52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, My Family Tree, Paternal Side

Week 22: Military

This weeks post for Amy Johnson Crow’s 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks is all about military and who better to write about than my 3rd-great-grandfather, George Henry Fesler who fought in the Civil War.

His Early Years

Born on 18 October 1824 in Brush Creek, Bedford County, Pennsylvania, George Henry Fesler was the oldest child of William Frederick Fesler and Mary Polly Evans. George was the oldest in their family of at least 7 children: John, Mary, Matilda, Sarah, Alexander, and Samuel followed.

By the 1840 Census it appears that George, all the way to 15 years old, is no longer living with his parents. In 1844 he is selected as a private in John B. Alexander’s Wells Valley Riflemen (also referred to as Wells Valley Union Rifle Company), a group commissioned by Pennsylvania Governor Porter. Their first muster was 4 July 1844.

On 10 February 1847 he married Mary Elizabeth Oakman, the sister of one of his fellow Rifleman, Squires Oakman. He and Mary had a total of 11-children: Sara Jane (my 2nd-great-grandmother), John Oliver, Mary Isabelle, James Squires, Rebecca May, Margaret Elizabeth, Frances, Harry Franklin, George Henry, Jr., William Gilmore, and Lilly Mae. The last 2 were born upon his return after the Civil War.

In some documents George is listed as a farmer, in others a stone mason like his dad.

The Civil War

The first war where Congress passed an act for the first wartime draft was the Civil War. All men between the ages of 20 and 45 were to register. The difference between then and now was that you could buy your way out of the draft. For $300 you could avoid it all together (which is what wealthier men did) or you could hire someone to take your place.

It appears George was a draft dodger, and they caught up to him in September 1864 where he was arrested and forced to serve in the Union Army.

George mustered in as a Private on 19 September 1864 becoming a part of Company G of the 61st Regiment of the Pennsylvania Infantry on 2 November 1864. From December through the end of the war in June he served by defending Washington, D.C.

Washington, D.C. was defended by 68 enclosed forts that surrounded the capitol city.

Post-War

After his return to “normal” life, George and Mary had their last 2 children only for her to pass away in 1872.

At some point in time, George became acquainted with his neighbor, Fayetta Ann Childers, who was also the sister of his son-in-law, Randall Childers (Randall is my 2nd-great-grandfather and was married go George’s oldest daughter, Sara Jane). In 1883 George and Fayetta had the final piece of the Fesler family, Edgar Sheridan “Sherd” Fesler.

George and Fayetta never married legally, but theirs would be considered a common law marriage.

He filed to receive a pension in 1889 where medical reports have him as having chronic diarrhea and other rectum diseases which declared him an invalid (or at least made it difficult to work as one never knew when one of these bouts were going to hit. This was a common ailment among Civil War veterans).

George passed away on 14 October 1911 with Old Age being listed as his cause of death, he was 4 days shy of being 86 years old. He is buried with most of his family (as well as many of my Childers relatives) in Wells Valley Methodist Church Cemetery.

The Pension File

I purchased George’s pension file 2-years ago after I came home home from the Ohio Genealogical Society’s Conference. A gentleman I met there, Brian, has based a good portion of his business travelling to the Archives in Washington, DC to help genealogists such as myself get the military records for their ancestors. (If you are interested you may want to check out his website at www.civilwarrecords.com).

I will admit, I paid for everything (he had a discount for those attending the conference, and afraid I’d miss some detail if I didn’t get it all). I had glanced at everything a few times but will confess truly began dissecting the file when doing this post.

Take my advice, however you get your hands on your pension file (as you can order through NARA yourself), find the portion that tells you when they enlisted. The pension file for George included the entire war for Company G for the 61st Regiment of the Pennsylvania Infantry. As I read through their start in 1862 I am tracking their movements through Virginia in Newport News, how they fought at the battle of Fair Oaks and then Gettysburg, and I was so enamored that I started mapping a vacation to follow in his steps.

Then I clicked on another folder that had his enlistment papers and it was then I discovered he didn’t begin to serve until late 1864 and all the “cool” battles his regiment had been in were done.

My trip will just be visiting our nations capitol and visiting a barricade that still exists on the outside of the city.

I learned quite a bit about George while writing this post. He was the last surviving member of the Wells Valley Union Rifle Company, and a great hunter (various newspaper articles about this).

Genealogy

The Lovely World of Source Citations

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?

This is the profile of my 3rd Great Grandfather, George Henry Fesler. Most of these events/documents were placed into it just this weekend (he’s been in there a while as he is person 44 out of 1,741).

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.

Here is an example of the information you need for citations from Ancestry.com
Here is how the citation information is found on FamilySearch.org

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.

