St Clair Cemetery, Mt Lebanon, Allegheny Co, PA

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Thursday, December 31, 2009

Dreaming of Jeanne Who Knows Henry Family

What a great comment some kind Jeanne left for me on a previous post from 2007 on Ashmen Cooke HENRY. Click here to read more of "Gotcha" from October 2007.

Jeanne tells me who Ashmen married and who his kids were. Ok. You've got my attention now. Yes, he did have five children with Anna and one more with Susan.

Since I wrote the "Gotcha", I have received grave photos of Ashmen and his family as well as some more info on him. Ashmen was the mayor of Oakland, CA, in 1884.

But-- what more can Jeanne tell me? Can I say "howdy, cuz"? Is she a descendant? If so, I reckon she comes from either Anna or Walter.

As for me, Ashmen's father, Samuel, was the older brother of my 3g grandfather who was born, lived and died in Allegheny Co, PA, at the old family homestead.

Dreamin' that Jeanne will contact me again so we can chat genealogy and shared blood. In the meantime, she will most likely enjoy reading many of my blogs as they are about the HENRY family.

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Update: Old Fayette County Records

This morning, I posted a comment on the news that old records of Fayette County are currently being scanned. Click here to read the post. Now before you get excited, these records of old are in Fayette County, Kentucky.

I also contacted one of my favorite genealogy guru types to tell him the good news as his family did settle in early Mason County. We swapped emails and then decided to see how we could find these records in the areas of the country we reside.

After dashing emails to both the Kentucky Archives and to the Fayette County Clerk, I received a reply from David at the Archives.

David says in his email that "The Fayette County books will be available for viewing on microfilm by the end of January. I do not believe any scanned copies will be available. Unfortunately, we do not interlibrary loan microfilm but a copy can be purchased from our micrographics department if you have access to a reader."

So, if you have a hankering to find your roots in early Kentucky, you may want to contact the Archives at the end of January.

Happy Hunting!

My Old Kentucky Home

May be it is my old Kentucky home. Or maybe not.

The history buffs in Fayette County, Kentucky, are currently in the process of scanning old land, census, and marriage records. It is anticipated the documents will be available through the Kentucky Archives sometime in January. This could be a gold mine for some genealogy buffs if your family was in Mason County early on, as Mason County was part of Fayette County at one time. There is no mention if those of us who are not in Kentucky will be able to search for these nuggets online.

It is reported the books are being indexed by the Archives. Maybe an online master index should be undertaken by a group of volunteers in the area?

The following article is from Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter and is copyright by Richard W. Eastman. It is re-published here with the permission of the author. Information about the newsletter is available at

Old Kentucky Records Resurface

Monday, December 28, 2009

Looking for Traces of Me

Just today, I received a lovely present in the form of a painting. Now, I didn't get the original painting; however, I did get something even better. A digital copy!

This picture of the painting allows me to really zoom in on the features of the subject. The subject in the pictures is none other than the brother of my 4g grandfather, of whose surname I was born with. There have been so many generations of male blood passed down that I am looking intently at the photo to see if I can find any feminine traces of me.

Do I see any trace of me? Why, I think I do in the shape of the mouth. Cool.

Of course, I think my left side is my better side for pics and the subject chose his right. No matter. We're kin.

Genealogy. Ya just gotta love it! And copies of the documents or photos are just fantastic!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Don't Just Stay at Home - View the World

Ho, ho, ho!

Just announced by World Vital Records is free access from December 23 (yep, today) until December 28.

Take a trip around the world in genealogy fun! Although I guess we history buffs should take some time to bake, wrap and generally spend some time with our kids.

Here is the site to check:

See ya somewhere in Sweden or Ireland! Maybe we'll meet up at the North Pole!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Oh, Those Glorious High Cheek Bones Live

Several months ago, I found a living, breathing first cousin of my mom's. This was a feat as the cousin is the only one of that generation to still be among us. Click here to read about Henrietta.

My mom's aunt died really young leaving a small child behind. Her husband took the small child out of Charleston and to his aunts' house where she was raised. He visited her often and took her back to Charleston every summer to see her mama's kin.

Well, I recently stumbled across her and so I did what every excited family seeker of genealogy would do. I called her.

At first, she was skeptic until I told her who I was. She spent the next hour on the phone with me telling stories about my grandparents, whom she loved dearly, and of her grandmother. She laughed out loud when I told her a story that my mom had told me.

I almost dropped the phone. Her laugh was the laugh of my mother. With tears in my eyes, I wanted to keep this delightful old cousin on the phone. After we hung up, I made copies of some pictures for her (including one of her grandmother) and sent them to her.

She called back and thanked me. She said the picture had captured the essence of her grandmother exactly.

Time passed. Today, the postman delivered a card to me from this cousin. Inside was a picture of her. Once again, I had to sit down in a hurry as the tears formed in my eyes.

For this delightful first cousin of my mom has her look. Yep, those wonderful high cheek bones and smile were there.

I miss my mom and have been spending a lot of time looking at a picture of her taken at Christmas time a couple of years before she died. I've been needing her, and today, I saw a little hint of her still alive in a picture.

I must go and call this cousin and hear my mom's laughter once again. What a wonderful kiss from heaven this was.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Memories of Jim in a Letter From 1942

December 15 is the birthday of a cousin of mine. A cousin I never met. But live he did, and so I wish him a happy restful 96th birthday as Jim, the father, the patriot, rests in peace.

However, I do know his daughter and with her permission, I am placing a very special letter written by Jim to his darling wife and baby girl while he was off fighting for America during World War II.

It's a great letter and serves to kinda put everything in perspective as we near Christmas and time of birth of our Savior.

By the way, the dig at the Marines is actually a joke meant for his brother in law who served in the Marines during WWII.

Without further ado----

Somewhere in England
25 December 1942

Dear Babs, Dear Ellen and all,

Christmas morning. This year I have really made my Christmas Day like any other day in the year. I’ve found that it is home and family, not time of year that makes that lovely, friendly, human atmosphere of the days before Christmas. I saw the English equivalent of it there in a town I visited several Saturdays ago. I wish I could tell you what town it was—it was about as charming a spot as I’ve ever seen. Anyhow, as I was saying, on Saturday afternoon the streets were crowded like under Kaufmann’s Clock with pedestrians overflowing off the sidewalks and practically meeting in the middle of the street. The hustle was almost like home, but the percentage of khaki was almost 60%, which is higher than I’ve ever seen in a street scene at home.

Holly is an important part of the Christmas spirit over here. I think I’ve told you how much holly there is over here. In hedges and trees, both green and green with white edges on the leaves. And such a plethora of berries that if you saw it for sale at home, you’d swear that they were tied on. Well, every person I’ve seen for weeks (or so it seems) has had an arm full of holly, and every hedge or tree has had scars and wounds here and there.

Last evening was rather hard to get through. I kept thinking of the candle light ceremony in your room last year; wondering if it was repeated this year and if so, if it was done without tears as it should have been. Every time I’d think, “Now Babs is doing this or that,” I’d remember the five hour difference in time and console myself that this was only a rehearsal over here. The real Christmas Eve, my Christmas Eve, would not come for five hours yet. Did you have the big pink candle burning? I hope so because I kept seeing you in its glow. But if you decided to save it, that’s all right too, because then I’ll see you oftener in its light when I get home.

I tried to get them to fire a 21 gun salute on Wednesday when it was 5 o’clock over there to celebrate Young Stuff’s anniversary, but it seems that she hasn’t received her “federal recognition” yet, and so rates no salutes with the army.

We had a rapid succession of services of various faiths last night. The somewhat involved prayer offered by one chaplain asked blessing for:

(1) All soldiers both here and elsewhere,
(2) All sailors,

(3) All marines,

(4) All allies

(5) Our enemies.

At the end of the prayer I said, quote, “I don’t mind praying for our enemies but let’s leave the marines out of this,” unquote. John will want to settle that when we meet again.

Did the flowers arrive in time or at all? After I spent about 3 quid to send them (the native who sent them through said “whew” when he looked up the price) I heard that all cables were being held up so I don’t know if you got them or not.

Goodbye for now,

Love Jim

Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Saints Vs. the Strangers

Every year, we Americans celebrate the feast held by the Pilgrims. So, tis fitting I revisit this stroll down memory lane. This is a repost from 2006.

Sounds like the perfect football game for the season. But wait, just who are these players?

