This week I have been scratching my head about how to proceed with this week’s theme of Amy Johnson Crow’s writing challenge 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks. The goal is to examine your sources of information and share the unusual source that helped you solve a mystery (or even a basic find). Sometimes there are other ways you can interpret a prompt, I wish I could be creative enough to find an alternate meaning with this one, but nothing is coming to me in any form.
I’ve come to the conclusion I’m boring. In a hope of discovering an odd source I’d forgotten I’ve analyzed a 67-page report of all my citations in my genealogy program. I have the regular bunch of standard items: censuses, birth certificates, death certificates, city directories, marriage licenses, newspapers, courthouse records (wills and deeds), and lastly DNA. But I guess I don’t find any of these to be “unusual” sources.
I even asked my husband his interpretation of the prompt. He took a while to respond but was way off of what the exercise was, but hey, at least he tried.
My Unusual Source
A question I never thought to ask my Grandma when she was alive was how did she (Anna Maria Morgart) and Leroy Blair meet (to be fair, I never asked my Grandma Metzger how she met my grandfather, Harold Fairhurst, and no one seems to know that either). Even my dad never thought to ask. I wondered if maybe it happened at a Fourth of July picnic hosted by by Grandmother’s aunt, Mrs. Bartley Noggle (aka Anna Rebekah Morgart). Below is a newspaper article from the Everett Press on Friday, 7 July 1933 and for a while I really thought this picnic was how they met.
Other thoughts from when I initially found the newspaper article was how thrilled I was that my Grandma still had a relationship with her dad’s family (as he died when she was 3 in 1917).
Mrs. Wilbur May, also mentioned, was the wife of my Grandfather’s cousin, Wilbur May, who was also his best friend. My dad said he only ever saw his dad cry once and that as when Wilbur died of cardiac failure at the age of 46 in 1957.
But over the past year I have been going through photos in boxes and I recently found the following note on the back of a photo she had taken in 1933 where in her own handwriting states that she met Leroy in April 1933.
Talk about being bummed!
So it just goes to show you can come up with solid theory’s but sometimes you don’t know where you will find a fact that will shatter it. I think I preferred my Fourth of July picnic better, as now I’ll never know how they met. Unless there is another nugget of happiness on the back of a photo I’ve not yet uncovered.
As for my Grandma – along with Joe I too liked her a lot. There is a photo of him with her in this grouping of photos. But we will have to find out about him another day.
This week’s theme for 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks by Amy Johnson Crow is Valentine. I was fortunate enough to have stumbled upon this Valentine about a month or so ago when going through boxes in the basement at my parents house, well, I guess it’s really my dad’s house now.
My dad has plans for the basement and my mom had all her clutter located there. It included decorations galore that I don’t think she ever used, filling box after box in our family room. Many of these she had there for my sister and I to go through – I don’t think she ever thought we’d be going through them as we did. Or at least how I did. My sister was smart and stayed home this day. I do have a box of more items to bring to my house (as I told my husband – I may use them to decorate here and there and this way I don’t have to spend money on items as these would work).
But going from box to box I found a box that was from my Grandma’s house (yes, the infamous Anna Maria Morgart here on my blog – I should just make this about her life). I remember opening it up and laughing – I think every pack of wrapping paper I ever sold in elementary school was in this box placed on top of all the other contents.
But as I kept going I found this beautiful Valentine. It turns out it was from when my parents were dating. It was for my dad from my mom.
I have no idea when she sent it, I’m guessing maybe their first year of dating? When I showed my dad I got nothing, but he isn’t an overly sentimental person. But I loved finding this. My mom wasn’t one to show a lot of emotion so that she did this in their relationship was so sweet.
And the big red heart is like a satin material, like a big ribbon and it just makes this card. They don’t make cards like this anymore.
So a thank you to my dad, for letting me use his Valentine, and a thank you to my Grandma, for saving it all these years (I found a birthday card I got for her in the mix as well, probably when I was in 2nd or 3rd grade too, made me tear up).
Have you ever taken the time to listen to a podcast? I’ll admit I always meant to do some listening but find myself always on the go and never really having a moment to just sit and listen.
But that changed when I decided to listen one day on my way to work. It’s not a huge drive, mind you, just 8-10 minutes depending on how many red lights I get stuck with between my house and my place of employment. But it was nice as I really seem to pay attention to what is being said by the host of their show, and often a guest.
More Than One Way to Listen
One of the things I find interesting about these podcasts is that there is more than one way to listen to the programs.
