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.

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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).

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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, 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.

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.

 

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.

 

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, My Family Tree

Week #9: Disaster

I’ll admit I’m a week behind for Amy Johnson Crow’s challenge of 52 Ancestors in 52 weeks but I’ll confess, I was busy reading and hadn’t paid much attention (will hang my head in shame).  But I’m back for those who like to peruse my posts as this disaster always brings tears to my eyes.

25 March 1939

Ever since I discovered this fire a few years back, this date is now so ingrained in my brain I can’t help but remember it.  On this day almost 81 years ago, my great-great-uncle and his wife, Charles and Ethel Childers, decided to take a trip to the store, leaving their children in the care of their older brothers.  The brothers had gone fishing, and Eva, who was 9 at the time, began getting dinner started.  When she put the kerosene in the stove, it spilled and caused the oven to explode.  Eva ran outside, rolled around on the ground to extinguish the flames then ran more than a mile to the nearest neighbor for help.  From there she was taken to the hospital where she died.

By the time the neighbor made it to the house, the entire home was gone.  2-year old Ralph Childers died as he was upstairs napping and was unable to be saved.

Other children did get burns on their hands as they tried to put out the flames on Eva before she rolled on the ground.

The Newspaper Article – Altoona Mirror 27 Mar 1939

Eva & Ralph

I tried to find Eva & Ralph’s graves when I went back to Pennsylvania last summer.  I found their parent’s and their older brother but there was no grave marker for the two who had perished in that horrible fire.  My husband pointed to a plot of land that dipped down next to Charles and Ethel’s grave, stating they were most likely there (along with the other 3 young ones who passed, Orval, Phyllis and Denney).

Misinformation

I was surprised at how this fire has been exaggerated when you read about it on public family trees on Ancestry.  Because overall Charles and Ethel Childers had 3 other children pass away young (poor nutrition) many have poorly assumed they died in this fire.  Just 2, but in my world these 2 were too many.

My Own Bad Attitude

I know it’s a different time and place but I couldn’t imagine going off to go shopping and leaving my kids alone in the care of their brothers. I know they didn’t know their older boys would go off fishing, and I know girls at age 9 often did the cooking for the family back then, but I look at my own daughter and never would have dreamed her cook a meal at the age of 9 (she hasn’t offered and she just turned 16).

For a long while I use to refer to Charles and Ethel sarcastically as the “greatest parents in the world”.  At the time that Eva and Ralph died in the fire, Ethel was pregnant.  Her daughter Phyllis Fern was born 30 May 1939 and ended up passing away on 10 October 1939 of Malnutrition.  The same happened with a son who was born 9 August 1944, dying on 7 December 1944.

How I’ve Come Around

After realizing that Ethel had other issues, I’m wondering if after having lost her children in a fire, if she was also dealing with post partum depression on top of regular depression.  Various newspaper articles have reported her being in the hospital herself within a month of her babies passing.  Where I use to be quite judgmental of the couple, especially Ethel, I find myself compromising that there was more going on with her situation than meets the eye.  I probably wouldn’t have been able to live with myself if something happened to my children, and its so nice we have other options in this day and age if our children aren’t getting the nutrients they need there is now formula.  I know my own mother had issues with my older sister and she had to switch when my sister was very young.  She never even tried, she just formula fed me.

But there is also birth control, and I think that in a nutshell may have helped Ethel a bit.  No one acknowledged post partum depression in the 1920’s through the 1940’s, and it appears she was quite fertile and that probably didn’t help her mentally either.  And with depression getting such a bad reputation back in the day she was probably fearful of being placed in an asylum.

I’m quite happy things have changed in the 81 years since this fire.  Kerosene isn’t a regular way of cooking inside a home anymore.  More safety precautions are in place and going to the store isn’t an all day excursion (well, depending on what you are looking for). But everyday more and more is being done for mental health.

As for Eva and Ralph – may their souls still rest in peace.

 

My Family Tree

I Took a DNA Test & Figured Out a Mystery

So for a while now I’ve been on the fence about taking a DNA test.  I became even more curious about 18 months ago when my mother-in-law got my husband one for his birthday.  It took him a while to finally take the test (I came home from an Evening of Genealogy at the library where I saw a mutual friend and Sandy advised he had better do it as it’s possible that it had an expiration date). So he did and though his tree was limited it was fascinating to see his ethnicity estimate and the DNA matches he had.

So ever since then, I’d been on a teeter-totter, half wanting to take a test and half afraid like so many others about big brother finding me (though I’m not sure exactly why). But this past Fourth of July convinced me to take a test when I went and spent the day with my mom’s side of the family at my cousin’s house and my aunt told me offhandedly “You know there is a chance that who you think is mom’s dad isn’t”.  Her reference to mom was my maternal grandmother.

