St Clair Cemetery, Mt Lebanon, Allegheny Co, PA

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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.