use naming conventions (such as the Victorian way of oldest son – father’s father, second son – mothers father, third son – father; oldest daughter – mothers mother; second daughter – father’s mother; third daughter – mother)
  4. Search by Village – sometimes searching records by a small village will have a bad transcription pop out because they are only a few pages they may be easier to tackle)
  5. Be aware of changing jurisdictions (boundaries for towns, counties, states were always changing)
  6. Schoolhouse records
  7. Electoral records
  8. Church/Synagogue records
  9. Land records
  10. Port of Entry
  11. Cemeteries – where they are buried and who they are buried near
  12. Wills
  13. Pensions
  14. Family associations that are for your last name

Lastly, that is not listed anywhere above is using DNA.  By taking a DNA test that provides you with cousin matches, you may find someone who you are related too and it could provide an answer to the question you seek.

So many ideas that you can use to try to knock down your brick wall, or at least chisel away at them a bit.  I was reading in one of the Facebook Groups I belong to today that one lady had a brick wall that lasted 35 years.  I asked her how joyful her happy dance was after finally crashing it down last year and she said she is still dancing.  I guess it puts in reality how my 4-years is really nothing.

If you have found yourself trying to find unknown ancestors and you have an idea that was extremely useful for you but not listed, please share in the comments below.  I would love to explore more ways to find Andrew and Suzanna.

 

Genealogy

I Should Be Driving to Sandusky

Back in late November during a Black Friday Sale I purchased my registration for all 3 days of classes at the Ohio Genealogical Society Conference that was taking place at the Kalahari Resort in Sandusky, Ohio.

But of course, like so many other events, it was cancelled so here I sit, with my children, working from home instead of driving to Sandusky for a few days of family history fun.

So I’ve been thinking about what I can do to still give myself a conference experience.

Watch Webinars

I happen to have a subscription to Family Tree Webinars so I am able to watch as many webinars I want.  But throughout this past April they’ve had a free webinar each day, and the Webinar Wednesdays are normally available for a week after it first airs for everyone to watch for free so you can utilize it for one of the days as well.

Check Out Some Podcasts

Podcasts are something I need to listen to more often.  There are a variety of podcasts out there for you to enjoy for free. Here are some I’ve listened to and enjoy:

  • Generations Café by Amy Johnson Crow – these are fun to listen to and they tend to be on the shorter side, which I sometimes like.  I don’t always have 90 minutes to spare to listen to a to longer ones in their entirety and these are just right.
  • The Genealogy Guys – I met George Morgan and Drew Smith at least year’s OGS Conference (and they were to be a part of the Meet & Greet last evening as part of the Genealogy Squad).  They have lots of great information on their podcast.
  • Genealogy Gems – Lisa Louise Cooke always has an informative podcast on her website that is always filled with a variety of topics.
  • Extreme Genes – it’s America’s family history show!  Hosted by Scott Fisher and David Allen Lambert, this successful podcast has topics pertaining to all sorts of areas to help you on your genealogical journey.

These are just a few that I’ve listed. If you Google “genealogy podcasts” you will get about 30 links that you can click on to see if anything flips your trigger, plus there are a bunch of articles that give you the “20 best genealogy podcasts” as well.  I just gave you ones I knew existed and had checked out that were off the top of my head.

Read Some Books

Read! And it doesn’t have to be just genealogy based books (I’m presently reading the How to Do Everything Genealogy Fourth Edition by George G. Morgan – yes, same as mentioned above from the Genealogy Guys. It’s 480 pages and I’m loving it as it just gives me common sense suggestions that I may have overlooked as I have never read an intro book before). You can read books that relate to your relatives.

For example, I recently finished a book by John Fitzgerald called Dirty Mines and it went job by job on what coal miners did, beginning in the breakers for the young kids who could have been starting between the ages of 8 and 10 years old, to being an independent contractor as an actual full-fledge coal miner (they had to pay their helpers with the money they earned for each cart of coal). It was extremely enlightening as I really didn’t know much about what positions there were as you moved up the ladder. It also went into detail about the creation of the United Mine Workers and the Molly Maguires court cases where several men were executed for no other reason other than they were framed because everyone was in cahoots with the other – government, coal companies, judges. Several of my ancestors were coal miners, so this book was exactly what I was looking for to educate me a little more about this industry.

