St Clair Cemetery, Mt Lebanon, Allegheny Co, PA

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Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year Cousins

Another year has come and gone. I've worked on my roots and
uncovered some really neat stuff this year. I've been able to share
it with my readers and with my cousins by the dozens. I've got more
clues unraveled and look forward to revealing them in the new year.
Maybe 2008 will be the year I finally knock down my 200 year old
brick wall!

In the meantime, sometimes our blood talks. And this time, my blood
is singing out loud. One of my faithful readers, a cousin on my
dad's side is coming to town. What is really cool is we have only
communicated by email. Let's see. I found him a couple of years ago
when I was doing all that work on my "family cemetery." You see,
it's his family, too.

James HENRY, who is my 3rd great-grandfather is his 2nd great-
grandfather. My dear Margaret Henry was the younger sister to his
dear Jane Glenn Henry. We've swapped stories and documentation over
the years. Now, he's coming to town for the New Year!

I plan to meet him and his wife for lunch. I also plan to look deep
in his face to find the family resemblance. Is he more of a HENRY or
more of a GLENN? Or does he resemble the other sides? I do know
that a lot of us who are descended from Margaret Henry all share a
resemblance even to the latest generation. This will be fun. I just
hope he's packing a suitcase of stories and goodies to share. And
who knows? Maybe lunch will take a few days!

It's another connection. It's my blood song. It's my family.

Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Twas The Night-- 2007 Geni Style

One of the great perks in genealogy is meeting some really neat people. Thought you'd enjoy the following:

T'was the night before Christmas....a Genealogy Tale

T'was the night before Christmas, her fingers tapping away
Typing piles of genealogy long into the dawn of the day.
Where's Ruth, George, Sally, Michael, Bill and Jean?
Putting families in order from bits that she gleaned.

Who is Marshall Ney Sterling? She never learned for sure
And, after years of search, his name carried much allure.
Joshua Alpheus's relatives each carried one part of his name
One Joshua, one Alpheus - why couldn't they be the same?

In the glow of computer light, her eyes worn and dreary
If she'd ever find her ancestors, of this she grew weary.
She'd whisper their names sometimes late at night
As though they'd answer and save her from this plight.

But no one answered -- she'd listened quite well you see
It was as though all wanted her to just leave them be!
"Oh Santa!" she thought, "If I could just figure it out,
I'd jump high from my chair, clap, scream and shout!"

She closed the file on the crumbling newspaper stack
Too many names, dates, and spouses she lacked.
She punched the OFF switch - rather too hard --
As she wondered if a misspelled name was just a fraud?

She thought of everyone often, before drifting off to sleep
Said a prayer to the heavens about secrets ancestors keep.
Once in awhile, a face from ago slipped into her dreams
Grandma wanted to tell her the family's story, it seemed.

But come light of day, the faces and stories all disappeared.
She was left with clues she'd never figure out, she feared.
This night was different...the faces and features oh so clear
As Grandma told story after story--oh my, was she a dear!

Awakening on Christmas, she wondered, "Am I insane?
"To be chasing my ancestors down every street and lane!"
She shook her head silently, vowing to just "Give it up!"
And went down the stairs to find the nearest coffee cup.

When what to her wonderment, familiar persons circled her tree
She couldn't get over how "they all look a little like -- ME!"
Her Grandma stepped forward, a Bible in her wrinkled palms
"I think you need this, it's got our names near the psalms."

The elated researcher was beside herself with glee
"All my ancestors heard and came looking for me!"
Dropping her head, she quickly searched the Bible's pages...
When she looked up, her family had slipped into the ages.

The star at the treetop twinkled, reflecting the many lights
While tears flowed as she remembered having this sight...
"Oh Santa, this was the best gift I've ever gotten, I swear!
"To have my sought-for ancestors standing right there!"

Standing silent she remembered her promise from before--
And leaping up and down, clapping, she gave a hearty roar!!
"Yes! Yes! I just knew I was chosen to trace our roots
And the "find" of this bible has me kicking up my boots!

Thank you Santa and Thank you God!
Thank you Grandma!
And... Thank you to all of my big extended family,
present and distant past,
who all trust me to unravel their lives, secrets,
and to tell their stories at last.

Merry Christmas--- and may you have a "visitation" in your Christmas dreams!

Permission granted to reprint "T'was the night before Christmas....a Genealogy Tale," by Judy Florian as long as this complete statement remains with the poem. Ms. Florian can be reached at: cageycat "at" Show love to someone on a holiday!

Friday, December 28, 2007


The following is credited to a Frenchman named Crèvecoeur in the late 18th century in his "Letters from an American Farmer". Thought you'd enjoy it.....

"Ubi panis ibi patria [where I earn my bread, that is my fatherland], is the motto of all emigrants. What then is the American, this new man? He is either a European or the descendant of an European, hence that strange mixture of blood, which you will find in no other country. (...) He is an American, who, leaving behind him all the ancient prejudices and manners, receives new ones from the new mode of life he has embraced (…) Here individuals of all nations are melted into a new race of men, whose labours and posterity will one day cause great changes in the world. Americans are the western pilgrims who are carrying along with them that great mass of arts, sciences, vigour, and industry which began long since in the East; they will finish the great circle."

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

The Best Christmas Cards

Every year we get bombarded with Christmas cards. Some just have
signatures while others give details of the year. You know the cards
I like best? It's the ones where people have thought of me. One
card this year came from New York and had a NJ will abstract from the
early 1815 era in it. Another card came from San Francisco and had
an obituary from 1969 in it. Still another cousin picked up the
phone and called me with a tidbit he had just gleaned.

What joy I have at opening these cards! I just squeal with delight
and laughter. They are the best ones! They are the thoughtful ones
whose givers really know me and what I love to do. No, no, I'm not
morbid. I'm just looking for every clue on the family's past. After
all, I really enjoy the huge mystery I've been unraveling for the
last 12 years or so.

Perhaps, next year, even more kin from across this grand land of ours
will be more thoughtful and send me more obits, wills, and pictures.
Many thanks to those who take time and remember. Remember the past
and remember our roots.

Merry Christmas to all.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Ghost of Christmas Past

As I was wrapping the gifts to place under the Christmas tree the
other day, I stopped and wondered. Wondered how it is that we feel
the need to give so much to our families. Wondered how it is that so
many of have forgotten the past.

Christmas about 200 years ago was quite different from today. There
was no big turkey, stuffing and excessive eating of sweets. The
women baked and got ready for the day. However, they usually did
spend a good amount of their time baking as most families were mostly
self sufficient. The men would go out in search of meat. Bear and
deer were commonly found on the table.

There was certainly no over spending on frivolous toys. Toys were
hard to come by, and who had the time anyway? Our early American
ancestors were busy surviving. Yes, they celebrated the holiday.
They didn't work that day. If they lived near family, they would go
and visit for a few days. I can just hear the excitement as the
sleigh bells rang and the carriages carried cousins back forth.

Small gifts might be exchanged and children were thrilled to be given
a small cake, a penny, some sweetmeat, or even a new hat or dress.
Excess was something the majority of American settlers did not have.