Now, if you are any sort of genealogist you know what I am thinking at this point.  This person, we’ll call him hubby #2, who I have listed as my great-grandfather, because that’s what my grandmother’s birth certificate states, who I’ve spent hours researching, hoping to make sense of why he ignored her, even as an adult… may not be my great-grandfather?

The DNA Test

On this day AncestryDNA was on sale and it was the last day of the sale.  At 11:51pm I purchased my kit and just had to wait.

The following Wednesday the kit arrived in the mail.  I was ready – I came home, spit in the vial and boxed it up and by 8:30am the next day, it was at the post office being mailed.  The following Monday as my husband and I went cemetery hopping, I got the email stating that it had arrived at the testing facility, and by Friday, July 26 I had my results.

  • 84% England, Wales & Northwestern Europe
  • 12% Ireland & Scotland
  • 4% Germanic

Well, if nothing else the ethnicity estimate summed up why my skin coloring is so pasty white (I’m fair – like I was wearing a black dress and black flats the other day and you’d think I had on white tights pale).

But one over the course of the next week and a half that I figured out was missing were matches to any of hubby #2’s surnames.  So I guess what my Great-Great-Aunt Ina stated after my great-grandmother’s funeral was correct – hubby #2 wasn’t my grandmother’s dad.

But who was?

The Search is On

So a week or so passed and one evening I sat in my recliner and decided to just focus on the third cousins who make up my DNA matches and put them in the categories of my ancestors: Blair/Foster’s; Childers/Fesler’s; Ritchey/Cypher’s – you get my point.  But there was a name that kept popping up – so I decided to focus on it.

So I pulled up the 1930 census to see if there were any “V’s” living in the vicinity of my great-grandmother (her name was Mildred) as I knew she lived in the realm as I now live, an area called North Hill.  Sadly by the 1930 census, she is living with her second husband in Cuyahoga Falls (FYI – my grandmother, was born in 1929).

When I didn’t find the information I was looking for in the census, I decided to look up the “V’s” in the 1930 City Directory.  There I found a “V” who was a lawyer with an office at a main intersection in the area.  I had seen his name on a family tree of one of my “matches” and he was in my great-grandmother’s age range, but as odd as it was I saw another “V” who lived just a few blocks from where I live now listed and I decided to further investigate.

I threw this second “V” into Ancestry and found him right away.  He was 89 in 1930 and my Great-Grandmother would have been 22 – I hoped he wasn’t who I was looking for.  I looked to see if he had a son, he did, so I clicked to see some information about him, wondering if he was married or had children because they would probably be Mildred’s age (she was born in 1908 – he passed away in 1906).  When I clicked on the link to Find A Grave, I couldn’t believe my eyes, it was a photo of a tombstone of 89-year-old “V”, his son, wife, and daughter.  But was most surprising was that the daughter’s last name rang bells in my head… it was the same last name as my great-grandmother, Mildred’s, hubby #1!!!

Mildred’s divorce from hubby #1 was final on September 5, 1929. She married hubby #2 on September 29 and my grandmother was born prematurely on October 2. With all the DNA matches to the “V’s” this made total sense.  What further proved my hypothesis was the following photos.  The first is the obituary photo from the February 28, 1994 edition of the Akron Beacon Journal of hubby #1 while the other is a photo of my Grandmother I believe taken in the 1990s.

It’s the same nose and the same high cheekbones.  If hubby #1 isn’t her father, I need to find out who in his family is (but I do have matches to both “V’s and “G’s”, I just have to go up to my 4x great-grandparents on the “G” side).

Sharing the News

I was so excited when I discovered all this.  I quickly got on Facebook and shared what I found with my Aunt who began this whole mystery for me.  I was surprised she was still up at 11pm.

All my research of hubby #2 and his family wasn’t a total loss. In the end, he was still my great-grandmother’s second husband.  I’ve just disconnected him as the father of my grandmother and now have hubby #1 in that place (he was already listed in my program as well).

I’ll admit I was happy to find out her first husband was my grandmother’s dad. I considered my great-grandmother a strong woman for divorcing him in the late 1920s and then hubby #2 in the early 1930s because they weren’t the men she deserved.  But the thought of someone else intermingled didn’t exactly thrill me either.

My great-grandmother had reasons for divorcing hubby #1, he was apparently gambling their money away.

Hubby #1 didn’t get married a second time until 1939, 10 years after his divorce with my great-grandmother was final.  He was married to his second wife until he passed in 1984.  I like to think in those 10 years he grew up.  From the comments on his second wife’s obituary, they were both wonderful people who everyone seemed to love.  This makes me feel good.

Then again, who is going to go onto a website and say how awful someone was?  Well, at least not on an obituary site (I hope not anyhow).

