52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, My Family Tree

Namesake

The week 3 theme for Amy Johnson Crow’s 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks is “Namesake”. I know I have a lot of people in my tree (direct and not-so-direct) that are named after others. I started becoming overwhelmed as I wasn’t sure who to even begin writing about – but then it occurred to me… I can mention them all (well, most)!

The Anna’ Maria’s

The first namesake that popped in my head was my grandmother, Anna Maria Morgart (and as an FYI – that Maria is pronounced Mariah), who was named after her maternal grandmother, Anna Maria Leighty.

Just as I can spout off so many wonderful memories of my own grandmother, this was what my grandmother would do about her Granny Wise (Anna Maria Leighty was married to Jonas Wise), I just wish I had paid more attention and remembered them.

Below is Anna Maria Leighty (left) and Anna Maria Morgart (right).

The Andrew (Jackson) Blair’s

Andrew Jackson Blair is the name of my great-grandfather. His father was also Andrew Jackson Blair and his father was Andrew Blair (I’ve not confirmed his middle name was Jackson but no one hopes more than me it was as maybe it would eliminate that they were named after the president – I was not overly fond of him).

Last year I wrote about the Andrew Jackson’s in my Same Name post.

George Henry Fesler’s

George Henry Fesler is my great-great-grandfather who was born in 1824. He had a variety of occupations over his lifetime – laborer, farmer, stone mason and soldier as he fought for the Union in the Civil War.

Before fighting in the war, he had 6 children. Upon his return home he had 4 more, the fourth youngest of his children with Mary Elizabeth Oakman was George Henry Fesler, Jr. The elder George lived until 1911 with his cause of death being “old age”.

The Childers’

I don’t want to forget Abraham Childers. He was born in 1797 and passed away in 1874. Though Abraham had no children named for him, my great-great-grandparents named one of their children Abraham Childers.

Abraham was a chair maker and surprisingly enough – I’ve found a photo of him on Ancestry but not his grandson (though I suppose there is a chance whoever placed it there was incorrect but it’s so crackled I figured it was probably correctly identified).

The elder Abraham, my 3rd-great-grandfather also fought in the War of 1812 as a teenager.

The Delos Dunbar’s

We will now travel over to my maternal side and learn about Delos Henry Dunbar, my great-great-great-grandfather who was born in 1828 in Eaton, New York. He was a farmer who originally owned land in Independence, New York but eventually moved a few miles south to Potter County, Pennsylvania where he died in Coudersport in 1913 (a few months after his son, my 2nd-great-grandfather, Arthur Dunbar).

Delos, and his wife, Harriett Williams, oldest son was Delos Henry Dunbar, Jr. He was born in 1859 and died in 1936 in the state of New York. He was a Reverend in the United Brethren Church.

Both father and son are buried in Rathbone Cemetery in Oswayo, Pennsylvania (a city in Potter County).

The Fleming’s

My great-grandmother, Mildred Laura Dunbar (daughter of the above mentioned Arthur Dunbar) married Howard Fleming in 1933. Their eldest son was also named Howard after his dad. Though the elder Howard (born in 1908 in Corisca, Pennsylvania, passing away in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio in 1972) was a carpenter for B.F. Goodrich, one of the rubber companies in Akron, Ohio, his son, became an architect.

Howard and Mildred’s youngest son, James Rodney Fleming, who was born in 1943 and passed away in 2009, has his own namesake as well.

The Warner’s

The Warner’s – my favorite family I never met a person from (is it weird to think I would have really liked my great-grandmother, Mazie (she was married to Arthur Dunbar – see how I am uniting everyone?).

I had to go pretty far up the family tree to find the namesake in the Warner family. Back in 1684 Ichabod Warner was born in Hadley, Massachusetts. In 1711 he married Mary Metcalf and they had Ichabod, Jr who then went on to marry Mary Mapes in 1737 and in 1738 Ichabod Mapes Warner was born.

Ichabod Mapes Warner fought in the French & Indian War.

Keeping Up With the Joneses

In the same area of my family (Oliver Charles Warner, Mazie’s grandfather, married Mary Jones) I have 3 generations of Anthony Joneses.

The eldest Anthony Jones was born in 1723 in Framingham, Massachusetts. In 1747 he married Margaret Elizabeth Alden and in 1753 they welcomed their fourth child, a son, who was Anthony Jones, Jr. Anthony Jr married Lydia Burnap in 1784 and in 1786 they welcomed their second son, Anthony Jones III.

Anthony Jr fought in the Revolutionary War.

Last But Not Least

I myself named my son after my dad, they are both Robert’s. Before my daughter was ever born, I had the name all figured out (well the middle name I negotiated with my husband so I could have a pink room). My dad didn’t mind as he apparently hasn’t been all that fond of his middle name.

