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

Goals

Until I read a post on the Chiddicks Family Tree blog, I never really thought about having goals for my genealogical journey. Halfway through 2020 I saw his 6 month review of the progress he was making and I realized I needed to do that for my own accountability.

#1 Cleaning Up My Personal Tree

I already mentioned how I am focusing my time going through my software program and add all applicable citations, add the many documents I’ve saved on folders in the cloud where most of my information is, and get those included in my software. I’m hoping by working on everything and analyzing what I have, I might stand a better chance of breaking down some of my brick walls.

Below are my present statistics from my software – I’m not worried about the number of individuals and families but would be happy to have more citations than people by the end of the year. I’m horrible about putting people in with the thought I’ll get to the other stuff “later”.

#2 Getting Out of my Comfort Zone

I am determined to learn more about my family and their environments by reading about the areas where they lived, and who knows, possibly learning more about them. I am so reliant of going to Ancestry or FamilySearch and plopping the names in the search boxes and discovering seeing the same search results for the same people and never really obtaining new information. I guess a better title of this paragraph is “finding patience” as I learn to manually hunt for things in collections that have yet to be transcribed so finding the information will bring me that much more satisfaction.

#3 Being a Better Blogger

I need to learn to be better and sharing my finds and the stories. I say this as I have finally given out my website out to family members and so now that I know they are reading, they may get a kick out of reading stories about their family members.

Part of this objective will be covered as I am going to do my darndest to achieve all 52 weeks of Amy Johnson Crow’s 52 Ancestors and in 52 Weeks challenge that she hosts. I’ve already got this week’s written – I just need to tweak it a bit with a few more photos and it will be ready. I’m so thankful she gave us 10 days to do the first so I can begin to focus on what I’m going to write for week 2.

But in the end the purpose of my blog was to share what I know about my family and by discussing how I found out something may help someone else find their long lost family member, and that’s the whole reason. Not to mention I hope that maybe my stories are as interesting as the other blogs I read.

#4 Get a Handle on Scanning Photographs

I’ve learned scanning is not as easy as it looks. Sure, you lay your photographs on the glass of the scanner but it’s so much more than that. It’s identifying the people in the photo, where it may have been taken and the worst part… when it was taken. If it’s not listed on the back of the photo you really have to do some thinking! (Or a lot of asking! I don’t know where I would be without my dad, my aunt and my uncle (and my other uncle that my aunt asks as I don’t think I have my other uncle’s phone number, but I doubt he would want me to bug him about such things).

This is SJ Randol Store, not sure of the year but the only city directory with this store listed in it was the 1924 edition, so this is in the range of 1923-1925, it was located on Howard Street in Akron, Ohio (I pass it every day on my drive to work, or at least where it stood, there is just a brick wall now). The mystery is the 2 ladies. The store was owned by Samuel Randol and his wife, Mazie Warner (my 2nd-great-grandmother), the woman on the left looks like Mazie’s sister, Cymanthia, but she passed in 1925 in California, so could it be her other sister, Janette? (Not 100% sure what Janette looked like but she was in Ohio by this time and did not pass until 1930).

Looking Ahead

I am excited about this new year and what awaits me and my family’s history. May this be my most successful year yet! (And I hope Paul doesn’t mind my stealing a bit of his inspiration!)

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks

Week #29 – Newsworthy

I haven’t participated in the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks as there have been a lot of 1-word prompts that for some reason or another have not inspired me (I think a lot of it has to do with returning to work after lockdown).

But this week I have something for Amy Johnson Crow’s wonderful writing challenge, as I have found lots of newspaper articles about my relatives that really fill in the “dash” between the years of our ancestors lives.

Mazie Warner Dunbar

After posting my story about my great-great-grandmother, Mazie Lorena Warner, I discovered an interesting article about her. Oddly enough, she and my Aunt Myrtle were both charged with assault on my great-great-great-grandfather, Delos Dunbar (Mazie’s father-in-law).

The Potter Enterprise, Thursday, June 6, 1912

No one was more disappointed than me that the Clerk of Courts in Potter County found nothing on this for me in the records. I may go about it again, as I believe she looked up Delos Dunbar and not so much Mazie (cases were found about his son, Delos Dunbar, Jr and not the elder Delos Dunbar).