What I am still puzzled about was there was a point in my grandmother’s marriage to my grandfather where he forced her to go meet her dad, hubby #2.  The entire visit he did nothing but ignore her. Not one word was said.  I’ve heard that story from different people and it’s the same.  I can’t believe he would be so mean to my grandmother.  My guess is that he knew she wasn’t his.  He noted on other documents I found that he had no children.  This is fine.  But why not just tell her when she was an adult visiting him?  Why keep quiet?  At this time what was to be gained?

My Aunt commented to me it just goes to show how much Mildred wanted out of her marriage that she didn’t want to risk hubby #1 finding out he had a child.  But it makes me wonder if everyone’s life would have changed had they known?  Maybe he would have straightened up earlier?  

Or maybe he did know?

Ninety years later, we will never know.

* I’ve used the simplistic codenames of hubby #1, hubby #2, and hubby #3 in regard to my great-grandmother’s husbands for the simple fact that hubby #1 was remarried and has a daughter.  At this time I am mulling over whether I should contact her, but since to my knowledge she is unaware I thought I’d respect her privacy, so no names.  I know she could do a search of her dad’s photo and find out, but I’m also DNA matches with her relatives so there is that chance she may find out anyhow (or who knows, maybe she is a match).  One of my matches was actually a girl I went to school with, who is semi-related to my friend’s husband and I believe she has been told (I was excited to share my story with someone interested in genealogy having no clue her hubby was related to them).  Maybe one day I’ll add the picture of the headstone that tied everything together. 

Genealogy, My Family Tree

My Research Trip Days 2 & 3

So if you read my previous post, you know that I had quite a day going from one cemetery to the next finding my direct line ancestors on my dad’s side of the family.

But day two was fun as I spent most of the day at the Bedford County Historical Society.  I went with a plan but the ladies there knew so much more than I did and truly made me feel not so knowledgeable about my family (but in a good way).  Gillian, the director, knew so much about my Morgart side, showing me maps with their names on it from the Bedford area.  Next thing she was giving me the information about Peter Morgart and his part in the Whiskey Rebellion, and it just went on and on.  Huge binders full of family tree information others had done before me of my ancestors and their descendants.  I was in awe and when we left I told my husband I was so unprepared for how much they knew.  All I kept thinking about was all my webinars and how I needed to stay focused and how I did anything but stay focused.  I will definitely go there again and be better prepared when I return.

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Next, we headed to Jean Bonnet’s Tavern for dinner.  The food was delicious, I had crab and shrimp topped salmon with a baked potato and steamed broccoli. I believe my husband had the beef tenderloin.  We left stuffed but so happy we had the experience.  Jean Bonnet’s Tavern was built in the 1760’s so it was just fun to eat where maybe my ancestors did (not all as I’m sure they were in competition with the Morgart Tavern).

After dinner, we drove by the Espy House which is where George Washington had his headquarters when he came to Bedford County in 1794 during the Whiskey Rebellion.  Yes, chills once again as George may have walked where I was now riding (it really doesn’t take much to get me excited about George).

After this, we went out and found the Bedford Springs Hotel as it was one of the places to stay back in the day.  Supposedly the water had (has?) medicinal purposes.  It’s still quite majestic today in its appearance.

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The next day we did a little bit of sightseeing as this area is the home of the Flight 93 Memorial from the happenings of September 11, 2001.  The quiet and the breeze that seemed to be non-stop there was just eerie.  You couldn’t help but feel the specialness of all those aboard who decided to defend freedom.

Next up was the Bedford County Courthouse where I went armed with my checklist of names I wanted to run by with property listings as well as wills/probate records.  I was so impressed as I was able to find something on most of my ancestors that were on my list.  If you have relatives, don’t feel shy about going in, the girls that work in the records department are very nice and were so helpful.

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On our last night there we met with my second cousin Hope and had dinner.  She was also kind enough to show me some spots in St. Michael where my great-grandmother lived as well as the bank where my Grandmother worked (I often remember her telling me she got paid like a nickel to clean the place – I may be off on how much she was paid but I know it wasn’t much).  I guess the bank is now where the residents of St. Michael, Pennsylvania pay their utility bills.  I meant to take a photo of Hope too, but as soon as we got to her house she wished us well and sent us on our way and I was a block or two away when I turned to my husband and said, “I wanted a photo with Hope”.

I thought my first research trip went really well.  I was able to find a lot of information that I was seeking but still had so many more questions when I returned.  I only had three days so I did my best to keep my focus but on future trips I know I’ll do my best to seek information on more than just my direct descendants, and hopefully, I’ll have more time to even visit other relatives that actually live in the area too.

 

Genealogy, My Family Tree

My First Research Trip: Day One – Cemetery Hopping

From July 15-17 my husband and I traveled to Bedford County, Pennsylvania so I could research my family.  It was such an honor to know I walked where they walked. It was a great trip that was full of adventure and I’ll be honest, spending one on one time with my husband was a nice treat.