You can also read about the towns your family lived in, books relating to the historical happenings at a specific time of your ancestor, be it on a city, state, or country level.  Sometimes international happenings can effect our people, too.

The same can be said for Civil War diaries.  It may not be the diary of your ancestor, but it would still have similar details of what may have been going on with your relative.

Hang Out in Genealogy Facebook Groups

Lastly, to give me that true conference feel, going and posting questions or helping others with their family history journey will be the icing on the cake.  By visiting some of the many family history groups I belong too on Facebook I should be able to get that wonderful vibe that I got last year about just communicating with others who have a love of this wonderful hobby (well, maybe obsession is a better word). If you have a Facebook account but haven’t checked out any of the genealogy group offerings, you are really missing out.  It is so much fun to read of others’ tales of triumph and woe (well, maybe not fun for this, but there are some stories that definitely bring a tear to your eye).

A person’s family history journey is so special and unique, and being able to share it with others is wonderful.  Not to mention the people in these groups are outstanding, I honestly we feel overall we are the friendliest of all the hobbies as we are always willing to lend a helping hand.

Power Through

I will power through this and I’m sure I will find ways to successfully pass the time while I research my family members.  Yesterday happened to be the 235th birthday of my 4th-great-grandfather and I realized I’d found and saved his information but hadn’t put any of it into my software program.  So we are going to delve into Baltzer Morgart.  He was born in 1785 and I know he ran the Morgart Tavern in Everett, Pennsylvania.  I was able to see the building last summer (sadly, we knocked but no one was home to see if I could have gone inside). He died at the age of 68 in December 1853.

 

Genealogy

Using Newspapers in your Genealogy Research

When researching your ancestors, do you have any stories to go along with each person? This tends to be the more difficult aspect of doing genealogy as it’s so easy to go on FamilySearch, Ancestry, Find My Past, or even MyHeritage and find out when and where they were born, where they lived throughout their lives and even when they died. But figuring out who they were is a bit more challenging.

One of the ways I have learned about my family members is using newspapers. There are a variety of options available for free and with subscriptions for you to find stories about your relatives.

Free Options

Some historic newspapers are available for free (one of my favorite words). The most popular is Chronicling America ( https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/) which is a joint endeavor between the Library of Congress and National Endowment of the Humanities. It has newspapers from 1789-1963 that are digitized for your use.

Another free option may be available with your library card is Newspaper Archive Academic Library Edition (my library has this and can be accessed from my house, check out to see if your library has a newspaper database similar to this).

Subscription Options

Newspapers.com is one of the larger subscription sites for newspapers available for genealogy. They are owned by Ancestry.com so if you have a tree there, it is easy to attach the articles. Some subscriptions of Ancestry now include Newspapers.com (I believe you are accessing the articles through Ancestry searches though). Newspapers.com has 2 levels of subscriptions, basic and Publishers Extra. Publisher’s Extra is the higher priced edition but seems to have most of the newspapers I truly needed to find information and obituaries on my people (primarily because of the Akron Beacon Journal – but there were some key newspapers for the different areas of Pennsylvania I needed as well).

GenealogyBank is another popular website who is also expanding out from just newspapers to adding census information and the like. They have a great blog that is emailed out monthly as well.

Things to Look For

If you are going to spend the money on a subscription site I highly recommend looking at what newspapers that are available and the published years they have. I’ll confess I accidentally signed up for a subscription site and it was of no use to me because the issues they had published didn’t really help me in my genealogical searches (for example they had the Bedford Gazette from 1854-1857 only, and I needed from 1870 on). Both Newspapers.com and GenealogyBank list what newspapers they have available and their years of publication that is available on their sites (Newspapers.com will also note which newspapers are available on their more expensive level, Publishers Extra).

All of the websites have ways to narrow your search by state, date, name to help bring to light the information you are seeking.

What Can You Find?

You may be lucky enough to find all kinds of interesting tidbits about your relatives when you do newspaper searches. They can range from everyday occurrences to being a bit on the juicy side (older newspapers use to have sections detailing who checked in to the local hotels, and just good old “gossip” sections).