We actually waited to be surprised when she was born, so until she popped out we didn’t know if she was going to be a Robert or not. When she decided to be a girl, that left Robert open for the next child. Lucky for me he was a boy.

For all intents and purposes my daughter has been named after my great-grandmother, Margaret Dora Wise. It was a fluke as my husband and I had disagreed on name after name for her and finally decided on Maggie… only to realize after the fact that Maggie was what my great-grandmother went by (Margaret Dora Wise was Anna Maria Leighty’s daughter, and my grandmother, Anna Maria Morgart’s mom – I’ve come full circle!). Her middle name goes along with the theme as well as it is a variation of my husband’s brother’s name (that part was on purpose).

I’m sure I have a bunch more on my family tree, for example my Uncle Eddie was named after my Great Uncle Edwin who died in World War 2 (you can read about that in last week’s post). But I tried to stick with just my direct line, even if my relative wasn’t always a result of the namesake (though my Andrew Blair’s and Ichabod Warner’s will always be special because I am a direct descendant).

If you are interested in writing about your ancestors you should take part in Amy Johnson Crow’s 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks. Click here to check out the years worth of theme’s and I’m sure there is a spot to sign up as well!

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, My Family Tree

Family Legend

The theme for week 2 in Amy Johnson Crow’s 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks is “Family Legend” and the story I am going to tell is what popped into my head. I don’t hear many tales from either side of my family, but this is one of the few that I do remember hearing frequently over the course of my life.

The Fairhurst Brothers

My maternal grandfather, Harold Fairhurst, had two older brothers, Wilfred Fairhurst who was born in Leigh, England on 15 July 1914 and Edwin Fairhurst who was born in Jefferson County, Ohio on 23 May 1917. Both were raised in Ohio, moving to Akron by 1930. When World War II claimed the United States, both were working for the rubber companies, Wilfred for Goodrich and Edwin for the Seiberling Rubber Company (this was the Seiberling’s venture after they resigned from Goodyear in 1921). Wilfred joined the Marines while Edwin signed up for the Army.

The Battle of Saipan

On a transport on 5 June 1944 that left Pearl Harbor, Hawaii and made its way to the Pacific Island of Saipan, both Marine Sergeant Wilfred Fairhurst and his brother, Army Staff Sergeant Edwin Fairhurst were on board.

The battle of Saipan was the Pacific Theatre’s D-Day. The battle officially began on 15 June 1944 and ended with a United States victory on 9 July 1944. Initial bombardments began on 13 June 1944 by battleships, destroyers and mine sweepers. Naval bombardments began on 14 June 1944 and then 8,000 Marine Corps landed the West Coast of Saipan on 15 June 1944 that officially began the battle with the Army arriving in Aslito on 16 June 1944.

The fighting was intense despite General Hideki Tojo, Japan’s Prime Minister, swearing that Saipan could not be taken. He was ousted out of office a week after the United States declared victory on 9 July 1944. The battle resulted in 3,000 deaths and 13,000 wounded for the United States and over 27,000 Japanese soldiers were loss, as well as thousands of Saipan’s civilians, fearful of the United States due to the Japanese propaganda, as they jumped to their death from cliff’s at the northern end of the island.

The battle that took place on Saipan was important for the Pacific Theatre as it provided the United States with a strategic location to have a base where our new long-range B-29 bombers could be launched.

Guerilla Attacks

Despite the Battle of Saipan “officially” ending, Japanese resistance soldiers and civilians led by Captain Sakae Oba evaded American troops throughout the jungle and conducted attacks. Though it isn’t clear from any of the news articles I’ve read, I’m guessing that one of these such attacks is what killed my great-uncle, Staff Sergeant Edwin Fairhurst.

On 18 July 1944 while cleaning up after the battle, a Japanese fighter threw a grenade that exploded leaving shrapnel in Edwin’s stomach and legs. He died July 22. Wilfred claims that Edwin “got the fellow before he fell“. The legend in our family lore goes that it was Wilfred who went and picked his brother up off the battlefield and carried him to safety.

Article from 10 Aug 1944 Akron Beacon Journal

He Finally Came Home

It wasn’t until 5 years later that Edwin’s body returned home to be buried. His official funeral took place on 15 January 1949 with his final resting place being Chestnut Hill Cemetery in Cuyahoga Falls (Wilfred is buried there as well, though he passed away in 1956).

Photo from Find A Grave (photo uploaded by VLH)

Edwin was never married and had no children.

If you are a budding genealogist and would like to write more about your family but aren’t sure where to start, take a peek at Amy Johnson Crow’s 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks series.

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, My Family Tree

“Beginnings”

The Week 1 theme of Amy Johnson Crow’s series “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks” is “Beginnings” and all my beginnings lead to one place, Akron, Ohio.