As I recount my trip I just want to add that I suggested to my husband that maybe we should take my car as it would get better gas mileage.  I’ll be honest with you, I have a 2013 Chrysler 200.  I love my car (the first car I ever purchased was a 1993 Plymouth Sundance, and if my Sundance would have evolved, it would be in the realm of the Chrysler 200). Even my father thought we should take it for the same reason, better gas mileage.  But believe me, my front-wheel-drive vehicle could never have conquered the hills of Cambria, Bedford, Huntingdon, Fulton and Somerset counties like my husband’s Ford F-150.  As we headed from one cemetery to the next in Cambria county, we went up a hill so steep it was at a 15-degree incline (well, that hill we didn’t have to go up – hubby did it for fun).  My car would never have survived either hill.  I attempted to take a photo but my phone doesn’t do it justice.

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You have to look all the way down and focus on the house to fully appreciate how steep the hill is.  His hitch scraped against the street when we got to the bottom and leveled out.
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We are at the bottom road about to drive up, the first hill (where there is pavement) was steep, but the upper portion (where it is grass) is the 15-degree incline.  We actually needed to turn before the grass to get to the next cemetery.

First Stop: South Fork Cemetery

We left Ohio on Monday morning and traveled to Pennsylvania.  It only took us about 3 hours and our first stop was South Fork Cemetery in South Fork, Cambria County.  Here I found 2 out of 3 of my direct line relatives, and the grave of my Great-Aunt Vada.  The person I couldn’t find was Susan Jane Foster Blair, my Great-Great-Grandmother.  I was really bummed.  I remember seeing her name as a teenager and you know how sometimes you have a relative that just pops out at you?  That was Susan Jane Foster for me.  We searched all around but were unable to locate her grave.  South Fork was probably the largest cemetery we visited, but I am hoping to contact someone who could possibly have a map or layout of the cemetery, as it is one without an office, which explained the lack of information on the internet. (I’ll note here, none of the cemeteries we visited had an office).

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The gravestone of my Great-Grandfather, Andrew Jackson Blair, who died when a mine he was working in collapsed and crushed his lungs.  He was 45 years old.
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The gravestone of his daughter, my Great-Aunt Vada Blair Reese.  She died in Arizona in 1995, she was 87.
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This is the headstone of my Great-Grandmother, Bertha Childers Blair Chappell.  Her first husband was Andrew Jackson Blair (above) and her daughter was Vada. Bertha passed away in 1963 at the age of 77. To see an actual photo of her, look to my header, she is the one on the end of the couch not as happy as the others.  Her son, Leroy, is on the far right, he is my Grandfather.

Second Stop: Mount Hope Cemetery

Our next stop had us taking the above hills to arrive at Mount Hope Cemetery. This was a much smaller cemetery, and luckily because of websites like Find A Grave someone had already uploaded a photo of my Great-Grandmother’s gravestone so I had some idea what to look for shape-wise.

Below is the headstone belonging to Margaret Wise Custer, though I knew her as Gammy.  She is the only one of the relatives I searched for on this day that I had met. I have vague memories of her playing the “mouth organ” in a nursing home. She passed away in 1987 at the age of 96.  My Grandma, her daughter, lived to be 94. Good genes.

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My Great-Grandmother, Margaret Dora Wise.  To see what she looked like look at the top border photo, she is the white-haired lady with the patterned dress laughing (her daughter is to the right).

Third Stop: Hopewell Cemetery

When we looked up Hopewell Cemetery on Google Maps attempting to get something of an address for this location, it looked rather flat.  We could see it had sections but never dreamed the slant that the cemetery was created on.  It was the next largest cemetery we visited.  I didn’t find my Great-Great-Grandparents that were buried here.  Since I had no cell service I wasn’t able to consult Find A Grave to see if either of them were listed.  Turns out that my Great-Great-Grandfather, Philip Wise did have a photo on the website, but his wife, Barbara Waite Wise, did not.

Hopewell is filled with old graves that are very worn.  We tried to look all over in the older section of the cemetery, thinking that is where they may be (Philip passed in 1878 while Barbara passed in 1881).

I did find my Great-Great-Aunt Elizabeth Childers Whitfield’s grave in my search and took a photo of it (she was my Great-Grandmother Bertha Childers older sister).  I figured it made the stop somewhat worth it. But looking at the photo – look at how angled the ground is!  This was another spot I’m not sure my car could have survived.

