St Clair Cemetery, Mt Lebanon, Allegheny Co, PA

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Thursday, April 30, 2009

Got Kin Buried in Rome, GA?

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

Rome, Georgia Cemetery Burial Data Now Online

Thanks to a new burial data program on the city of Rome’s web site, genealogy researchers and loved ones may have an easier time locating their ancestors buried in Rome’s public cemeteries. The service can assist those looking for the plots of ancestors, family or friends buried in city-owned cemeteries — Eastview, Oakland and Myrtle Hill.

The information only covers burial records, the cemetery lot number and plot location number. The site can also generate clickable maps of the cemeteries that allow the user to navigate and find the exact placement of the plot.

Many of the birth dates for older interments may read 01/01, an indication that the birth date is unknown. As records are updated, or in some cases found, they will update the birth date information, according to city officials.

The site can be found at

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

1800: All War Department Papers Lost

It was a terrible event in our nation's history. The fire that ravaged the War Department on the night of November 8, 1800, destroyed records and books. Shortly after, Secretary of War Samuel Dexter was still in despair as he wrote "“All the papers in my office [have] been destroyed.”

Fast forward to the present. For over a dozen years, Ted Crackel collected collections of papers from around the world which related to this time period. In 2006, the project was turned over to George Mason University.

Now you can search this wonderful history filled collection of documents by visiting the War Department Papers 1784-1800 at .

I can say I was personally thrilled to find over 19,000 documents pertaining to my family name. Of course, it doesn't hurt that an uncle of mine who was an accountant for Continental Army and later for the War Department was the author or recipient of the letters. As an added bonus for me, my 5g grandfather is also listed on some of the documents on the site.

My buddy Bill and I are going to contact the Collections Group to see if they have more information on my family or if they would like what we have gathered.

Sure do wish I could let Mr. Dexter know that all was not lost.

Friday, April 17, 2009

1815 Letter from Pittsburgh Paints Bleak Career Picture

GT Note: This post is from recent correspondence with Susan, a cousin of mine and a descendant of Nathaniel PLUMMER. I thought you'd enjoy reading more about early Pittsburgh. The introductory information of the letter and the letter itself were printed in Vol. 9 No. 1 Issue 18 HCR 72 Box 8350 Chadbourne's Ridge, North Waterborough, Maine 04061 Fall/Winter 1991 ISSN 0741-0360

Hannah PLUMMER was the daughter of Nathaniel PLUMMER who was born in Massachusetts who removed to St Clair Twp in Allegheny Co, PA in the early days. Hannah's second husband was Dr. Ruggles SYLVESYER (1776-1834), one of the earliest doctors in the neighborhood. Sylvester, born in Massachusetts, was educated at Dartmouth. These familes were closely intertwined with my early family in Allegheny County as neighbors, fellow church members of the Associate Reformed Church of Saw Mill Run, and as friends.

Hannah and Ruggles are both buried at the Old St. Clair Cemetery in Mt. Lebanon, Allegheny, PA.

I came across this letter while trying to learn more about Hannah Plummer Fetterman's second husband. The good doctor had received a letter from his Dartmouth classmate, Ichabod Chadbourne, inquiring about opportunities in the Pittsburgh area. The letter obviously did not entice him to the area!

The Uncertain Destiny of Ichabod Rollins Chadbourne

(Career Locations in the Promising 19th Century)

A surviving letter from the letters of Ichabod R. Chadbourne gives us a vista of the uncertain alternatives faced by a capable and promising young attorney in the early years of the 19th century. In many ways, his situation then was the timeless one of those who are well-prepared but who lack either a supportive family stricture or a good connection with the persons or forces that are to shape the future. He did use the obvious "network" of at least one of his college classmates to explore one possible location, but norecord of any of his other inquiries survives.

Ichabod lost his mother when he was 2½ years old. His father, Jonathan C., and his grandfather, Judge Benjamin, both died in 1799 when Ichabod was just 12 years old. Being bereft of these influential men, Ichabod relied on any other contacts he had. His aunt's husband, lawyer George W. Wallingford gave him a helping hand by having him read law in Kennebunk and Boston with Daniel Davis. (Note: Wallingford Hall exists today on Route 1 in Kennebunk.)

After admission to the Suffolk County bar in 1812 or 1814, Ichabod was faced with the responsibility of selecting the place where he should launch his career.

So he wrote a letter of inquiry to his Dartmouth classmate, Ruggles Sylvester, in western Pennsylvania to explore the field of opportunities that might be found there. And this is the letter that he ultimately received in reply in 1815:

(Note: With apologies to Pittsburgh, PA.)

"Dear friend,

If you practice law in this State, you have to again subject yourself to years of study here before you can be admitted to practice. There are no country lawyers, all the business is done in the county towns. Pittsburgh contains by estimation ten thousand inhabitants. You may see its growth has been very considerable since the last census. Much business is done here, both manufacturing and mercantile. Mechanics are in demand and get good wages. They dress like gentlemen and clear ten dollars a week. Perhaps I can give you no adequate idea of the people in this borough, collected from all parts of the world as they are, except I call them `money-making.’ Most of the people are industrious, stirring fellows. The very wealthy are drunk after noon. The ladies are not the most amiable I have seen, although well provided for financially. All the professions get rich in Pittsburgh, but it is not by their professions. The Attorneys are sheep-growers and land speculators. The Physicians are apothecaries. The Reverend ones are placed behind the counter. A graduate of Dartmouth College tells me there is but one first-rate attorney in town, the rest being several young fellows and underlings. I can advise you neither for nor against. This side of the mountains, learned men are neither counted nor courted. Wealth is the criterion of a man's merit throughout the State of Pennsylvania. If you come to this country, you may lay aside all ideas of a pleasant social life among literary men.