Actually, if I wanted to be precise my beginnings would be linked to Falls Rec, the bowling alley where my parents first met. My dad was bowling one night on a league I believe for Ohio Edison and my mother tended bar. According to her, some guys wanted to introduce her to their friend, Bob, and she was excited as Bob was really good looking, but they brought my dad over instead (your laugh here to her funny tale).

I like to think it was a good thing, but then I’m a little biased.

But this meeting would never have happened had my grandparents, Leroy Blair and Anna Maria Morgart, not moved to Akron in the 1950s. The same can be said of my immigrant great-grandparents James Fairhurst and Phoebe Boone, who came to the United States from Leigh, England in 1913 (James) and 1915 (Phoebe). They originally resided in Amsterdam, Ohio but then moved to Akron by 1930. Lastly, if my great-great-grandmother, Mazie Lorenia Warner, hadn’t moved here in 1916 with her second husband, Samuel Randol with her 2 daughters, all of the pieces to my DNA make-up would not have come together.

Why Akron?

Akron, Ohio was the happening place to be in the early 1900’s. “Between 1910 and 1920 the city’s population tripled to more than 200,000” (britannica.com). This was the time when Akron became known as the Rubber Capital of the World because all three big rubber companies had their headquarters here: Firestone, General Tire, and Goodyear (Goodyear still does).

Many of my Fairhurst relatives (my great-grandfather James, and 2 of his sons, Wilfred and Edwin) all worked for the rubber companies at various times. My grandfather, Harold, worked partly in construction and partly as a golf pro.

When Samuel Randol located to Akron with his family, he worked at the Swinehart Tire & Rubber Company. Here he met the last part of my family, my great-great-grandfather, Clyde Geer (and the Geers have been settled in Akron since Summit County was formed on March 3, 1840, with Clyde’s dad, William Harrison Geer being born on April 2, 1840, just 1 month later).

Leroy Blair originally moved from Pennsylvania to Indiana as he had an apprenticeship to learn the sheet metal trade. He moved from Gary, Indiana to Akron, Ohio in the early 1950s.

When I look at how all the pieces of the puzzle at one point lived all over the world, it’s amazing that my parents even met. The son of 2 English immigrants somehow met up with the daughter of an administrative professional/stenographer and a dad who we thought was one person, only to be another (the wonders of DNA) to have 5 kids, with the oldest meeting the only son of a sheet metal worker and his housekeeper wife.

Wow. Just wow. And in a bowling alley of all places.

Falls Rec

Falls Rec was torn down in the mid-1990s and where it stood is now the parking lot of a Sheraton Hotel in downtown Cuyahoga Falls (the suburb of Akron where I was raised). I remember bowling there once when I was little. I believe my sister did join a kids league (I wasn’t much of a bowler).

My grandparents bowled there, my mom worked there, I believe most of her siblings bowled or worked there as well. It held quite the memories for my family.

Photo by Stephen Fairhurst, this was one of about 4 dozen of these glasses that he had. You earned it for bowling above a 620 Series at Falls Rec in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio.

More About Akron

I’m lucky that Akron had it’s hey day when it did because without it, I most likely wouldn’t be here. Akron isn’t just known for the rubber companies, it has been voted an All-American City four times (1980, 1981, 1995, and 2008) and has a nationally recognized library (the Akron-Summit County Library – which has lots of great genealogy information in their Special Collections department), it’s home to the Akron Art Museum, the Akron Rubberducks (the AA minor league baseball team to the still presently called Cleveland Indians), and the home of Purell (which has been super important during this Covid-19 filled year).

The University of Akron, which is widely known for its polymer research (which goes hand in hand with the rubber companies), and an outstanding Law School. On a related note, for years their football team played in the “Rubber Bowl” which was built as a Works Progress Administration project to put people to work in the late 1930s. The football team moved to their new stadium in Downtown Akron, in the heart of the University at Infocision Stadium in 2008. It was home to more than just football games, as countless concerts took place there as well. Demolition began in 2018, but only part of it has been razed as the other parts could cause structural issues with the roadways surrounding it and Derby Downs.

This photo was in a Twitter feed from the University of Akron from 2018

Which brings me to one of the most famous events in Akron is the annual Soap Box Derby , with motorless go-carts that of specific requirements and has been held yearly since 1933. Youths compete in their hometowns and move along until they come to Akron for the national championship. Competitors and their families come from all over to participate. I remember one year when I took summer courses for my degree while attending the University of Akron, as the dorms were used for their overnight accommodations, and it blew me away when I saw just how many children and teens participated in this event in my hometown.

I remember my mom telling me when she was a teenager going to a Soap Box Derby parade and in 1963 Rock Hudson was a celebrity attending, and she was able to touch his hand as he drove by in a car and that was one of the highlights of her life, as he was one of the few actors my mother thought to be dreamy.

