Growing up my parents never took me to cemeteries to view the headstones of our dearly departed. My grandfather, Leroy Blair, who passed away when I was 2 years old, was cremated, so we didn’t have any gravesite to visit.
The first death that affected me was that of my great-grandmother, Mildred Laura Dunbar. She passed away 8 January 1982 which was my cousin Jaclyn’s birthday, who turned 4 that day. My mother always remembered Jaclyn sitting on her lap, telling her that she bet “Great Grandma probably already has her wings”. It was the perfect sentiment for my mom about one of her most favorite people in the world. Mildred did have a gravesite but I only ever remember visiting a couple of times. There was extremely frigid weather taking place around her death, so it took a bit before she was able to be buried, if my memory serves. There was no cemetery portion of her funeral, it all took place at McGowan-Reid & Santos Funeral Home in Cuyahoga Falls (I don’t think it’s called that anymore).
Then I remember hearing issues about Mildred’s gravestone. They kept setting it incorrectly and water kept accumulating all around it. No matter what they did it just never seemed right. Both times we went, there were puddles.
My next gravesite I found was that of my grandma, Anna Maria Morgart. She had everything all arranged prior to her passing so my parents had little to do but the finalized ceremony. I don’t think my parents ever went to my Grandma’s gravesite after the ceremony at the cemetery. We didn’t have the one at the gravesite, but my brother-in-law stood by while the men buried her. Apparently he did that as one of his past jobs. I’m often glad my parents skipped that portion, I don’t think I could have handled watching my Grandma be put into the ground.
It has been a few years (not sure exactly how many) when I decided one day to go find my Grandma where she was buried at Rose Hill Burial Park in Akron. My husband pulled in and all I could remember was that she was under a tree, and I knew she had chosen a good spot because she would have liked the shade. But as we tiptoed trying to find her from a memory at least seven years prior, I was so happy when I finally found her headstone. It was a flat one in the ground. And though I had stepped so lightly and was so cautious to not step on anyone, lo and behold I was standing right on top of Grandma. But I laughed, if anyone would have forgiven me it would have been her.
Once I began getting involved in my genealogy seriously, I became extremely focused on finding my Great-Great-Grandmother, Mazie Lorenia Warner, and found her I did. It took a while as she is not listed on any of the cemetery sites, and the cemetery she is buried in, Mount Peace Cemetery, also in Akron, Ohio, doesn’t have her listed. But I contacted the office and they were able to send me over the invoice copies of when she purchased both plots back in 1938 when her second husband, Samuel Randol, unexpectedly passed away. I was so excited when I went on a whim with my husband to find her, I did it so I could show my mom more easily on a lunch hour one day.
But that lunch hour excursion never happened. I found Mazie and Samuel in September 2017 and my mom wasn’t feeling up to ever meeting me at the cemetery. I figured I would the next year, but just 8 months later, she had passed away too.
Like my Grandfather Blair, my Mom opted to be cremated. I understand, there is a great deal of expense when burying a loved one. But I will admit, I wish I had a cemetery plot to visit so I could hash out the worldly problems with my her. Especially on days like today, the 3rd anniversary of her death.
Two years ago I went back to Pennsylvania and spent an entire day visiting the graves of my direct line ancestors on my paternal side (with some bonus extras I found in the same spots). There was something so wonderful to be so close to where they had their final resting place, to be so close to them. But in that one day I was able to visit with at least 22 direct-line grandparents (probably more as I know some where buried in the vicinity where I was standing, but probably didn’t know for certain where they were buried due to their headstones being gone).
For this week’s theme for Amy Johnson Crow’s 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, the topic is “cousin bait”. Where I sometimes look ahead and in my mind begin processing what I’m going to write about for the upcoming week, this week I was a bit hesitant as I wanted to make sure what she meant by “cousin bait”. I know it’s meeting cousins essentially, and for all intents and purposes what I wrote about on my DNA week would work for this week too. In that post I wrote about the cousins that I have connected with that are DNA matches. But this week I will discuss 2 cousin’s I’ve met because of my blog.
My Morgart Cousin
It’s been close to two months since I was contacted via Facebook Messenger by Linda. I was surprised as they were doing some research on Peter Morgart and came across my blog. It caught me by surprised, but I suppose it shouldn’t have.
I wrote about Peter Morgart early on as I was so excited to find out my 5th-great-grandfather fought in the American Revolution at the battle of Yorktown and saw Cornwallis surrender to George Washington.
And here I had a fellow Morgart descendent find my post and then contact me!
I was just a little excited. Linda was away on vacation when she contacted me so we haven’t really delved into our families but we got as far as my 2nd-great-grandfather, George Washington Morgart, is the brother of her great-grandmother, Rachel Snell Morgart. There is about a 13.5 year age difference between the two, George being the oldest male, and Rachel being the second-youngest female (there were 10 total children born to their parents, Andrew Jackson Morgart and Rebecca Margaret O’Neal).
George Washington Morgart
George Washington Morgart was born 20 Aug 1849 in Providence Township, Bedford County, Pennsylvania. He was the son of a farmer, and the apple didn’t fall far from the tree as he became a farmer, too. When his father died 19 Aug 1870, George inherited his father’s land and the role to take care of the family as he was the oldest son. His brother, James Henry, was also to assist in taking care of the family, but he was just 12 when his father passed.
On 27 June 1872 George married Mary Ann Ritchey. They had at least 5 children that I can confirm, Charles Jackson Morgart, Edward Daniel Morgart, Anna Rebekah Morgart, Stella Mary Morgart, and Altie Pearl Morgart.
He died unexpectedly 5 May 1895 at the age of 45. He was a well-respected citizen and a practical farmer who “died tilling the same soil where he was born”.