This country is more healthy than where you and I have lived, and the soil far more fertile. There is no good sleighing any time in the year for want of snow; no good carriage roads for want of minimum labor laid out upon them. They will never be good the year 'round till they are paved with stone. Heavy wagons with a little rain on this marly soil cut up the roads miserably. Pittsburgh is built mostly of brick, and has not a very pleasant appearance owing to the abundance of smoke generated by the burning of stone coal. Steam engines, foundries, green houses, and blacksmith shops consume immense quantities of this coal, so that the town, in the winter, is a cloud of smoke. The people in the country are considerably inferior to the low classes in New Hampshire and the District of Maine, especially the women, who are beasts of burden in this State. These people are more stupid and unfeeling, but not so vicious as the Yankees. If you come to this country, you have to look for no good society. If you come in the stage from
Philadelphia, you will get a damnable bruising in the little crazy vehicles; and besides, you are to expect the roughest kind of treatment by taverns, stage-drivers, and every other kind of waiters. My method would be to ride on horseback, because those who came by stage report that the people seem to consider it a religious duty to abuse all they can with their tongues those who pass the mountains in the stage. I am told they are more civil to those on horseback. I have given a true picture, however ugly it may appear. If you have plenty of leisure and plenty of pocket money, perhaps you would like the tour, and then you can see for yourself.

Sincerely your friend,
Ruggles Sylvester

P.S. When I am in Pittsburgh, I every day see Yankee people arriving or descending to the West. I ought to tell you that the word "Yankee" is a term of reproach as used by many of the people-but the Yankees generally glory in the name. I can tell you how the women go visiting barefoot to save their shoes till they get within a few rods of the town, and then put on their clean, pretty shoes. The same is true in going to meeting in the country. The women sit in market with butter, eggs, and potatoes, etc. till they get money-then lay it out for a silk gown or a shawl which costs ten dollars."

We know that this letter evidently did not move Ichabod to choose Pittsburgh as his place of residence or business. Soon after this date, he removed to Eastport, Maine, where he built his home and opened his law practice.

Submitted by Tom Eschweiler
Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

There She Lies- Right Under Our Nose

From time to time, I venture into the cemetery office to check on who is buried there. I've been to a particular cemetery in Pittsburgh not once, but close to a half dozen times over the last few years. I've asked for help from the staff. Please allow me to share some of those experiences with you.

1st visit in 1988: My cousins took me to see my grandfather's grave. It was the first time I had been back to the grave since my childhood. We stopped in to get the location and to see who was buried there. The folks guardedly told me he was there and then refused to let me see the book. I did catch a glimpse of an unknown name. The staff whisked the book away.

2nd visit in 2003: I asked the staff for a map of the cemetery so I could find my grandfather's grave. The lady told me how to find it. It was pouring rain. We couldn't find the grave using her instructions. Apparently, she read the map wrong. We finally located the grave in a different area of the cemetery. I noticed my great grandparents were there just behind my grandfather.

3rd visit in 2004: I didn't bother with the staff as I now knew where to look. I took photos of the headstones. I did call the staff later to ask how much it would cost to get a new headstone. They were thrilled to be of assistance.

4th visit in 2005: I asked the staff who was buried in the plot. They gave me three names, while yet again, refusing me access to the book. This time, I had done enough research to know who the third name. He was a cousin of my grandmother's who she buried there as he had no place to go. Funny, how they still haven't told me my great grandparents are in the same plot.

Over the last few years, I have trying in vain to find the location of my great aunt's grave. I found her parents buried with my grandparents. I found her sisters in the same cemetery. Her husband was buried in a single grave in a different cemetery in town. Of course, I didn't know when she died, but I had narrowed down the dates to between 1919-1924.

Hattie was living in Erie, PA, at the time of her sister's death. I found Hattie in 1910 in Erie, but there was no sign of her there in 1920. Hattie's great grandson has also been looking for her in vain. He tried a death search for a 10 year time span with no success. He found her living in a nursing home in Erie, PA, in 1918-1919. Then, poof-- she disappeared.

Fast forward to last week:
Ring. Ring.

My cousin told me to sit down as I wouldn't believe what he had to say.

Hattie's been under our noses all this time. When he called the cemetery and started asking questions, he was told she was there. Not only is she there, but she died in November 1920 and is buried with her son.

Get this. Her son is the cousin who my grandmother buried in 1935!

The nice informative gent at the cemetery went on to say that she died in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. What? How? Why?

I checked the census and found her living in a nursing home in Milwaukee in 1920. We have sent for her death cert. Hopefully, that will provide the name of the person providing the information.

At this time, we have no clue as to who moved her or why she was in Milwaukee in 1920. Her son was in Jacksonville, FL at the time and her daughter moved there as well in 1922. There is no evidence to support the daughter being in Milwaukee.

So, we continue to search to see if we can solve this mystery.

My advice is to keep looking. In this case, it took years of asking the same location the same question before we could get an answer.

And to think- she's been there the whole time.