Below is one of my favorites that I discovered on a free weekend of Newspapers.com last Spring that actually convinced me to purchase a subscription. It is an article from The Potter Enterprise from the Thursday, February 11, 1904 edition:

The_Potter_Enterprise_Thu__Feb_11__1904_

Orienta (Gustin) Warner is my 3rd-Great-Grandmother on my mother’s side. They have her daughter’s name mis-typed here, it’s listed as Nellie but her nickname was Nettie. Her name is Jeanette Warner and she is my 3rd-Great-Aunt. I am assuming the fatherless child is her son, Thomas who was born in 1904.

In keeping with the same family, here is another article from The Potter Enterprise from August 14, 1913 edition – this actually lists my 2nd-Great-Grandmother (Mazie Warner Dunbar) twice, and her daughter (Myrtle Dunbar) once.

The_Potter_Enterprise_Thu__Aug_14__1913_

I’ve also learned that using newspapers can give you the full story on tragedies in your family as well. On my dad’s side, my 2nd-Great-Uncle, Charles Peter Childers, had 2-children die in a house fire. Going off stories typed up on Ancestry it makes it seem that half of his 13 children died in this fire, but when reading the newspaper headlines (along with finding the death certificates) you know it was only 2-children, Eva Childers, age 9 (the article is incorrect and have her listed as age 11) and Ralph Childers, age 2. This article I found using the library website. The below clippings (they were on 2-pages of the newspaper) is from the March 27, 1939 edition of the Altoona Mirror:

When I found the following article from the Akron Beacon Journal about my grandfather, Harold Fairhurst, my aunt proceeded to add to the story about how my grandfather had won a year’s supply of Pepsi for his hole in one, which jogged my memory of my mom telling me the same. It is from Thursday, September 17, 1964 edition:

The_Akron_Beacon_Journal_Thu__Sep_17__1964_

I continue to learn a lot about my family members by using newspapers. If nothing else, they are a wonderful source for obtaining obituaries so I am able to fill in the burial date and cemeteries in my genealogy program if I don’t have a death certificate.

If you have never taken the time to investigate your family in newspapers, I recommend checking it out. The weekend Newspapers.com was free last year was amazing me for me as I found so much interesting information. Now, if it could only make it easier to find George Blair in Blair County, PA, then I’d be set (FYI – anytime Blair for the County is mentioned I get a ding so when I searched just now there are 1,299,020 possibilities in Pennsylvania alone).

If you find or have found any interesting stories using newspapers, please share in the comments!

Genealogy, My Family Tree

My Warner Family – Mazie

As most of the world is resigned to stay home and be in isolation, I finally have found my genealogy groove. And though I normally try to partake in Amy Johnson Crow’s fabulous challenge 52 Ancestors in 52 weeks, I find myself struggling with the recent week’s prompts.  So I think I’ll focus on a specific surname in my family, and I’ve chosen the Warner’s (I suddenly have the Animaniac’s theme going through my head, if you have never watched this outstanding cartoon brought to us by Steven Spielberg you really should, I discovered it in college and it is one of the greatest animated shows ever, if I do say so myself). I figure this can be the first of many tributes to my Warner clan and could possibly get me to find out more about them.

Mazie Lorenia Warner

The last of my line of Warner’s was my great-great-grandmother Mazie Lorenia Warner.  I know I’ve spoken of Mazie before because she is one of my favorite relatives on my mother’s side of the family.  She was born on 21 July 1877 to Winfield Warner and his wife, Orienta Gustin in Potter County, Pennsylvania. She had 3-sisters: Cymanthia Lencretia, Jeanette, and Catherine “Cassie” Belle.

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Mazie Lorenia Warner – no idea when this was taken (another project!)

Mazie was one of my first successfully solved puzzles.  Just getting her name correct was one of my first obstacles as every document I found seemed to be something different – Mazie, Magie, Daysa (still trying to figure that last one out), but then my mom clarified it all for me (she was going off memory as Mazie passed away 2 years before my mom was born).

Mazie married my great-great-grandfather, Arthur James Dunbar on 2 Jan 1894.  To this marriage came 4-children with the 3-girls surviving: Myrtle Iona, Merle Winfield (he passed away at 8 months), Ina Mae and Mildred Laura (she is my great-grandmother).

On 18 Dec 1912 Arthur died of polio (adult onset).  A few years later Mazie married a second time to Samuel Randol, in 1916 they moved to Ohio and this is how this portion of my family settled in Akron. Oddly enough the area of Akron where they settled is not far at all from where I live with my own family.