You can listen to your podcast of choice by downloading an app on your cell phone. I know mine automatically came on my phone. On both iPhones and Android phones there is an app called “Podcasts” that you can use to listen. It’s easy to get going as you can just put in the keyword of “genealogy” in the search bar and it will bring up a list of programs to choose from. Below is what came up on mine:
You can then just click on a program that looks interesting. The one that caught my eye today is the The Genealogy Professional by Marian Pierre-Louis (I’ll confess she is in my library but I don’t think I’ve officially listened to this one yet, but this episode from February 1 looks interesting):
Another way to listen to podcasts is using your computer or tablet and eliminating an app and going to the program’s website (though obviously you can use apps on tablets and I just checked on PC’s too). To be consistent, I’ll use the same program I clicked above and go to the website associated with it (I’m hoping Marian doesn’t mind, she seems nice when I hear her on webinars).
You can see where there is an advertisement to sign up and automatically receive the latest episodes using an app. But in the middle of the page you see the triangle inside a circle, that’s the media player where you can listen to the podcast straight from Marian’s webpage.
Some podcasts also post their recordings on YouTube. One in particular I enjoy listening to is called PA Ancestors, and since we all know that I am stuck in Pennsylvania, no one is happier about finding new avenues to do my research in the Keystone State.
Along with her YouTube channel, you can also listen to PA Ancestors on podcast apps. She also has a blog that is worthwhile too (I actually discovered Denys Allen on Twitter and started listening to her that way). Her podcasts are very informative and have a lot of range from regular history to cemeteries to how to find various types of records – I soak it all in (as I have Pennsylvania ancestors on both sides of my family – but especially my dad’s side).
If all else fails, Google “genealogy podcasts” and you will get all sorts of recommendations. On Google one of my other favorites came up as a suggestion, Amy Johnson Crow’s Generations Café.
Things to Look For in a Podcast
One of the things I look for in a podcast is how long is the program going to last? I’ll admit, one of my favorite parts of Generations Cafe and PA Ancestors is that many of them are 10-20 minutes in length. When I’m going back and forth to work, I can listen to the entire program on my trip in or on a round trip to and from work (I go home for lunch each day so it’s not bad to start one on the way home, and I can either finish at home or listen to it on my way back to work when my lunch is over).
Some are well over an hour long – and you have to know yourself if you can sit still long enough or have an activity where you can listen.
The one nice thing about using my phone is that when I hit pause, it picks up right where I leave off. I’m fairly certain YouTube and a website may not be as accommodating (but you can always write down where you are at time-wise and so you know where to put the little dot so you could pick up where you left off on the recording).
However you like to listen, I think podcasts are great, despite really getting into them within the past month (though I have listened to The Genealogy Guys off and on after meeting them at the 2019 Ohio Genealogical Society). There are so many to choose from I am sure you will find one that you enjoy.
If you have a podcast that you just L-O-V-E, share with me in the comments! I’m always up for trying something new!
This week’s theme for Amy Johnson Crow’s 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks is “In the Kitchen”. The first thing that popped into my head was how the past few Christmases I feel as if I have the ghosts of my mother, her mother, and her mother, all in the room with me helping me bake.
There is a specific cookie that I make that has me think of these lovely ladies in my life. The recipe is for Drop Sugar Cookies, you know the ones that are made with sour cream and are extra moist. And what I have found has made my great-grandmother’s recipe unique is that she added nutmeg. I have also found that the colored sugar that you sprinkle on the cookies helps to make it taste good as well – but the real treat is the red hot. Those red hots make them extra yummy!
Picture if you would, the recipe, do you think I can find it? Of course not, it wasn’t written by my Great Grandma but it was by my mom (I photo copied her recipe card when I started making cookies for my own kids.
The Cookie Sheets
About a year or so before my mom passed away she got me some heavy duty insulated aluminum cookie sheets. These are 2 of the 5 (sometimes 6) cookies sheets that I use when I bake my cookies (primarily because they are my largest pans).
The final step in the cookie baking process is taking the cookies off the cookie sheets and putting them on my cooling racks. The above spatula was my grandmother’s. I remember I took it from her house after she passed away. My mom and I went over to clean up a little bit and I saw it and I took it. I’ve never seen a spatula like this in the store and I know how great they are as my mom use to have 2. I wasn’t taking any chances on anyone else wanting it. And because of this key tool, I am able to get cookies off a cookie sheet spectacularly because of it’s finely beveled edge.