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Stop Four: Duvall’s Cemetery

Duvall’s Cemetery was built on land that belonged to my 5th-Great-Grandfather, Basil Foster.  So this one had a little extra charm for me, I was going to walk on land that I knew belonged to my ancestors.  I’m a geek and think that’s thrilling.  I think everyone else thinks I’m nuts in these situations (you should see me at Yorktown and Mount Vernon knowing I’ve walked where George may have stepped, it gives me goosebumps).

But Duvall’s Cemetery is also where many of my direct line relatives are buried.  I actually found out 2 days after this visit it held one more grave, that of Andrew Jackson Blair, my Great-Great-Grandfather, father of the aforementioned Andrew Jackson Blair, and husband of the aforementioned Susan Jane Foster (yes, as in Basil Foster). I actually looked for Susan here but was unsuccessful.

Here are my relatives buried in Duvall Cemetery: Andrew Jackson Blair (1851), Charles Jackson Morgart (my Great-Grandfather, first husband of Margaret Wise, aka Maggie Custer), Basil Foster, Richard Lewis Foster, Charity Johnstone Foster, Thomas Foster, Eliza Horton Foster – just to name a few.  These are my direct line ancestors as on my first trip, I’d have to spend all day in each cemetery to find everyone.

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Richard Lewis Foster, my 4th-Great-Grandfather
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Charity Johnstone Foster, my 4th-Great-Grandmother
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Basil Foster, my 5th-Great-Grandfather

 

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Charles Jackson Morgart, my Great-Grandfather. The only photo I have of him is the baby picture used above on my header border.  He was born in 1873, so to have this christening photo is just incredible for me.

I was unable to find Thomas Foster, my 3rd-Great-Grandfather, or his wife, Eliza Horton Foster, my 3rd-Great-Grandmother.  There were many worn graves and some that had fallen apart off the screws where the tops were face down into the grass. It was so sad to see so many graves this way.  These were someone’s people, and my husband told me straight off that no, he could not lift them alone.  He knows me so well.

Stop Five: Wells Valley Methodist Cemetery

As we were driving, on our way to what ended up being our sixth stop, I saw a road and it turned out we were near Wells Valley Methodist Cemetery, where a majority of my Fesler and Childers family members are buried.  I was not able to find everyone, but I did find 2 of the 5 that I was looking for – the first being my 3rd-Great-Grandfather, George Henry Fesler who fought in several smaller battles during the Civil War and his wife, Mary Elizabeth Oakman Fesler.  My Great-Great-Grandmother, Sarah Jane Fesler Childers is reportedly buried there as well, but I was unable to find her. The area where the Fesler’s is an older portion of the cemetery in the back corner under a huge tree.  Where George’s has been maintained – his wife and children’s are very worn.

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George Henry Fesler, he was born in 1824 and passed away in 1911.
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Mary Elizabeth Oakman was born in 1826 and passed away in 1872. Her gravestone has “Mother” on the top which is still visible though the rest of the marker is bare.

Others we were unable to find were my 3rd-Great-Grandparents, Abraham Childers and his wife, Mary Ann Green.  This was another spot where Find A Grave would have been helpful as it has one of theirs listed, but again, no service (I’ll know to save the photos ahead of time for future visits).

Stop Six: Mount Zion Lutheran Church Cemetery (aka Rays Hill Cemetery)

When we pulled alongside the road to Mount Zion Lutheran Church and Cemetery, the parking lot was blocked off with metal gates.  As we sat in the car we saw huge gravestones saying “Ritchey” which was one of the names I was looking for. We searched for a while and then it hit me – I’d seen the headstones on Find a Grave and began looking for white.  Here, if we had just started in the front (translated, not far from where we parked) my Great-Great-Grandparents were in the front row, and my 3rd Great-Grandparents were in the row directly behind them.

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Anna Cypher Ritchey was my 3rd-Great-Grandmother on my dad’s maternal side. She was born in 1820 and passed in 1889.
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George Ritchey, husband of Anna Cypher, he is my 3rd-Great-Grandfather, born in 1810 and died in 1898.
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Mary Ann Ritchey Morgart Hughes was born in 1851 and passed away in 1908.  My Great-Great-Grandmother.
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George Washington Morgart, my Great-Great-Grandfather. He was born in 1849 and passed away unexpectedly in 1895.

Stop Seven: It’s Not a Cemetery, it’s a Tavern

So as we drove along the Lincoln Highway I hoped we would drive by the Morgart Tavern, which was started by my 5th-Great-Grandfather, Peter Morgart, and then run by my 4th-Great-Grandfather, Baltzer Morgart.  The building was constructed in the 1760’s and the walls are to be 2-feet deep.  I was so excited when we found it.  We knocked on the door before taking photos but no one was home.  It’s when you find the places and even buildings where they lived that tickles me the most, a feeling of they were here.

