St Clair Cemetery, Mt Lebanon, Allegheny Co, PA

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Friday, January 25, 2008

Who Dat?

Sometimes, digging around for the clues on family history is fun.
Sometimes, it can give even me a headache.

I recently received an email from one of my cousins who spends more
time researching the family than I do. I know, you probably didn't
think it was possible. This cousin is a doll and we've even
published an article together. By popular demand, this article is
going into a reprint this summer.

This cousin writes and asks, "Who is this?" She was looking at a
census and found a name we've never seen before. So, she sent it to
me. I looked at the census and am not quite sure I agree with the
translation of the name, but nonetheless, there sits another child.
Another child? Who dat?

William HENRY (1789-1849) married Zebiah MIDDLESWARTH (1797-1872) in
the county in which they were both born and raised. They stayed
there and had seven children. Those are known facts. We can
document this. We can document the names of the children, their
dates of birth, their spouses, their dates of death, and their final
resting places. I've visited most of them.

Now, why are we finding another child in the 1850 census? Not only
is he another child, he has a name that, to date, has not been seen
in the family before this time. Kinda unusual in the old Scot-Irish
naming traditions. And, this child, allegedly named Joshua, is not
found in any of the orphans court proceedings when daddy William
dies. All of the other children, who are still minors, have their
uncle, my 3rd great grandfather, named as their guardian in court
records. This alleged Joshua is also not listed in daddy's will.
Curious. Think he would have been.

I have found a Joshua HENRY who lived in the county, but not too
close to the family, who died around 1845 or so. He did leave a son
Joshua, but his named guardian is not someone that I know.

I looked around and noticed one of Zebiah's sisters, Mary, had a
husband who died in 1844. Court records show guardians were named
for six of their nine children. What were the names of the other
three children? Don't know.

Another curious thing about that 1850 census. The handwriting on the
original census is difficult to read. It LOOKS like the head of the
family is Mary HENRY? We know the head of this family is named
Zebiah. However, all the children listed, save the alleged Joshua,
are those known children of William and Zebiah. Could Zebiah have
been gone for a time? Could Zebiah have left her sister, Mary, in
charge of taking care of the younger children? Another clue
surfaces. In the court records for the children of William HENRY,
the children are listed as having very little financial worth. This
leads one to believe that Zebiah didn't get too much when he died.
In the 1850 census, this alleged head of household Mary HENRY has a
net worth of $20,000. Hmmm. Did Zebiah remarry? No. She is buried
with William and most of their children. Note, there is no Joshua
here either.

Another thought runs through my head as I try to piece it all
together. William and Zebiah had a son, William, who died in
February 1850 as a result of scarlet fever. Could Zebiah have been
gone for awhile taking care of others? Could she have had a bout of
it and not been able to take care of her own children? Would the
census taker think that Mary's last name was HENRY, the children in
the household had that surname?

I don't know the answers. These are all possibilities for me to
consider. I think I need to find the complete estate file of William
to see if there is any mention of another child in it. I am still
leaning that this Joshua was not a natural born child, but rather one
they took in and cared for upon his parent's demise. Hopefully, I'll
find the proof I need so I can rest easy. I just find it unsettling
when there are unanswered questions lingering around the air.

Who dat? I don't know. I hope to know soon.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Get Ready for the Tax Man

I'm always digging around to find more evidence of my ancestors.
Recently, I was looking at some old estate records from 1864. I find
it rather interesting that one bed, one pillow, and one blanket would
be listed as belonging to the deceased. Especially since his wife
has been reported dying the month before he did. I still need to
confirm her date of death. Tis a pity her headstone is not listed as
being with the family. Now, she was his second wife and they were
married only about 30 years. So you would think she'd be there with
the family. Two of the three children they had are buried at the
cemetery, although there are no remaining headstones. Their third
child died in New York, I believe. In fact, dear cousins, if you
know where Addison HENRY is buried, please let me know. I know his
widow and child are listed as living in Galway, New York.

To complicate matters, Grandpa James's first wife was also named
Sara. And their children are most definitely buried in adjoining
plots. Ahh, another day.

Anyway, in looking at James estate details, I find there are several
monetary notes listed. Back in 1864, about $10,000 was a lot of
money to have loaned to people. One note was to his son and the
other note was to a name I don't recognize. Guess I should look at
that name and see if I can determine any reason why Grandpa would
have loaned money to a potential non-relative.

The estate file also contains a sworn document from a son-in-law of
James in which he states he heard James say repeatedly that his bed
and bedding were to be equally divided by his daughters who had
remained in the area. My first question is how does one divide one
bed and one pillow? Guess they got that all straightened out.

One of his sons- in-law was the attorney of record for the estate.
Convenient for everyone. In this file, I also found a statement from
the Tax Collector's Office from 1869. The paper was to the United
States for Internal Revenue. The items on the tax bill are for
income, Billiard Tables for private use, carriages, plates and gold
watches. So way back when, the government wanted to know if you had
a gold watch, and if so, it appears you would have had to pay tax on
it. Of course, who would have guessed that a billiard table, of all
things, would be considered tax worthy by the federal government.