All Together Now
You put all these items together and I feel like there are 4-generations of ladies in my kitchen baking with me every holiday – Mildred Laura Dunbar, Alberta Lou Fleming, Cynthia Anne Fairhurst, and me!
This occurred to me my first Christmas after my mom passed away in 2018. It was a hard holiday and it’s the little things like baking cookies that take a lot of me (my mom and I shared baking responsibilities each year – she’d bake cookies with my daughter and they would do 2 types of cookies [Russian Tea Cakes & Peanut Blossoms] and I made 2 types[cut-out cookies and the drop sugar cookies]).
I miss these three ladies so very much. My great-grandmother, Mildred Laura Dunbar, was the first person I knew well that passed away. When her daughter, Alberta Lou Fleming, my grandmother, passed away in 2006, I was sad. I wish I would have known her better, but she moved to Florida when I was little so I never quite had the connection with her as I did with my other grandma, and even her mom (my great-grandma use to babysit me when I was little and she entertained me with her costume jewelry and clothes and made me scrambled eggs). My mom’s death came unexpectedly in 2018 and even now, almost 3 years later I have days where I’m just sad).
But without these ladies, I could not bake a great batch of cookies.
Was there a cookie you use to bake with a relative, or that you make because it was passed down with your family? Share with me in the comments!
This past weekend I spent a few hours each day adding documents I’ve accumulated over the past few years into my software program (I know, I know, I should be doing this all along but sometimes you just get so excited about adding a new family you find you don’t add all the paperwork too).
Along with adding all the censuses, birth certificates, death certificates, and anything else I could find, I made sure I cited where I found these documents.
Besides making your life pure torture (or so it can seem as I know there are times I often get stumped) citing your sources is important for two main reasons.
You Can Duplicate Your Research
Duplicating your search and re-finding your documents are very important when you are trying to get into a lineage society. They need to re-trace all your steps to make sure your proof does exactly that – proves that your person is really YOUR person.
So You Know Where You Have Already Looked
By keeping track of where you have already looked, you know not to look there again (at least for a specific person).
It can also help you go back to a document where you may have already found information on George Henry Fesler, maybe I can find some details on his brother John in the same document?
If you look above at the photo of my 3rd-great-grandfather’s profile in my program, you can see I have a lot of censuses for him (it helps he was a veteran so I even have an 1890 for him).
But if you look at the row of “books” those represent that the event or source has a citation. (I’ve highlighted it with a square box below).
Citations Really Aren’t Bad to Do
If you have a genealogy software program, completing citations is much easier than you think. Many have a step by step form that you complete so you are able to complete them painlessly.
The information that you need for the citations can be found on the title page of a book, and if you look closely on Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.org you can find the citations you need.
If citations weren’t important, Elizabeth Shown Mills wouldn’t have written “Evidence Explained”, which is an 892 page book all about how to cite any type of source – from books to newspapers to webpages. Cyndi’s List is another place you can go to find answers on source citations (and most everything else you are looking for in relation to genealogy). Click here for an entire heading on Citing Sources. Family Tree Webinars even has two webinars dedicated to citations (one is on how to do citations in the Legacy Family Tree software). Lastly, here is a link to Amy Johnson Crow’s podcast she did called “Citing Sources Without Stressing Out“.
As you can see, you have a variety of options to learn an easy way of making sure you have good citations. I find the more I do them, the easier they become. I guess you could say repetition is key.
I wish you all luck going forward and you all become pros in the art of citing sources.
This week’s theme in Amy Johnson Crow’s 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks is Favorite Photo. This would have been easy but I did complete this topic last year and you can see that post here.
This year’s took a little more thought as I had photos that I liked but wasn’t sure if the living would want to be shown on this blog? And they aren’t relatives I can just quickly email and say “do you mind?” Which reminds me, I need to reconnect.
So below is this years photo. I will never forget how excited I was when I found this photo in December 2019. I was at my dad’s, he had found some “important” papers and I was hoping it included his dad’s death certificate (it did not) but I found this gem of a photo.
This photo made my day because for me it was the first time I’d ever seen myself with both of my grandparents. My grandfather ended up passing away 5 months after this photo was taken. I’ve been told by so many that my grandfather adored me. I wish I had some recollection of him. I vaguely remember running out of my room the day this picture was taken as my sister pulled the sheet off of the kitchen set we both received for Christmas. I played with that set until I was in at least 8th grade and even then it was a secret because I knew how uncool it would be if my classmates knew. My own children have played with this same set, it’s still in my basement as I type this, though they never played with it as I did.