Back in the early 1600s, a group of people born in the Elizabethan age in England wanted to practice their faith as they saw fit. They were led by a man named William Brewster, who organized and then became the ruling elder of the Pilgrim Church, in Scrooby, England. King James demanded that all of his land be members of his church and give him absolute obedience. The Pilgrim Community insisted on passive obedience. So, the saga begins.

Around the 1608 to 1609 time period, Rev. Brewster moved from England to Amsterdam and finally to Leyden. Many of his people left England under the cover of night as the King's men were making it harder for these people to worship and live. Leyden was a natural place for the Pilgrims to go as the Dutch were much more tolerant of differences between religions and cultures. The Pilgrim Church flourished well until the Pilgrims felt it was time to leave, as King James was putting pressure on the Dutch to crack down on the Pilgrims. The Pilgrims arranged for passage to America and received a grant for land to be called "Pilgrim Plantation" at the mouth of the Hudson River in the Virginia territory.

The Pilgrims arrived to find they indeed had two boats for their voyage, the Mayflower and the Speedwell. Unknown to the Pilgrims, the investors in this crossing of the Atlantic also sold passage to a group of tradesmen, hence the origins of the term "The Saints and the Strangers". The Saints, also known as the Pilgrims, were infuriated with this change of plans but there was nothing to do at this point. The two ships set sail for America in 1620. Constant leaking of the Speedwell resulted in the ships returning to port. After some considerable time and effort, it was decided that the Mayflower would sail alone, carrying both the Saints and the Strangers.

The ship's crossing was not an easy one and much has been written on this. They saw the land we now know as Cape Cod. Their intent was to follow the coastline down to the mouth of the Hudson River. However, an tricky area around Cape Cod and the winds blew them back to Cape Cod. They went ashore and well, the rest is history. Some of the most fascinating accounts of their lives were written by a member of the group named William Bradford.

This story has much to teach us. For my family, it is the story of my children's ancestors. Yes, my children had two grandpas on the Mayflower voyages, a William Lumpkin and a Richard de Warren. And naturally, it is from the side of my beloved spouse. So, here I am, descended from poor farmers from Sweden and Ireland, while my spouse's family history has a decidedly much more colorful tale to tell in the settling of our great nation.

After much gnashing of teeth over my spouse's apparent illustrious lineage, I finally realized that my poor Irish and Swedish farmers offered as much to the founding of this wonderful nation of ours. The Saints and the Strangers may be the story told around this time of year, but all of our ancestors had a vital part in shaping this great land of ours.

Happy Holidays.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Wordless Wednesday: Clyde Mine Remembered

The old main entrance to the Clyde Mine in Fredericktown, Washington Co, PA, as seen in 2003.

This mine originally opened around 1900. My greatgrandfather was the stable boss and one of his sons worked as a miner.

The mine tunnels ran for quite a ways and were deep underground near the house of my great aunt. One day the house shook with all the blasting and cracked the sidewalk. Guess she was lucky it didn't destroy the house!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Rare Finds at Georgia Archives This Weekend

Now, this may just be the ticket to encourage some genealogy buffs to trek over to Morrow to the Georgia Archives. Will there be some great treasures to find?

The following article is from Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter and is copyright by Richard W. Eastman. It is re-published here with the permission of the author. Information about the newsletter is available at

Rare Books for Sale at Georgia Archives

You never know what treasures may be buried among the 25,000 books that go on sale Thursday at the Georgia Archives in Morrow. Volunteers at the state’s repository for historic documents have amassed an assortment of volumes from around the country that just may include a few hidden gems.

Volunteer coordinator Dee Thompson described the genealogy books: “They are a very small percentage of the 25,000 books we’ll sell,” she said. “They may take up two full shelves. But there are some good ones, even a few rare genealogy books. And they’re not expensive, between $10 and $20. Everything this year is priced much lower than it’s been in the past.”
Hours for the Friends of Georgia Archives and History book sale are Thursday from 5:30 to 7 p.m. for members only. (New members who join that evening are also welcome.) Public hours are 9 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Details may be found at and at

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Search at the DAR Library from the Comfort of Home

Just thought I'd pass this on.

In case you haven't dug in the Daughters of the American Revolution online library lately, genealogy buffs really should. Now you can search for Patriots (while keeping in mind this is not an all inclusive list) and for descendants who have joined under the known patriots.

New patriots are always being added to the DAR files as new members prove patriotic service of a beloved ancestor.

Check it out here:

And, yeppers, my fingers have logged in many an hour working as a volunteer on parts of this project!

Wordless Wednesday: Memory of a Revolutionary War Dedication

The family of Revolutionary War Patriots James Glenn and John Henry gathered at the site of their final resting places in the old St. Clair Cemetery in Mt Lebanon, PA, in August 2005 for a dedication of new headstones. Five generations of descendants honored the contributions of these men in the quest to win freedom.

How fitting to have our Scot Irish roots honored after so many years. The bagpipe music was soulful and so very fitting.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Tombstone Tuesday: Not Just any Grass, but a Snodgrass

Found in the Mt. Pisgah Presbyterian Church Cemetery in Allegheny Co, PA, is this little group of family tombstones.

While time and the elements have all but erased the names, the following names have survived-- in our hearts, our memories and the stones of the final resting place.

From left to right, we see Robert Snodgrass, the younger, (1794-1863) and his wife, Hannah Glenn (abt 1797- abt 1862). Their unmarried daughter, Sarah (1829-1853) and a son, John, are also found here.

The sister of Robert, Achsah (1792-1875), is also found here. Illegible headstones in the group most likely include Robert's son, James (1833-1841).

Several years ago, I had the pleasure of publishing the early Civil War era diary of Robert and Hannah's daughter. What a great genealogy trip that was for my Snodgrass cousins and me as we worked on it together for several months.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Feeling the Old Country in Your Bones?

Feel like doing some genealogy digging in the old country? You're in luck today if your old country is Sweden. Today, it's free.

Go try out Arkhiv Digital. You do have to register first-- and then download a program-- but then you get to go and look at some old estate records in living (or rather, dead) color! In addition, AD is also trying to photograph all the church records thru 1894.

As genealogy buffs, we know how valuable it can be to see a digital photograph of records, and as Swedish descendants, we know how valuable the Swedish Parish records are to our research.

AD is even running a special from now until the end of the year. I do suggest you check out their records to see if now is the time for you to hop on the Swedish train or to wait until more records are digitized.

Check out their site:

As for me, I'll be staying up late tonight to try and put some meat on my bones of the past.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Treasure Chest Thursday: New Additions to Digital Library of Georgia

Have you been to the Digital Library of Georgia lately? If not, then you may be in for a nice treat.

Old newspapers from Millegdeville, Columbus and Macon have just been released for the digital library through the Georgia HomePLACE. The Georgia HomePLACE is a collaboration of the Georgia Public Library Service, GALILEO and the Digital Library to help ensure Georgia history is not lost.

Check it out here to see a full list of recent databases added. And then, let the genealogy fun begin!

This could be a great find for you history buffs that have early 1800s Georgia family to find.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Remember Charlie of Company C on Veterans Day

This is a repost from 2007. Tis fitting that I share this genealogy tidbit again today, on Veteran's Day. Again I say, "Thanks Charlie."
Again, the tears flow.

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.

Ancestry Offers Free US Military Collection

In honor of our veterans, is offering free access to their US Military Collection until November 13.

Here's the link in case you want to do some genealogy surfing:

Wordless Wednesday: Video Tribute to Veterans

Moving tribute to veterans- just pass the hankies, would you? Bow your head in a solemn remembrance of all they have done for all of us-- always and all ways.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Wordless Wednesday: Wall Street in 1784

This illustration is from the 1908 book authored by Frederick Trevor Hill on the early history of Wall St. The tavern in the picture is that of my 5g grandfather, John Simmons, and is the site of the 1784 inauguration of the first American Mayor of New York, James Duane.

A previous illustration was posted of the tavern as it appeared about 1825 in a New York Tourist Guide.

A special thanks goes to my cousin who found this, and who noted---
"See the pigs feeding on Wall Street. Not much has changed in 225 years!"

Genealogy. Ain't it grand!

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Tis the Season for Tombstone Searching

Graveyards just aren't creepy. In my world, tombstone searching is fun. I relish the thought of finding new family information to add to my vast collection of "blood tales." Sometimes, just seeing who is buried in the family plot can lead to new discoveries and new found cousins. For example. seeing who was buried with my grandparents in Southside Cemetery in Pittsburgh led me to discover more about my grandmother's family. You can read more about this genealogy tidit on AustinM. Brendel in an earlier post.