Rachel Snell Morgart
Rachel Snell Morgart was born 24 February 1863 in Providence Township, Bedford County, Pennsylvania. She was the 8th of 10 children born to Andrew Jackson Morgart and Rebecca Margaret O’Neal. But unlike George who farmed the land he was raised on, following the steps of his dad, Rachel went west.
In the 1885 Census for North Dakota Territory, at the age of 22 Rachel Morgart is listed as a teacher. In 1895 she married a farmer and minister, Daniel Halfpenny, who was also Canadian. In 1908 he became a Naturalized Citizen of the United States.
Rachel and Daniel went on to have 5 daughters: Dorothy, Ruth, Margaret, Mary Kathryn (Margaret & Mary Kathryn were twins) and Rebecca between 1896-1908.
She passed away 29 September 1937 in Fargo, North Dakota after being in a car accident on 5 September 1937. It notes that the car was driven by her son but I don’t see a son on any of the censuses from 1900 to 1920. Perhaps it was a son-in-law?
My Childers Cousin
I think I spooked this cousin off because he had once done genealogy and found my blog as well. Our common ancestor is Randall Childers who I wrote about on the week that the theme was Multiple. We will keep him anonymous and just call him “He”, but he messaged me about 2 weeks after Linda and I was so excited about the brick wall he mentioned that I sent him my Thrulines of what options were being suggested for where the line stops and I never heard from him again.
Stupid, stupid, Becky.
But I have been a good girl and haven’t emailed him again. I’m here should he want to talk again. He descends from Randall Childers and Sara Fesler’s youngest son, Charles Peter Childers, while I descend from their daughter, Bertha. Bertha is also on the younger end of Randall and Sara’s children being seventh out of 9 children, with Charles being #9.
I am so happy I have met both He and Linda. I look forward to being able to touch base more with Linda to put more pieces of our genealogical puzzle together. I am hopeful I hear back from He at some point. I really need to control my enthusiasm sometimes.
I enjoyed learning what I have about Rachel Morgart Halfpenny and find her so brave to head west to teach. I could never do something so adventurous. I wonder if her reason for moving west is something that has been passed down through her family. Her younger brother, William Baltzer Morgart, also headed west and was buried in Idaho, perhaps he has something to do with it?
As for George, his family fell apart shortly after his death. His daughter, Altie, died 3 months after he did with heart issues, his wife committed suicide 13 years later, and his oldest son did the same 9 years after his mom. Just sad. I don’t think my great-great-grandmother ever got over the loss of her first husband (she re-married Bartley Hughes who owned the farm next door a few years after George passed away) and daughter. I have yet to find anything to figure out why my great-grandfather, Charles Jackson Morgart hanged himself.
In a hope of finding traditions within my immediate family or even lingering memories or traditions they have had of Mother’s Day, I turned to my mom’s siblings and their offspring to see if anything interesting would turn up.
What I learned was there are no Mother’s Day traditions, we are just doing our best to let Mom know we love her.
However I did learn some things. My cousin, Emily, told me about the memorable Mother’s Day she had a few years ago when her mom (my Aunt) asked her to start going to church… and she has ever since!
She also added that my Aunt would often work on Mother’s Day as her kids were grown and let the new Mom’s enjoy the day with their kids. I did the same when i worked retail in college for the Mom’s (and the dad’s on Father’s Day!).
My cousin, Tracy, mom of 5, just remembers that Mom could do whatever she wanted on Mother’s Day… but remembers a couple of years ago her kids all making her jump into the pool to begin the day. How refreshing!
Growing up we always had my Grandma Blair (aka Anna Maria Morgart) over for dinner, and if my Grandma Metzger (aka Alberta Lou Fleming) was here she came over as well. Dinner has always been the tradition.
The last few years of my Mom’s life I often hosted dinner where my husband and I had a Mexican fiesta of homemade enchiladas, tortilla chips and queso sauce, the final year we were adventurous enough to have guacamole (my mom wasn’t a fan but we are in my household).
We haven’t done that since 2018 though. In 2019 we went out to a restaurant as the old tradition was going to be difficult. That Mother’s Day signified so much… but most of all almost an entire year without my Mom.
202o was all about Covid and so it was just me and my kids. This year was the same, though I encouraged hubby to let his mom have lunch with 2 of her 4 kids. He claims she really enjoyed it.
So to all the Mom’s out there I hope you enjoyed your day. And below I salute all the Mom’s in my tree, because without each and every one of you, I would not be the Mom I am.
This week’s prompt for Amy Johnson Crow’s weekly 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks genealogical writing series was easy for me as I knew from when I looked through the entire years themes who I was writing about today, my second cousin twice removed, Ralph Reed.
The Early Years
I really do not have a whole lot of information on Ralph from his early life, most of the information I have is about his last year. But Ralph was born on 1 June 1921 to Thomas C. Reed and the former Margaret Philips in Johnstown, Cambria, Pennsylvania. His father at this time worked at a local steel mill while it appears that his mother stayed home to care for their 10 children. Ralph was their sixth.
By 1930 Thomas Reed was working in the coal mines, and I don’t think it was a good fit as by September 1937 he was admitted to the Torrance State Hospital for mental health issues and died 31 January 1938 of General Paralysis of the Insane.
What all this does to a growing boy I am not sure. I’m sure it wasn’t ideal.
The 1940 Census
In the 1940 census, 19-year-old Ralph is not living with his mother, Margaret, and the five children still at home. When I do a search of likely candidates, there are 2 Ralph Reed’s that are 19 that show promise, 1-is living at the Pennsylvania Indiustrial School in Huntingdon County (this is essentially a prision) and the other is living in Maryland as a lodger with his wife. I tend to go with the Huntingdon location simply because on his death certificate his mother (the informant) states he was single, though i suppose there is a chance she was unaware of his marrying Winifred (the name of his wife).