The children might lock out their teacher thus demanding a treat
before the teacher could come back in. This practice appears to have
been quite common with the school aged and teenagers with both
schoolteachers and Sunday School teachers. The family may go to
church to spend time worshiping.

The family spent the time together, thanking God for His Gift to them
and thanking Him for their freedoms.

Hmm.. Maybe we can learn something from the past after all. Perhaps
it's time for history to repeat itself this season.

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 14, 2007

When Irish Eyes Are Smiling......

Ever have that kind of day when someone plants a bug in your ear?
Ever have that kind of day when someone suggests that our Irish
forefathers could have been less than truthful?

I've been following a conversation regarding early Irish immigrants
and the information they provided to the authorities. One source
said they were told the Irish tended to try and hide their personal
history from the English. The source went on to explain the English
suppression of about 800 years of Irish folk led the Irish to "fudge"
a little as they tried to keep information away from their English

Another source, who happens to be a cousin of mine, donated his two
cents worth and explained it was the Anglican Church who persecuted
those who did not belong. Mainly, it was the Presbyterians and the
Catholics who received the brunt force of this. Combined with the
ever recurring potato famines in Ireland, it is no wonder that many
early Irish left Ireland for the lush green lands of the American
colonies where they could practice their religions in freedom.

How does one conduct research in Ireland? We tried several years ago
to hire a local genealogist in County Down, Ireland. We hired one,
gave her the information we had and what we suspected. She took our
money and spit back the information we had provided her. To my
knowledge, there was no research done over there.

Recently, some of the Irish parishes are getting their information
online. My understanding is it can be quite pricey after the initial
index search is completed. If you choose this route, be sure to
verity the counties who have information available as well as the
time span.

I, for one, can't wait for more parishes and more time spans to
become available. I might even be willing to pay the price if only I
can find my early Irish smiling eyes.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Thank You Charlie of Co. C

Veterans Day is almost here. It's time to remember America's heroes. It's time to honor Charlie of Co. C.

Charlie of Co. C was my grandfather, Charles Edward Simmons. Born in Dec. 1888 in Washington Co, PA, he was descended from those men who fought for the beginning of America, the War of 1812 and the War of the Recent Unpleasantness. As was true to the family line, he fulfilled his patriotic service in the Infantry. Charlie's draft registration card tells us he signed up in June 1917. The 11th Infantry men were shipped overseas in June 1918 to face an opponent who was skilled in chemical warfare. America was unprepared for this type of war, and her soldiers suffered the consequences. Charlie was one of the many who suffered from the effect of mustard gas exposure.

The United States joined the war to end all wars in 1917. In reading more about the time while Charlie was in France, I learned that in mid-July 1917, over 12,000 doughboys were within 30 miles of the front, all without gas masks or training in chemical warfare¹. The 11th Infantry saw 43 days of combat with casualties of 386. Of these, 348 were wounded in action. The unit returned to US soil in June 1919.

Poor Charlie. Not only did he suffer the effects of mustard gas while in France, he was also wounded. A picture I have in my possession shows his bandage on his left leg right below the knee. In this picture, he is sitting on a bench outside of what appears to be Mercy Hospital in Pittsburgh. He wears his uniform and his crutches and my grandmother are at his side. On another picture of Charlie proudly wearing his doughboy uniform, my father had written the following on the back: "He was exposed to mustard gas in WWI and injured in the leg. One inch of bone had to be removed from his left leg."

I have written to the Army to try and find Charlie's records. All I received was the confirmation he was in the Army in the unit I thought. Apparently, his records were in the big fire they had way back when.

Mustard gas. The weapon of choice in World War I which still produces shivers down my spine. It was extremely caustic and penetrated everything- even clothing. While I do not know the extent of Charlie's short term exposure, I have heard family lore of the long term effects. The exposure was said to have changed him. He did marry, he did have three sons, and he died young. The death certificate suggests he had renal failure and sepsis. His widow and small children were left to carry on. Unfortunately, they had to leave their home on Bosses Alley in Crucible, PA. Yes, Bosses Alley was the street on the hill above the Crucible Mine. The housing was company owned and was for the managers. Charlie was the chief clerk for the mine. I've heard from others that Charlie and his brother-in-law who owned the bank walked around town surrounded by coal and iron policemen-- especially on pay day. Charlie was also the local mine baseball team manager and was a member of the school board which had a new high school built. This high school was dedicated in June 1929.

So Charlie - with tears in my eyes, thank you. Thank you for your sacrifice. Thank you for your life. Thank you for your smile. Thank you for my dad.

Thank you for protecting your unborn grandchildren and great-grandchildren. We remember you - everyday.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007


There are some wonderful feelings in this world. We all like to hug
and be hugged. We all like the thrill of victory. I also find it
thrilling to shout "Gotcha" from time to time. The best "gotcha" is
unraveling the many clues in digging up the family.

I've been researching the children of John HENRY (abt 1750-1838) for
about ten years now. I've made contact with descendants of over half
of his 12 children. I'm determined to find more.

My house just shook with my gleeful shout of joy. GOTCHA!

Samuel Smith HENRY was of the children of the first wife of John
HENRY. I had already identified Samuel's two wives and had also been
in touch with a descendant of his inlaws. Eleanor LAIRD, as was
common in 1822, died in childbirth. Samuel arranged for the care of
the motherless wee lass. Her guardians, who were family members,
moved to Ohio from Allegheny Co, PA and had a great life. Letters
from the grandchildren tell us more of her early life. We find her
father, Samuel, paid for her education and visited her often. We
find her happy.

What I hadn't found was the fates of Samuel's other four children by
his second wife, Jane Cook. One son was named Ashman C HENRY. Now
you would think that would be a fairly easy name to locate in the
1860 census. Not so. Not until I got creative and expanded my way
of thinking. When I looked at the 1850 census, I find Samuel listed
as SS living in Ohio. That's news to me- but ok. The census also
lists the four children. However, Ashman was listed as AC. Hmmm........

No AC Henry surfaces again for awhile. Here's one in CA in 1880.
He's a banker. Since I don't know his wife's name, I can't say if he
is mine or not. More surfing needs to be done.

I know that Ashman had a sister who married a William REED. GOTCHA!
There he is-- a judge in Ohio. So I sent an inquiry to one of my
geni lists for help in Ohio. GOTCHA! Since he was a judge, there
was a really nice family bio in a history book of the county. In
this book, it mentions that Ashman had gone to CA. GOTCHA!

Now it's back to CA records. Now I look in earnest for AC and find
Ashmun C Henry- a banker who becomes the mayor of Oakland in 1883.
Now I will look for his descendants.

The kind volunteer geni in OH also provided the death date and
probate dates for Samuel, Ashman's father. Now I will search for a
way to get my hands on copies of those papers.

Got to shout "GOTCHA" from time to time. It's what keeps me
motivated in this unending quest to put flesh on the bones of my
ancestors. So, as you come up against your proverbial brick wall in
your own research, take a break. Look at another line. Come back
with an open mind and be willing to ask for help. Be willing to
assist others in their own quests. Be ready. One day, you will
shout "GOTCHA" and shake your house, too.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

The Story Tellers

We are the chosen. My feelings are in each family there is one
who seems called to find the ancestors. To put flesh on their bones
and make them live again, to tell the family story and to feel that
somehow they know and approve. To me, doing genealogy is not a cold
gathering of facts, but, instead, breathing life into all who have
gone before. We are the story tellers of the tribe. All tribes have
one. We have been called as it were, by our genes. Those who have
gone before cry out to us: Tell our story. So we do.