This photo of Rock Hudson at the Soap Box Derby in 1963 was taken from a Pinterest “pin” by Mary Ann Myers

Blimps

Going hand in hand with Akron and Goodyear, I would be remissed if I didn’t discuss the Goodyear Blimp. The blimps were originally created at the blimp hangar in the middle of Akron. I remember my mom telling me that the hanger was so big it actually would rain inside.

Well, it’s been a while since they’ve built blimps at the original hangar, as they now are built at the Wingfoot Lake hangar in Suffield. In 2006, my parents, sister and brother-in-law attended the launch of the Spirit of Innovation in 2006.

A digital scrapbooking layout that was done by my sister, Kellie Blair, of my mother and daughter. I just love the look of wonder in my daughter’s eyes.

Goodyear has always been a huge supporter of a variety of hobbies in our area, the Lighter Than Air Society being one of them. And it’s funny, I’ve grown up with blimps roaming the skies all my life and to this day when I hear that engine I run to see it. Though the new blimps, Wingfoot 1, 2, and 3 are all very quiet so you don’t hear them from within my house anymore.

A photo of one of the Blimps a block from my house as I sat in my car at a red light. No matter how old I get they always make me smile.

Other Popular Places

I’m sure there is a lot of Akron I have missed, but before I forget here are 2 of my favorite places: the Akron Zoo and where I use to work, Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens, which is the 65-room Tudor Revival home that F.A. Seiberling (co-founder of Goodyear with his brother, C.W.) and his wife Gertrude began building in 1912 and moved into in 1915. I think my favorite part of the house is how they had an architect (Charles Schneider) that designed the house and a landscape architect (Warren Manning) that made the gardens be extensions of the rooms. For example the Breakfast Room is designed in the colors of blue and yellow (Goodyear’s colors) and the garden that was around it was made up of blue and yellow flowers. It is now a historic estate that people can tour the house and grounds, along with various special events they have throughout the year.

Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens on 22 Dec 2018 during their Deck the Hall! program.

As for the Akron Zoo, my daughter can not get enough of it, even as a teenager and more often than not we have a membership.

My son and daughter from 2019, he tried to look as miserable as possible in most every picture we took of him that day while my daughter is as happy as can be.

Summit MetroParks

I can’t believe I almost forgot one of my favorite features of where I live – the Summit Metroparks. I’ve been told by many fellow classmates that this is the one feature of our area that is so often overlooked and the most missed once people move onto other areas of the country.

The Summit MetroParks is a non-profit organization that cares for a 16 parks compiled of 14,000 acres with a variety of things to do in them like hiking, ice skating, soccer, baseball, archery, biking, paddling, kayaking, fishing, swimming and more.

For 57 years the MetroParks has hosted the Fall Hiking Spree. It’s funny as I originally tried to complete this when I was in 10th grade. I was in Enriched Biology and the main thing that separated us from the regular class were projects that were due each grading period. The first was easy, participate in the Fall Hiking Spree. 6 Hikes was an A, 5 a B, and so on. I did 6 with my dad. We found group hikes that were led by Naturalists and advertised each week in the Akron Beacon Journal and that’s where we went, so we not only learned about the natural surroundings but any history tidbits that were involved as well. To earn your hiking stick and shield, you complete 8 hikes, and my dad and I had every intention to do them, but it’s Ohio, and the weather turned cold and wet and we never did. Fast forward 24 years and I’m 39 years old and I put earning said shield and stick on my bucket list of things to do before turning 40. I was so happy the day I earned it with my friend, Pam. I’ve continued to do the hiking spree each year since having earned 9 total shields (but there are people who have hiked every year).

The below photo is the 2020 Shield on the left and a photo of my stick from 2019. Normally they have volunteers who will put the shield on for you but with Covid this year, they did not have this service. Bets on how long it takes my husband to get the shield on? It’s already January and it’s not done.

Writing this has been very therapeutic since being a girl who has wanted to move to New York City for over half her life, I realize just how lucky I am to be born and more or less raised in this wonderful area. It is the place where I have to begin my genealogical journey as it’s where I was born, my husband and children were born here, my mom, and her mom (my dad was born in Indiana). From there I spread to Pennsylvania on every front but the Fairhurst’s, which is England.

If you are interested in taking part in Amy Johnson Crow’s 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge please click here for more information. Come back next week as I tackle week #2!

Genealogy, My Family Tree

It’s All About Focus

Are many of you like me, where I sit down to begin researching a specific person in my family tree and before I know it I am on the opposite side looking up the exact opposite person?

These are the moments when I take a deep breath and remind myself to focus.