I spend a lot of time researching the good people of early Allegheny Co, PA. This site has a great contributed cemetery database and is always free to use. And before you ask-- yes, I have contributed to this database. Check it out if you have a need to dig in Pittsburgh.

Right now, for the next couple of days, you can also search the tombstone and cemetery collection at ancestry at no charge. Here are just a couple of their wonderfully creepy databases that I enjoy.

Abstract of Graves of Revolutionary Patriots
Cross Creek, Pennsylvania Cemetery History
Dutchess County, New York cemeteries
Gravestone inscriptions of Trinity Cemetery, New York City, New York

To begin searching on ancestry, go to this link:

Creepy tombstones? Nope, they are just hauntingly familiar.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Have You Asked Congress to Preserve Our American History Yet?

Time is slipping past quickly. Have you contacted your Congressman to ask if he supports HR2256, the Preserving the American Historical Record Act? The PAHR will help Americans archive our precious records through grants to each state.

With all the recent weather events, it stands to reason we are losing our historical records. Too frightening to mourn them, we should all be asking Congress to move forward with the bill so American History is maintained for future generations.

Have you noticed how libraries and archives have reduced their hours for genealogy buffs? Let's work together and save our history!

Read the bill:

Check to see if your Congressman has signed on to support the bill:

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Treasure Chest Thursday: Digging in the Graveyard

It's a cold blustery October day in Pittsburgh. An unexpected early snow flake or two can be seen in the air as everyone's bones are not quite used to the rapidly dropping temperatures. A small old graveyard is across the street from the church that is getting ready for a big celebration. For it is this year the church celebrates its 200th anniversary of its founding. Inside, the members are getting ready for the dinner which will honor the Founding Families as well as other people who have contributed to the church over the years.

Strangers appear in the door where preparations are being made for the festivities. The strangers, who are covered from head to toe in winter gear, ask for a shovel. A shovel? Absolutely. The strangers have some digging to do in the cemetery and time is of the essence for death is on the way.

Does this sound a little strange? Well, this is no story as it really happened back in 2004 at the Mt Lebanon United Presbyterian Church in Allegheny Co, PA.

The minister was perplexed when he heard that someone had come in looking for a shovel to dig in the cemetery. He looked across the road and saw people digging in the graveyard and he just knew who the strangers were, and he wasn't about to stop them.

Members of my family had traveled to Pittsburgh for one of our parties we hold from time to time in the St. Clair Cemetery, which was part of Associate Reformed Congregation of Saw Mill Run. The church was founded in 1804 by a number of men, including two of my 4g grandfathers. The cemetery's first known burial was in 1806 (my 4g-grandmother). Over the years, my family has laid many to rest in the St. Clair Cemetery. Stories from different sources indicate we are buried in layers. One of these sources was my great aunt who paid for the family plot upkeep for many years. While they rest peacefully, I do not.

I am on a mission. I have to know more about them as I am related to over half the cemetery occupants. Over the years, I have been able to assist the Historical Society of Mt Lebanon in providing information on many of the families, participating in resetting tombstones and honoring the contributions these early settlers gave to Pittburgh. Descendants have gathered to celebrate genealogy and our blood. The last reunion we had there in 2005 had descendants from nine states come to honor our roots.

Oh, and who were the strangers? They were my spouse and me. Why the shovel? The caretaker of the cemetery had called me to say he was cleaning up and getting rid of the overwhelming number of daylilly plants on my family plots. When I gasped, he said he would keep some of them and that he would not kill the plants until I got there.

I got there, grabbed the shovel, and dug up plenty of those wonderful daylilly plants. Now these plants grace the yards of several of my cousins-- from Pennsylvania to Florida to Montana.

My treasure is the memory of those wonderful days in the cemetery with my cousins as we celebrated our heritage. All I have to do to remember is to look out my door each day to see the evidence --- in those daylilly plants.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Madness Monday: Got My Blood?

As it's close to Halloween and with all the popular vampire books, I just couldn't resist using today's title, Got My Blood.

has been reading about my finds as I dig deeper in to the history of my family. Someone also has a love of genealogy. Someone has my blood, and just like a vampire's bite, I have to have more!

A man who shares my blood has found me through this blog. How much fun! What makes it exciting for me is this man and I share my 4g grandfather, John SIMMONS (1761-1843.) His brief comments last night gave me pause. Pause because I have yet to find any of his descendants from another one of his many children. Well, living.

John was married three times. I come from a son, Samuel, of his first marriage to Mary. His first wife died rather early on and John remarried and had several children with Lucinda. She appears to have died about 1823 or so, and John quickly married wife number 3. Wife number 3, Margaret HARBISON, was a young widow compared to him as she was about 30 years his junior. Yep, he had children older than her. But that's ok. They appear to have made a good life together until his death in 1843.

My new found cousin mentioned he had information on the eight children of John and Margaret. Eight children? Hmm. That's new.

To my knowledge, good ole John sure did like having children as I know he had:

Four with wife number 1 (one died as an infant)
Six with wife number 2 (she had a couple from her first marriage as well)
Four with wife number 3 (she had a couple from her first marriage as well)

Did John and Margaret have other children of which I am unaware? Did they die young as well and that is why the census and her will do not mention them?

Which son of John and Margaret does this new blood cousin descend from? Is it Ben or Gus? I suspect it is not Daniel as I don't think he had a son.

I hope he can solve some mysteries for me. Just like a vampire, I was up all night waiting to share this blood with my cousin.

I hope we'll be up all night together as we devour our shared blood.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Drying Out Those Precious Family Memories After the Flood

With all the recent rain and flooding, now is a great time to review tips on how to try and recover all those photographs, documents and other family treasures for genealogy.

Do you know how to clean pictures? Do you know if you can put them in water or not?

Here's a great tip page from the state of Georgia:

Friday, October 09, 2009

Sometimes Letting the Fingers do the Walking Works Wonders

No web site? How can that be? In this age and time, how can a small town historical society not be online? It seems, well, it seems so quaint.

I've been digging around in Sweden with the help of some online friends to try and find more documentation from the 1874-1877 time frame in Stockholm. We've made some progress and I hope more is to follow.

In the meantime, I took the time to go back and look at what I really have in the way of documentation from the state of South Carolina. There's work to be done.

After letting my fingers do the typing, the search in the probate court of Charleston left me with no more information than I had. Early family lore says my great grandparents were married there. If so, Charleston doesn't know it.

I checked the 1880 census in the place they moved and found them there. Of course, Orangeburg County searches had me pulling out my hair in vain. You just can't do a lot of online research there.

I found the birthdate of the couple's oldest child which is in 1880. So, logic tells me the marriage had to happen sometime between September 1879, which is when she got off the boat in New York, and the birth of the child. Logic says it, but there's no proof.

Time to let my fingers do the walking. I called the church at which the family were members in the 1880s. A very sweet older lady answered the phone. We chatted and then she asked for the surname. When I told her, I found out that my great uncle had worked for her brother in law and that her husband is kin to the wife of this same great uncle. Coincidence?

She didn't know of any records as she is only a sometimes volunteer, but I hope she found the common names of our blood lines sufficient that she will dig some in the past.

I also asked her about the local historical society and she tells me they just aren't real active. How can that be? Oh, I shudder at the thought.

Then, she pops up and tells me that my great uncle and his wife were very active members of the historical society. Perhaps there is more information to be found there!

The historical society is only open for a few hours a week and, of course, they are not open today.

So, while I haven't really found any evidence for my genealogy bug, perhaps, letting my fingers do the walking today will unearth a new treasure.

Tip of the day. Be sure to contact those old small churches. Their older members may dredge up some memories of some of your kin. Just another reason to smile as their memories get added to my memory bank.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Treasures Await Your Online Pleasure in South Carolina

Many public libraries across South Carolina have given us all a great big gift in the form of an online index to obituaries. While not complete, it can make a huge difference as you search for your genealogy treasure in South Carolina.

I spent a few minutes in the Florence Library site and found the index was decent for recent years, but way too scant for the early years in the 1900s. Both Greenville and York County searches were also not to my satisfaction due to either the time contstraints of the obituaries listed or due to having to know more details. Richland and Newberry Counties have some obits as well, but I didn't search those as my family is not known to have deep roots there.