 

Stop Eight: Providence Union Church Cemetery

This was our favorite cemetery, primarily because when we arrived we parked the truck, opened the door and there was my 5th-Great-Grandfather’s resting place front and center.  He and his wife were our easiest finds of the day.  We probably spent 5 minutes here. Captain Solomon Sparks fought in both the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812.  His daughter, Mary Sparks, was married to the before-mentioned Baltzer Morgart.

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Captain Solomon Sparks, my 5th-Great-Grandfather, born in 1760 and passed in 1838.
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Rachel Weimer Sparks, my 5th-Great-Grandmother, born 1764 and died in 1842.

Stop Nine: The Morgart/Morgret Family Cemetery

This was a fun one as it’s literally in the middle of someone’s backyard.  I don’t think the family is a Morgart, I would like to think they would have asked more questions about my being related to them (or not, being an uber-introvert my husband knocked on the door and asked if it was okay to go look at the cemetery, they were very nice and told us we could even pull up in the driveway next to the pole barn.  I also want to add that seeing as it was mowed to the same height as the rest of the yard, this family took excellent care of the cemetery, you could easily read things, the gravestones we were weed-whacked, just really impressed).

So here I had many relatives buried, my 5th-Great-Grandfather, Peter Morgart, and his wife, Christiana Hess (my 5th-Great-Grandmother), my 4th-Great-Grandfather, Baltzer Morgart and his wife (and my 4th-Great-Grandmother), Mary Sparks, and lastly my 3rd-Great-Grandparents, Andrew Jackson Morgart and his wife, Rebecca O’Neal.

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Grave of Peter Morgart, my 5-Great Grandfather who fought in the Battle of Yorktown in the Revolutionary War and watched as Cornwallis surrendered to General George Washington (or so the lore goes, gives me goosebumps as everyone knows George is my hero!). He was born in 1758 and died in 1846.
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Headstone of my 5th-Great-Grandmother Christiana Hess Morgart.  She was born in 1761 and died in 1839.
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Gravestone of Baltzer Morgart, my 4th-Great-Grandfather who ran the Morgart Tavern. He was born in 1785 and died in 1853.
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Gravestone of Mary Sparks, my 4th-Great-Grandmother born 1798 and died in 1874. She was the daughter of Captain Solomon Sparks.
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The headstone of Andrew Jackson Morgart who was my 3rd-Great-Grandfather.  He was a farmer who was born in 1824 and died in 1870.
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The grave of Rebecca O’Neal Morgart, wife of Andrew Jackson Morgart who was born in 1824 and passed away in 1898. She was my 3rd-Great-Grandmother.

Last Stop: Dudley Methodist Cemetery

Our last stop was to find my Great-Great-Grandparents, Jonas and Anna Maria Leighty Wise.  I was so excited to find them as 2 days later I was able to take a photo of a picture that my second cousin Hope had of them that was left after a Wise Family Reunion back in the 1990s.  My Grandma Blair (her married last name) also talked so fondly of her “Granny Wise” that finding their graves had a lot of importance.  But my husband and I must have looked at every single tombstone in the cemetery and we were unable to find them.  I was so disappointed.  I had no cell service so I was unable to look them up (it would have done me no good, there are no photos on Find A Grave). They were the parents of my Great-Grandmother, Margaret Wise.

Since returning home I did email the Dudley United Methodist Church on a hope they had a layout of the cemetery but I’ve not heard back from them.  I could kick myself as it didn’t occur to me when I was there, but my husband found 9 graves of Wise’s but I didn’t recognize the names. Only later did it register that my Great-Great-Grandmother had a total of 15 children, but only 5 survived. Nine graves he found – I wonder if they are 9 of the 10 she lost.

Jonas & Anna Maria Wise

Wrapping It Up

Since this post is ever-so-long I’ll stop here and do another post for the next 2 days.  Cemetery hopping is fun.  It gave me an opportunity to be near my ancestors.  Without them, I wouldn’t be here.  It’s just so fascinating to learn their names and to do my best to learn about them and who they were. Just trying my best for them not to be forgotten.

 

Genealogy, My Family Tree

Preparing for a Research Trip

Have you ever gone on a research trip for your family history?  Next week I am going on my first trip.  I am so excited.  I knew my children wouldn’t be so my dad has been nice enough to care for them and the dog while my husband and I head to Bedford County, Pennsylvania (about 4 hours from our home) so I can do a cemetery search and hopefully find original land and probate records from my relatives who passed away over a hundred years ago.

Having never gone on a trip like this before, I am sure there are lots of mistakes that I am making, so I decided to watch a very informative webinar by Family Tree Webinars that was given by Nicka Smith entitled “Get Set, GO! Planning and Executing a Successful Research Trip”.  I was amazed at how many things I hadn’t really thought of doing, so that’s when I started getting my ducks in a row.