In finding them, we somehow find ourselves. How many graves have
I stood before now and cried? I have lost count. How many times
have I told the ancestors you have a wonderful family you would be
proud of us? How many times have I walked up to a grave and felt
somehow there was love there for me? I cannot say.

It goes beyond just documenting facts. It goes to who am I and
why do I do the things I do? It goes to seeing a cemetery about to
be lost forever to weeds and indifference and saying, I can't let
this happen. The bones here are bones of my bone and flesh of my
flesh. It goes to doing something about it. It goes to pride in
what our ancestors were able to accomplish. How they contributed to
what we are today. It goes to respecting their hardships and losses,
their never giving in or giving up, their resoluteness to go on and
build a life for their family.

It goes to deep pride that they fought to make and keep us a
Nation. It goes to a deep and immense understanding that they were
doing it for us

That we might be born who we are. That we might remember them.
So we do.

With love and caring and scribing each fact of their existence,
because we are them and they are us. So, as a scribe called, I tell
the story of my family. It is up that one called in the next
generation to answer the call and their their place in the long line
of family storytellers.

That is why I do my family genealogy, and that is what calls those
young and old to step up and put flesh on the bones.
Unknown Author

I just had to pass this along. Enjoy reading it. Enjoy learning who
you are.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

It's A Good Thing

Last month, you may recall I shared finding the obituary for my
cousin. I also wrote of how I was looking for my cousin's daughter.
I'm sorry to report the funeral home never bothered to send my
information on to the family. However, I have struck gold. I found

It's a good thing I don't cotton to holding my breath while waiting.
Otherwise, I could be struggling for breath. It's a good thing that
I know people in the Pittsburgh area. It's a good thing that several
kind souls offered to assist me. Some of these kind souls are grave
seekers, I mean, genealogists like me. Some of these kind souls
share my blood. Some closer than others.

Anyway, the emails were coming in. "I found seven possible suspects
for you." "Here are more names and phone numbers." "Here are the tax
records." So, I did what everyone who grew up awhile back does. I
let my fingers do the walking. They walked and dialed and got the
standard, "No, not me."

Until last week when the phone on the other end of the line rang. A
young man picked it up. I explained who I was, and for whom I was
searching. He said, "Who?" And then he said those wonderful words
we all long to hear, "Yes, that was her maiden name and her father
did die two years ago." I surprised they didn't hear my shout all
over Fayette County and all the way up to Allegheny County in PA.

This dear daughter and I talked for quite awhile. As I had
suspected, her father had not talked much about his family. And
who's to blame him? Not me. What I hope to give this dear cousin is
a sense of who her father's family was. While we were talking, and
while I was telling her the little tidbits of lore my father had
given me about her grandfather, she exclaimed, "My dad was just like

I've now sent her some tidbits of information and some old pictures.
I know she needs time to read it and try to piece the puzzles
together in her head. I've also given her some keys to her father's
past. It's a good thing. Next, I'll be able to share with her
stories of her paternal family. It's a good thing. We've got a neat
history. And I'm willing to share it.

I lost my father when I was in my 20s. He left this earth much too
soon for my liking. However, the connections I have made with his
family have given me pieces of him. I see his spirit, I see his
eyes, I see his sense of humor in my cousins. It's a good thing.

So, my new found cousin, you've got a great family waiting to
embrace you and tell you of your father's family. It's a good
thing. We hope you agree.

My advice to everyone? Don't give up in your personal searches for
your family. One day the phone may ring and someone will say, "Yes,
that's my family." It's a good thing.

Friday, August 31, 2007

It's Raining Kin

The forecast looks promising. Promising for those of us who have been
parched with thirst over the summer. The days where we could quench
our thirst have been few and far between. Is this a weather forecast
or a taste of genealogical research?

When I was younger and my dad's first cousins were still walking and
laughing among us, they took me to see my grandparents' graves. First
on our list was to find the graves. So, we stopped at the little white
house at the front of the cemetery, stepped inside and asked for
assistance. Old ledgers were pulled, dusted off, and I noticed my
paternal grandmother had bought four plots. These plots were adjacent
to the plots of her parents. Then a bolt of lightning went off in my
head. My eyes beheld a curious sight. A stranger's name burned up off
the pages. When asked about it, the red faced cemetery lady hemmed and
hawed, and could give me no explanation as to why someone I had never
heard of before was buried next to my grandmother. But my cousin
could. You see, he told me that there was a cousin of my grandmother
who had died and had nowhere to go. So, she allowed his burial in one
of her plots. Now I had to determine just who was this Austin M.
Brendel who died in 1935.

Census records uncovered his name was Austin McClain Brendel and he
was the son of my grandmother's aunt, Henrietta McClain Brendel. I
placed some queries and started my period of waiting for the droplets
of information to find me. A couple of years later, someone responded
that he thought Austin was his great uncle. We communicated, and I had
a flood of information pouring in.

It turns out Austin was working for the railroads in the mid to late
1920s. It appears he, with a lot of other unfortunate souls. lost most
everything during the crash of '29. He, like a lot of other
unfortunate souls, never recovered. He returned to Pittsburgh, his
wife divorced him and he died. Were it not for my grandmother, his
first cousin, we would not know of him nor of his fate. Thanks,
Isabel, for giving Austin and me rest. I also found his
great-granddaughter who tells me he was considered to be somewhat of a
lady's man in his time, thus the problems with his wife. We've even
uncovered the name of a daughter whose mother is not clear. Did he
have a daughter of which we were unaware? Did he remarry? Did he have
a child on the proverbial wrong side of the sheets? Time will tell.

I turn to the next cloud on the horizon. We hadn't found out whatever
happened to Henrietta. When did she die? Where was she buried? My
great-grandmother's obituary provided some clues. It looks like
Henrietta was living in Erie in 1919. Ok. My cousin contacted some
genealogical type folks up there and we waited, not unlike waiting for
some precipitation this summer. Yes, it was a long and dry wait.

Just this week, they were able to provide us with her last known
address in 1919. The next step will be to contact the state vitals
department, ship them some cash and give them a five year window in
which to search for her. The clues of Henrietta and her kin are
trickling in. Maybe one day, we'll have a storm of info. Until then,
I'll take whatever drops my way.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Back to Basics

Ring, Ring. Ah, the sound heard early in the morning that insists I
get moving. Ring, Ring. The sound that means my kids have to get up
and going. Ring, Ring. The sound that means getting back to school
and reviewing the basics. Ring, Ring.

It's also a good time to review the information I have collected in my
genealogy files. It's time to see if I can try once more to locate
some missing kin. Yet again, I am trying to find the grown, hopefully
breathing, children of a family member with whom all contact was lost
some 40 years ago. You know how it is. People don't stay put. The
military or jobs take people away. You get married, have kids, go to
soccer games, fall into bed exhausted at night. Our routine. And
sometimes the far away family gets forgotten. This is especially true
when a divorce occurs. Such is the case in my family.