My suggestion of the day is to look at everything. Look at the
actual files in the estate. Don't just look at an abstract. You
could miss something vital. Also, take time to look at the local tax
records. Who knows. Maybe you'll find something that is time worthy
in your search.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Happy Anniversary

Today is etched into my memory. Tis the day my parents were married,
oh, so many years ago. As you are looking into your family history,
don't neglect to talk with the living. I remember my mother telling
me stories about her wedding. I remember her telling me stories
about the family.

Write these stories down for those who will follow in your shoes.
Write these stories down and pass them on to your children, and to
the family story teller in your life. What gems these become for the
children, the grandchildren, and for the future. Let your
descendants know how you laughed, you cried, you lived and loved.

As for my dad's thoughts about his marriage, he once told me he never
considered divorcing my mother. Murder, perhaps. But never
divorce. My dad was a man who truly loved and respected his wife.
What a great legacy for me and mine.

What a great legacy you too can share.

So, Happy Anniversary to my dear parents. I only wish I could tell
you in person. Just know I remember. I remember the love, the
laughter, the tears. And I am writing down your stories of the past
for the future.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Genealogy for beginners

I spent some time today wandering around one of the subscription
services looking for the residence of one of the widows in my
family. Mary Emma became a widow in 1869, when her husband, the
younger brother of my 2g grandmother, died while on a trip to the
Holy Land. We're now investigating the boat Uncle Bob was on when he
went on his journey. If we are correct, there may have been contact
with a really cool famous American author on it. One of my cousins
has promised to dig up the letter he has from Uncle Bob's trip.

Thanks to my newly in real time met cousin, I have documentation from
1872 indicating Mary Emma was living in Mt Washington, Allegheny,
PA. So far, the census records have not been helpful. I guess I'm
going to have to send for her obit. I know, from other sources, that
she slipped and died in the bathtub. I just recently found she died
in 1918. So, more clues to follow. Another day, another clue.

Have you been infected with the overwhelming desire to find out more
about your grandma or grandpa? If you need some instructions on
getting started, there is a free Intro to Genealogy class on the
internet. I haven't taken it so I can't say if it is really worth it
or not. If you are interested, check out the
site. And if you do take it, let me know if you found it helpful.

In the meantime, I'll keep looking for more information on Mary Emma
as well as all the other slippery kin in my story.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Got An Itch?

First, let me give credit where it is due. Bob, my delightful cousin
from the last posting, said, "You really raise some genealogical
"itches" with your writings!"

I've never really thought of genealogy as an "itch," but it sure is
one! The best way to fix that "itch" is to scratch. Scratch around
the old files and find new clues.

Yesterday, someone led me to a posting about George Washington's
early PA lands. The author recounted how a docent at Mount Vernon
talked about Washington selling some of his PA holdings when he
needed some money for Mount Vernon after the Revolution. This led a
descendant of one of the men involved with Washington's selling of
the land to show an old article which is a second hand account heard
from some of the participants.

Not only does this article talk about the events surrounding
Washington's claim to the land, he also talks about some of the
participants coming to America. Change the names and you've got my
family. Now, I wonder if I need to research their story even more.
In the article, the author gives a point of departure from Ireland as
well as a date. He also gives the point of entry into the colonies.
The time frame and location fit my family. I think I will now look
to see if I can find a manifest of any ship coming or going at that
time. Who knows-- this could be a break for which I have been
searching for a number of years.

If you want to read the article, let me know and I'll direct you to
it. It was first presented in Ohio in 1929. The descendant has
been in direct communication with me as I was able to tell him that
I, too, have an ancestor who was on the wrong side of the George
Washington land claim. We're now trying to determine if we share
some kin. We certainly shared land up in PA in the 1780s. He has
some REED kin that he hasn't really delved into yet. I have REED kin
as David REED b. 1774 did marry an aunt of mine. Oh, by the way, it
was some of David REED's elders, conveniently named David as well,
who were also involved in the Washington land claim. I even hear
there is a historical marker on the site when Washington came to
dinner at David REED's to discuss the issue at hand.

I'll dig up the details from the Washington land claim so you can
read them. It really is interesting to review.

In the meantime, let me go scratch my itch and learn more about some
early ship arrivals into this great land of ours.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Could Have Talked All Day

What a great find! What fun we had!

I had the pleasure of spending yesterday with a cousin. A cousin who
I just met real time. We've known each other by email for over three
years now. We laughed, we talked, we shared documents and old
pictures. He and his wife, who live in Texas part time, brought a
notebook with some old papers in it. How amazing it was for me to
touch, and more importantly, make copies of the notebook. The names
I know and love were there. I was able to glean some more
information I had not previously seen.

He unknowingly gave me a mission when he pulled out a beautiful
memoriam book from 1884 with a name inscribed and said, "We don't
know who she is." Well, we'll find her and give her a home. We'll
remember her.