But then I decide to peruse a webinar (presently my only subscription – www.familytreewwebinars.com) on FAN’s (friends, family, associates and neighbors) and Elizabeth Shown Mills makes it look so easy with her arrows and people with common names and as soon as the webinar is over I rush to my own censuses for my Andrew and Susannah and no one has the same names, and they are in a different county in 1850 to 1860 to 1870 and…

And I tell myself to take a deep breath and focus.

I love learning but when you sit down to begin do you ever just become overwhelmed with what to begin working on first?

Sometimes I start with my grandparents and look at what I am missing. My Grandma Blair (Anna Maria Morgart) is pretty complete but I am missing the 1930 census of my grandfather, her husband, Leroy Blair.

The above is the 1930 census listing my paternal grandmother, Anna Maria Morgart. This census was found on FamilySearch. She is listed on line 68.

Leroy passed away in 1975 when I was 2 years old. I’ve discussed with my dad if he knew where his dad may have been in 1930. In the late 1920’s Leroy was working in the mines, like his dad. His dad (my great-grandfather, Andrew Jackson Blair) died in 1926 when the mine he was working in collapsed, crushing his chest. Apparently Leroy had a close call in the same spot as his dad, and that’s when he left mining behind him.

My dad has also told me that Leroy moved to Akron, Ohio before he met my Grandma (Akron is where they ended up settling in the 1950’s). I’ve always wondered if it was around 1930. I’ve looked in both Ohio and Pennsylvania to see if I could find Leroy Blair in the 1930 census. I’ve even used his original name of Charley Wilmer Blair (before his mom decided she liked Leroy better) on the chance he decided to go by it instead. Still no luck.

I’ll admit I get a little closed minded when it comes to how to misspell my last name. Blair is just not a name that is misspelled. Blare, Belare, Belaire, Blain. I’ve tried just an “L” for the first name, sometimes I’ve just used the surname (shocker, when putting in the misspellings it always comes up with Blair as a result).

I’ll admit I haven’t tried going page by page through all the counties of Summit, OH; Blair, PA; Cambria, PA; Bedford, PA; Huntingdon, PA; Fulton, PA; or Somerset, PA because he has family in all of these areas so he could be anywhere.

Or maybe he had a rental (more like a boarding room) in any of these areas and was just missed (this is my dad’s thought). Or this was when he was in the process of moving to Akron to work in the cottage cheese plant (he could never eat cottage cheese again after this experience, according to my dad).

Would you believe I have the same issue with my great-grandfather, Charles Jackson Morgart (who would have been Leroy’s father-in-law) in the 1900 census?

And what is considered an “exhaustive search”? (Well, looking through all the pages through all those vicinities I am sure is a good start).

This is where research logs come in handy.

This is the research log that comes with the Legacy Family Tree software, which is what I use for my family tree.

I have always been a very unorganized genealogist. That I had tables made in excel highlighting who I was looking for when I went to Bedford County 18 months ago was HUGE!

I am the girl who sits down and decides “I think I’ll do this today”. But in 2021 I am going to be more organized. I am going to begin logging what I’ve searched in and effort to keep myself on track.

And as I’ve read/watched/listened repeatedly by all kinds of professionals – it’s not always what you find that is important, but what you don’t find.

Research logs help you keep track of the sources you have already searched so you don’t duplicate your efforts.

And if you haven’t guessed, they should help you minimize your need to take a deep breath and focus – because that’s their main purpose!

So my primary goal of 2021 is to focus, focus, focus! I am determined to expand my horizons to books and other documentation that’s not just found by putting names in a search box.

So cheers to your 2021 genealogical resolutions! Feel free to share what you hope to accomplish in the comments below.

My Family Tree

16 November 1926

It was a sad day for my family 94 years ago today. My great-grandfather, Andrew Jackson Blair (also referred to as AJ) was killed when he was caught beneath falling rock within a coal mine owned by the Forks Coal Mining Company located in South Fork, Cambria County, Pennsylvania. Andrew was a pick miner and the tragedy happened between 12-1pm.

Andrew Jackson Blair left behind a widow, Bertha Childers Blair: two daughters, Vada (age 18) and Genevieve (age 16); and two sons, Leroy (my grandfather, age 14) and Donald (age 9).

The only photo we have of Andrew Jackson Blair, it was part of a group photo from Sunday School.
Death Certificate found at Ancestry.com in their collection of Pennsylvania Death Certificates

When I was younger I knew my great-grandfather had died in the mines, but I never knew the detail involved. It makes me cry to think of what his last moments must have been like.

My Family Tree

What I Learned During Family History Month 2020

Despite cleaning the attic so I can attempt to create homemade Christmas Cards this year (it was something my mom had done the last several years of her life and I, along with my sister, are attempting to carry on this tradition of hers this year), I did take some time this past week to work on my genealogy during Family History Month.