Mazie and Samuel had a son, Richard LeHoty, but he passed away when he was 5-months old.

Because my library (Akron Summit County Public Library) has digitized the local city directories, I have been able to follow where Mazie and Samuel lived from 1916 until Mazie passed away in 1945.  Mazie has come across as a loving soul, always taking her daughters in when their marriages failed (or at least that is how I assume her to be as my own great-grandmother returned home more than once and Mazie even let her and her third husband live with them for a bit when they first got married while I assume they saved up for a house – I have nothing to confirm these stories because my mother, grandmother and great-grandmother have all passed).

At one point in time Samuel and Mazie ran a store on Howard Street, and I believe it was called SJ Randol’s according to the 1924 city directory, and back in the 1920’s Howard Street was the place to be.  According to a lady my parents’ were guardian’s of, Clara Mueller, she claimed that you could find things at the shops on Howard Street that you couldn’t find anywhere else.

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SJ Randol Store, circa 1924

Samuel passed away on 16 Oct 1938 in Decatur, Illinois. He was a truck driver and wasn’t feeling well and passed away after he had been “ill for a week over a complication of diseases” according to the 17 Oct 1938 edition of the Decatur Herald.  This made me sad to learn of Samuel’s death. The 1937 City Directory is the first where my great-grandmother, her husband and my grandmother finally moved into their own home, which gave Mazie and Samuel basically 1-2 years to finally enjoy life together.

Mazie continued to live alone until 1943 where she moved in to her old house which is where her daughter, Ina lived with her second husband, Ralph, and her daughter, Almeda. She passed away there on 19 May 1945.

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Mazie and her nephew, Bob Bergan, and his wife, Thelma Bessie circa 1942.

I drive down Howard Street every day when I go to and from work and I look to the spot where the store stood that Mazie and Samuel ran.  I look to the abandoned lot with just a very slight portion of a brick wall standing that would most likely been the back of their store, and wonder what it would have been like to know her, if she ever looks down on me and is happy to know that I am making sure my family doesn’t forget her and her legacy.

Book, Genealogy

My Week in Quarantine

So I haven’t really done as much researching as I have wanted to do in my family history journey but this past week I spent some of my days creating an introduction to genealogy PowerPoint presentation for my son’s Boy Scout Troop.

It’s pretty basic as I’ve included what ancestors are, descendants, how you really only need 7 to 15 names to begin working on your family tree on the major online databases (FamilySearch, Ancestry or MyHeritage) and then detailed the items you need to seek: birth certificates, death certificates, marriage licenses and censuses to start out.  Throw in examples of family group sheets, pedigree charts, a brief bit on land records, how everyone needs to search newspaper articles and a little bit of information about DNA and you have a 31 slide presentation all raring to go (unless of course I forgot some major point that I was suppose to include – which hubby is looking it over as I type this).

It was a fun endeavor as I got to show off my favorite documents in the presentation – Ralph Reed’s death certificate – I figured as part of ad-libbed anecdotes I’ll discuss my surprise in finding his at the library, my grandfather’s birth certificate where he was originally named Charley Wilmer but my grandmother opted to change it to Leroy at some point later in time (would love to know when that took place). For newspapers I included the article about why Ralph was executed and what his last meal was, and my grandfather Harold Fairhurst’s hole in one. I also included a 1910 Federal Census where several of the families on 1-sheet were all related – my great-grandparents lived near several of my great-grandmother’s brothers and sisters.

Tomorrow night I get to practice my presentation as I’ve never been on the speaking end of a conference call or using the meeting software.  Fingers crossed it goes well.  My son’s troop has decided to still meet electronically so they can still earn merit badges in this isolating time (my daughters troop has done the same).

I hope everyone is handling the isolation in their own way.  Being an introvert I knew I’d somewhat excel at this – but even I’m missing people (I see people on my weekly trip to the grocery store but it’s not the same as I don’t really talk to people – it’s more sport now than shopping as you do your best to stay 6 feet apart).

Wishing everyone all the best in these trying times!

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, My Family Tree

Week 11: Luck

For week 11’s prompt for 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks was “Luck”. It made me think of the story of my maternal great-grandmother, Phoebe Boone Fairhurst, and how she came to America from jolly old England.  Or I guess I should say how she was suppose to come over.