I'll keep checking off and on to see how much progress is being made on the index Please note that if you find your treasure, you will have to contact the library to have a copy made.

But, as we know in genealogy, you have to keep on the hunt for those treasures. Sometimes, they show up years later. When they do, the feeling, well, the feeling is like finding the proverbial pot of gold under the rainbow.

Here are the sites I checked for an index:

South Carolina United Methodist Advocate

York County History
South Carolina Death Index 1915-1958 - appears to require Windows only
Florence Library
Greenville County Library

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

An Orphan with Family Ties

".....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........."

The words above were spoken by the Rev. Elijah R Donehoo at the 1884 funeral of Kate NEELY in Allegheny Co, PA. I love this quote and think of it often as I think of family and those who have gone.

Family is such an interesting word and can bring up all sorts of thoughts.

I always felt like I didn't have much family growing up. As my dad was in the military, we were stationed nowhere near either family. My thoughts as a child on family were that we visited them now and again and gifts would show up at Christmas. I don't remember the loving hugs of grandparents, as one died when I was four and the other had developed dementia by the time I became a teenager. I could never run down the street to see my grandparents, aunts or cousins. Somehow, I feel like I got left out in the cold.

My parents also died while I was a young adult, so I missed out on getting to really know them as an adult.(If only I could remember all those stories they told now!) My older siblings live far away and left home before I developed lots of memories about them. Therefore, I have felt as if I am an orphan of sorts.

But, I have so much family. The blood of my veins sings a brilliant song and calls out to others who share it. Through my genealogy research, I have come to know many distant cousins. It can be entertaining to see what traits we share and to hear stories from them. Their memories intertwine with mine as we sing our family song. Yes, we are family. Yes, we have history.

The memories of our loved ones stay with us. They bring us smiles, laughter and tears. They bring us solace as we cope with loss.

No longer an orphan, I'm now surrounded by family. The love, the memories, the joy and the sorrow are all there. And they do become sweeter with time.

My thought of the day is share the past with your family. Memories shouldn't be left alone. They should be shared so your children don't have the feelings of orphans with family ties.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Madness Monday: Maggie, Who Was Your Father?

Sometimes, genealogy is frustrating. Especially when one is looking for an early female. Such is the case with Margaret McMILLAN.

According to her original tombstone, good ole Maggie was born in 1762. She married John HENRY of Lower St. Clair, Twp in Allegheny County as his second wife. His first wife, Sarah SMITH, daughter of John SMITH of Washington County, PA, died around 1790.

Maggie's father? I have a couple of candidates. One of the candidates is Thomas McMILLAN. Why? She named a son Thomas McMillan HENRY in 1791. I suspect it was her first child born to the couple as he already had four children by Sarah. There are a couple of Thomas McMILLANs living in the neighborhood but I have yet to prove any of them belonged to Maggie.

The other candidate which has a stonger claim at this time is Patrick McMILLAN. I did find a will in Washington Co, PA of a Patrick McMILLION. In this will, he mentions son in law John HENRY.

Why am I not convinced that Patrick is the right father for Maggie? There are no sons or grandsons or nephews or anyone named Patrick. Ever. And we all know that the Scot Irish naming tradition would not have allowed her father's and her mother's names to be ignored. I have to wonder if her father was indeed Thomas, but perhaps he died? Perhaps Maggie was raised by a kinsman, Patrick, as his daughter? To date, I have not seen any children by him and wife Jean.

We do know Maggie was able to read and write as she signed some legal paperwork after the death of her husband in 1838. So, Maggie dear, I still long to know who you really were.

Maggie raised the children of Sara after she died. She was indeed loved, as the name Maggie has continued down to the present generation. Sara also had many descendants named for her, but it appears they all died young. Scary.

Maggie, who are you?

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Pretty in Pink…After All These Years

One of my delightful cousins recently sent pictures of her Pink Schoolhouse in Upper New York along with pictures of her reunion. I was so enchanted with the schoolhouse that I invited her to write something about its history so I could share it with my genealogy friends. Without further ado, I give you E.G. Child's Pink Schoolhouse. Enjoy.

On a recent beautiful early autumn evening, a hundred smiling people, some from as far away as California, gathered in the Victorian Garden on the grounds of the Jefferson County Historical Society in Watertown, New York, to toast a newly refurbished icon of a bygone era in the north country. Appropriately, there was champagne available for the toast, since the icon had been donated to the Historical Society by David Champagne, and his sister, Diane Champagne VanDorsselaer, but that part of the story comes later.

Jefferson County, in the northwestern corner of New York State, bordering on Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River to the northwest, and the Adirondack foothills on the east, is known to the rest of New York as “God’s Country,” or, less politely, “the Back of Beyond.” Probably due to its distance from the more civilized parts of the state and its extreme winters, Jefferson County wasn’t settled until the very late 1700’s. Even the Native Americans tended to use the area for summer hunting and fishing.

The Town of LeRay remained pristine wilderness until the early 1800’s when James LeRay de Chaumont was rewarded for his father’s heavy financial support of the American Revolution, with the opportunity to purchase large tracts of wilderness in Northern New York, for pennies an acre, which he was then able to sell to incoming settlers for dollars an acre. While most of the Towns (or townships) of the county were developed around the considerable water power of the Black, Indian, and Perch rivers, the Town of LeRay, a flatland, in ancient times the bottom of an inland sea, was settled later than much of the county, and Jefferson Valley, the neighborhood of the Pink Schoolhouse did not become populated until well into the first quarter of the 1800’s.

The pattern of the communities in the area was to have a cheese factory, a school and if waterpower was available, a sawmill. The schools were usually used as a church, pastors from larger communities traditionally holding Wednesday evening services at the schoolhouses. According to the custom of the time, and the vivid memories of 96-year-old alumnus, Eldon Schell, the “Pink,” as it was called, had become the social and spiritual center of the district. Mr. Schell tells of box socials, spelling bees and religious services held there, and there were probably singing schools, a popular activity and courtship tradition of the 19th century. There was, in recent memory, an ornate organ with pedals and stops that would have accompanied the hymns and popular ballads of the day.

In those days there would have been horses and buggies or sleighs, depending on the season, tied to the rail fence beside the schoolyard. Later, in the 1940’s and 50’s, there would be bicycles surrounding the softball field after supper and evening chores, and the school would be open for 4-H club functions or school board meetings. By that time, the Valley families drove to Evans Mills, Theresa or even Watertown to attend church services.

Based on the building style and lumber used, the Pink Schoolhouse was probably built in the 1860’s to replace a building that no longer met the needs of the neighborhood. By the 1890’s, according to Haddock’s Growth of a Century in Jefferson County, and Child’s Gazetteer of Jefferson County, there were at least 19 district schools in the Town of LeRay, with salaries ranging from $2.50 a week, plus board for female teachers, and $25.00 to $35.00 per week for male teachers[1]. Over the years, many local families were represented on the school board, most prominently the Van Allen-Drake family and the Schell family.

Dozens of children from those families attended over the life of the Pink, many to go on to become teachers, engineers, librarians and lawyers. One spring, in the early 1930’s, two eighth grade students petitioned the nearby Theresa High School to be permitted to take the New York State Regents’ Examination in calculus. The high school principal agreed despite his better judgments. After all, what district school marm could prepare students in higher mathematics? Miss Iva McLaughlin and Miss Florence Drake (remember her name!) earned the highest grades on that year’s calculus Regents. Miss McLaughlin went on to become valedictorian of her class at Theresa High School.

The size of the student body depended on the number of farm families with children in the district, ranging in its heyday of twenty-five to thirty students, and at its lowest point with only one student, Doris Schell, the youngest of that generation’s Schell clan, for a year. After she had moved on to Evans Mills High School, the school closed until the later 1930’s, when there was a new crop of farm children to be taught their ABC’s and 1, 2, 3’s.

"Why in the world," you ask, "Was it called the Pink Schoolhouse?" Bureaucracy, pure and simple. In its early days, the “Pink” had been painted with durable red barn paint, as many little red schoolhouses were. Sometime in its middle history, the state of New York mandated that all district schools must be painted white. The school board complied, but that year the budget could only manage one coat, and long before they could afford to rectify the situation, the red paint bled through, and the schoolhouse glowed pinkly across the valley for all to see.

Forevermore, even after subsequent coats of white paint triumphed over the red, District School #7 was known to everyone in the county as “the Pink Schoolhouse.”