What I Worked On

This past week I found myself drawn to my maternal grandmothers paternal side. I had not really delved in as much once I figured out who her father really was since taking my DNA test. I discovered that a part of my family really was embedded in the area of the world I live in, where I thought most of my relatives are from Pennsylvania (don’t get me wrong – 75% of my family is from Pennsylvania – and one day I’ll find my way out of Pennsylvania), and thinking all had arrived here in Ohio in the late 1800’s or early 1900’s, I found out on my great-grandfather’s dad’s side, they had been settled here for a while.

The Dailey’s and the Geer’s

Amelia Dailey is my 3rd-great-grandmother and she was born on 14 Mar 1844 in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio. In entering her and her father into my Legacy Family Tree software I found out that he, Andrew Dailey, was a founding family of Summit County, Ohio. Summit County was formed from 3-other counties (Portage, Medina and Stark) in 1840. I found this to be rather exciting because when I joined the Summit County Chapter of the Ohio Genealogical Society, I didn’t think I had any longtime family members in the area, and here I found out I did.

Andrew Dailey’s mother, my 5th-great-grandmother, Margaret Cackler was the daughter of Christian Cackler, a published author and founder of Portage County, Ohio. His book, “Recollections of an Old Settler”, is his interactions as a new settler coming to the area with Native Americans in the region. I was lucky it is a Google book and I was able to download it for free.

Amelia Dailey married William Harrison Geer in 1865. William was also born in Summit County on 2 Apr 1840 (he was born in Akron). He fought in the Civil War being mustered in on 24 Dec 1863, his grandfather, Captain Samuel Geer fought in the War of 1812 and his father, Captain Gurdon Geer fought in the Revolutionary War. So quite the historic branch of service I have on this one direct line of my family tree.

So it wasn’t a ton of time I spent on my family tree but I felt I learned a great deal in the past week on this new branch of my family. I am looking forward to learning more about these fascinating people in the weeks to come. Hopefully you made some exciting discoveries about your own family during this fabulous month dedicated to what I feel is the world’s greatest hobby.

My Family Tree

My Gustin Family – Orienta A. Gustin

When I got up this morning and picked up my phone, FamilySearch had reminded me that today, September 6, is the birthday of my 3rd-great-grandmother, Orienta A. Gustin, and I thought, what a better day to learn more about her than her birthday?

Orienta A. Gustin was born on 6 September 1851 in Scio, New York, a town in Allegany County to Benjamin Gustin and Nancy Return Gault. Benjamin was a farmer and between 1865 and 1870 they had moved to Pennsylvania, where Orienta met and married Winfield Scott Warner, a farmer and Civil War veteran in 1869.

Orienta and Winfield settled in Sharon Township. In 1877 their oldest daughter, Mazie Lorenia was born, followed by Cymanthia Lencretia in 1881, Jeanette in 1887 and Catherine “Cassie” Belle in 1890. In 1899 Winfield died, leaving Orienta to finish raising her 2 youngest daughters solo.

Orienta Gustin Warner

Having an uncommon name like Orienta I have found an article or two in the newspapers. Below is one of my favorites about Orienta and her daughter, Jeanette (aka Nettie).

The Potter Enterprise, Thursday, February 11, 1904

As far as I can tell though, Orienta did her best to take care of her children. In 1918 when Jeanette’s husband, Thomas Bergan, fell on hard times and passed away, Orienta moved in with her to help her and get her and get her on her feet.

In 1922 when Cymanthia came down with cancer living in California, it was Orienta who travelled across the country to first care for her daughter and assist with her grandson’s. Orienta eventually moved to Akron, Ohio where Mazie and Jeanette both lived.

Orienta Gustin Warner with who I believe are her grandchildren Harold Stone, Margaret Wagner & Leila Wagner circa 1919

Orienta Gustin Warner passed away on December 23, 1928 at the home of her daughter, Mazie, in Akron, Ohio. She passed away from Brights Disease, which is Nephritis of the Kidneys, and Myocarditis. She was 77 years old. She was buried in Sharon Center Cemetery in Potter County with her husband.

When I see these photos of Orienta, she appears to be a no-nonsense woman who loves her family. I am so grateful to be descended from such strong women, as her daughter Mazie, my 2nd-great-grandmother was the same way.

Genealogy, My Family Tree

Going Back to the Basics

When I began my family history journey, I remember how I made sure in countless ways before I added someone to my tree that they belonged. I had to have censuses showing that they were in the family with my relative for me to truly believe that they deserved to be on my tree.

I’ve been working on my tree for 4 years now and for the most part I have stayed true to this theory. Occasionally I will forego and add people I see, for example, many online trees had a Wealthy Blair listed as a daughter for my great-great-grandparents. Even my late cousin Darlene had Wealthy listed on a family sheet for the same said 2nd-great-grandparents. I’ve never found any information on her, she was born and died before 1880. When I look at the 1900 and 1910 Federal Census which asks how many total children a woman had, there are always 3 children that had passed for my great-great-grandmother, and I always assumed one was Wealthy (one other was Margaret, born in October 1879 and lastly an unknown child I just have listed on my tree as I have no birth or death dates for them).