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, Maternal Side, My Family Tree, Paternal Side

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!

Genealogy

Writing Your Family History

I constantly read how I should be writing my family history down but the question is HOW?  I obviously want it to be entertaining and not cause people to be snoring within minutes, but do you just plop down the statistics?  Do you try to give it personality?  These are the things this inquiring mind wants to know.

Blank 3.5 x 2 in

How You Will Share Your Writing

What form of media will you use to share your family history?  This is a very important decision.  Will you write a book? A newsletter?  A blog?

The format of your writing determines how formal your writing needs to be.  If you choose a blog (I obviously write about my own family discoveries along with tips of how to do your family history) you need to be a little more entertaining to keep your reader’s attention (hopefully I succeed in this).  This would probably be similar advice if you thought of doing a newsletter.

If you are going to write a book you obviously want people to enjoy what they are reading but you can also make sure you throw in statistics you have gathered about your relatives/ancestors if that is the only information you have.

Photographs

If you have photographs of the people you are writing about, make sure you include them. This is probably a no-brainer but it’s worth stating.  I know whenever I come across a photo of a relative I get so excited to see how they looked at whatever stage in their life.  I am hoping to one day find a photograph of my great-grandfather, Charles Morgart, as he is the infant/toddler in my blog’s header.  I have yet to see an adult photo of him but so wish I had one.

Photographs also make people real.  Face it, you can tell people that this is when they were born and this is when they died – but it’s when you give the details of how they lived and what they looked like that makes a person become alive.

Add Some History

You may be thinking,  “of course I am going to write history, I’m writing my family’s history”, but sometimes it’s nice to give your writing a little bit of historical context.  Relate to your reader what is going on in the world to give a better sense of the time period when your ancestor lived.

For example, I am presently reading “National Geographic’s Atlas of the Civil War” as my great-great-great-grandfather, George Henry Fesler, fought in the Civil War.  I have obtained his military file and it details all the battles that he fought in and where he was stationed.  George fought in many battles but I will confess they tend to be a lot of the smaller battles, not Antietam, Vicksburg or Gettysburg, the battles that the average person has heard of, so I’m reading this in-depth book about all the battles so I can include better details in reference to him.

There are different ways you can highlight historical events, you can just do a sidebar of big events that happened during the time period or you could have a timeline listing similar details.

Setting Your Book Up

When writing a book you can always highlight a different ancestor in a chapter.  For example, you can have a chapter on your mother, then a chapter on her mom and a chapter on her dad and within the chapters referring to her parents you can detail her siblings.

You may not have any intimate details about some of your relative’s lives but when you come across those initially you can just put the vital statistic information that you have on these individuals.  Sometimes you may just have very limited information, but if you have gathered any city directories about your ancestor, often they list where they worked, which helps give a little more insight into them.  Censuses will often list a general occupation as well which is still helpful in painting a picture of your relative’s life.

Make a Video

I know on my mom’s side of the family, my aunt and uncle were occasionally asking me how I was progressing on my research.  Not having anything written down, but having found photos of various members of my mom’s side of my family, I made a minute-long video that briefly highlighted my grandmother, great-grandmother, great-great-grandmother and lastly my great-great-great-grandmother and my great-great-great-grandparents (the photo of my 4th great grandmother happened to be a photo with her husband). I used the online video maker Adobe Spark which is free to use and even can be made with background music (the default was surprisingly fitting for my video). I shared the video with my aunt, uncle and many cousins and they loved it!  It was long enough to be interesting and short enough to keep their attention.

Your Program May Write the Book for You

I use Legacy Family Tree to store all my family’s information and there is a way to print a book using all the information I have entered into the program.  It fills in written accounts listed in the notes on each individual as well listing all the sources that you have attached for all the records included. This is a nice, no-brainer way of writing a book with the click of a button.

Brings Your Research Together

Writing about your family is a great way to make your research more interesting to the average person.  Family Historians often find such neat information about our ancestors through vital statistics, newspapers, and family lore, compiling them all together for future generations just makes sense.

No matter what form of media you choose to use – book, newsletter, or blog, anyway that interests you in writing down your information is how you should publish your work.

You don’t have to stop all of your research to begin writing a book, but it may be something to focus on one day a week in order to get ideas together on what you may want to do. I know I have been thinking about how I want to do mine for a while and I like about taking it an ancestor at a time.  It may provide you with who you want to focus on for a bit as well, and if you have all your writing on a computer you can always continue to add the further along you go with your tree.

No matter how you opt to write your genealogical findings, I wish you great success in your journey.  Sharing your research with the world is one of the greatest honors we as family historians have.

Good luck!

