The theme for Week 13 of Amy Johnson Crow’s 52 Ancestors in 52 Week’s is Music. I know I myself absolutely love music – all kinds from pop music, classic rock, alternative, classical, Broadway tunes, and due to my son being in a volunteer band while learning to play the trumpet in school, I’m evening expanding into jazz.
But when I think of my relatives and music, both of my grandmother’s come to mind and below you will read about these special ladies and their love of music.
Alberta Lou Fleming
My maternal grandmother, Alberta Lou Fleming, loved music. She was one of those people who loved to dance and listen to the big band music of the 1940’s. When chatting with my Aunt she was able to tell me how when she was growing up, every Sunday they (Alberta, and her children) would go over to their grandma’s (Mildred Laura Dunbar) for dinner and they would put on the big band music and sing their heart’s out and dance. That must have been something to see in her living room.
I know my Grandma’s (Alberta) favorite song was “In the Mood”. I can’t say that I blame her, when I hear songs from that era, it is one of the ones that really gets my toes tapping as well. I can imagine it would be hard to not get up and dance.
Terry Mildred Fleming
The apple didn’t fall far from the tree when it came to a love of music. My Aunt, who would have been 72 years old today (April 2), loved music as well. Her younger sister told me that her favorite was music by the Beetles. Here is a photo of my Aunt Teri (she changed the spelling over the years) from her High School Yearbook – she was always so fashionable and I love this photo.
Though I was unable to confirm it, I thought I remembered my mother telling me how she had bought my aunt a life size doll to dance with. I asked my other aunt (my mom and aunt Teri’s younger sister) and my own sister, but neither remember. Initially I wasn’t going to add it, but it seems to me I wouldn’t have ever thought to make something like this up, but I like what my aunt also said, it totally sounded like something my mom would have done. So if she didn’t, I’m sure she must have thought about it.
Anna Maria Morgart
My Grandma Blair (as I know her) loved to hum. It didn’t matter what she was doing, she hummed. When she did dishes. When she crocheted. She could be sitting in a chair and daydreaming and she would hum. Even when I called her on the phone and there was that slight lull in the coversation.
She would also listen to her radio to church music and the like as well. But when I think of her I think of her humming. And there are times now that I am older when I am doing something and I don’t have music on, I hum too. (Just to add, today, April 2, would have been my Grandma’s 107th birthday).
To me nothing brings back memories better than music. Often a song will come on the radio and it’s as if I am going through all the emotions of the that moment as if it just happened. No other sense is as powerful for me. So when I hear “In the Mood” I think of my Grandma Metzger (aka Alberta Lou Fleming) and how she made me laugh with her fabulous sense of humor that I wish I had, or when I find myself humming in a room by myself, I smile as I know wonderful people before me did the same.
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).
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!
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.
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.
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.
Thirteen years ago on this very day I lost one of the greatest human beings I ever knew. My paternal grandmother, Anna Maria Morgart died at the age of 93 years and a part of me has been lost ever since. On this anniversary of her death I will honor her.
Anna Maria Morgart was born on 2 April 1914 in Broad Top Township, Pennsylvania at 11:55am to Charles Jackson Morgart and Margaret Dora Wise. She was named after her maternal grandmother, Anna Maria Leighty Wise. By the time she was 5 years old, her father would commit suicide and her mother would re-marry. From the many stories I heard, my grandma thought the world of Irie Earl Custer, so much so my dad’s middle name was his middle name, and the name he (Mr. Custer) used, Earl.
She always told me about how much she loved school, and though she didn’t get the best of grades, she did love English and handwriting. She loved to write. Her handwriting was so distinctive, you can see it below in the “Blondie” on the photo on the right.
Anna Maria Morgart, about 1925 or 1926 or earlier
Below red school house. Looking at Geo Wise
One of her first jobs, she told me, was how she cleaned a bank. She claimed she got down and cleaned the floor with a little brush. She may or may not have said tooth brush but as a little girl that’s always what I pictured so that might be where I got that idea in my head. When I visited Pennsylvania last Summer my cousin, Hope, was so nice to show me where the bank was – and here it is – it’s where you pay your utilities in Saint Michael now.
The photo below was taken of her in 1933 – she was just 19 years old. It’s odd how much my dad looks like her in these photos.