I then turned to the book I purchased about a month ago, “Organize Your Genealogy: Strategies and Solutions for Every Researcher” by Drew Smith (after listening to the Genealogy Guys Podcast I realized how knowledgeable he is, AND he sat next to me at the Meet and Greet at the Ohio Genealogical Society Conference in early May).  In his book, Drew has an entire chapter dedicated to getting organized for a research trip.

Stay Focused

Both Nicka and Drew have various details in common:  stay focused on what you are going there to research, have a plan, call ahead – make sure the places you are going to research are open the day that you are planning on going, AND find out if what you want to research is on site for you to look through, space can be limited for historical documents and it’s entirely possible that the land records from 1873 are off-property but if you call a few days in advance, they could have them waiting there for you when you plan on being there.

“Focus” was the word.  Bright, shiny objects are always a threat when you are researching but can especially happen when you are on a research trip.  This is where apps like Evernote or OneNote can come in handy – note your find, mark down the book you found your information in and either come back to it if you found everything you were looking for – or look for it on another trip.

I know I am presently still figuring out all that I need to look at.  I have so many empty holes for specific people at various points in my tree that I am a bit overwhelmed at what exactly I am going to be looking for.  Besides visiting the Bedford County Courthouse (which is my second visit) it has been highly recommended to me to visit the Bedford County Historical Society.  I have a feeling that I may end up finding a bunch of information at the Historical Society, but I am not 100% certain what all they have (I keep getting snippets of information in my Facebook Group that they have a lot. The Historical Society also acts as the Genealogical Society as well).

Questions to Ask

  • What hours are they open (you can’t always go by what their website states)?
  • Am I able to take photos of what I find with my phone?
  • If I can’t, how much does it cost to make copies?
  • Is everything I may want to research available, or are there items I need to request in advance?

You want to be as prepared as you can possibly be for your trip, as you don’t want to have driven a long way and be disappointed.

Another tip that I read in a Genealogy Gems blog by Lisa Louise Cooke is to be patient.  Things may not go as smoothly as you envisioned in your head (things seldom do) but if you keep a good mindset and roll with the punches, it will allow you to have a wonderful trip.

Below is a very simplistic page I created (reminiscent of one in the webinar by Nicka Smith) as a way to keep me focused on my cemetery search that is going to take place on Monday.  I’ve listed the cemeteries, who is buried there, and then I can come up with a few others who I am not sure where they are buried (for example, my great-great-grandmother Susan Jane Foster is buried at South Fork Cemetery, but I’m uncertain if her husband is buried there too.  He died before death certificates were mandatory (in 1899) so I don’t have a slip of paper telling me where he is buried (yet – can you say that’s part of why I’m visiting the Bedford County Historical Society) but I’m hoping that maybe I will find him buried with her (or possibly with his children as Susan Jane didn’t pass until 1943).  The purpose is to keep myself focused and I think this will do the job (like the little checkboxes?). The blank space to the right is for notes.

PA Research Trip

Most of those I have listed are direct line relatives.  I’m sure if I see others I’ll photograph them.  Those with an asterisk have special importance to me, so they are the exception to the direct line rule (I have essentially 3 days, I’m trying to acquire as much as I can but distant aunts, uncles, and cousins can wait).

I’ll update you on my progress next week.  My husband thought I’d be able to visit everything in just a few days.  I have relatives from Bedford, Fulton, Somerset, Cambria and Huntingdon counties in Pennsylvania, unless I am the world’s fastest and most efficient researcher, I don’t see conquering 4 counties in 2 days, not with both sides on my paternal side of my family to seek information on.

Do you have any tips or suggestions – I feel like in all I’ve read and watched I’m missing something critical to share with you.  I’m sure I’ll think of it as soon as I hit “send”. I’d love to hear about anyone’s experience on their own visits to their families homeland. I am super excited to see mine and I’m meeting with a distant cousin and will get copies of photos of family members I’ve not seen.

Wish me luck!

Genealogy, My Family Tree

Make Sure You Look at Everything on the Census!

For two years I’ve had a brick wall in my great-great aunt Margaret Blair who was born in October 1879.  She is on the 1880 census as this is how I know she lived.  She has been one of my biggest mysteries.  By the time the 1900 census comes around, Margaret would have been 20 so I never knew if she had passed away in childhood or just gotten married with her license just eluding me.

Frustrated I reached out to two different Facebook groups last Friday where I received great advice and suggestions from so many supportive family historians.  One very helpful commenter suggested that I examine the 1900 and 1910 census because they both state how many total children a woman had and how many were still alive.

You know that emoji where it looks like a woman smacking herself on the forehead?  It’s my favorite emoji, and my most used.  That was me after reading the recommendation. OVER TWO YEARS and the answer was in front of me the entire time.

I remembered seeing that column on the census way back when I first found the censuses for many family members.