 

 

 

Genealogy

The Most Important Thing I Learned at My Conference

Last week I attended the Ohio Genealogical Society Conference in Mason, Ohio and there was one topic that was repeated no matter what the subject of the class was… FamilySearch, Ohio Archives, Finding Females, Newspapers, British Roots, Bright Shiny Objects… and that was you should always have a research plan.

Why Should You Follow a Research Plan?

I’ll confess, the closest I come to having a plan when it comes to my own genealogical journey is beginning each day with an “I think I’ll work on my great-great-great-grandfather, George Henry Fesler” today and I proceed to enter into my program all the information I have and search for the documents that I don’t.

But having a research plan can keep you focused.  It can help you from getting distracted by the beforementioned bright shiny objects (I’m sure you have come into contact with those – a document that you find or information on another ancestor that you stumble upon that you just HAVE to follow up on RIGHT NOW).

The Steps of a Research Plan

Steps in a Research Plan

Depending on the website you seek your information from, recommended research plans seem to fall between 5 and 7 steps. Most that were gone over in my classes seemed to go with 5-steps.

1. What is Your Objective?

It’s always best to know what it is you want to know before you sit down and begin randomly searching for information.  Even I when I just decide “I’m going to work on researching my Great-Great-Great-Grandfather George Henry Fesler”, I have identified who I want to research.  I’m in the process of still adding many family members to the software that I use, or sometimes I have the basic information down (to fill in a fan chart or such) but I need to add documents, events, and sources.

2. What Information Do You Already Have?

It’s always best to double check the information that you have already acquired for a person because you may already have the answer that you seek.  And by finding out what information you have, narrows down the information you still need to seek.  Sometimes it’s helpful to even look at other close relatives such as father’s because you may be missing a census in one file but have it in another (assuming you file by the head of household).

Going back to my example of George Henry Fesler, I had a number of files that I had downloaded, and when I was adding them to my software I often don’t have the information for the citations handy and will either re-find the document on FamilySearch or Ancestry.com for this.  Here on my personal family tree on Ancestry.com I saw where I had attached George’s death certificate, but I never downloaded the file. Lucky for me my husband had a 14-day free trial of Ancestry that hadn’t been used and I was able to instantly download the death certificate (don’t worry, if this was not a possibility I would have gone to the library and used the free Ancestry Library Edition).

3. Create a Hypothesis on What You Believe to be True?

Hypothesis is such a big word.  It makes me think of tenth grade when I had to write a term paper for my Expository Writing Class.  I’m sure I learned about it in science too, but the term paper really seems to strike a chord.

According to Wikipedia, a hypothesis is “a proposed explanation for phenomenon”. Basically, it’s the information you think you will find.

For example, I think George Henry Fesler, my great-great-great grandfather, died in Wells Tannery, Pennsylvania.

Until I re-discovered his death certificate attached to my tree on Ancestry.com, I wasn’t 100% certain where George passed.

4. What Records Will Prove Your Hypothesis?

To prove or disprove your hypothesis you will need to find records that will either support or discredit what you believe.  These are often government documents such as census records, death certificates, pension files, or published records such as city directories, or an obituary in the paper.

What records will I need to prove that George Henry Fesler died in Wells Tannery, Pennsylvania?  I know that his death certificate will be helpful, possibly his grave, census records could assist with letting me know precise locations of where he lived every ten years before his death. Where he is buried helps, but a person can die anywhere (my great-great-grandmother’s 2nd husband died on a trip visiting family in Illinois and he lived in Akron, Ohio), often they live in the vicinity of where they are buried or reside.

5. Do Your Research!

Now you find those documents I mentioned above that you don’t have.  I was lucky enough to discover my great-great-great-grandfather’s death certificate was somewhat in my possession.  George actually lived in Wells Township in Fulton County, Pennsylvania pretty much his entire life.  He is buried at Wells Valley Methodist Cemetery in Wells Tannery.  He was born in Bedford County, but all the census’ from 1850-1910 have him living in Wells Township.

A Way to Stay Focused

Researching with a plan is going to be my new motto.  It’s one thing to attend maybe one or two classes where it was mentioned – but I attended 6 classes each day at the Ohio Genealogical Society Conference (and I went to 6 classes each day – despite recommendations to possibly sit out a time to mingle with others – there was too much to learn) and I would say at least 3 classes each day began with how important research plans are.

Research plans help you stay focused.  Sure you’re going to come across bright shiny objects but as Lisa Louise Cooke stated – “embrace them, save them for later” and keep your focus on your task at hand.  You can always spend time another day just following up on those unexpected gems.

So the next time you decide to sit down for a spell of working on your family history, trying creating a research plan and let me know if you find it to be helpful or a hindrance.

Happy Hunting!