I never quite knew when my grandparents met, I’m still not certain how they met either. I think I asked my dad but he isn’t entirely sure either. However I did come across this article from the Everett Press from 7 July 1933 where it shows they attended a Fourth of July picnic together at my Grandmother’s aunt’s home (Mrs. Bartley Noggle was Anna Rebekah Morgart, sister of Charles Jackson Morgart).
My grandparents got married on 24 April 1937 in Elkhart, Indiana. I’ve not found any wedding photos or even a marriage announcement, but I have found a copy of their marriage license on FamilySearch.
My grandparents moved to Indiana because my grandfather, Leroy Blair, was offered an apprenticeship in sheet metal. This was a much-preferred occupation as his father had passed away in the coal mines when he (Leroy) was just 14 years old, and according to my dad, Leroy also had an accident in the same “room” where his dad had died.
My Grandfather’s older sister Vada also lived in Gary, Indiana and she and my Grandma were best friends. I often talked to Darlene, Vada’s daughter, and she always remembered how close they were.
Despite living in Indiana, my Grandma still found a way to go back to Pennsylvania and visit her family. She was very close to her family. Her mom, Margaret Wise and brother, Charles Edward “Eddie” Morgart lived in Pennsylvania, but she would also head up to Detroit Michigan to visit with her older sister, Virginia. (Below are photos from 1940 of my Grandma, her with her brother-in-law, Joe Dipko, and lastly one of her and her sister, Virginia).
My Daddy Makes 3
On 11 January 1943 my dad was born. My Grandma was so happy to have a little one, and my dad was her only child. They were still living in Gary, Indiana when he came along, and since World War 2 was taking place, amongst the photographs was the ration book that was used for my dad.
In the 1950’s my grandparents moved from Gary, Indiana to Akron, Ohio. Initially they lived in a trailer but by 1955 they had money to move into a house. My Grandma had never been so proud of a house as the one she made her home. I couldn’t tell you how many photos she had of her house on Roslyn Avenue. That’s her standing in the door below. (She lived here the rest of her life).
My favorite was the photo she had of how there was nothing in the yard so my Grandfather, aka Pappy, decided to grow ears of corn in front of the living room window (however I am not finding that photo at the moment).
Another story of how they found their house was that as long as my Grandma could walk to a store she was going to be happy (she didn’t drive, apparently when she was younger a suitor attempted to teach her but she ran off the road and never got in the driver seat again). Pappy did well, he found a home for her and my parents got her a shopping cart that she could push her groceries home. She was also a master of coupons, and this was before couponing was a thing (or at least before I knew couponing was a thing).
As She Grew Older
My Grandma always had a smile and a kind word for everyone. She loved birds and family. The below photo I shared before. My Grandma and Pappy (right side) are playing with their bird, Skippy #1, while my Grandma’s mom, Margaret “Maggie” Wise, is laughing along with them, and Bertha Childers, Leroy’s mom, is just as grumpy as can be.
My Grandma was one of the most generous people I knew. During the summer months she would get up super early in the morning and go to a lady’s home, Mrs. Juhas was her name, she was the mom of one of my dad’s best friends growing up, and she would help her in her garden. She shared green beans and tomatoes with my grandma as payment (though we use to go over weekly for my dad to help my Grandma with a very small garden she had in her backyard). Until my Grandma got macular degeneration and could no longer can green beans, which was around 1997, I’d never had green beans in an aluminum can until about the year 2000.
Leroy/Pappy died on 14 May 1975 so I don’t really have any recollection of him (I was born in 1973). But Grandma went everywhere with us. She spent the night before Christmas so she was there to watch us open our presents. She was always invited over to functions on my mom’s side of the family (she was 1 of 5 kids so there was always something going on). My husband for the longest time didn’t believe this, especially when I began having trouble going places after my Grandma passed. I realized Grandma was who I sat with at these functions so I could entertain her, and frankly so she could entertain me (I’m quite the introvert at times). But after my maternal grandma passed, my aunt gave us a bunch of photos that we were in that she had, in every photo was my Grandma Blair beside me. I laughed so hard to prove my husband wrong.
When She Turned 93
The last six weeks of my Grandma’s life were not the best. She had gotten a case of shingles on her legs and didn’t tell anyone. It got into her bloodstream and made her pretty sick and she ended up in the hospital. This is where she was on her 93rd birthday. I remember my dad and I going to visit her on her big day, 2 April 2007.
From there she was moved into a nursing home not far from my house to go through therapy so she could walk and move around again. I would go and visit her often and slowly her appetite was decreasing. My husband made her sweet potatoes and it was the last solid food she ate. About a week later, I did what I didn’t want to do, which was tell her it was okay if she wanted to go “home”.