But since I began organizing my DNA matches I’ve found myself getting envious of tree size. I see people with 48,987 people on their tree and my eyes just widen and my jaw drops. What a glorious tree!

And then I find myself going new person after new person checking out the hints and adding (always logically, but still adding) them to my tree. One after another and I’m fairly certain most of my people are legitimate people with fairly good dates off said hints (I am rational enough to NOT add people who were born 100 years earlier coming on a boat from England when they were born in Bedford County, Pennsylvania), but still, it’s so easy to get wrapped up in hints on Ancestry and the one big tree on FamilySearch.

So I’ve started over from scratch in a way. One by one I’m going through my people in my personal family tree software that I keep on my computer. This is my main tree, the tree I don’t really share with the world and the one I find to be the most accurate. I’m going through one by one and making sure all the documents that I have in my online folders are included on the tree. Some items I have, like the beforementioned great-great-grandmother who my late cousin Darlene hand wrote her obituary and this is the only way I have it, I knew I had it in an envelope of documents Darlene had sent me, and now I have scanned it and added it to her profile.

The profile of my great-great-grandparents, Andrew Jackson Blair & Susan Jane Foster. You can see on the children listed that Wealthy appears to be the second oldest child. The last one designated as “Blair” was the child I don’t know when the child was born or the gender.
Specific records I’ve entered for Susan Jane Foster. See the book icon, that represents citations for the records. The City Directory I need to look up (probably found on Ancestry so the information should be there), the final one, her obituary was a handwritten copy by my cousin, Darlene Reese Prosser.

I’m also comparing them to the Ancestry tree just in case there is a random document that I have on there that I hadn’t downloaded (that happens sometimes when I’m out and about and am not on my regular computer to save the documents as easily). By doing this I can clean up the Ancestry tree at the same time.

In the long run I must remember it’s not the size of my tree that matters, it truly is quality that counts. I’ve worked so hard and I want to be 100% positive that I’m putting the correct people in my tree.

This was all brought to my attention when I was working on my mother’s side of the family. I’ve haven’t delved into the Fairhurst branch often, but I have learned there are many William and Thomas Fairhurst’s out there, and trying to make sure I select the correct one was getting me quite confused.

So I took a deep breath and slowed down. It’s not a race. I’ll find each and every ancestor when they want me to find them.

Genealogy, My Family Tree

The Endless Task – Organizing DNA Matches

For the past few months I’ve been getting more and more intrigued in working with my DNA. Last year at this time I took a DNA test through Ancestry to solve a genealogy puzzle, and it worked, I discovered who I am fairly positive is my biological great-grandfather on my maternal grandmother’s side of the family.

With the announcement of Ancestry changing how they give us results and taking some of our matches away, I’ll admit, I have been like many who are probably plowing through their results as I type this hoping they can save something, anything that may be that key to a mystery.

This was my thinking. My darn brick wall consisting of Andrew Blair and Suzanna Akers (I think that’s her last name?). I was afraid that maybe, just maybe, one of those 6-7 centimorgan matches may be the answer I am seeking to break down my brick wall. The key to where my 3rd-Great-Grandfather was before he showed up on the 1850 Federal Census in Cambria County, Pennsylvania.

So I’ve been slaving away for the past week in my free time, trying to figure out who goes where. And don’t forget the many matches who you have no matches with.

All in all it’s exhausting.

I did stop for a little bit as one of my matches lines up to be the sister of Andrew. I will admit, someone’s tree on MyHeritage showed this relationship but I’d never seen head or tales of her. So this gave me hope.

So I plugged in an ominous “Blair” for their father and placed Sarah Permelia Blair as Andrew’s sister on my tree, wondering if maybe something, anything would come up for a mom, or even more information for a dad… but nothing.

So it also stated that Sarah was born in Washington County, Maryland. I began looking there for Blair’s listed on the 1810 Census (Sarah was born in 1816 and don’t you know there is an Andrew Jackson Blair who lived there in 1810??? Andrew Blair’s and Suzanna Aker’s second oldest son’s name is Andrew Jackson Blair – he is my 2nd-great-grandfather). So yes, I got really excited for about 30 seconds because this Andrew Jackson Blair’s son, Andrew Jackson Blair was born in 1825 and my Andrew has 4-censuses stating he was born between 1812-1815.

Do you think I can find any other information about this Andrew Jackson Blair quickly? No. However, I’m not a huge fan of Andrew Jackson, so with his being born in the late 1700’s and being named Andrew Jackson made my day as he wasn’t named after the War Hero/President (took a class in college while getting my history degree called “Jefferson to Jackson” and the more I learned the more I came to dislike both Jefferson and Jackson).