According to my grandfather, Harold Fairhurst, he told me on more than one occasion that his mother was suppose to come over on the RMS Titanic.  She wasn’t feeling good so she opted to stay home and not come to America on the ill-fated ship.  I was going to say what great luck that she wasn’t feeling well, especially since my grandfather wasn’t born until ten years later (he was born in Ohio in 1922).

But tonight after doing my due diligence, like looking to see when the Titanic set sail (why do I keep thinking it was 1914???), it was April 15, 1912.  I’m thinking the story is an old wives tale as my great-grandmother had 2 children in England before settling in Ohio.  Elsie was born in November 1912 and Wilfred was born in July 1914.

My great-grandfather, James Fairhurst, came over to the United States on the ship Mauretania and arrived in New York on 8 December 1913.  Unless of course as a couple James Fairhurst and Phoebe Boone were to arrive initially together.

Trouble is every time my grandfather told the story, he spoke only of his mother.  Which makes me go back to the conclusion that this was just an old wives tale.

 

Book

Book Review: A Race Against Time

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Recently I was in the mood to read a book, but where my first choice is usually of the chick-lit variety, on this day I wanted to read something with substance.  Not finding anything on my Nook, I opted to go to the e-book choices at my local library to see what they had for me to be able to download on the spot (it was a Saturday night and the “real” library was closed).

The first book listed was “A Race Against Time: A Reporter Re-Opens the Unsolved Murder Cases of the Civil Rights Era” by Jerry Mitchell.  I instantly downloaded it.  This book blew me away.  So many stories that I remember learning in my high school history class that I thought were solved, weren’t.

This fact astounded me.

The Cases

There were basically 4-cases that were discussed throughout the book and finally brought to trial.  It began with the case of Michael “Mickey” Schwerner, Andrew Goodman and James Chaney.  They were murdered by the White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan for registering African-American’s to vote.  They were killed in Meridian, Mississippi during the Freedom Summer of 1964.  They were shot and thrown into a dam and buried 15 feet in the ground. In the mid-to-late 1980’s Jerry Mitchell, a writer for the Clarion-Ledger began writing about the wrongs done to these 3-men hoping to be able to bring their killers to justice. However, due to a lack of “hard” evidence, they were unable to take it to trial.  Eventually enough evidence is found to convict Edgar Ray Killen who planned and directed the murders of Schwerner, Goodman and Chaney.  Killen was found guilty in 2004 and he lived behind bars until he died in 2018.

Since initially the above murders are not able to be prosecuted, the book put it on the back burner and began focusing on the Medgar Evers trial.  Medgar Evers was a black man working for the NAACP, working tirelessly to get African-American’s registered to vote in the South in the 1960’s.  But on June 12, 1963 at about 12:30am, Byron De La Beckwith shot him in the back with a rifle.  De La Beckwith was tried twice, once in 1963 and again in 1964 and both ended in a hung jury.  But in 1994 the case was re-opened and ended in a guilty verdict.  He died in 2001 at the age of 80.

The third case that was brought was for Vernon Dahmer (pronounced DAY-mer) who was another NAACP leader who was killed by the White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan for registering African-Americans to vote (are you beginning to notice a trend?). His house was caught on fire and while he tried to keep the KKK at bay while his wife and children escaped the blaze, he was died of severe burns from the waist up.  His murder was signed off by the Imperial Wizard himself, Sam Bowers, and though 4-different trials ended in a mis-trial due to Sam Bowers invoking the 5th Amendment, in 1998 he was finally found guilty.  He was in jail until he died in 2006 at age 82.

The only Alabama case that was mentioned in the book was that of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church bombing of 1963 where 4-young-African American girls were killed whit 20 more wounded.  In 2002 Bobby Frank Cherry was finally convicted of setting the bomb.  He died in 2004.

Why I Was Mad

Why was I so livid when I discovered that these men were put to justice after 20-40 years?  Because I thought they had been punished for their crimes when it happened in the 1960’s.  I never dreamed that these people were allowed to roam free and have lives.  When I read about Medgar Evers death in my history book I had no inkling that his killer wouldn’t be brought to justice until I was a sophomore in college (to put this in a better perspective, a crime committed 10 years before I was born wasn’t prosecuted until I was 21 years old).