I’ve hated myself for 13 years for doing that. I know it’s what she needed, I know it was probably the right thing to do, but a selfish part of me hates myself for doing it because my kids never got to know her. My son was 7 months old and my daughter just 3 years. She has vague recollections, but that’s it.
But the thing is my kids have gotten to know her. I’ve shared with them all the wonderful stories I have of my Grandma Blair. Just today I told my daughter of the time when my Grandma was watching my sister and I in 1976 after my cousin Tracy was born. My mom helped drive my Aunt Barb to Texas to be with my Uncle who was in the Air Force. Aunt Barb had been in my room so I was staying in Kellie’s room on bunk beds. My sister had finally let me up on the top bunk and very quickly she decided I had overstayed my welcome. She went to take me off the top bunk by force but I quickly pushed her off the top bunk and on to the floor. My Grandma came back to see what was wrong, there was me on the top bunk and there was Kellie on the floor. My Grandma reached up for me and told me it was time to leave Kellie alone. As Kellie cried Grandma just told her that she would be okay and to get up off the floor. I really dodged a bullet that day. Don’t worry, some day I’m sure you’ll hear part 1 of this story when Kellie dragged me around the walls of the living room by my feet giving me rug burn (there is no love loss between my sister and I, even to this day).
A little over 2 years ago as I sat at a band concert with my mom, I can’t even remember what we were talking about but my mom looked at me and said that every day I reminded her of more and more of my Grandma Blair. It was the greatest compliment she could have ever given me. And sadly she (my mom) passed away a few weeks later, so I’m glad she said it when she did.
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.
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.
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.
My favorite photo from my family history journey? I have to pick just one? I have so many that seeing an ancestor seems to have changed my life that picking just one seems so difficult. Until I realize it isn’t.
The photo I chose is actually (at the present anyhow) a part of my header here on my blog.
I’ve included it just as it was scanned off my dad’s flatbed scanner that he is allowing me to use. This photo includes 2-great-grandmothers and my paternal grandparents. It was taken at my grandparent’s house in Akron, Ohio in 1961. From left to right is Bertha Childers, Margaret “Maggie” Wise, Anna Maria Morgart, and Leroy Blair. This photo just seems to exemplify the personalities of them all and just looking at it brings a smile to my face.
I’ve heard from more than one person that Bertha (aka Mrs. Chappell, the last name of her second husband) was always mad at someone. So seeing her cross on the end of the sofa makes me wonder which of my other relatives was she upset with? Bertha is the mother of my grandfather, Leroy Blair. I never had the chance to meet Bertha, she passed away in 1963.
Margaret “Maggie” Wise
Next up is Maggie Wise, my Grandma’s mom. I actually have very fuzzy memories of visiting Gammy (that’s what her grandkids called her) in the nursing home when we went back to Pennsylvania to visit. I only recall meeting her a few times, and she passed away at the age of 96 in 1987 (I was 14 at the time). She always seemed happy and I remember her playing the “mouth organ” or harmonica.
My Paternal Grandparents
I love seeing my grandparents (Anna Maria Morgart and Leroy Blair) so happy in this picture. Now it’s hard to make out, even with the original photo in your hand, but from the note on the back of it, they are playing with a bird (not just any bird mind you, Skippy #1. My Grandma Blair went on to name every bird she had Skippy over the years, so it’s rather cool to see the original). Not having ever met my grandfather, I never knew that much about him, and stories seemed to fall all over the place. Seeing him having a good time with my Grandma makes me happy.
Anna Maria Morgart
My Grandma Blair was probably the best friend I will ever have. I could talk to her about anything and she never judged, just listened, and gave me the best advice she thought I needed. Gosh, I miss her. She passed away almost 13 years ago but sometimes the pain seems like it was yesterday.
My grandfather, affectionately called Pappy, died when I was 2-years-old so I really don’t have any recollections of him. My mom’s favorite story of him was how every time he came over to our house, I’d be asleep and he would say “I just want to go in a look at her” and somehow I always woke up. I have heard from other relatives how he just loved little girls and he would have probably spoiled me rotten (not that he wasn’t fond of my dad). I wish I could have had him in my life. He seems like he was just a good man, and in the end, isn’t that what you want from your relatives?
52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks
If you are interested in doing your own writing journey, 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks is where you can sign up and see the listing of all the prompts for this year’s challenge.