How 10 Seconds Can Change a Life
Yes, there is a possibility that Ralph was in jail prior to his crime from the 1940 census that I found above, and maybe I tend to try to look through rose colored glasses in regard to my distant cousin, but I always feel a bit bad about what happened to Ralph Reed.
I discovered Ralph Reed when I came across his death certificate and saw that his cause of death was “Electrocution by Legal Execution” in Franklin County, Ohio. To get the details I turned to newspapers to discover the story leading to Ralph’s end.
Ralph Reed, along with 3 others: Samuel LaDuca, James Esson, and Edsel Ford Muncy decided to rob the payroll office of the Reliable Steel Plate Company in Cleveland, Ohio on Friday, February 6, 1948. One has to remember that in 1948 payroll was paid with cash, but the 4-men made a fatal error, they arrived before the money did.
Being greeted by executives of the company, the men decided to get something out of nothing and robbed the employees. While attempting to get money from George Margulies, Ralph shot him in the back with a revolver.
When they left they had approximately $63, which made the headlines even more brutal. As the 4-men drove off in the getaway car, 2-telephone repairman were working in the vicinity and watched where they drove off too, letting the police know where they went.
By the end of the evening all 4 were brought in and Ralph signed a statement saying he was the triggerman for killing George Margulies.
They did not mess around back in the 1940’s like they do today in crimes and trials. Ralph Reed and the 3-others were on trial by 6 June 1948. Ralph was sentenced to death while his 3-co-horts were sentenced to life in prison.
There is a Case Text of the trial on the internet (you can read here) where more details were given:
Ralph Reed had become acquainted with Sam LaDuca while both were serving time in the Mansfield Reformatory
Reed, Esson & LaDuca were the ones who went into the Reliable Steel Plate Company for the robbery, Muncy was the driver of the getaway car.
All were masked while Reed & LaDuca had loaded guns.
When they arrived there were 3 women in the office, and they forced all 3 into a washroom
20 Minutes elapsed while they waited for the money to arrive at the payroll office by the bookkeeper, while they were waiting the owners of the business, Emanual and George Margulis arrived.
They demanded the payroll and when they owners said they did not have it, LaDuca pressed his gun into the stomach of the elder Margulis and demanded their wallets, as Emanuel Margulis turned his wallet over to LaDuca, Reed pointed his gun into the back of George.
As George began to lower his hands to retrieve his wallet, the telephone rang and that is when Ralph shot him in the back.
Ralph and LaDuca grabbed the petty cash box and left the office.
George Margulis died a half hour later at the hospital.
Other aspects of the trial that did not favor Ralph was when the police brought in James Esson the night of the burglary, he said he only knew Reed about 3-days but that “they needed to be careful when apprehending Reed as he was dangerous”.
But despite Ralph not setting out to shoot George Margulis, as his killing was not premeditated, because they (the 4-men) had planned the robbery and the others stated Ralph was willing to do “anything to get money” they found him guilty and sentenced him to death, because he had confessed to the crime, he was not allowed a new trial.
What Happened to The Others?
As was stated in The Zanesville Signal above, James Esson, Samuel LaDuca, and Edsel Ford Muncy were all sentenced to life in prison for their part in the robbery and murder of George Margulis. But did they?
Edsel Ford Muncy
Edsel Ford Muncy was the driver of the getaway vehicle. I am unable to get to the Ohio History Connection as they do not have the files online, and due to Covid has been closed since March 2020, but I have found records on Ancestry.com stating that in 1972 he got married, divorced in 1985 and died in Beauty, Kentucky in 2001.
Samuel Charles LaDuca
Samuel LaDuca was the other fellow holding a gun when the trio of Ralph Read, Sam LaDuca and James Esson entered the payroll office at the Reliable Steel Plate Company. LaDuca also did not spend the rest of his life in prison. I was not able to find as much information about him as I did Edsel Muncy, but he died in Cleveland, Ohio in 1979.
James Esson did die in prison on 19 May 1977. Sentenced to life in prison, in 1954 James Esson was transferred to work at the London (Ohio) Prison Farm on 31 August 1954. Esson worked himself to honor status but then on 27 May 1956 he stabbed a prison guard and then jumped out of the truck and fled.
Esson stayed on the run until he was caught in Kansas City, Missouri when he was hitch hiking and offered a ride by a couple, Mr. & Mrs. Carl Wegner (Wagner?), who were on their way to an Air Force base in Kansas. He ended up locking them up in their trunk and was reported by a passing motorist. (The below photos were taken from The Tribune (Coshocton) on 19 August 1957).
Despite at least 2 stays of execution by the governor, Ralph Reed was executed on 4 May 1949 at 8pm. He was pronounced dead by 8:10pm. He had one of the least exciting final meals in the memory of the Ohio State Penitentiary warden: mushroom soup, chocolate cake, coffee with cream, and lemonade and he smoked cigarettes. His final visitors were his mother, Margaret (Phillips) Reed, his sister, Margaret (Reed) Smith, and his brother, John Reed. I’ll let the newspaper article describe the details of his electrocution in “Old Sparky” as journalism is just not this descriptive anymore.
Ralph Reed wasn’t an ideal citizen. He most likely is the Ralph Reed in jail in Pennsylvania in the 1940 Census, and at some point between then and 1948 he was in the Mansfield Reformatory. But did Ralph deserve to die for shooting George in the back (oh, the back of all places). I say no. In todays world he would have been sentenced probably to 40 years to life (just a guestimate of an untrained person) and may have gotten out on good behavior on parole. But I don’t think in todays world, even shooting George in the back would have gotten him a death sentence.
Ralph Reed went into the Reliable Steel Plate Company to rob the payroll office. They knew who was suppose to be in the office when they went in there, but their timing was bad. I exaggerate with my 10 seconds, but it just shows how in a matter of minutes, be it 1 or 20, your life can change just like that (imagine my snapping my fingers here). That’s what happened with Ralph.