By the mid 1950’s when it had become part of the Indian River School District, it became difficult for the school board to comply with the New York State Education Department rules and regulations. The two attached one-seater outhouses were specifically frowned upon, as was the necessity for the teacher to tend the big coal stove and pump the water to fill the pottery crock that provided drinking water for thirsty students. Probably there were also insurance concerns to cover liability to the district for 4-H parties, neighborhood soft ball games, and other non-school related functions. By 1957 the neighborhood children were riding the big orange bus to Evans Mills to attend school, and the Pink Schoolhouse became silent and empty. No longer could nearby farmers tell time by the 8:45 a.m. squeak of the big iron pump in front of the school, or the teacher vigorously ringing the hand bell to signal the start of the school day or the end of recess or lunch time.

Spirited bidding took place at the District’s auction, and Florence Drake Champagne won custody of the school. While the Pink Schoolhouse had kept it’s distinctive name, the building had long been pristine white. Mrs. Champagne, whose many relatives had attended and even taught at the school over the years, painted it pink again. Her family maintained it as best they could until the Jefferson County Historical Society accepted the donation of the school by David Champagne, and his sister Diane, to be restored to it’s 1940’s condition as part of the Society’s collection, and once again to be an educational influence to school children of Jefferson County and beyond.


Author Child's note: Some of the historical information included in this essay was provided by Haddock’s Growth of a Century in Jefferson County, and Child’s Gazetteer of Jefferson Countyand some from the unpublished memoir of Mr. Eldon Schell, who attended the Pink Schoolhouse along with his brother and three sisters in the 1920’s and 1930’s. Some of the information is part of my own history, since, along with Mr. Schell’s three children, David and Diane Champagne, and several other Schell and Drake descendants, as well as Iva McLaughlin Walts’ two daughters, I attended the Pink Schoolhouse in the mid-1950’s. My graduating class’ statistics? Eventually 75% of us received masters’ degrees; 50% of us became librarians, 25% an engineer, and 25% a bookkeeper. Yes—“an” engineer and “a” bookkeeper. There were exactly four of us in the class, the largest in the school that year!

[1] Haddock. Growth of a Century, 1895, p. 622

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Holocaust Records Online and Free in October

Thought you genealogy buffs would really enjoy having access to these records at no charge during the month of October. Thanks to NARA and Footnote for bringing these glimpses of history to us all. I spent a few minutes on the site, and then I had to weep for awhile.

Take the time to learn more of this time in history when the whole world appeared to go mad. It's a real eye opener. If only those who say the holocaust didn't happen would open their eyes and look at the documentation....

Here's a story on the collection:

Footnote's New Holocaust Collection Free Through October
Posted by Diane

Historical records subscription site Footnote and the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) just released the Interactive Holocaust Collection of a million Holocaust-related records.

The records are online for the first time—and they’re free through October.

The records, which contain millions of names and 26,000 photos, include......Footnote's New Holocaust Collection Free Through October
Posted by Diane

Historical records subscription site Footnote and the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) just released the Interactive Holocaust Collection of a million Holocaust-related records.

The records are online for the first time—and they’re free through October.

The records, which contain millions of names and 26,000 photos, include....

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Why is My Tavern Not Listed?

This link about early American inns really provides a great look into early America. I have yet to read it all, so I don't know if they will mention any of my family inns or not.

But what I did notice was the glaring omission of a tavern owned by my 5g-grandfather. The location of the inn was on Wall St and it is well documented in other books, records of New York City and old tourist guides. Why was it not mentioned in this book? Was it because the children pretty much left the city after the death of their father in 1795?

The tavern was the old Brock Tavern, which my grandpa renamed the "Sir Peter Warren" in 1770. Sir Peter Warren was a British Naval Hero who resided in New York City from 1730-1747. My grandpa did have to leave New York for a time when the British occupied during the Revolution as he was a staunch supporter of the American Patriots. The address for his inn was 63 Wall St and was next to the Presbyterian Church. The inn was also close to Federal Hall which is where the Declaration of Independence was read publicly on July 18, 1776. My grandpa was also given permission to try and negotiate with the British regarding removing canons from the ships overlooking New York and he supplied food to the American prisoners of war. In addition, city council records show many payments to my grandpa for food and drinks over the years.

So why isn't it mentioned? My guess is it burned c. 1850 and none of the family remained in New York City to rebuild it. By then, they had moved on. Some were in the government in DC, some were in Pennsylvania, Ohio and beyond.

Just another one of those interesting stories in American history that we genealogy buffs like.

Go and read this book. It is entertaining and chock full of Colonial life tidbits.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

It's My Constitution, My Family Fought for It

Today, September 17, 2009, marks the 222nd anniversary of the signing of the United States Constitution. Hip, hip, hooray.

It's a great day, even if the majority of Americans don't know the significance of today. How important is the Constitution?

Considering it is the basis of our government and reflects the ideals of freedom of the 55 delegates who participated in the Constitutional Convention in 1787, I'd have to say the Constitution is super. It is the oldest document of its kind still in use today in the world and is the shortest at 4400 words.

The men who debated the issues of our freedoms and limited government were able to frame a bedrock for a government that has lasted. If it is to continue to survive, we as Americans must strive to defend it and protect it.

How important is the Constitution? Colonists committed treason against the King of England and demanded freedom from an overbearing government who sought to tax and tax again. The colonists were willing to give up their fortunes and lives for their beliefs.

How important is the Constitution? My family fought for the colonies' quest for freedom over 200 years ago and still fight today for our wonderful country and to defend our freedom.

So, yeppers, the Constitution is highly important. It's important enough that Americans have shed their blood for it, then and now.

My thirst for knowledge for my roots has inspired me to learn. Not only do I learn of my past through genealogy, I also learn of my past by learning history. After all, America's history is the story of my family as well.

So how important is the Constitution? It's important enough that I will bow my head in prayer as I pray for the future of our country and those who defend it.

Today in particular, I say a prayer of thanks-- thanks to our patriots, past and present.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Back in Time Today- with South Carolina Archives

We genealogy buffs are always looking for more to satisfy our seemingly unquenchable thirst for knowledge of the past. Let's all remember that our country will be celebrating the 222nd anniversary of the framing of the Constitution later this week. So, take a moment and step back into that time. Right now, my quest for my roots is on hold as I am starting my county wide tour of speaking on the Constitution to my local schools. With that said, I say the following article this morning and thought some of my readers would enjoy knowing more about some early South Carolina records.

It's good to see that not all records were destroyed during the "Recent Unpleasantness". I haven't had the time to go digging around for my roots at these online archives yet, but I shall.

The following article is from Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter and is copyright by Richard W. Eastman. It is re-published here with the permission of the author. Information about the newsletter is available at

South Carolina Archive Documents Online

The South Carolina Department of Archives and History has a rather simple, but impressive, web site. The site includes images of many orignal documents as well as indexes that allow the documents to be found quickly.

The documents available include:

Title Number of Items
Confederate Pension Applications 1919 - 1938 10,242 items
Criminal Journals 1769 - 1776 2,087 items
Index to Multiple Record Series ca. 1675 -1929 173,042 items
Legislative Papers 1782 - 1866 53,489 items
National Register of Historic Places 1,415 items
Plats for State Land Grants 1784 - 1868 51,809 items
School Insurance Photographs 1935 - 1952 2,662 items
Will Transcripts 1782 - 1855 11,059 items
TOTAL: 305,803 items

You can search the on-line index for documents by entering a personal name, geographic location, topic or a combination of these search factors. You may also specify a time span.

Images of records available are made possible by the support of an IMLS/LSTA grant administered by the South Carolina State Library.

You can access the South Carolina Archive Documents at

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Happy 400th Anniversary to New York!

Hudson, Hudson, hmmm....

Back in 1609, Henry Hudson, an English sea explorer, took a trip down the river now known as the Hudson River in an effort to find a quicker route to the Orient. Well, he may not have found that route on this adventure, but we in America can now celebrate the area in New York he explored 400 years ago.

To help celebrate 400 years, has gathered its databases on NY on a special New York Anniversary page.

The majority of the databases there at this time are from the mid 1800s on. So, it most likely won't be a jump for joy moment for genealogists who are always searching for those elusive New York roots from the 1700s.