For the past year in my hunt for Blair men in Pennsylvania with people aged 25-30 in their house in the 1840 census, various names have repeatedly come to the forefront of my search, one being a John Blair. I finally decided to throw him and his wife as the parents of Andrew and Sarah into my Ancestry tree. They didn’t have an “Andrew Blair” listed on anyone else’s Ancestry tree, but they all have a gap in their children around 1812, so I figured it didn’t hurt to try. It took a long 24 hours but it gave me the answer I needed. I had 4 hits – it wasn’t enough for John Blair and Mary Perdew to be my 4th-great-grandparents (I’d had 23 matches with Andrew and Suzanna, so I should have had at least that many or more for them to lineup; more than 4 anyhow). Some would see this as a failure. I chose to see it as I had matches so I made progress. John Blair is a member of a much larger Blair family in Pennsylvania and it appears I may be in the ballpark for finding a connection. I quickly removed them as I have my tree public (I like to help others as I’ve viewed other’s trees for assistance over the years).

So I now only have a day or so to go before the algorithm changes for Ancestry’s DNA matches. I am still trying to get matches grouped but I am no longer in the rush I was. If I get any of the 6-7 centimorgan matches, great. I like to think I may not know what I’m missing. But I find organizing my matches fun. And I love that I have several on my dad’s side that have overlapped with my mom’s side. It’s funny – this particular branch of my dad’s are all settled in south central Pennsylvania while my mother’s is north central PA, all I can figure is that some came and met in the middle. Weird enough that my half sister (we don’t have the same dad) has a blue dot which represents my dad’s last name.

Fingers crossed that my DNA helps hold the key to my 4th-great-grandparents on my Blair side of the family, and this new algorithm is all that and more. Time will tell!

My Family Tree

My Warner Family – Winfield S. Warner

This week I am going to share another installment of my Warner family by exploring my great-great-great-grandfather, Winfield Warner.

Early Life

Winfield S. Warner was born on 14 April 1847 in Potter County, Pennsylvania. His parents were Oliver Charles Warner and Mary Ann Jones and he was the youngest of their five children, the others being Emeline, Angelia, James, and Roscoe.  His dad was a successful lumberman and farmer, as lumber was a very lucrative trade in Potter County at this time.

Civil War

At the age of 17, Winfield joined the Union Army. He was a private in Company K 13th Regiment of New York with the heavy artillery, which was used in attacks on fortified positions. According to the Adjunct General’s Office Register, Winfield enlisted on 17 October 1864 in Mount Morris, New York to serve one year.  He mustered out with the company on 28 June 1865 due to the end of the war in Norfolk, Virginia.

13thArtHvyPhotoMillerIII_95
A photo of the Heavy Artillery division of Company K 13th Regiment of New York and can be found on the website of the New York Military Museum and Veterans Research Center

Married Life

Once the Civil War ended, Winfield returned home to Pennsylvania and married Orienta Gustin around 1869. They settled in Sharon Township in Potter County where he was a farmer. They had their first daughter, Mazie Lorena on 21 Jul 1877, their next daughter, Cymanthia Lencretia was born 18 March 1881, Jeanette was born in July of 1887, while their youngest, Catherine Belle, was born 25 August 1890.

1890 Census

Because he was a Civil War soldier, Winfield was listed in the still remaining 1890 Census for the Veterans Schedule. When it asked if he had any disabilities from the war, all that is listed is Sunstroke.

Sunstroke (or heat stroke) is the most serious form of heat injury that can cause damage to the brain or other internal organs caused by prolonged exposure to the sun while being dehydrated with a core body temperature of over 104 degrees Fahrenheit. Other symptoms include headaches, seizures, nausea, confusion, loss of consciousness, dizziness, a lack of sweating, and disorientation. It can take from 2 months to a year to overcome heat stroke (WebMD). However, it has been noted that most heat-related issues during the Civil War were noted as sunstroke regardless of how severe the ailment was (Ithaca College)

Death

Winfield Scott Warner passed away on 21 March 1899. His obituary described him as an “old soldier” but what is sad as that he was only 51 when he died. I guess this leaves a lingering sting as I’m 4 years away from that age myself. I guess this is one of the ways the world has changed in 121 years.

The Potter Enterprise, Wednesday, 22 March 1899

Of his family Winfield is the only member I don’t have a photo of at this time. I have a couple of photos of his wife, Orienta, and 3 of his 4 daughters (Mazie, Cymanthia, and Jeanette), and photos of his parents. On his Civil War papers he is listed as having brown hair, black eyes and a light complexion. He stood 6 foot, 1 inch tall. Hope that one day when the National Archives opens up again and I can retrieve his military and pension records that maybe within it there will be a photograph as well. Fingers crossed.