Oddly enough Ralph is my daughter’s favorite ancestor. I guess we all like to find one scoundrel in our midst, but Ralph was also only 27 when he died, and I don’t think his life was the best it could have been. But every time I look at his picture he just has this look of pure orneriness in his face, but not a cold-blooded killer.
Below is a photo of his headstone where he was buried with his family at Headrick Union Cemetery in East Taylor, Cambria County, Pennsylvania.
As for the unfortunate soul in all of this, may George Margulis Rest in Peace.
My “lucky place” in my world of genealogy is Bedford County, Pennsylvania. Not only is it home to a majority of my dad’s family, but even a branch of my maternal side leads to Bedford County, too.
However, the term “lucky” can also be quite sarcastic as Bedford County is not always the easiest of counties to find the information you are seeking. But this week I am going to try to give a brief history lesson of the county, and give some statistics of Bedford County’s influence on my genealogical world.
A Little History about Bedford County, Pennsylvania
Bedford County started out as a trading post called Raystown after it’s first settler, Robert MacRay, a Scots-Irish immigrant. This began in 1750 and wasn’t the friendliest of places as they often dealt with raids from Indians, and then in 1754 by the French and British during the French & Indian War (or if you are from European descent you would know this as the Seven Years War).
The County ended up getting it’s name from Fort Bedford, built during the French & Indian War it was named in honor of John Russell, the Fourth Duke of Bedford. It was an essential base for the British as they expanded the war westward into the Ohio Country, primarily being used for supplies.
Tall tales with some supported facts claim that Fort Bedford was the first fort to be taken in the early stages of the American Revolution by James Smith. Some evidence states there is truth to this, others feel the fort was simply evacuated in 1766.
By the time George Washington came to Bedford County in 1794 during the Whiskey Rebellion, the fort had already been razed, as this was the general area where his troops stayed.
Mother Bedford and Her Baby Counties
Bedford became the 9th official county of Pennsylvania on 9 March 1771, formed from Cumberland County. It’s population had a boost due to the migration of people westward, and the large county it began as (known as Mother Bedford) slowly made way for new counties: Huntingdon on 20 March 1787, Somerset on 17 April 1795, Cambria on 26 March 1804, Blair on 26 February 1846, and lastly Fulton on 19 April 1850 (some of these new counties were also created with lands from adjacent counties, too).
The Whiskey Rebellion
The Whiskey Rebellion, also known as the Whiskey Insurrection, was a tax protest that began in 1791 when the newly formed United States decided to chose alcohol as it’s first domestic product to tax to assist in raising money to pay off the debt the country incurred during the Revolutionary War. The farmers of the western frontier (which at this time was Western Pennsylvania) resisted paying this tax, as many were veterans of the American Revolution.
In 1794 the protest came to a head when General John Neville, who was the tax inspector, home was attacked by over 500 armed men. President George Washington rode to the area with 13,000 militiamen to confront the protestors, but all had left by the time he arrived.
Despite there not being a formal confrontation, 20 men were arrested but were later pardoned. This instance showed that our new government was not a force to be reckoned with. And for the record, my fifth great-grandfather, Peter Morgart, was one of the men who resisted paying the tax, but did pay his fines.
The “whiskey tax” continued to be a difficult tax to collect and was later repealed during the Jefferson administration.
The Bedford Springs Hotel
One of the large and fancy hotels that still stands in Bedford County is the Bedford Springs Hotel. It was built in 1806 near a spring with a high mineral content and was said to have “healing powers” by Native Americans who would come from miles to drink and bathe in the waters.
It soon became a vacation destination for those from the east as their cities were beginning to become polluted due to increase in industrialization. Bedford still offered a country feel.
It became a meeting place of presidents including William Henry Harrison, James K. Polk and Zachary Taylor. During James Buchanan’s presidency it became known as the “Summer White House”, with the first trans-Atlantic cable sent from England to the United States being received at the Bedford Springs Hotel as that is where President Buchanan was at when it came on 12 August 1858.
The Bedford Springs had different medicinal qualities. A “Bedford Cure” was given to guests over their 3-week stay which included the “Magnesium Spring” for tummy ailments, or the “Iron Spring” for healthy bones and iron deficiencies.
The Bedford Springs Hotel is still an operating hotel and is owned by the Omni Hotels & Resorts.
There were 2 coal fields that were in Bedford County. The Broad Top Field was located in the northeastern area of the county. With many of my relatives coming from and living in Broad Top I believe this is the area where many of them worked.
The second field was in the southwestern border, Georges Creek Field.
My Genealogical Statistics
I chose Bedford County because I’ve often told my children as I enter source citations into my Legacy Family Tree that I wish I had a dime for every time I entered Bedford County (well, Pennsylvania in general would have me sitting pretty about now). So I decided to run a report of my family that has the name “Bedford” in their birth or death location.
I have 424 ancestors out of 1,871 that I know had a birth/death location of Bedford County. That is almost 25 percent of my people. Mind you, I have lots of people with “, , Pennsylvania, United States” because I do not fully have proof what county they were born in (but there is a good chance Bedford could be it). And I am sure I have more people still to add (I have collateral people that descend from Peter Morgart that I know will add more people, and others that are in the 4th-great to 5th-great area).
Included in these 424 people, 36 of my direct line ancestors either were born or died in Bedford County, Pennsylvania. One of these includes my 4th-great-grandfather on my maternal side (because having just my dad’s side wasn’t enough, my mom had to get it on Bedford too).
Seeing as I’m on statistics, I opted to run a report of how many of my ancestors were born in Pennsylvania (my mother’s side comes from northern Pennsylvania in Potter County so I knew this would be interesting). The total of my 1,871 people in my program that are born in PA: 1,297.
And this is why I may never get out of Pennsylvania.