Me? My quest in genealogy certainly has taken me back to the mid 1700s in New York. I have been fortunate to find some records on my family as they owned a tavern on Wall St before and after the American Revolution. Now, if I could just find the place of burial for "Big John" when he died in 1795. The papers at the time named him the largest man in New York. He was also a member of the Trinity Anglican Church in New York City, but we family genealogy types have not uncovered any evidence of him being buried there or in the other really old New York Cemetery.

So, enjoy the databases on New York. Perhaps, Ancestry will release more that really date back in time. Perhaps, someone, somewhere will point me in the direction so I can finally put "Big John" to rest.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Old South Carolina News to Become New Again

GT Note: This is just so neat for genealogy buffs and for those who are interested in history. Read the story below to see how newspapers from 1860 to 1922 will come new again-- only this time, it's online!

Project putting old news online
S.C. newspapers from 1860 to 1922 going in database

The Post and Courier
Wednesday, September 9, 2009

South Carolinians will soon find it easier to read newspaper accounts about the start of the Civil War, discriminatory Jim Crow laws and Gov. Benjamin Tillman's South Carolina Dispensary, which was once the only entity legally authorized to sell alcohol in the state.

The University of South Carolina's S.C. Digital Newspaper Project.....

Wordless Wednesday: Our National Anthem

Here's a tremendous video on the history of the National Anthem. You'll be in awe and truly appreciate "our" song. Just make sure you swallow the lump in your throat before you listen to the students sing.

Listen to the awesome voices of these students as they sing "our" song.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Higher Taxes Lead to Angry Mob at the Miller Place in Allegheny County

Recently, a reader requested information on the MILLER family that I talked about in my blog on "Tax the Whiskey?". The blog entry provided a little information about the Whiskey Rebellion which took place in southwestern Pennsylvania some 215 years ago.

At the time, the fledgling government needed money to pay its debts, so Alexander Hamilton decided it was time to tax the whiskey. The good folk in Pennsylvania were opposed to this move, as trading whiskey was the typical way to do business. Cash was a rare way to buy something back then.

Funny, but in writing this, I could almost change the year and a few words, and I'd be talking about today.

Anyway, back to the past. The farm on which the shot was fired during the flaring tempers of the Whiskey Rebellion was the Oliver Miller Homestead. The home is located in South Park in Allegheny Co, and is now a museum. I've been there and felt the presence of my past. I should, as it was a family home.

The house was built by Oliver Miller, who was born in Antrim, Ireland, and emigrated to Cecil Co, Maryland. He and his family came to Pennsylvania around 1770.

Oliver died in 1782, and left the farm to son James who married Mary SMITH. Mary SMITH was my aunt as her sister married my 4th greatgrandfather.

To answer the question proposed by a reader takes some digging. Oliver was the son of Alexander MILLER who died 1765 and is buried in Northampton Co, Pennsylvania. He and his wife, Mary, had several children.

I trust this information will lead my reader to find the answer of her genealogy question. Let me know!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

1911 Irish Census Available to See-- for Free!

The 1911 census of Ireland is one of two surviving censuses open to the public. Thanks to the National Archives of Ireland for making it available online at no cost.

In the event your Irish roots were still in Ireland at this time, genealogy buffs will find the proverbial pot of gold.

Here is the link:

Note: As my Irish luck would have it, my lines came over to the colonies much too early for this census to benefit me. Instead, we fought for the independence of America. Yep, my Irish grandpa sacrified it all as he turned against the tyranny of the English government and stepped over the line in to freedom. His Irish blood has been visible in American mayors, senators, TV (Think of Davy, the little clay guy), genealogy (the Henry System- now defunct due to advances), and countless others now in all walks of life.

Call to Save the Old Stone Tavern

The Old Stone Tavern in Pittsburgh has a few fans of its history. Built cicra 1783 by Daniel Elliott, it has proudly stood testament as to the early history of Pittsburgh. Why don't we genealogists join in and try to save this historic landmark?

I wonder if this Daniel Elliott is part of my Pittsburgh Elliott roots? Was he part of the George Elliott family?

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Great News for Swedish Researchers!

Anyone who has ever tried to dig deep into their Swedish ancestors knows what a trick that can be. In my genealogy story, my maternal great grandparents were the proverbial just off the ship types, even though they didn't marry until they were in America. Tracing their families back has proven to be difficult, but wildly satisfying. With the help of an American friend, whose ties go back to my "family" cemetery in Pittsburgh, I've found family and learned so much of the early naming customs and history of Sweden. I've also been rewarded with new Swedish cousin penpals through this search and enjoy learning more about my Swedish roots.

I hope some of these new records will be transcribed into English for those of us who don't read Swedish!


The following article is from Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter and is copyright by Richard W. Eastman. It is re-published here with the permission of the author. Information about the newsletter is available at

Volunteers to Bring Historic Sweden Church Records Online

The following announcement was written by FamilySearch:

FALKÖPING, Sweden—FamilySearch and Svensk Arkivinformation (SVAR), a division of the National Archives of Sweden, announced today the launch of the largest online indexing initiative undertaken to-date. The two groups unveiled plans to engage Swedish volunteers throughout the world to help create a highly searchable, free online index to the historic parish registers of Sweden—200 years of recorded Swedish history as documented in the Sweden church records—comprising over 400 million names.

In 1608 the Archbishop of Sweden asked the clergy to begin making records of births, christenings, marriages, and burials of all the residents of Sweden. By 1686, they were conducting regular examinations of the population of each parish. The church records (often called “parish registers” or “church books”) span over two centuries and chronicle the vital life events of an estimated 418 million people who moved in and out of parishes in Sweden.

“The church records are a key source for genealogists seeking Swedish ancestors because nearly everyone who lived in Sweden was recorded in a church record,” said David Rencher, FamilySearch chief genealogical officer. “The challenge now is to make those records, which are written in Swedish, available to researchers worldwide,” concluded Rencher.

“We are very pleased with the excellent cooperation we have enjoyed for many years between FamilySearch and the National Archives to microfilm and scan the Swedish church records. Now we are going to create an index that will revolutionize the genealogy research in Sweden. The simplicity of finding and reading about one’s ancestors on the Web in the millions of scanned records will attract many beginners of all ages,” said Anders Nordström, director of SVAR. “To the academic researcher, this is an entirely new means. It makes it possible to do research within disciplines on a micro level, an extent that was never possible before now,” added Nordström.

The way Swedes passed on a family name throughout the centuries is another reason why the indexing initiative is so important to family historians. “Imagine being in a Swedish community 200 years ago and 10 out of 100 people have the same first and last name as you. That’s how small the naming pool was in Scandinavia,” said Jeff Svare, FamilySearch Scandinavian collection management specialist.

If you were Anders Andersson, your father could have been Anders. Your brother could have also been named Anders, as well as your uncle. To help distinguish which Anders Andersson you were referring to at the time, locals added the name of the farm (residence) of an individual to keep them straight. “Otherwise, when you’re trying to search for Anders Andersson today, your ancestor falls into the proverbial fog of same-named people and you don’t know who they are without the additional context,” added Svare. The FamilySearch index will include the residence or farm name from the individual’s vital record. This information has been extracted to assist patrons in identifying their Swedish ancestor.

The goal is to engage the Swedish community in creating a highly searchable, free online index to the Sweden church records. When complete, the index will be the single largest point of access to information contained in the historic parish registers of Sweden. The free index will link to images of the original records hosted by the National Archives of Sweden (SVAR). In addition to the free public index that will be made available, SVAR might charge a nominal fee for public patrons who want to view or print the images.

FamilySearch is the global leader of online indexing. It launched its online indexing program in 2008, and tens of thousands of volunteers recently helped reach another major milestone by indexing their 250 millionth name. FamilySearch currently has 65 online indexing projects underway.

For this project, FamilySearch will create digital images of the Sweden church records provided by SVAR. Volunteers worldwide will then use FamilySearch’s Web-based indexing tool to view the digital images and extract only the desired information from the image. That data will then be processed and published online in searchable indexes linked to the digital images.

Volunteers need only Internet access and the ability to read Swedish to contribute to this historic effort. A unique quality control process ensures a highly accurate, finished index. Each document is transcribed by two different indexers, wherever they are in the world. Any discrepancies in their two extractions are then forwarded to a third volunteer—an arbitrator—who makes any needed corrections between the two interpretations.

