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.

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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.

 

Genealogy, My Family Tree

My Research Trip Days 2 & 3

So if you read my previous post, you know that I had quite a day going from one cemetery to the next finding my direct line ancestors on my dad’s side of the family.

But day two was fun as I spent most of the day at the Bedford County Historical Society.  I went with a plan but the ladies there knew so much more than I did and truly made me feel not so knowledgeable about my family (but in a good way).  Gillian, the director, knew so much about my Morgart side, showing me maps with their names on it from the Bedford area.  Next thing she was giving me the information about Peter Morgart and his part in the Whiskey Rebellion, and it just went on and on.  Huge binders full of family tree information others had done before me of my ancestors and their descendants.  I was in awe and when we left I told my husband I was so unprepared for how much they knew.  All I kept thinking about was all my webinars and how I needed to stay focused and how I did anything but stay focused.  I will definitely go there again and be better prepared when I return.

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Next, we headed to Jean Bonnet’s Tavern for dinner.  The food was delicious, I had crab and shrimp topped salmon with a baked potato and steamed broccoli. I believe my husband had the beef tenderloin.  We left stuffed but so happy we had the experience.  Jean Bonnet’s Tavern was built in the 1760’s so it was just fun to eat where maybe my ancestors did (not all as I’m sure they were in competition with the Morgart Tavern).

After dinner, we drove by the Espy House which is where George Washington had his headquarters when he came to Bedford County in 1794 during the Whiskey Rebellion.  Yes, chills once again as George may have walked where I was now riding (it really doesn’t take much to get me excited about George).

After this, we went out and found the Bedford Springs Hotel as it was one of the places to stay back in the day.  Supposedly the water had (has?) medicinal purposes.  It’s still quite majestic today in its appearance.

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The next day we did a little bit of sightseeing as this area is the home of the Flight 93 Memorial from the happenings of September 11, 2001.  The quiet and the breeze that seemed to be non-stop there was just eerie.  You couldn’t help but feel the specialness of all those aboard who decided to defend freedom.

Next up was the Bedford County Courthouse where I went armed with my checklist of names I wanted to run by with property listings as well as wills/probate records.  I was so impressed as I was able to find something on most of my ancestors that were on my list.  If you have relatives, don’t feel shy about going in, the girls that work in the records department are very nice and were so helpful.

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On our last night there we met with my second cousin Hope and had dinner.  She was also kind enough to show me some spots in St. Michael where my great-grandmother lived as well as the bank where my Grandmother worked (I often remember her telling me she got paid like a nickel to clean the place – I may be off on how much she was paid but I know it wasn’t much).  I guess the bank is now where the residents of St. Michael, Pennsylvania pay their utility bills.  I meant to take a photo of Hope too, but as soon as we got to her house she wished us well and sent us on our way and I was a block or two away when I turned to my husband and said, “I wanted a photo with Hope”.

I thought my first research trip went really well.  I was able to find a lot of information that I was seeking but still had so many more questions when I returned.  I only had three days so I did my best to keep my focus but on future trips I know I’ll do my best to seek information on more than just my direct descendants, and hopefully, I’ll have more time to even visit other relatives that actually live in the area too.