That’s okay, it’s a great place to be (even if I wish it had records like Massachusetts – that is where some of the Potter County people came from, others came down from New York).
I did get an abundance of my information from the following locations:
History of Bedford, Somerset, and Fulton Counties, Pennsylvania. Chicago, Waterman, Watkins & Co., 1884
Other stuff is just in my head now from all my research over the years (like the tidbit about Peter Morgart – I found it in a book at the Bedford County Historical Society).
52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks
If you are into genealogy and want to begin writing about your family, you should check out Amy Johnson Crow’s 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge. Each week she gives you a prompt to help encourage you to think out of the box when writing about your people. You can sign up here.
This week’s prompt for Amy Johnson Crow’s writing challenge, 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, is DNA. It has been almost 2 years since I took my DNA test on AncestryDNA in order to solve a family mystery (you can find that story here). But it has given me the opportunity to meet extended members of my family I may have never had the chance to know. A few I have begun corresponding with on a regular basis and like to call them friends.
I’ll give you a heads up now, I am writing this but respecting my cousin’s privacy, so they will be referred to as “her” as they are all girls.
My Second Cousin
One of my first contacts I reached out to from my DNA match list was my 2nd cousin who is the great niece (grand niece?) of Anna Maria Morgart (aka my Grandma Blair)!
Going through my Grandmother’s photos I have a lot of pictures of “her” grandparents (my Grandma’s sister and her husband), but sadly only a few of her dad, but it was so nice to reach out and communicate with family from my Grandma’s side. We both have vague memories of Gammy (Margaret “Maggie” Dora Wise) as she is both of ours Great-Grandmother.
The below photos were from the collection of Anna Maria Morgart Blair – the one on the left is a photo of Virginia Morgart Dipko and Anna Maria Morgart Blair in 1940, and the one of the right is a photo of Anna Maria Morgart, Joe Dipko and Joseph Dipko, Jr. in 1930 (Joe Jr would be about a year old).
My First Cousin Once Removed
One of my more recent matches was a first cousin once removed on my maternal side of my family. My mother always had happy memories of “her” parents, which her mom was the youngest sister of my grandfather, Harold Fairhurst.
When she came up as a match, it took me a few weeks to summon the courage to message her. I’m not sure why as she is quite lovely. She even supplied me a photo of my great-grandmother, Phoebe Boone, which was just tremendous as I had no idea what she looked like. My mom had no photos and my aunt (my mom’s youngest sister) only recalled ever seeing her in her coffin (I believe my aunt was only about 8 when Phoebe passed away in 1962).
I have attempted to keep the lines of communication open with her as I want to be able to keep our families in touch.
My Second Cousin Once Removed
I’ve actually discussed each lady as I have come into contact with them. My last cousin I saw her for some time listed amongst my DNA matches on Ancestry and then I attended RootsTech and there she was again, on my list of family members that they had. FamilySearch expanded their “relatives around you” feature and let you see the relatives that you are most likely related too (assuming the one big tree was accurate) that were attending RootsTech.
And there she was, my DNA match (she had the same nickname on FamilySearch as she does on Ancestry) and I decided to contact her at once. And I am so happy I did because we have gone back and forth first via FamilySearch messenger and now we are Facebook friends.
I am so happy that I sent that message and hope to learn more about her (she was very nice and gave me all the information on her family for my software this evening, too! Yay!).
We are related on my Boone side. Her grandfather, Isaiah Boone was the older brother of Phoebe (they are back to back siblings), and he died in a mine explosion at Wolf Run, Ohio, in 1935.
Why Reach Out?
You obviously can’t befriend every DNA match on your list, but there are so many things you can learn by taking a moment and reaching out and learning more about other parts of your family.
Two of the matches I referred to I’ll admit I know nothing about that side of my family. I was always dumbfounded when my mother told me that she thought she had only met her paternal grandparents at most 5 times her whole life, which leads to the lack of information on two branches of my tree. That made me so sad (not the lack of information, though that is sad, but that she never knew anything about an entire side of her family).
Granted, I discuss my Grandma Blair (Anna Maria Morgart) more than my Grandma Metzger (Alberta Lou Fleming) simply because Grandma Blair was always there (my dad was an only child so Grandma Blair went everywhere with us). Grandma Metzger had moved to Florida when I was 3 or 4 years old and stayed living there until I was in high school.
But it is so easy for families to become estranged, maybe DNA will be able to bring families closer together. I know I will do my very best to try and bridge the gaps.
The past 4 days were fun days for me. I took 3 days off work and spent 4 total days doing nothing but taking genealogy classes. This is always a dream come true. I love genealogy, obviously, because I have an entire blog dedicated to my hobby.
Keynote Speaker: Peggy Clemens Lauritzen
As usual, Peggy Clemens Lauritzen did a fabulous job with her keynote speech which was entitled “Let’s Leave ‘Em Something to Talk About” and was all about leaving your own story behind. It is so easy for us to get wrapped up in our ancestor’s lives but we often forget about leaving our future ancestors information about us. She gave a bunch of simple suggestions on how to do this, such as scrapbooking, writing down our stories, our favorite vacations, leaving a journal and just writing down whatever pops into your head on any given day. Talk about your favorite car, your favorite movie, family trips, how you spent holidays… all these things that make up our lives. I left her talk feeling so inspired – it should have been the last talk instead of the first (you know, so I could start sharing the information about my life).
Live Sessions I Attended
I attended some outstanding live classes during the 3-days (the first day was specifically workshops). Between classes on the wonderful session entitled “Beyond Belief: The Wealth Genealogical and Historical Societies” by D. Joshua Taylor, a class taught by Andi Cumbo-Floyd that taught me the benefits and how to use ArchiveGrid (don’t laugh, and I never realized how much it had to offer!), to Colleen Robledo Greene informing many on how to use the HathiTrust Digital Library. Both ArchiveGrid and the HathiTrust Digital Library always make those top places you should check out for your genealogy but always seemed a bit intimidating at the same time. But no more!