The project will start with records from Örebro, Uppsala, and Södermanland counties. Indexing will begin with the earliest year available for each parish and continue through 1860. A typical downloaded “batch” (group of records) will take a volunteer about 30 to 40 minutes to complete. The indexing utility has built-in tutorials and helps. Anyone interested in volunteering for the Sweden Church Records project can do so at

Monday, August 17, 2009

Monday Madness: Who is Cousin Elizabeth Troech?

Who is she? And why don't I know of her?

After many years of searching for more information on the McClain family who moved from Blair Co, PA, to Allegheny, Co, PA, between 1850 and 1870, more information has finally arrived via snail mail.

I knew of Austin McClain Brendel (1873-1935) as he is buried in the same plot with his mom, Henrietta McClain Brendel and his cousin and spouse, Charles Edward Simmons and Isabel Patterson Simmons, in Southside Cemetery in Allegheny Co, PA.

One of my cousins who knew Austin had told me years ago that Isabel buried Austin in her plot as there was no place else for him to go.

Austin also had a daughter, Marie, by an unknown wife. Marie later leaves Pittsburgh with her husband, Floyd Taylor to Akron, Ohio. We have followed Marie for a time and then we appear to have lost her and her descendants.

But, back to Elizabeth Troech? Who is she? Austin's memorial book from his funeral has finally made it in my direction. Happily looking through the details of the book, I see an unfamiliar name. There are many names in the book and only one listed as a cousin that I don't know.

Cousin Elizabeth Troech is listed under the name of Dr. Frank Caldwell and above the names of Frank's married chidlren. Elizabeth is named as "cousin." Who is she?

There is no Elizabeth Troech listed in Allegheny Co, PA, from the 1900-1930 Federal Census. There is no Troech. So what is the real name or have the census people truly botched it?

She is also listed as "Mrs." I checked my files for mention of an Elizabeth during the timeframe of Austin's life that could be a candidate for this cousin. None. No Elizabeth, whatsover.

Who is Mrs. Elizabeth Troech? How is she related to either the Caldwell or McClain family in Pittsburgh, Allegheny Co, PA?

Wondering family genealogy members want to know-----

Friday, August 14, 2009

More Time Announced to Tour the World for Free

World Vital Records has extended the free access to their records until August 18. See you next week after I surface!

Today in American History- Japan Surrenders to End World War II

Just thought you'd be interested in seeing the headlines from August 14, 1945, as the New York Times announced:

Japan Surrenders, End of War!

Washington, Aug. 14 -- Japan today unconditionally surrendered the hemispheric empire taken by force and held almost intact for more than two years against the rising power of the United States and its Allies in the Pacific war....

Those genealogy buffs among us who love finding out about our past also have a deep seated interest in history. When in doubt about the times our ancestors lived, spend some time looking at old newspapers. Not only is it fun, it's educational!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

National Archives Launches NARAtions Blog

Note: NARA wants to hear from us who have an interest in genealogy.

/PRNewswire/ -- On Wednesday, August 12, the National Archives launched the NARAtions blog to begin a discussion with researchers on the future of online public access at the National Archives. The public is invited and encouraged to share opinions on ways to enhance the online researcher experience and to increase access to archival materials.

This online community will continue to be a work in progress as we develop new features and content. Questions will be posted to invite discussion, and the blog welcomes feedback and suggestions for new questions to raise. The blog will also inform researchers about newly available online records descriptions and digitized archival materials.

We would like to hear from you! What sort of things would you find valuable from NARAtions?

-- Should we allow the public to tag descriptions in our online catalog?
Why or why not?
-- What groups of photographs should we post on Flickr next, and why?
-- Do you have a favorite NARA photograph or document? Is it already
available in our catalog or on our website?

The URL is Please visit often and share this web address with others.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Looking for African American History? New Digital Library Launched

Just passing this along for those genealogy buffs who may be interested.

African American History Digital Library Launches
by Nicole Kidder

A two-year project to assemble a digital online collection that will capture the rich cultural history and educational legacy of the nation’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) was recently launched to promotes access to previously unknown artifacts that have helped to preserve the cultural heritage of these institutions that were founded in the midst of struggle with a special mission to education former slaves and free Blacks.

This unique collection of more than 7,000 images exemplifies the HBCUs as cultural, social and political institutions that have contributed to the historic legacy in the education of Black Americans from the early 1800s until today.....

Travel the World for Free- until August 13

Sometimes, free offers can be fun for genealogy buffs. Today and tomorrow,, is offering unlimited free access to their databases.

According to the company, this unprecedented offer is in celebration of their biggest release of new records in a single day.

I went to the site and checked it out. It works. So I'll be traveling around the world for the next couple of days.

See you in England, or Ireland, or ???

Monday, August 03, 2009

Monday Madness: Finally! I've Caught a Fish

I've caught a live one, or rather, a dead Fish, and I'm so very happy about it.

For quite some time, I'd heard of the Rev. FISH who was the minister way back in the early to mid 1900s at the Millsboro Presbyterian Church in Washington Co, PA. He was our family minister and held in very high esteem. He even baptized my dad when my dad was a young adult.

Jump time---
Jump place back to Union Twp in Allegheny Co, PA

I had also been researching the family of Edward Johnston YOUNG (1835-1905), son of Captain James YOUNG (1810-1869) who married Sara Smith HENRY (1814-1888.) As my great grandfather appears to have been named for this Edward Johnston Young, my curiosity was high. To date, I have yet to determine why. Perhaps, he was just a favorite nephew of my great great grandparents William S SIMMONS and Margaret HENRY.

I found EJ Young's wife's name listed as Elizabeth MATTHEWS, daughter of George MATTHEWS (1791-1860) and Ann CAIRNS (c. 1808-1860). Is this the Elizabeth MATTHEWS listed in the Civil War Diary of my great great uncle Addison? They did live in the same neighborhood and it is possible she wrote to her friend (and first cousin to her beau.)

More interesting to note was that EJ and Elizabeth had a daughter Harriet MATTHEW YOUNG who married a BULFORD who is also kin to me. Hmm. Did these people ever go out of the neighborhood to marry? Ah, another tale for another day. Today is FISH day.

I stumbled on the little fact that George MATTHEWS and Ann CAIRNS also had another daughter, Margaret P MATTHEWS (1828-1912) who married a William FISH.

Ok- so look further around this little neighborhood in the census records and there they are-- with a son named Frank FISH. Follow this Frank, and wham, I've got a trail.

I followed Frank as he first married Elizabeth Nichol CALDER (1868-1932) and then the widow, Cassie COULTER, nee McCAULEY, in 1935. While I could find death dates for both his wives, there was none for the good Rev. I searched and searched for a number of years. Since I live so far away, I have to do so much of my research through local genealogy groups.

Just this summer, a kind genealogy buff up in Washington Co, PA, sent me a history on the Vestaburg United Presbyterian Church in which the Rev. Frank FISH's death date is mentioned. He died in 1951.

Reel it in. Finally, another small mystery solved. I would like to know more of his family history as it is mine as well. Both sons of Frank FISH preceded him in death, but they did leave children.

So, if there are any FISH types out there, let me know. In the meantime, I'll just keep on casting lines and waiting for more fish to bite.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Time to Live the Past with the Lowcountry Digital Library-

The Lowcountry Digital Library was unveiled earlier this month. It is a joint project with the College of Charleston and the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation. The site expects to have over 50,000 documents, pictures, and items of historical interest within the next three years.

Already on the site are some fun items from the Citadel, Slave Passes, and photos of the 1886 Charleston earthquake. There are more databases to explore, so take some time to relive some of the past in my City by the Sea.

More information is being added on a regular basis, so check back with them if you don't see much to catch your attention on the first look...

Monday, July 13, 2009

Are You Wise Yet? GenealogyWise, That is

There's a new social networking site just for genealogy that is being unveiled. I've heard the official date is later this week, but you can check it out now.

I decided to look at GenealogyWise to see what all the chatter is about. It is free and it is simple to use. There are tons of groups available to join, so I joined a few to see if it works for my style of digging into my family's past.

I've already sent a comment to one gent and have heard back from him. Both of our COX families were in the Marion District, SC, before 1800, so there is a good chance we could share some long ago relatives. I don't know too much about my COX family other than George COX b. c.1755 in VA, d. near Pee Dee River in Marion District, SC 7 Sept 1843. I know nothing of his wife. He is reported to have had six children: Jacob b. 1802, Jane b. abt 1785, Margaret, Mary b. 1792, Catherine b.1795 and Elizabeth b. 1800.