My father left home, courtesy of World War II, and never moved back to
Pittsburgh. He settled in the south after he married his Charleston
sweetheart. I should add they met while he was in the Army and he was
in Charleston for his job. Ah, another story for another day.

Back to basics. His older brother, Bud, divorced his wife, left
Pittsburgh and moved to Seattle. The grandmother, who also relocated
to Seattle, kept in touch with his two boys. Upon her death, all
contact was lost. I knew the names of the boys and the approximate
years they were born. I even have pictures of them taken in the early
1950s. From time to time, when family members gathered, they wondered
whatever happened to them.

From time to time, when I was in Pittsburgh on business, I would try to
find these missing boys. The voice on the other end of the phone line
always said, "Not me." So I moved on to other lines. Years have
passed. Earlier this month, one of my geni friends asked me to try and
find these boys again.

This time, I did find one of them. To my dismay, it was an easy find.
You see, I found his obituary dated in 2005. I've lost him and I never
knew him. His obituary did provide me the names of his grown children.
Now I am on a mad hunt to locate them. I contacted the funeral home
and asked if I could be put in touch with them. The voice said, "No."
I asked the funeral home to send my info to the children, along with a
website address of my "family" cemetery in Pittsburgh. My goal was to
show them I was legit and I who I really am. After reviewing my info
and website, the funeral home has agreed to send my info to the
daughter, Cindy MILLER. Now I wait to hear from her.

I may wait a long time. Who knows what her father thought of his
father? Who knows what, if any, relationship they had? Who knows if
her father even knew of my presence in this world? Who knows if she
even cares? I hope to know and I hope to meet her.

It's time for going back to the basics. The basics of knowing your
roots- both living and dead.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Jewels in the Vault

I was on a mission. Pass through the guards, dig through the vault,
and find those jewels. I knew they had to be there- somewhere in the
vaults of the Fayette County Justice Center. I was joined on this
mission by a friend who has a much stronger interest in these jewels
than I do. They are her jewels, after all.

The jewels in this case are the old land deeds from the 1830s that we
uncovered in the vault. Fayette County has done a nice job in helping
to preserve these fragile, old documents. Each page has painstakingly
been placed in a protective sleeve. I only hope they are acid free and
they treated the pages as well. Otherwise, time may alter these
valuable documents. There are index books, both direct and indirect.
The Direct Index provides the transfer of land from grantor to grantee,
while the index lists the name of the grantee first. This is wonderful
for researchers as it allows you to look for potential purchase or sell
of land.

Once we located the names of interest in the Direct Index book, we
noted the deed book letter and page number. Glad we've worked out
lately as lifting those huge red books took some muscle!

From these documents, we discovered James Waldrop, one of the men we
were researching, had received his land from Cain Simpson. Cain
Simpson? Hmmm. So, it's off to the probate records to check on
marriage records and wills. No will was located for Cain Simpson but
we did find evidence of a marriage between a Waldrop and a Simpson. In
particular, a female Simpson. To be more exact, the land was given to
the male Waldrop. Ha- find the marriage record. Yes, they there are.
Married shortly after the land transfer. The logical conclusion is
the land was Cain's daughter's dowry.

Diamonds in the rough. What we uncovered still has to be polished up
and looked at closely. We noticed Cain Simpson paid taxes on land in
Putnam Co, GA, while living in Fayette Co. Guess who else came here
from the Putnam Co. area? Bingo. The Waldrop Family. After leaving
the vaults that day, we were able to find a marriage record in Jasper
Co, which neighbors Putnam Co. James and Mary Waldrop's daughter,
Bellana, married Elcanor Cain Simpson 20 Mar 1817. I think that
particular facet shines brightly now.

On our next excursion deep into the vault, I suspect we will uncover
some rubies. We plan to document the evidence on Elcanor Cain Simpson.
In addition, we hope to uncover more land deeds or marriage records.
Until that time, I'll keep polishing the diamonds we found to see if
they, too, can shine bright with information for us.

Enjoy your time searching for those family jewels. They're there- and
at this location, it's even air conditioned!!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The Census Taker's Home!

For all of you who have struggled with reading an old census!! Please
enjoy this "Afternoon Rocking" message by Jan Philpot.

The Census Taker's Home

Ever wonder why those censuses just don't add up sometimes? Well we
all have
"our days" when our world is topsy turvy and effects most everything
happens, and I figure a census taker did too. Of course he might not
realized just how far reaching the effects of his bad day might be…

Well, I'm surely glad to be home, that I am. I tell you another day
this one and I am good mind just to fill them papers out on memory and
be done
with it. Here, put these socks over there next to the fire to dry out,
you? Got down yonder this mornin and everyone in Household 451 through
486 was
gone. Some big shindig going on down there. Good thing the folks in
441 could
tell me who they all was. Here, reckon you could go over some of the
on this here page? Got smeared a bit in the rain. I think you can
cipher most
of it out.

Then them folks down in the holler got suspicious over a census. Said,
derned if they had a point, what difference did it make who they was?
Was them
guvment folks up in Warshington going to come down here to say howdy
do? So
they finally let me write down they last name and first initial, but I
they wuz havin a bit of fun with me when they listed who lived in the
Saw some winkin goin on and I believe I got the same house a youngins
in two
or three places. It been a day, woman. Honey, git that paper out of
mouth,will ya? I worked all day on that thing, and no call to let him
chewin it up.

Went up the river a piece and tried to get that done fore it come a
downpour, but run into trouble there too. Ole Man Jenkins curr dog run
me off and I
tell you, ain't no call to get eat up over such a thing as this. They
ort to
be a limit what a man does for his country. Was lucky man down the
road mostly
knew Jenkins was nigh on sixty years old and was living there with his
and five youngins from his first marriage plus a passel from the
second. We
give em good Christian names. Best be doin something bout this pen. It
out on me halfway through. See you havin trouble too. Johnny! Hand
that here,

And I tell you I would ruther fight grandpap's British than mess with
feller out on the ridge. He got out his shotgun soon as he seen me
comin and I
went t'other direction. Had Jones tell me about him instead, and he
rightly know the feller's first name. said they called him "Squirrel",
and it
was ok just to put that cause wasn't nobody around here claimin him no
and they for sure didn't want the guvment knowin there was any
That coffee done?

Then got over to Smiths, and ole Hoss was in a nervous fit so wasn't no
getting information there. His woman havin another youngin and he
looked like he
could run right through me when I went to askin how many youngins he had
now. Hightailed it out of there, and Miz Hart helped me straighten that
household out. Think we got most of the names straight, and as he has
had a youngin a
year for the last ten, ages purty close too. Now look what Johnny went

I tell you, next time this come around I ain't gonna be no where in
Farmin a heap easier, and I figger there folks round here what can
read and
write and cipher and ain't no good fer nothing else we can spare for
foolishness. Pass me another tater, will you?

Copyright ©2000JanPhilpot

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Tax The Whiskey?

The marshal shows up and wants to serve a warrant. Tempers flare.
Shots are fired. Someone is killed. Preachers say "Listen to your
government." Hard working farmers say, "Unfair taxation!" Wait, this
sounds familiar-- is this now or .........