Ari Wilkins gave a fabulous presentation on “How Weather Affected Our Ancestors”, it was so informative and gave me so much more to look into with where my own relatives were and the aspects of the Johnstown Flood (they lived in the surrounding counties in Pennsylvania), I attended another great session by D. Joshua Taylor again pertaining to “Online Resources for Colonial America” (and most were free!), and then James Beidler gave 2 sessions that I attended on “An Average Ancestor Seen Through Newspapers” and then closed it out with “Courthouse Research in Pennsylvania” (we all know I can’t resist classes on Pennsylvania).
I’m still working on recorded sessions. They are open for us to watch through Tuesday. So far I’ve watched ones dealing with the history of railroads, marketing and publicity for your genealogical society, methodology sessions about research projects and being your own brick walls (so far I don’t think I am my own brick wall but I wouldn’t put it past myself either).
Such a wide variety of programs and each class is so enjoyable.
What I Took Away From My 2nd Conference
The exact same thing I did my first – I need to use a research log when beginning a project. And last night I did just that – I printed off the research log from my program and started writing things down as I went. So proud of myself. Was also analyzing census forms and printed blank ones of those as well so I could write down the tick marks (1800-1810 census forms) to better analyze who could be candidates as Abraham Childers parents.
The other thing was to pay close attention to the forms and analyze everything. You never know what little tidbit of information may blow your case wide open.
If you have never gone to a big genealogical conference I recommend checking it out. It’s not going on presently but the sessions offered at RootsTech in February are up on FamilySearch.org, all you need is a free account to view the many classes that they have on their website. They are available throughout the year.
The one thing I missed this year was being able to chit chat with my fellow genealogists. Though I am huge introvert (I become a little more chatty once I feel comfortable with people) I never had a difficult time 2 years ago when I attended the OGS Conference in 2019. It was so much fun, and it was nice talking to people and having them give me suggestions on the spot. It was simply fabulous.
Something to look out for is a day long program offered at your local Family History Center. I attended my first one in 2018 and enjoyed it so much this is why I went to the OGS Conference in 2019. It was a day filled with 6 classes and included lunch. Such a wonderful day with a variety of topics (DNA, Methodology, How To Use FamilySearch, Ancestry, etc.). Often these are offered in October during Family History Month. Libraries offer excellent classes throughout the year, and even by Zoom presently.
You can never know too much, and you never know when you attend a conference like this, a simple class you take may be just what you need to find that bit of missing information on your person.
With Amy Johnson Crow having a prompt like “Brick Walls” for week 15 you all probably think I’m going to write about Andrew Blair and Susanna Akers. Well you’re right. And I’m going to throw their son, George Washington Blair into the mix as well (though to be honest I contemplated writing about someone else, but then I started to laugh).
Andrew & Susanna
Andrew Blair and Susanna Akers are my 3rd-great-grandparents on my paternal side of the family. When I began working on my family history again in college, Andrew and Susanna (also found as Susannah, Suzanna, and Susan) were also the brick wall of my cousin, Darlene. So here is what we have, because when her daughter sent me the gedcom file for her research, we had the same information.
Andrew and Susanah show up out of nowhere on the 1850 Census living in Conemaugh, Cambria, Pennsylvania. He is a laborer aged 35, she is a housekeeper aged 25, and neither can read nor write. They have 2-children at this time, Sarah Catherine age 4, and William age 1 and they were all born in Pennsylvania (I have boxed their information with a red square).
Our next document is the 1860 Census. They have moved to Huston Township, Blair, Pennsylvania and there are more of them. Andrew is still a laborer and is suddenly 50 years old (yes, he is 15 years older in just 10 years), Susanah is 34 (which could be possible as 1850 census was taken in November, and the 1860 census was taken in June). Sarah is 14, William is 10 while we have three boys to add to the family: Andrew J (my direct descendant) is 9, George Washington is 6, and Samuel A is 4. With 4 out 5 children attending school, we now only have Andrew being unable to read and write (I’ve often wondered did Susanna learn as her children did?). The value of his personal estate is $50 and again, everyone was born in Pennsylvania.
In the 1870 Census Andrew, Susanna and family are once again in a different town and county, Broad Top Township in Bedford County Pennsylvania. Andrew is still a laborer and is 59 with a personal estate of $800, Susanna is “Susan” and is 44, the oldest child living at home is now Andrew who is a wood chopper and is age 19, next is George who is an apprentice shoemaker and age 17, and lastly is Samuel who is 13 and still in school (outside info: Sarah has married and is the next family listed under her parents and siblings; William has passed away, but I don’t know from what). I question the marks for Andrew and George about being blind, deaf, dumb or idiotic (being a direct descendent of Andrew, no one wants to see that of their ancestor, it also says they can’t read or write but the previous census did have them in school).
Our last census is 1880 where Andrew and Susanna are living in Coaldale, Bedford, Pennsylvania. It is just the two of the now, all of their children have married. Andrew is still a laborer but has been unemployed for 8 months of that year, and he is 68 years old. Susanna is 54. Both are listed as having been born in Pennsylvania, and both are listed as having their parents being born in Pennsylvania too. Their son, Andrew, and his family are living 2-households away (oddly enough a non-direct descendent on my grandmother’s side lives between them, with another member of my Wise branch living on the other side of son Andrew).
After this I have nothing on Andrew and Susanna other than the death certificate of their son, Samuel Alexander Blair in 1932 (or as the death certificate states, SA Blair). This is the only document I’ve seen with Susanna’s last name of Akers being identified.