So make sure you know what your census has to offer.  Over the years the US government has asked different questions of its population on the census forms.

1790 Census

The first census of the United States was pretty basic.  It was all about free white males 16 and older, free white males under 16, free white females of all ages were lumped together, then other free persons, and then slaves. Only the heads of household were listed, along with the state and county.

1800 Census

The second census of the United States expanded on the first one, where it became a little more precise with the age groups of the free white males and free white females, then it was all other free persons, and then slaves.

1810 Census

The third census of the United States was not really that creative and was pretty much the same as in 1800.

1820 Census

The fourth census of the United States still had the same breakdown of free white males and free white females, but this particular year they were interested about foreigners who were not yet naturalized, who was earning a living in agriculture, commerce or manufacturing, then it went into more detail about the ages of slaves, and the ages of free colored persons.

1830 Census

The fifth census of the United States was more of the same, but along with the age increments of all segments of the population, the government also wanted to know who was deaf, dumb (as in couldn’t speak), blind (these were also spread out below age 14, between 14 and 25, and above 25 for both whites and blacks), and they still wanted to know who was an unnaturalized foreigner.

1840 Census

The sixth census of the United States was similar to the 1830 census, but it was also curious about who were pensioners of the Revolutionary War, occupations expanded from just three categories to mining, agriculture, manufacturing, navigation of the ocean, navigation of lakes and rivers, or worked as a professional engineer. There were also questions referencing education/college.

1850 Census

The seventh census of the United States, also the first census most people like as it lists the name of everyone living in a house, age, sex, color, value of real estate, profession, place of birth, married, if they attended school, if they could read or write, and whether deaf, dumb, blind, insane, idiotic, pauper or convict.

1860 Census

The eighth census of the United States was very similar to the 1850 census but along with the value of the real estate, it also asked the value of one’s personal estate.

1870 Census

The ninth census of the United States inquired a lot of the basic information of 1860, but was curious about whether your parents were foreign-born and if so, where?  Also asked if you were born or married within the past year, what month? If you had attended school within the past year?  And if you were a male citizen 21 years or older, and if you were 21 and older and if your right to vote is denied due to crimes or rebellion.

1880 Census

The tenth census of the United States began asking questions such as what street you lived on, your relation to the head of the household, single, married, widow, your profession, if you had been unemployed in the past year, if you were sick or disabled, blind, deaf, dumb, insane, if you had attended school, and where you born, and where your parents were born.

1900 Census

The twelfth census of the United States was the first of two with how many children a woman bore and how many survived as of the census, it also asked what year you immigrated to the US, and how long you have lived here, and if you were naturalized.  It asked for a profession, if you attended school, knew English and if you owned or rented your home, if it was a farm or a house, and the farm schedule.

1910 Census

The thirteenth census of the United States delved a little deeper into one’s profession, only cared to know if you were deaf or blind, and also asked if you were an Army or Navy member during the Civil War.

1920 Census

The fourteenth census of the United States delved a little deeper into the ethnicity of people, as it asked where you from but also your mother tongue for both fathers and mothers as well as oneself.

1930 Census

The fifteenth census of the United States was similar to the previous ones, but it also asked what your age on your last birthday was, how old you were when you married, whether you were a veteran, did you work?

1940 Census

The sixteenth census of the United States along with all the information of the previous census’ wanted to know what your highest level/grade of school,  if the individual worked for the WPA, what your occupation was and the industry you worked for, and how much money you made.

Margaret

I had seen the line items on the 1900 and 1910 census about the number of children born and the number of children who were still surviving at the point in time.  Here is the 1910 Census for my great-great-grandmother, Susan Jane Foster (Blair). Both the 1900 and the 1910 Census state the same numbers, but on the 1910 census she is at the top of a sheet.

1910 Census

Susan had 9 total children and 6 survived.  I can account for her 6 living children: Phoebe Jane Blair, Loretto Jane Blair, Andrew Jackson Blair, Minnie Blair, William Blair, and John Blair.  She had 3 that died, Margaret was one of them.

This had me sad.  I really hoped she ran off and got married and I just hadn’t tracked her marriage information yet.  In a months time, I’m going to head to Pennsylvania and visit some relatives, cemeteries and the Bedford County courthouse, where I hope I am able to find out what happened to poor Margaret.  I have two others to find as well.

The Moral of the Story

Pay attention to the details that your census offers, because even though they give you names and approximate birth dates for your ancestors, they can solve your brick walls too.

So many of us use computer programs where we upload the document into our system, and yes we look at enumeration districts and who else is listed when we share our document with all who are on it for citations but do we really KNOW what it’s telling us?

So your homework is to go print off clean copies of the census, and transcribe what you see onto the clean sheet of paper for your relatives, so you can know them better, and tell their stories in a whole new way.