After Bob left, I spent hours happily going through the information
he brought and entering new finds into my genealogy program. No
matter how cold it was outside, I was all warm and fuzzy inside.

Now to find the mysterious Kate I NEELY. In reading the booklet,
which was produced by the Presbyterian Minister who gave her eulogy,
I found some clues. I found the name of the minister, the name of
the church and started my search. The Rev. E R Donehoo was minister
of the Eighth Presbyterian Church in the West End. At times in the
1800s, this area was also known as Chartiers and as Temperanceville.

There are other clues as to the mysterious Kate in the eulogy. It
would appear she was unmarried as the good Reverend repeats a
statement her father made to him when he arrived at the home of the
newly departed on that fateful day, August 27. We know she was at
least 13 years old in 1884. That's a start. In looking at the
church history, we can determine E R Donehoo began preaching at the
Temperanceville Church in 1869. Donehoo also mentions he had known
the lovely Kate for over ten years. This leads me to believe her
family lived in the neighborhood.

By going back and checking the 1880 census for the neighborhoods
surrounding Temperanceville, we find a James W NEELY b. abt 1807
(and d. 1891) whose youngest child is named Kate. Kate was born abt
1859. I think this is my mysterious Kate.

How does she relate to my cousin? He has a grandpa, Jonathan NEELY
who married my 3g- aunt. To our knowledge, Jonathan, b. 1812, was
born in the same general locale at James W. They are of an age to be
brothers. Confusion. Jonathan's father, Watson, is reputed to have
been born in Ireland, while James W.'s father is reported to have
been born in PA. Hmmm.

James W, has a son whom he names, James Watson NEELY. The son
becomes a physician in 1875, and no doubt, attended the deaths of
both his mother, Amelia McMichael NEELY, and his sister, Kate.

In searching further, I found where a James NEELY b. 1782 came to
America from Ireland at the age of 6 and settled in the area at which
both Jonathan and James W were born.

I do believe at this point that James W and Jonathan were either
brothers or first cousins. More research is needed to clarify the

However, I have found the burial place for our mysterious Kate. Her
tombstone with the dates of 1856-1884 is with the James W NEELY
family out at another one of the cemeteries where I have loads of
kin--- the Montours Presbyterian Cemetery in Robinson Twp.

There is also a Samuel NEELY there who was in the Revolution. Guess
I gotta shake some trees and see who will brave the cold and go take
pics of the graves. Now I have a desire to know who all is in the
family plot there. Perhaps there are some finds there for my NEELY
descended cousins.

I could have talked all day. However, I am happy to have found the
lovely Kate I NEELY.

How fitting to end this with the words of Rev. Elijah R Donehoo who
spoke of Kate with the following words. ".....The years will come
and go, joys and sorrows will multiply upon us who shall tarry here
below, but the memory of this quiet beautiful life will linger in our
hearts like some goodly dream, which grows softer and sweeter and
more precious each time that we recall it........."

Sleep sweetly, our lovely Kate.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

New Year Resolution

The following is from a fellow geni who does a really super job of
offering assistance to others and she keeps up one of the sites where
I do some of my research. I just couldn't resist passing along her
resolution for 2008. It's something we all need to do.........backup
our finds on more than one source!

As "antique" as my paper may be
It holds everyone in my tree
Tho' the ROM and disk will fail
My paper journey is my trail.

Master Xerox has seen my pages
Documenting family of all ages
There, names and dates organized
Cheering everyone's hearts and eyes.

I picture a distant time (too near!)
When my words remain so clear
Tho' the binding with its rips
My paper will save many trips.

And when a 100 +years afar
Then, old monitors a dying star
Yet my paper will still be read
Whether outside or in bed.

While "ancient" Internet proclaimed
That the future would be its fame
Computers so small to fit in an ear!
Cause anguish throughout the year.

You see, those ROMs and Thumbs
Turned out to be ideas so dumb
They held forests, not just trees
If only that data could be retrieved!

Yes, I forsee Internet will be "ancient" here
(Although to this odd idea, you may jeer!)
Thousands of years past and ahead
Lines of dusty books can still be read!

Oh yes! Leave my tree in ancient pages
Where descendants find names and ages
There Grandma rests, and Grandpap too
Back to the gr-gr-gr-gr-gr, and on through.

Pathetic howling echos ever ensues
What Name and Password to use!
The database which was "guaranteed"
Sucumbed decades ago-- genealogy greed.

"No Access" your grandchildren find
Everytime they try to get "online"
That tree you posted for all to see
Has not outlived the paper of Tree.

Genealogy experts even now do say
"Do "back-up" on paper each day!
"Don't rely only on CSS and HTML
"Paper will keep your stories to tell."

So I say again, just one last time--
(At least it will let me end this rhyme!)--

As "antique" as my paper may be
It holds everyone in my tree
Tho' the ROM and disk will fail
My paper journey is my trail.

By Judy Florian, copyright Jan 1, 2008
Webmaster of Washington Co PA Genealogy Websites
May be reprinted on free websites as long as these three lines are kept

Happy New Year!