My Search for Andrew
Since multiple census proclaim that Andrew and his parents were born in Pennsylvania, I have tried to use previous censuses to find his parents. But with having the hash ticks and just the head of house hold available on the censuses from 1790 through 1840, I have not been successful. It probably doesn’t help that Andrew has had a wider range of ages on the different censuses from 35 in 1850, to 50 in 1860, to 59 in 1870 and lastly 68 in 1880, so with tick marks it could end up being in a wide variety of columns throughout his life depending on what year is the correct year.
I did come across a family tree on MyHeritage where it was noted by someone that Samuel (Blair) had told one of his son’s that his dad was born in Franklin County, Pennsylvania. Of course I am unable to find this statement on MyHeritage at the moment but I’m going to guess that I read it somewhere as I wouldn’t have it in my mind otherwise.
Sarah Permelia Blair
My biggest puzzle is that while using the MyHeritage Library Edition (I can use it free at home using my library card) I found someone’s tree that lists a Sarah Permelia Blair as Andrew’s sister.
And then last year when I began playing with my DNA and grouping people into 8 groups and lo and behold I have a match with a person. Below is my Thrulines with her on my AncestryDNA (she is represented by the red square box), and she is related to me via Sarah Blair. When you click on Sarah she is married to David Points same as the above Sarah from MyHeritage.
I have done my due diligence researching Sarah Permelia Blair but more than half of the records I have come across state she was born in Maryland, Washington County to be exact. What makes this somewhat interesting? North of Washington County, Maryland is Franklin County, Pennsylvania.
I decided to then look to see what Blair’s were in Washington County, Maryland in both 1810 and 1820 census, on the chance they were there 6-years before Sarah was born, or 4 years after. There were 2 suspects: James Blair who is aged “over 45” in both, and Andrew Blair. Obviously with so many other Andrew Blair’s in my tree, I’m sure you have guessed who I liked for a possible person (that, and I honestly think that Andrew is one of James’ older sons who married and moved out first, in the 1830 Census there were many more Blair’s in the area and less in James’ house).
In the 1820 and 1830 Census, there are children (even with Andrew’s wide range of birth dates) that line up for this to be a true person of interest to be Andrew and Sarah’s dad. I will go on to further check out this Washington County, Andrew Blair, who disappears by 1840 (at least from Maryland, and I’m not having any luck in finding him in Pennsylvania either).
But I feel I’m on a good track so I’m really liking that I had this prompt. Fingers crossed that maybe I can tie people together once I work on more of the tree, maybe I have another DNA match that could wrap everything together in a pretty little bow.
Okay, I am laughing again.
My Search for Susanna
The elusive search for my 3rd-great-grandmother has been a slightly more difficult journey than Andrew. At least with him I’m fairly confident of his last name. Trouble with Susanna is that most census records indicate she was born in 1826 repeatedly, so I truly feel that is her birth year. But all the Akers that I have found in the Bedford County area don’t have a daughter that matches up to Susanna’s age. This is how I have begun to doubt her maiden name.
This is where my search for her second youngest son, George Washington Blair, comes in to play. Like his parents, George and his wife, Julianne (July Ann, possibly Julia Ann) disappear after the 1880 census. His daughter, Amanda, married John Lear and I have records for her, and the death certificate for his youngest daughter, Elizabeth born in 1882, but nothing after 1880 for George, Julia or their sons, Harry and Alexander.
I came to realize that George was also a brick wall when it came to my recollection that if I found his death certificate, it would give me either the same name for his mom’s maiden name, Akers, or give me another possible lead.
When Andrew Jackson Blair of 1851 passed away, the death register at the Bedford County Courthouse just has listed “Susannah Blair”.
My only real lead for thinking that George survived the 1880’s and as still living in Pennsylvania was his younger brother, Samuel’s, obituary (by the way, George and Samuel married sisters – Julia Ann was the sister of Samuel’s wife, Margaret). If you notice the second paragraph, it says, “He came to this city to live with his brother 18 months ago after the death of his wife, Mrs. Margaret (O’Neal) Blair”.
At this point in time Samuel’s only surviving brother was George. William passed away in 1865 and is buried in Hopewell Cemetery, and Andrew Jackson Blair in 1899 of a paralytic stroke (he is buried in Duvall Cemetery, which is also where Samuel and his family are laid to rest).
But I have yet to find any record of George Blair living in Blair County, Pennsylvania at this time. It does not help that there is another George Blair who is living in Blair County with a wife named Annie, but I am 99% certain this is a different George (though it is coincidental that my George’s wife’s middle name is Ann).
A Census Search for Akers
Another logical step I’ve done is do searches for male Akers in the 1830 and 1840 Census that would have females in their homes of the proper age with a basis of Susanna being born in 1826 (3 out of the 4 census documents that I have from 1850-1880 insinuate 1826 being the year of her birth). Only 1 individual in the greater Bedford County area seems to match up and that is a gentleman by the name of John Akers. But seeing as these census are only the tick marks and no names, it is hard to know for sure. Add on that I am not even 100% certain that her last name is Akers and it makes me doubt things that much more.
I have found some probate records for when John Akers passed away in 1866 but it is primarily just inventories. Oddly enough, when I did my searches on Ancestry someone does have a middle name of Andrew listed for John Akers (all the more reason my great-great-grandfather could have been named Andrew).
Making Some Cracks
I know I still have a great deal of work to do on my search for Andrew and Susanna’s parents. But each day I feel I am making more progress. If I ever begin to knock it down it will be such a happy day. If you remember the tv show “Perfect Strangers” I imagine it will be similar to Balki’s dance of joy.
But that day is not today. But hopefully I will get my dance, whatever it is, and share if that blessed day ever comes.
Today is an exciting day! It’s the first day of the Ohio Genealogical Society Conference with the theme of “Bringin’ It Home”. When the co-chairs came up with the theme they had no idea that we would still be living in a virtual world, but here we are, having the conference from the comforts of our living rooms, or porches, or attics, or dining rooms!