I have already decided not to be contacted when people leave generic comments for the groups. Already, my inbox is way too full as more and more genealogists are jumping on the bandwagon. I have now changed the email notifications to only those who are responding to me or are interested in talking with me about possible family connections.

You may want to check it out yourself at .

Have a great day chock full of wise genealogy news!

Friday, July 10, 2009

St Clair Cemetery Has More Loving Hands Working to Remember the Fallen

I just love St. Clair Cemetery in Mt. Lebanon in Allegheny Co, PA. Of course I do. The majority of its residents are names that easily fall off my tongue and share my blood.

Last night, I received a phone call from a dad of a Boy Scout who has decided to donate some time in getting new headstones for some of the American patriots at St. Clair Cemetery. This has been done before by another Boy Scout and, of course, by me.

The dad asked if I would be able to assist him with information on some of the patriots of St. Clair and in locating family members. Well, the majority of the names he mentioned were my family. If I am not of direct blood, then chances are I know who is.

The earliest known burial in St. Clair Cemetery was in 1806, if I remember correctly. I know my first family member, a grandma, was buried there in 1807. The names of the residents there echo the early history of the area.

Over the years, I've found many cousins through the St. Clair Cemetery. I've been there several times and hosted parties for my kin, living and dead, at the cemetery. My roots are there and I feel so at home and connected to family when I am there. On our last trip there, one of my children helped to uncover an old headstone. Of course, it was one of our cousins.

Anyway, I am going to dig up my ole partial map of the cemetery as this dad tells me he would like to make a new map of the cemetery. Be still, my heart! That is a project I have been hoping someone up there in Pennsylvania would undertake. I also hope to have ground radar used one day to accurately locate how many graves are there and how deep they go. My great aunt told me that we were buried several deep in our plots.

My friendly words of wisdom today are to take time to adopt an old cemetery. It may be your family cemetery or one in your local area that needs some loving hands. Research the families in it. You just may learn something really fun.

In my case, bring on the continuing work at St. Clair. My thanks to the many hours that Margaret Jackson and Mark Hughey have so lovingly given to the early settlers of Lower St. Clair. Know I am always with you in spirit.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

My Ancestors Fought for America's Freedom. Have You Found Yours Yet?

July 4th. The day of America's proclaimed independence from the tyranny of England's rule. The day of our birthday. Celebrate the dreams of our founders.

I saw the following article on Eastman's genealogy newsletter and thought you'd enjoy seeing it. I will, however, make a couple of observations on it since my household are both members of the Daughters of the American Revolution and the Sons of the American Revolution.

The lineage books referenced are a good starting place. Back in the early days of the DAR, people didn't move as far from their roots, so everyone "knew" who their people were. Documentation proving lineage was sometimes quite lacking. Since the internet has come around, the DAR does not always accept those old applications as valid proof. The best way to see if your ancestor is still approved by the DAR is to contact the DAR and ask for a patriot lookup. Volunteers are happy to assist you in your quest to prove your lineage. Many lines have to be reproven. With diligence, it can be done. Recently, my DAR chapter just found the missing proof for a lady- after a 2 1/2 year search.

The following article is from Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter and is copyright by Richard W. Eastman. It is re-published here with the permission of the author. Information about the newsletter is available at

Revolutionary Roots

Did your ancestors fight in the American Revolution 233 years ago? Thousands of men answered the call to arms in 1776. These thousands probably have many millions of descendants today. Many Americans can find a Revolutionary War veteran in the family tree if they expend a bit of time and effort. Luckily, there are a number of online and offline sources to help you in that search.

Finding Revolutionary ancestors isn’t much different than finding anyone else in your family tree. You always start with yourself and then work your way back, one generation at a time. You can search the online databases as well as the traditional resources, such as census records, vital records, and especially, Revolutionary War pension applications. However, you should be aware of several unique sources of records that contain information about Revolutionary War soldiers.

One excellent tutorial to read is "Finding Your Patriot: Basic Sources for Starting Revolutionary War Research" by Curt B. Witcher, available on (without subscription) at:

Once you have learned the basics of Revolutionary War records, you will want to search the Lineage Books of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR). In order to join the Society, members have to prove their descent from an ancestor who aided the American cause in the Revolutionary War. The DAR have spent hundreds of thousands of hours compiling Patriot Index lists of Revolutionary War ancestors of DAR members. The DAR Lineage Books are available online to members at: (This database is available to paid subscribers; an user ID and password are required.) The same information is available in printed DAR Lineage Books, available at most large genealogy libraries.

The DAR was founded in 1890. Early application papers supply the applicant’s maiden name, husband’s name, applicant’s birthplace (but not the birth date), parents’ names, chain of ancestors and their spouses leading back to the Revolutionary War, and discussion of patriot’s service and sources for his/her service. Note that the chain of ancestors is only from parent to child and does not show all children born to parents.

Later papers give much more information. In the chain of ancestors: birth, marriage, and death dates and places. In the applicant’s section: birth date and birthplace, marriage date, spouse’s information (name, birth date, birthplace, date of death or divorce). Space for multiple spouses is provided. The applicant must also supply data on the patriot’s marriages, children, and children’s spouses.

Keep in mind that the DAR Lineage Books contain the lineage of accepted members. While these books often provide great clues about the lineage of American patriots, the lineages they provide are often undocumented. As with any undocumented secondary source, all aspects should be documented with further research. Also remember that they do not list all the Revolutionary War soldiers. These books only list those who were identified as ancestors of DAR members.

More information about the many services of the Daughters of the American Revolution may be found at: However, you will not find online databases at that site.

The records of the National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution (SAR) are another great resource. Their records are available online and on CD-ROM. The online database has over 230,000 records of patriots whose gravesites have been located or whose service has been documented by a descendant who joined the Sons of the American Revolution.

The SAR online database provides information about Revolutionary War soldiers, sailors, and others, but does not provide information about their descendants. It is up to you to build a family tree in the traditional manner to prove your descent from the listed patriot.

NOTE: Much of the data was reported to the Revolutionary War Graves Committee without citing any primary documents as evidence of service. As with genealogy information found anywhere else, you need to independently verify the information provided.

To access the National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution online database, go to

Finally, never overlook the best source of information: your family. Are you attending a family gathering this Fourth of July? If so, ask your relatives, especially your older relatives. They may know some family stories that you have not heard before. Keep in mind that many family stories have a mixture of truth and fiction interwoven in them, but they are always worth verifying. Who knows? Your aunt or uncle just may be able to provide a clue that helps you find information that previously eluded you.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Need Some Free Canadian Help? It's Here until July 3 is giving all of us genealogy types a great big present for Canada Day. From now until July 3, they are offering free access to the Canadian Passenger Lists, 1865 to 1935.

Here's the link in case you are interested.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Keep Digging to Overcome That Insanity Story

GT Note: One of my biggest joys in genealogy is finding old blood in my veins that also runs in other people. I've had the honor over the last several years of reuniting family members all in one place and one time as we shared our stories and our bloodlines.

While I have not personally been to the Godfrey Library, I have corresponded with them over the years and dutifully sent them money to have them send some files to me.

The following is an update from one of my cousins on some of her personal research. I thought this is a good reminder to all to continue that search for the elusive find of the month. Ellen, keep up the hunt.

Have you ever explored the Godfrey Library in Middletown, CT's Family History Center in your real or online genealogy travels? What a wonderful resource it is! It is only about ten miles from my son's home, so I was able to spend a couple of hours there last month.

As my time was limited, I only researched my mid-seventeen hundreds Witter ancestor in Connecticut--I had run into an alarming stonewall in the genealogy dept. in the Port Charlotte, FL Library, which has an excellent collection of New England and Northeastern family information.

According to one of the three books in which I was able to find information on Ezra and Anne Morgan Witter, Ezra had, in a fit of insanity, murdered his wife and three older children, including my ggggwhatever grandfather, Isaac Witter. So, obviously either the material was wrong, or that particular Isaac wasn't my ancestor.

They, at Godfrey, found several more Stonington, CT resources on the Witters, including one that mention the awful story, but said it wasn't Ezra, but a cousin of his. Phew! I was fond of Isaac as an ancestor, because he is listed in the DAR index as having performed patriotic duty. He was terribly crippled, apparently, but served as a cook to his militia. I knew that he was my ancestor, but because of the "awful story" wasn't sure who he was descended from in CT before he moved to Orange Co., NY.