A week later the following story ran.

The Potter Enterprise, Thursday, June 13, 1912

Since discovering this I’ve often wondered if Delos said something about his son, Arthur, Mazie’s husband. In December 9112, Arthur died of Polio. I’ve often wondered if maybe his father didn’t understand the debilitating nature of his disease. To me it’s the only thing that makes sense on why 2-ladies would beat up and elderly gentleman.

Have you found any interesting articles that you were surprised made the newspaper with your family? Comment below or share with Amy Johnson Crow’s 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks!

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.

MildredDunbar

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.

 

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks

Week #7: My Favorite Discovery

Over the course of 2020 I have been participating in the genealogy writing challenge of 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks that Amy Johnson Crow puts on each year.  This week’s topic is “My Favorite Discovery” and as I sit here and think about what I can write about, there are so many finds flitting through my brain that bring a smile to my face… my DNA discovery that the man named on my grandmother’s birth certificate was not my grandmother’s father popped into my head, but as I sit here 1 week away from my birthday I know my favorite discovery was just re-brought to my attention in the form of a Facebook memory just last Sunday, February 9, when I discovered 3 years ago that my 5th-great-grandfather was at the Battle of Yorktown and saw Cornwallis surrender to my hero, General George Washington.

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You see, I was born on George Washington’s birthday (I know, old news as I mention it from time to time), so after being told this my entire life, one of the first biographies I ever read in school was about George.  The more I read, the more I admired George (pardon my familiarity, I like to think he would understand my calling him by his first name). Yes, he is flawed.  Like many of those who were responsible for building the foundations of our new country, they made mistakes, compromising things for “the greater good” only to have it come back and haunt them 200+ years later.

But George never had an easy job despite being the only unanimously voted president of the United States.  Many wanted him to be a king, but we just overthrew king-rule, he knew that wasn’t what was best for our country.  Putting all the precedents in place to create the land we now live in wasn’t easy, but it’s one of the reasons I genuinely feel that George Washington was our greatest president.

But when I learned that my relative witnessed Cornwallis’ surrender at Yorktown literally gave me chills.  That he was related to me through my Grandma Blair (Anna Maria Morgart) was even better, she was the best friend I will probably ever have.

Peter Morgart is my 5th-great-grandfather who was born in 18 April 1758 in New Jersey.  His family moved to Virginia and he signed up and ended up being at the battle of Yorktown.

findagrave-petermorgart

Peter Morgart was my first relative I discovered that fought in the Revolutionary War.  I have since found others, Solomon Sparks is another 5th-great-grandfather who fought in both the Revolutionary War and became a Captain in the War of 1812.  On my mother’s side I have Ichabod Warner (6th-great-grandfather), David Ryther (7th-great-grandfather), and Joel Chapin (6th-great-grandfather). But Peter will always have that extra special spot because not only was he the first relative I found to fight in the American Revolution, but he saw that wonderful surrender that ended the war.

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks

If you want to get better about writing about your ancestors, the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks is a great opportunity.  As you can see from my own headings for this challenge I have not participated in each week as sometimes I can strain the brain trying to find someone to fit a category and it doesn’t always jump out at me.  First and foremost this is a fun activity, so don’t overstress if you don’t have something to write about each week.  But I do recommend it as practice always helps you share the stories about your relatives.

 

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks

Week #6: The Same Name

This week’s topic for 52 Ancestor’s in 52 Week’s is the Same Name.  Do you have ancestors with the same name?  You know the ones, they drive you crazy because they are all back to back to back and you aren’t sure which ancestor they are talking about because they are father and son and they overlap.

I have the same name.  Andrew Jackson.  Andrew Jackson is a name that turns up on both my paternal and maternal sides of my dad’s side of the family.  On my Blair side I my great-grandfather and great-great-grandfather are both Andrew Jackson Blair’s with my great-great-great-grandfather being Andrew (he may be an Andrew Jackson as well but I’ve not had any confirmed documentation stating such).  Then on my grandma’s side I have a great-great-great-grandfather named Andrew Jackson Morgart.