The first day is workshops and this year I signed up for one. When I went to my first conference 2 years ago when it was in Mason, Ohio (a suburb of Cincinnati) I opted to do the meet and greet. This year I am attending my first workshop that will discuss what it takes to be a professional genealogist.
Then Thursday through Saturday we begin the many classes and online exhibitors. What makes this years a little more unique is that any session that is pre-recorded you can watch anytime through April 20 so you can try to seize the “live” sessions so you can get even more knowledge than you thought!
I’m looking forward to learning a great deal. Last week I attended a couple of sessions that the Indiana Genealogical Society offered and on Saturday, Lisa Louise Cooke was the speaker and what stuck with me was her comment about how every day we are a better researcher than the day before because we are always learning new things. And that is so true. You are never looking at the same document in the same way because every day we become more knowledgeable with what we are doing and learning.
So keep that in mind when you go check out at an old document, you have probably learned quite a bit since you last looked at.
Wishing all those attending this week’s Ohio Genealogical Society Conference a wonderful time!
Great. That is this week’s prompt for Amy Johnson Crow’s 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks. I’ve learned to go with my gut when writing for the weekly topics and I’m not going to stray (that probably wouldn’t be so “great”), and the first thing that popped into my head was going into my genealogy program and finding out my furthest back direct relative, and that happens to be my seventh-great-grandparents on my maternal side, Lt. David Ryther and Martha Shattuck.
Oddly enough in trying to find a bit more information on my 7x-great-grandparents, their house is still standing! It was just sold a few years back but here is a photo I found on the “Captivating Houses” website. If you decide to peruse through the photos of the home and its property, my favorite part was the mentioning of the addition that was built in 1800.
David was also one of the people who helped found Bernardston, Massachusetts. I found this pretty cool and see a visit to the town in my future.
Relatives That Get Me to My 7th Great Grandparents
Obviously it takes several people to get you back in time to my 7th-Great-Grandparents (however, if I go by FamilySearch.org and the big tree, I could technically go back farther, but these are not verified relatives) and I will go through them going from me to David and Martha.
The first stop (well, after myself) is my mom, Cynthia Anne Fairhurst. She was born 22 December 1947 and passed away 28 May 2018. As I told in a post two weeks ago, she was the oldest in her family, went to school to be an LPN at age 40 and loved being a scrapbooking grandma.
My Grandma was Alberta Lou Fleming, mother of 5, outstanding bowler and lover of big band music. She had the sharpest wit of anyone I knew, so much so that if I had one trait I could have wished from her it would have been her clever comebacks. Alberta was born on 2 October 1929 and passed away on 24 July 2006.
Are you noticing a trend? Don’t worry – there are two more ladies to go and we finally hit a male! My Great-Grandma was Mildred Laura Dunbar and she was born on 15 March 1908. I’ve written about her as well. Mildred was a modern woman her entire life, initially being employed as a stenographer, but later branching out into other administrative roles. She was a mom to a daughter and 2-sons and I loved her taste in jewelry as I inherited many pieces of her collection to play with for dress-up (and her shoes as she had small feet!). She passed away on 8 Jan 1982.
If you have frequently read my blog you will be familiar with Mazie Lorenia Warner as for some reason, she is my favorite relative I have learned about while doing my genealogy. I find her to be so strong and so beautiful. Mazie was born on 21 July 1877. She had 3-daughters and a son with her first husband, Arthur James Dunbar, who died in 1912 from Polio. She re-married Samuel Randol with whom she had a son who passed away when he was just a few months old (her son with Arthur died from bronchitis before he was a year old). Samuel and Mazie moved to Akron in 1916 where they settled and made their home. She passed away on 19 May 1945.
Finally a boy! Winfield Scott Warner was born on 14 Apr 1847 and passed away on 21 Mar 1899. He was a farmer who left his fields to fight in the Civil War. He was married at the age of 22 and had 4-daughters (Mazie was the oldest).
Oliver Charles Warner was the father of Winfield and was born in Franklin, Norfolk, Massachusetts in 1809 and passed away 21 Dec 1878 in Potter County, Pennsylvania. Oliver was the relative who moved this portion of my family “west” (though he may have come with his father, Joel, still trying to determine that). He was a lumberman, was married 3-times but seems to have only had children with his first wife, Mary A. Jones.
Joel Warner was the father of Oliver and also was born in Massachusetts but moved to Potter County, Pennsylvania before his days were over. He was born on 19 Jun 1773 and passed away on 5 May 1854. He was married twice and had 3 children with each wife. Oliver was the youngest child with his first wife, Thankful Chapin. He had a second wife, Rebecca Putnam and they had 3 children as well.
Hannah Ryther was born 10 May 1746, the oldest of her parents children, and married Ichabod Warner on 7 Jan 1766. She had 7-children (Joel being the 4th-oldest). She passed away 6 Aug 1815 in Bernardston, Franklin, Massachusetts.
Finally We Make It to David & Martha
Seven generations back – that’s a long time ago. Lieutenant David Ryther (though sometimes seen as Rider/Ryder due to religious persecution that was common around this time) was born 15 Aug 1719 in Sherborn, Middlesex, Massachusetts. Martha Shattuck was born 2 Apr 1725 in Northfield, Hampshire, Massachusetts. They were married in 1745 and their oldest daughter was born a year later. While Martha raised their 11 children, David fought first in the French & Indian War and later, at the ripe old age of 60, in the American Revolution. Martha passed away 12 Nov 1802 while David died less than 2 years later on 6 Jun 1804.
I enjoyed learning about my great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandparents, and look forward to learning more about them. I didn’t delve into Martha as much as I would have liked, but I’m sure that’s another story for another day. For a man who seemed to stand-out, my guess is that Martha had to be special to stand-out to him.