213 years ago, in a little corner of southwestern Pennsylvania, tempers
flared. Why, that rascal Alexander Hamilton wanted to tax whiskey.
Not only did he want to tax whiskey, he also decided small distillers
had to pay more taxes per gallon than the larger distillers. It seems
his argument was the government needed to raise money to pay off its
debts. Hmmmmmppphhhhh- the locals say.

There were no good roads in the area so the farmers took their excess
grain and distilled it. Distilling it made it easier to transport down
the river to where it could be sold or bartered. The Rev. John McMillan
preached obedience to his congregations. These farmers, many of them
Scot-Irish who had just fought to rid the land of the tyranny of unfair
taxes, just couldn't believe Hamilton's audacity. They had just
assisted their neighbors in declaring and fighting for independence--
and now--- this! Unbelievable. These same men had little hard cold
cash. They used whiskey to barter for what they needed. The government
wanted hard cold cash.

The Federal Marshal arrived at the home of Oliver Miller in Allegheny
County, PA, in July 1794 to serve his warrant for the taxes. Several
stories say it was only accidental that a shot was fired, others say it
was on purpose. The government inspector, who lived in the
neighborhood, had his barn burned. Men were killed- on both sides.
President George Washington called out the troops, some 13,000 of them
to squelch the rebellion. Interesting fact is the troops could only
find 20 or so of the rebels. Plenty has been written on the Whiskey
Rebellion and I invite you to read some of the stories.

This story took on life for me as I was looking at wills one day in
Washington County, PA. Ta da! I found the evidence I needed. Yes, my
John HENRY had been married twice, as some histories proclaim. Yes, I
found the will of his father-in-law, John SMITH. And, I found the
names of the children of John SMITH. One was Mary MILLER, the wife of
James MILLER. So who was he? Further investigation revealed he was
the son of Oliver MILLER, the man on whose farm the first shot of the
Whiskey Rebellion was fired. Wow! So I launched my investigation into
the MILLER family to learn more of the rebellion. It's really quite
interesting. For me, it opened new doors.

Since that day, I have visited the museum homestead of Oliver MILLER,
which stands today in its original location in a beautiful park named
South Park in Allegheny Co. We also had the pleasure of having the
home opened to us for our own tour. To sit, stand and walk in the
rooms that my 3g and 4g grandparents did resulted in a powerful feeling
of family for me. What joy and sadness those rooms could tell, and my
bones could feel it all.

It's wonderful- digging into the past. I'll take them all: immigrants
of old, American Revolution Patriots, Whiskey Rebellion participants,
hard working men and women who shaped this country and me.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Remembering WWII veterans

I stumbled across this site and thought it would be of interest. The
National WWII Memorial in Washington DC lists those who were killed in
action and their burial sites. In addition, they offer a Registry of
Remembrances for all those who contributed to the war effort. Check it

Happy Hunting!!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Honor Thy Flag

Summer, the time of year my children love. It means sleeping late,
playing at the pool, and assisting in volunteer work. I'm a firm
believer that children need to learn about giving their time and
talents to helping others. My children are well versed in helping
others. My children have also had the added benefit of learning much
about their own heritage as they have assisted me in my genealogical

One child of mine recently volunteered in Fayette County by cleaning
off old graves at a neglected cemetery. The graves were cleaned so
they could be catalogued and digitized. As we wandered around this
old cemetery, we noted the presence of at least two of America's
soldiers. One was from the American Revolution and the other was from
the War of the Recent Unpleasantness. These men and their families
came to Fayette County after the Creek Indians ceded their lands to the
young American government.

Who were these families who helped to form Fayette County? One was the
James Waldrop family, who fought for the Virginia Colony during the
American Revolution. The other family, the James Bottoms Family, is
reputed to have bought land in the county in the 1840s. George, a
descendant of James Bottoms, is the other American Patriot who is
buried here. Both of these men fought for their flag. Both men were
willing to sacrifice everything they had for their flag. Both of these
men survived the wars and lived out their lives in Fayette County.

America's flag, our flag, has its own special day this week. June 14th
will mark the 230th anniversary of "Old Glory's" adoption by Congress.
Salute your flag and remember all of America's patriots and the
sacrifices they made. Pray for the safety of America's military today
as they fight to preserve the freedoms we enjoy. Remember, they fight
today in the hopes their children and grandchildren won't have to
fight. They fight today so their children and grandchildren can enjoy
sleeping late and playing at the pool.

Over the next several months, I will be looking into these two families
to see what we can learn from them. I'll be sure to keep you updated
so you, too, can learn about early Fayette County residents. In the
meantime, honor thy flag.

Happy Birthday "Old Glory".

Friday, May 25, 2007

Military Records For Memorial Day

As we approach Memorial Day and remember all of America's patriots, be
sure to take some time to look at largest collection of US Military
Records offered by The over 90 million names are
searchable and cover more than four centuries of our land and its

Included are the 1942-1945 military newsreels and The Stars and Stripes
newspapers. There are many more collections-- go see them and maybe,
find some kinsmen.

Through June 6- this collection is free to the public. I understand
the overwhelming demand for these records can make login a slow
process. Take your time. I also understand that some of the quality
of the newsreels is suspect, but the closeups are wonderful.

Just thought I'd pass this on--- no connection other than a love of
our country and a deep appreciation for all of her Armed Forces men and

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Eastman's Newsletter: Important announcement by FamilySearch

An announcement has been made by Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter
and I thought I'd pass it on. This has the potential to assist
millions of us in our efforts. I have no affiliation- just passing on
selected excerpts from the announcement. Please visit for
the complete announcement and commentary.
> FamilySearch Unveils Program to Increase Access to World's
> Genealogical Records
> Tidal Wave of Online Databases Will Result
> SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH-FamilySearch announced today its Records Access
> program to increase public access to massive genealogy collections
> worldwide. For the first time ever, FamilySearch will provide free
> services to archives and other records custodians who wish to
> digitize, index, publish, and preserve their collections. The program
> expands FamiliySearch's previously announced decision to digitize and
> provide online access to over 2 million rolls of copyrighted microfilm
> preserved in the Granite Mountain Records Vault. A key component of
> the program allows FamilySearch and archives to team with genealogy
> websites to provide unprecedented access to microfilm in the vault.
> The combined results ensure a flood of new record indexes and images
> online at and affiliated websites.
> For archives and heritage societies, the new program benefits include:
> Digitally capture, preserve, and publish records online
> Increase access to records while maintaining control and ownership
> Increase patronage and business viability
> Over 100 years of archival and publishing experience
> For genealogy websites, the new program helps them:
> · Benefit from the knowledge and relationships of FamilySearch with
> the archival community worldwide
> · Significantly lower costs associated with acquiring, preserving, or
> providing access to data
> · Increase business viability and website traffic
> · Leverage an open platform that develops value-added services around
> FamilySearch, the world's largest repository of genealogical data.
> FamilySearch will announce the first collaborative projects of its new
> Records Access program during the National Genealogical Society (NGS)
> Convention in Richmond, Virginia, the week of May 14, 2007. Many more
> project announcements are expected in the following months.
> Record custodians and archives that would like additional information
> regarding the FamilySearch Records Services can contact Wayne Metcalfe
> ( and genealogy web service providers
> should contact Dave Harding (
> FamilySearch (historically known as the Genealogical Society of Utah)
> is a nonprofit organization sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of
> Latter-day Saints. FamilySearch maintains the world's largest
> repository of genealogical resources accessed through
>, the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, and
> over 4,500 family history centers in 70 countries.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Remember Mama

All across America, mothers wake up on this day, Mother's Day, with
hugs and kisses from their young children. Breakfast is lovingly and
painstakingly made by little hands. Gifts and cards may be store
bought or handmade. What means the most is the love. Remember mama.