Andrew Jackson Blair (1881-1926)

The first Andrew Jackson Blair I will discuss was my great-grandfather.  No one alive today ever knew him as he died before any of his grandchildren were born.  Andrew was a miner and died when rock began falling within one of the mines and it crushed his chest.  His brother-in-law, Abraham Childers, was injured when the ligaments in his leg were torn.

AJBlair

Above is the only photo known to have been taken of my great-grandfather.  The story is that it was taken as a group shot of his Sunday School class and they managed to snip him out of the group shot so we have it. When I was sent this photo a few months ago I was so happy, I love seeing what my relatives looked like.

I have never found any marriage record yet of when my great-grandparents wed.  But using Newspapers.com I have been able to piece together their marriage date of March 19, 1906.

Bedford_Gazette_Fri__Mar_23__1906_
Bedford Gazette, Friday, March 23, 1906

Andrew, or AJ as I have seen him regarded as often, was buried in South Fork Cemetery.

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Andrew Jackson Blair (1851-1899)

I don’t know a whole lot about my great-great-grandfather.  He was born in March 1851 in Cambria County, Pennsylvania and passed away of a Paralytic Stroke on June 20, 1899 in Bedford County, PA.  On the 1870 Census he was still living at home and was a woodchopper but in the 1880 census he had married the former Susan Jane Foster and had 3 children, all girls, and was a miner.  In the 1880’s he and his wife would have 3-boys and 2-girls to add to the mix, bringing their total children to 9.

Andrew is actually buried in Duvall Cemetery, which is on the land of his wife’s great-grandfather, Basil Foster. I didn’t see his grave when I visited last year, but I also was unaware of his being buried there until my final day in Pennsylvania when I discovered his death record at the Bedford County Courthouse.

Andrew Blair (@1812 – After 1880)

Andrew Blair is my 3rd-great-grandfather and also one of my biggest brick walls (the other is his wife, Susannah (Suzanna) Akers and his son, George Washington Blair).  Though he isn’t an Andrew Jackson, he is the Andrew that at least began it all (or so I think). I can honestly say I’ve not gotten any further than just the 1850, 1860, 1870 and 1880 censuses for my great-great-great-grandparents.  His occupation is just a laborer, and he rented his home so there is no land ownership.  In 1850 he lived in Conemaugh Township, Cambria County, then in 1860 he lived in Huston Township in Blair County, and in 1870 and 1880 he lived in Bedford County, first in Broad Top Township and then in Coaldale.

Along with a vague occupation, I have no definitive birth or death date for this elusive man.  One day I will find out more about my ancestor – it will just take time and plenty of patience.

Andrew Jackson Morgart (1824 – 1870)

On my grandmother’s side of the family is my 3rd-great-grandfather, Andrew Jackson Morgart.  This Andrew Jackson was a farmer who lived in West Providence in Bedford County, Pennsylvania. On June 4, 1847 he married his wife, the former Rebecca O’Neal whom he had 10 children with, I’m an offspring of his oldest son, George Washington Morgart.

Andrew Jackson Morgart
Photo of Andrew Jackson Morgart by Teri Graham that was uploaded onto FamilySearch.org

He died August 19, 1870.  According to his obituary he must have been sick for a spell as death was not unexpected, but at the same time he was only 46-years-old.  Wow, that’s the same age I am, but he was actually younger as I’ll be 47 next week.

To Sum It Up

To my knowledge, these are all the Andrew Jackson’s in my family.  Now, Andrew Jackson Morgart did have a grandson named Charles Jackson but that’s another story for another time.

I guess the most fascinating part of having all these Andrew Jackson’s in my family is that in college I took a class entitled Jefferson to Jackson where it focused on the history of the United States while Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, John Quincy Adams and Andrew Jackson where president.  During this time period Andrew Jackson was such a hero, saving our new country from the British in the War of 1812 which led to his presidency.  But I so disliked Andrew Jackson, still dislike him to this day.  It would just figure that I have all these relatives named after him.

Though a part of me would love for my Andrew Blair to be an Andrew Jackson Blair too – as he was born in 1812 (maybe sooner) it could possibly make it a family name and not in honor of the famous war hero.

But I am going to have to break down that brick wall first.