But I’ve digressed. Along with Leroy Blair thinking I was the greatest thing since sliced bread (rumor has it he would always wake me up when he came to our house to visit) I’ve been told by many that I was like him. For example, I apparently have the same feet as him (that’s not necessarily a good thing) and that I was just as stubborn (that is up for debate).
We all know how much I love my grandma. No one gave better back scratches (and she would do it for so long – I smile just thinking about it), and she just loved me for me. That’s how grandma’s should be. And I’m sure I’ve stated it at some point on here that not too long before my mom passed away unexpectedly, she told me how every day I reminded her more and more of my Grandma Blair.
Best. Compliment. Ever.
So to see myself here, on a couch I loved simply because I enjoyed how the stripes made such great roads for my MatchBox cars, or even my Fisher Price people cars, and the picture that I wonder what ever happened to it. It was a print of 3 boats and I just automatically assumed it was the Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria that Columbus used to sail across the ocean blue (yes, I was even a history geek back then).
But even more importantly, to see myself between my grandparents was just wonderful. Christmas is my favorite holiday and to see this just makes me smile. And we all need to smile.
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”.
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).
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 – 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!
Libraries are very helpful resources for researching your family tree. Not every library is fortunate to have what my library calls a Special Collections department where local history and genealogy books are located. But if you are fortunate to have this resource available to you, you would be wise to use it.
During a “normal” year (a.k.a. one before Covid-19 hit), my local library would have a variety of classes spread out throughout the year, normally once a month, highlighting basic classes like: Getting Started on your Family Tree, Vital Records, Using the Census, immigration (breaking it down into 3 classes – before 1820, 1820-1890, and more or less modern day); photography (the different types or history of photographs, clues to identify time period); and how to use – Ancestry, FamilySearch, Heritage Quest, Fold3, Find My Past (the Ancestry one in particular is often repeated because it’s a great introductory class).
They also offer programs from area experts, like archivists where they tell you how they can assist in your search as well as preservation techniques, curators from the historical society where they explained that even if they don’t have information on your specific ancestor they can help you with how your family lived.
I am also lucky that my library (the Akron-Summit County Library) also gets nationally recognized experts to come in and speak. For example, this past Saturday (January 16) Maureen Taylor, the Photo Detective, spoke via Zoom on Identifying Family Photographs. Past speakers have been Dani Shapiro (author), Judy Russell, CeCe Moore, John Phillip Colletta, and James Beidler, to name a few.
Even though they may not pertain directly to your research, speakers give you something to think about on a grander scale.
The best part of Special Collection departments are that they have the very best librarians, in other words, they are so incredibly helpful! They have this very calm way of asking you questions and helping you figure out what your next step should be when you are stuck (I really should be at the library every day for at least 8 hours).
Free Access to Online Databases
Most libraries will have access to genealogical programs such as Ancestry, FamilySearch (yes, you can get it free at home but sometimes if your library is an affiliate you will have access to even more collections you may not be available to use at your house), Find My Past, MyHeritage, Fold3, American Ancestors, and I’m sure there are some I’m forgetting. Some you are able to access at any library, others you can only access at the main library.
Presently some of the databases such as Ancestry, Fold3 and MyHeritage are available to you at home as long as you have a library card since we are suppose to be practicing social distancing. I believe most of these are presently ongoing through the end of May and at that point will be re-evaluated.
Last, but certainly not least, there are a variety of books available in the library to help you with your research. As my library is located in Akron, Ohio they have a quite a collection on Summit County and Akron as well as Ohio in general. But they also have a variety of books from Pennsylvania (a large branch of it) as well as from the northeast region of the United States and the south.
Periodicals are aplenty as they have magazines that can assist you with how you go about your research. They also have city directories (up until 1969 have been digitized and are located on the website), maps, and participate in interlibrary loans if they don’t have the book you seek.
When You Hit Your Next Roadblock…
Make sure that you head to your library to see what information that they can provide, especially if your family lived in the area where you presently live. If your library is a bit smaller and does not have some of the above features, see if another library close by does (I realized when looking around at the other larger area libraries they all seemed to have a genealogical presence but it does not appear to have the resources my library system has).
Lastly, my library does have a way to get a library card online, so you could use what they have available even if they aren’t in your neck of the woods. You never know what you might find checking out other libraries, you may find one where your ancestors are from that would work with your local library on an interlibrary loan that could be a key to your research. Or you may find out your library has more than you thought!
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!