It was a usual sight for a visitation the night before a funeral. The
proverbial old ladies sitting next to the casket while family members
and friends mingled, hugged, and shed tears of sadness. Such was the
scene at the recent funeral of my mother's sister, the last of their
generation to leave us. While it was a sad occasion and many tears
fell, there was also laughter to be heard. People remembered my aunt
with love and laughter. And most of all, they remembered mama.

The visitation room in which my aunt lay at the Charleston funeral home
was built by my grandfather, Sebastian Cabot Poston. The funeral
director was most anxious that the family know this-- and know that
they remembered my family. What a comfort it was for the family to
know his daughter was in a place he had known well and lovingly built
about 50 years ago.

I introduced myself to the old ladies in attendance as Louise's
sister's child. Ears perked up, eyes glistened, and these beautiful
gentile women spoke lovingly to me. They knew my name, and they
remembered mama. While my mother has been gone for many a year, they
brought her back to me that night. They spoke of the times when they
were all young girls together. They made my laugh and cry.

These same women sat directly behind me at my aunt's funeral and spoke,
yet again, of my mother and the past. At the reception after the
service, I had a blessing bestowed on me. People remembered mama. And
it was all with love in their voices. They remembered my grandmother
and spoke of her love for her Lord and gave me more memories which are
now in my heart.

I remember mama. I remember the unconditional love, the way she
couldn't tell a joke, the way she and my dad would waltz, the times
when I thought her rules were way too strict, her love of God, her love
of family, her unfailing support of her children and her husband, the
way my head and heart felt when I rested on her shoulder, the way she
taught us to live, and the way she taught us how to die. Oh yes, I
remember mama.

Why do I get a kick out of genealogy? It's my way to preserve the
history of the family. It's my way to see how my ancestors lived.
It's my way to try and understand the sacrifices made by our ancestors
so we may flourish. It's been my blessing to see how much faith has
been a part of the family. It's my way to teach my children.

Oh yes, I remember mama. And through me, my children are given a
strong sense of who they are and who she was. Oh yes, I remember mama.
I miss her terribly but her love is with me always. Yes, I remember

Thursday, April 26, 2007

No Such Luck

Fairy tales. Isn't that the definition for genealogy without
documentation? Sometimes, you can't prove a line conclusively, but you
can show overwhelming evidence to support what you think is true. I'm
starting on a new journey into one of my lines. It will be a difficult
task and will take time. So, I've come to the brilliant conclusion to
include you in my search for the facts.

I have the death certificate for my greatgrandmother on which her
mother's maiden name is listed. I have made contact with a distant
cousin who is descended from one of the mother's siblings. Now to
prove what we think is right.

My cousin has graciously supplied me with some wills and old pages in
the handwriting of his ancestors. This information is great and will
lead me to the correct areas to search for more clues. Together, we
have documented the family in the 1850, 1860 and 1870 Federal Census.
The first hurdle which I have yet to overcome is the death date of the
mother. She is living with her widowed mother in 1850, marries before
1860, is listed in 1860, and is absent in 1870. Did she die? Could
she have died in childbirth as the youngest child was born just before
the census? The rest of the family is listed with her husband. Hmmmm..
Ok-- maybe she died.

Another day, another puzzling discovery. I have in my possession a
letter from 1898 in which the author tells my above mentioned
greatgrandmother that she, the author, had "promised your mama I would
write to you." Hmmm. Your mama? Since I know her father did not
remarry, is it possible she was still alive? But where? The family is
all there in the Pittsburgh area.

I have searched high and low for years now for proof of her death, or
even proof she could have been alive in 1898. No such luck. I have
tried to check the local TB sanitariums to see if she was an inmate
there. Either the lists are unavailable or incomplete. No help there.
I have looked in the local newspapers for an obit. No such luck. I
have checked the church which the majority of the family attended. No
such luck. I have tried the cemetery where her descendants and
siblings are buried. No luck there. I haven't found any burial site
for her husband, who died in an 1849 cholera outbreak. So many people
died so quickly that there may have been no marked grave.

I have even found a picture of her sister-in-law and her brother in our
family Bible. I know the names are right--- the census backs me
up,but where is she?

Right now, I am at a loss. I keep looking. Perhaps, one day, you will
hear me shout joyfully as I say, "Told you so."

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Titanic Passenger List

Just thought I'd pass this on--

Right now, the passenger list for the RMS Titanic is digitized and
online!! There is no charge to view this list for a very limited time.

Go to: to view the list.


Thursday, April 12, 2007

An Interesting Site to See

A genie friend of mine just sent a site that is currently offering some
war casualty databases at no cost for a limited time. I thought this
could be of value to some of you. Keep in mind the free offer is only
good for about another week.

Included in this offer are:
Army Casualties 1956-2003
US Korean Casualties 1950-1957
Vietnam Casualties 1956-1998
WWII Prisoners of War 1941-1946

Just passing it on.

Monday, April 09, 2007

The Morning Routine

The morning routine. Don't you just love it? Part of my morning
routine includes going online and checking my email. I have to admit I
do have the tendency to check the postings from one of the genealogy
sites to which I subscribe before I check the daily chatter from
friends and family.

The other morning as I sat drinking my morning caffeine, I saw the
daily obituary posting on one of these sites. Before we get morbid,
let me explain that these postings are the work of a very dedicated
lady in the Pittsburgh area who has access to a local paper from the
1890-1930ish time frame. Everyday, she painstakingly transcribes
articles of genealogical interest. Over time, Victoria has posted
tidbits, which reach out and grab my attention.

Just last week, her post was from Nov. 1, 1907. The part that caught
my eye read "Mrs. Joseph REED and Mrs. Jennie SMALL attended the
funeral of Mrs. GLENN in Carnegie." WOW!! That one small sentence
started me on a mission, which in the space of a few days has led me to
identify someone else's collateral line, which collides with my own.

I am related to the GLENN family from Carnegie. I knew who Mrs. GLENN
was who died in 1907. She was the wife of William James GLENN
(1839-1908), my 2nd cousin 3 times removed. So, now I had to look for
the identities of the other two ladies. I contacted Victoria who sent
me yet another obituary- this time for Jennie SMALL. By using this
obituary and the census records, I found her!! Jennie SMALL
(1857-1927) was the daughter of Robert SMALL and Nancy CUBBAGE. Nancy
CUBBAGE was the aunt of Mrs. Martha E DOOLITTLE GLENN, through Martha's
mother, who was a CUBBAGE. Confusing, isn't it. But wait, there's
more to this story.