The sad part is that white supremacists still roam the earth today.  Just within the past 2 years we had a man walk into a black church and do the exact same thing.  Granted, he has been tried and found guilty, but that is the only difference.  You would think that after all this time that color would no longer be an issue to fill people with so much anger.  But it’s alive and well today.

I Highly Recommend It

If you like history you will appreciate this book.  It is very well written, I like a book that is able to describe the scene in detail so I feel like I am there.  I truly felt transported back to the 1960’s South as the relatives of these men told the stories of each of their lives.

Jerry Mitchell, the author, speaks to the widows of these men who just tried to give everyone the basic American right to vote.  Something to think about as we head into a presidential election year, appreciate your right.

 

 

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, My Family Tree

Week #10: Strong Woman

For this week’s topic in 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks by Amy Johnson Crow, it’s “Strong Woman” and from when I first discovered what were to me secret’s of my maternal great-grandmother, Mildred Laura Dunbar, she is the first person who popped into my head for this week’s challenge.

My First Big Discovery

When I began working on my family tree 3.5 years ago, one of the first things I found at the library using Ancestry Library Edition was that my great-grandmother had been married not once, not twice, but three times in six years time.

Now I will confess, this particular great-grandmother passed away when I was 8, almost 9-years-old and so I knew her but never had any chance to ask questions and get to KNOW her (though I do have great memories of her babysitting me often). When my mother would speak of her, it was as if she were a saint and could do no wrong.

So when I came home with my finds to tell my mother about how Mildred had been married 3 times, needless to say it didn’t go over too big.  Since my mother died my father has told me he is fairly positive my mother knew of my grandmother’s 3 marriages (we knew of 2) but because my mother had put her grandmother on such a pedestal, it was something she didn’t really want to speak of, and so we didn’t.

But it all depends on your outlook on things.  My mother was a person who saw things in black and white.  You either saw things her way, or the wrong way.  There were no shades of gray.  And this can be related towards my great-grandmother.  Some could look at her three marriages as very taboo – but to me when you hear the reasons for her divorces, I look at her as a very strong woman.

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Mildred Laura Dunbar

Mildred Laura Dunbar was born on 15 March 1908 to Arthur James Dunbar (who died in 1912 of polio), and Mazie Lorena Warner in Coudersport, Pennsylvania, the county seat of Potter County.  In 1916, Mazie had remarried and she and her new husband, Samuel Randol, along with 2 of her daughters from her first marriage, moved to Akron, Ohio (her third daughtder, my great-great-aunt Myrtle married in 1914 and lived in Elmira, New York).

The Randol’s and Dunbar’s settled in the North Hill section of Akron (not far from where I live today) when my grandmother was 8 years old.  When Mildred was about 17 (going off the dates of the 1925 Akron City Directories) the Geer family moved onto her street.  Paul Harrison Geer would have been 20 years old when he moved in next door, and the romantic in me likes to think he was her first love (I have no actual proof he was).

My great-grandmother married Paul Geer on 17 September 1927.  The marriage, however, did not last long, with my great-grandmother filing for divorce 15 January 1929 for gross neglect, he apparently liked to gamble and visit houses of ill-repute.  The divorce was final on 5 September 1929.

On 30 September 1929 Mildred married for the 2nd time, to Albert Nank.  Three days later, Alberta Lou Nank was born but in 1933 she (Mildred) was once again filing for divorce from Albert for gross neglect, extreme cruelty and his aversion to do an honest days work (can I just say I love old-time divorce records).  This marriage was final on 27 May 1933.

On 5 August 1933 Mildred married her final time to Howard Fleming.  She had 2-sons with him and was married to him until he passed away at age 63 in 1972.  My great-grandma passed away 10 years later at age 73.

Her Strength

Where my mother may have been ashamed of my great-grandmother’s situation, I myself see a strong woman.  Women didn’t get divorced from men who weren’t treating them well in the 1920’s and 1930’s, let alone twice!  This just wasn’t done, so for her to stand up for herself, in my world, is incredible.

More Reading

If you are interested in learning more about Mildred’s story, I wrote up the results of my DNA test which revolved around Mildred, Albert, and my grandmother.  Click here for my post from last September, I Took a DNA Test & Figured Out a Mystery.