I let Victoria know I had nailed down the identity of Jennie SMALL.
Upon doing so, another researcher contacted me and asked if I knew who
her Mary CUBBAGE's parents were. By checking the probate records and
the earlier research posted at the St. Clair Cemetery site, I was able
to deduce that Mary CUBBAGE's parents were most likely James
CUBBAGE(1777-1854) and Jane GILFILLAN(1784-1861). I passed along the
information I had—and-- bingo--- another successful hit!! Now this
other researcher has a whole new bloodline to search. The bonus is that
it collides with my own bloodline.

This morning as I drank my morning caffeine, Victoria made yet another
posting. This time it was from February 1907 and it mentioned that the
daughter of the deceased was a Mrs. John CUBBAGE. More time spent
digging in the census records led me to determine that this John
CUBBAGE was indeed the great-grandson of George CUBBAGE and Nancy
CALDWELL. Oh yes, the same George CUBBAGE and Nancy CALDWELL that were
the parents of Nancy CUBBAGE SMALL and of Sarah CUBBAGE DOOLITTLE.

The clues are there. Just take the time to absorb them and let them
lead you to other finds. The morning routine sometimes just isn't so
routine after all.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Nova Scotia Releases Some Early Records

This is from another site to which I belong. Perhaps it will be of
value of to you in your genealogy quest.


The following was released to the press on 27 March 2007:

FamilySearch News Release
27 March 2007

One Million Historical Names from Canada Go Online

Nova Scotia Releases Early Birth, Marriage, and Death Records

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH-Early vital records of Nova Scotia, Canada, are
viewable over the Internet for the first time and for free, thanks to a
joint project by the Genealogical Society of Utah, FamilySearch, and the
Nova Scotia Archives and Records Management (NSARM). The records
include one
million names found in birth records from 1864 to 1877, marriages from
to 1930, and death records from 1864 to 1877 and 1908 to 1955. Users can
search the database at www.novascotiagenealogy,com

Nova Scotia is the first province in Canada to digitize all of its
historical vital statistics and make them available online. "This
provides key information to researchers on their ancestors," said
Genealogical Society of Utah regional manager Alain Allard. "It
involves the
vital records-births, marriages, and deaths-which are a key record set
find, identify, and link ancestors into family units."

The Genealogical Society of Utah (GSU) first microfilmed most of Nova
Scotia's vital records back in the 1980s. In 2005, GSU used FamilySearch
Scanning to convert those microfilms to digital images, while at the
time capturing additional vital records with a specially designed
camera. Volunteers for the Nova Scotia Archives then used the images to
create the searchable electronic index, which was completed in 2006.

Anyone can now search names in the index and view a high quality digital
copy of the original image online for free at NSARM's Web site,
www.novascotiagenea In the near future, the index and images
also be available on FamilySearch. org. Researchers who want to obtain
official copy of a record can do so online through the Nova Scotia
The cost will be CAN$9.95 for an electronic file and CAN$19.95, plus
shipping and taxes, for paper copies.

Nova Scotia Provincial Archivist, W. Brian Speirs, said the cooperation
GSU was crucial to this important project. "Without the Genealogical
of Utah offering in the early days of the project to provide
digitization of all the records as their contribution to the
initiative, the
proposed undertaking would have been dead in the water and gone
Speirs said.

FamilySearch is the public channel of the Genealogical Society of Utah
(GSU), a nonprofit organization sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ
Latter-day Saints. FamilySearch maintains the world's largest
repository of
genealogical resources accessed through FamilySearch. org, the Family
History Library in Salt Lake City, and over 4,500 family history
centers in
70 countries.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

NARA, Please Keep Prices in Our Reach

The National Archives and Records Administration is ready to blast their fee schedule up to the moon.

The last price increase was in 2000. According to the site,, NARA is proposing a price hike. This could be detrimental to many who use the records in their genealogy quest. NARA has invited interested parties to make comments by April 27, 2007, by either fax, mail or through the Federal eRulemaking Portal:

While all of their prices appear to be on the launch pad, the biggest increase is scheduled for complete pension files more than 75 years old. The current price is $37, while the proposed price could be as much as $125.00.

Please voice your opinion to NARA by the deadline. In my opinion, perhaps a more modest price increase would be a better approach.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Spring Green

Ah…. Spring is finally here. The sun warms my face. The trees are
starting to sport their new colorful coats, my daylilies are poking
their new leaves out of the ground, and the mailman delivers a green
envelope to my mailbox.

Yes, a green envelope brightens up the day at our house, much like a
warm spring day. It means we have new letters from our Swedish
cousins! The last green envelope held even more surprises for me. My
cousin, Vanja, had contacted somebody in Sweden and asked for some
information on her great grandfather. Now, since I don't speak
Swedish, I don't have any clue as to whom she contacted. No matter as
the paperwork mailed to me has the sources listed. The end result is
new family information for me.

Vanja's great grandfather, Jonas Petter Gustafsson, is the brother of
my great grandmother, Anna Lovisa Osterberg. One may ask why they have
different surnames. In the old country and up until the 20th century,
Swedish children were known by their middle name and their surname
would be the middle name of the father. Boys would take the middle
name of their father with the suffix "son" added, while girls would add
the suffix "dotter". When Anna Lovisa immigrated to the United States
in 1879, she used the surname Osterberg. Osterberg was the surname of
her father, Carl Gustaf Larsson, when he worked in the King's Palace
with the horses.

There's a funny thing about doing research in other countries. Their
customs seem so foreign to us. It was common for the government in
Sweden to assign a new surname to a boy when they reached adulthood.
My guess is it helped identify them as they joined the King's service.
Those who have done a great deal of research in Sweden have also told
me, that upon reaching adulthood, the person could be allowed to choose
a new surname. Boy, oh boy, does that make searching for ancestors

Back to my green envelope and its contents. Inside were several pages
of helpful facts. Helpful, that is, if one can read Swedish. I could
make out a few items like his name and date of birth. Other entries
were a mystery. So I did what every good researcher does during a time
of crisis. I contacted an American cousin of mine who just happens to
live in Sweden and asked her to translate for me.

Now the pages of information warm my heart. In them, I have the places
of birth, dates of moving out of a parish, marriage dates, death dates,
cause of death, etc. In the event any of you are in need of the 1936
Inflyttningsbok for Bo forsamling , pp 57-58, contact me. I've got
them and am willing to share the information contained.

So, bring on the spring. And please Mr. Postman, please keep bringing
me those delightful green envelopes.

Monday, February 26, 2007

You're Related to President WHO?

There we were. Some of my dedicated distant cousins offered to go the
Carnegie Library with me while we were on an expedition to Pittsburgh.
I thought this would be fun. Together we could uncover more than I
would be able to do alone. Indeed, we did.

One beloved cousin, the one whose eyes remind me of my father, found a
book in the card file. He pulled the book and I thought who is this?
It started out with what looked like the correct information and then
it went off on a tangent about the White House and the 15th President
of the United States being an uncle. Hmm.. Can't be mine.... never
heard this before. But, as any good researcher, I copied a couple of
pages and put it in my files, just in case I wanted to look at it in
the future.

And then, one day, I really wanted to look at that book again. While
looking at some records on microfilm from the LDS library, I noticed a
statement about President James BUCHANAN's sister, Harriet. Hmm..
That name looked familiar. I had an uncle who had married a Harriet
BUCHANAN, daughter of James BUCHANAN and Elizabeth SPEER. Hmmm...
Wait a minute. President BUCHANAN's parents were James and Elizabeth.
Ok. Check the dates, and check the racing pulse. Yes, here it is.
Harriet E. BUCHANAN(1802-1840) married a Presbyterian minister by the
name of Robert HENRY, a son of my 4th great grandfather. And, yes, he
died early leaving one child, James Buchanan HENRY(1833-1915). Now
that book is a gold mine for me. By using the genealogy found in that
book, I was able to track down a living descendant of Robert and
Harriet. BINGO!!! And this wonderful new cousin was kind enough to
send me even more family history, which has led me to several more

President James BUCHANAN is listed in history books as spending much
time with his sister and brother-in-law. Upon their deaths, this
bachelor took in their one child and raised him, along with another
orphaned niece. James Buchanan HENRY became his uncle's private
secretary while he was in office. I also went to a site online about
President BUCHANAN and found mention of his brother-in-law, Rev. Robert
HENRY. Yet a statement there has led me to another brick wall. The
information states that President BUCHANAN purchased a slave from the
family of his brother-in-law Rev. HENRY, from Shepherdstown. I have
family there? Who is it? I regret that, to date, I have yet to
identify this alleged Virginia relation to my family. My inquires to
that area have sent me off looking at slaves with the name of HENRY.
So far, no one can tell me the name of the slave purchased by President
BUCHANAN or the name of the seller. But I shall continue to search. I
would suspect the surname would be HENRY or MCMILLAN. One day, with
patience and a lot of luck, I will uncover this name. In the meantime,
I just have to be satisfied that I am related by marriage to President
BUCHANAN and also by blood through another one of my lines, the
BUCHANAN who was my 5th great grandfather in Lancaster Co, PA.

Yep, I've got ties to the White House. Pretty neat in my book.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Digging Up The Family

Over the years, I have spent a considerable amount of time digging up
the family. Every time we go past a cemetery, my children ask, "Who do
we have buried here?" Yes, my children are used to playing in
cemeteries while I search for familiar names or sketch out locations of
family plots. They have even been responsible for uncovering a name
plaque of a long ago infant cousin.

One of the first steps you should take in digging up the family in a
cemetery is to research the area your family resided in. Look at their
religious preference and look at the available churches at that time.
For example, in the Pittsburgh area in the 1800-1806 time frame, there
are only three church cemeteries for me to choose from when searching
for family. It wasn't until 1806 that the church cemetery opened which
is now the final resting spot for many of my kin.

I just spent some time this week in looking at those three early
cemeteries. People researching the Pittsburgh area are blessed to have
several faithful genealogists who go and survey the local cemeteries,
and there is a central site online to go search for your names. The
downside to this is the lack of extremely old headstones which have
survived. I am fortunate to have in my possession a survey of one of
these cemeteries from 1940. The online list was performed by a boy
scout troop in 2000. Sixty years is a long time for weathering and
vandalism to occur. Many of my early family names are not listed on
the recent survey. So, I took my older survey and sent some names to
the online list. After all, if one is new to searching for cemeteries
online, and doesn't realize these surveys are not complete nor official
lists, one could easily think their kin are not there. It can take
input from many dedicated researchers to get a more complete list.
Unfortunately, should the church not have the records from long ago,
many people buried there are unlikely to be identified.

Another comment about online cemetery surveys is they put them in
alphabetical order. That does make a name search easier and it is
easier on the person maintaining the list. The inherent concern is
you have the opportunity to miss some names. If I had just looked at
the alphabetical names for HENRY, I would see several. What I would
miss are the names of others buried in their plots with them or
adjacent to their plots. Once again, many early families who were all
members of the same church would have their plots adjacent to one
another. Or, they could have buried their grandparents with them. An
example of this is the plot of Col. James GLENN of the Civil War. In
his plot are his DORRINGTON grandparents. A name I would have never
known had I not gone to the cemetery and seen this. The DORRINGTONS
were on the alphabetical list, yet I would have completely overlooked

My suggestion to you is to contact the faithful keeper of the list and
ask them if they have a survey of the cemetery as it was read. Many
researchers do retain a copy of this, especially when they also take
digital pictures of all the headstones. Another suggestion is to check
old genealogical society journals from the region. On the other two
old cemeteries we have looked at today, one of them has a survey
performed in 1926 published in a Pennsylvania journal. How exciting to
see this survey was printed in the order the researcher wrote them
down. Other clues suddenly emerge on names to look into.

Check online, check regional journals, check the old churches and local
written histories. Then go to the cemetery to see who is buried where.
Your kin will speak to you through the type of stone, stone patterns
and locations. However, it you are like me, they won't even get up or
bake you a cake. Even when you've come hundreds of miles to see them!!
Happy Digging.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Whirlwinds of Genealogy

The weather forecast is grim. Watch for the possibility of severe
weather. How many times have we heard that to find a gentle rain
follows? Then again, how many times has it been true? Just like
genealogy research.....

I had been in a severe drought when it came to finding more information
on the family from the late 1700s. I had faithfully planted my seeds
of inquiry months, sometimes years ago. Then all of a sudden, there
was a whirlwind of activity. Not unlike the rapid development of the
recent violent weather in our area. The wind was blowing, and this
time, it uncovered another line for me.

I had placed an inquiry on a site used by many other faithful genealogy
information seekers about two years ago. The announcement finally
came. There was a response waiting for me. My heart thumping, I read
the response. There she was. Another daughter of my 4g grandfather
has a descendant who is interested in the family. We exchanged emails,
verified that each of us was indeed searching the correct family, and
talked. She had photos and letters to send me. There was even a
letter from the 1880s. I, in turn, had documentation for her. What a
joyful reunion of the family 200 years later.

Another story of a time when the whirlwinds died down. I placed an
inquiry recently in Ohio for information on a sibling of one of my 4g
grandmothers. My hope is I would find a descendant who knew something
of her. Her father died in 1795 leaving a widow and eight children.
Thanks to the orphan's court records, I have documented who her
siblings were. Now to find them. I found a man named Jesse Matthews
in OH who indeed had been born in PA during the right time frame of
1781-1794. I now have his son's names. Unfortunately, at this time,
it appears I am the only one searching for him. If and when I locate
his family, I still don't know if they will have any information on his
parents or siblings. My next step is to try and follow the land. The
father had 300 acres of land in Pittsburgh when he died. I will have
to find someone to go to the courthouse for me and look at land deeds
for that particular parcel. Sometimes, the land is deeded to
grandchildren. Sometimes, it is sold. Perhaps in time, I will
resurrect this particular information storm.

Genealogy takes time. The research times dedication. Be patient.
Plant your seeds and wait. Perhaps the whirlwind of new family
information will blow across your radar. When it does, follow the
leads. Check the land records. Find descendants of the siblings your
early family had. You may be pleasantly surprised. And until then,
may you have a gentle rain of information falling into your family