St Clair Cemetery, Mt Lebanon, Allegheny Co, PA

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Friday, November 18, 2011

What Secrets are in her Death?

The wind is blowing as I sit and watch the beautiful day unfold before me.  As the branches on the trees sway, the leaves fall.  In addition to the leaves, the nuts are also falling.  Now, these nuts are big and can cause one to slip if they get underfoot.

Just like genealogy.  Shake the trees and see what falls that can trip you up in your research. 

I have a handwritten note by my grandmother which gives a little information about my grandfather's family.  The note tells us that my grandfather's grandparents, Robert Coleman POSTON and Hester Leggette COX, were rice planters and lived in Georgetown.  Grandmother also names six children of the couple with names of the females who did not marry.

Like every good genealogist, I now have to confirm all these leaves falling into my lap. It's rather easy to trace the location of the farm and document some of the children through the census records.  The first moment of a stray nut is the 1910 census which says the couple had ten children but only six were living.  I've been able to document nine of them who also have some mysteries of their own.

What is more interesting is how some marriage stats change with the census records.  While my grandmother said two of the girls did not marry, there is evidence that makes me scratch my head.  One example is Aunt Wash.  Grandmother said she did not marry, and I would tend to think that Grandmother knew if she was or not.   Aunt Wash's death certificate suggests otherwise.

The 1910 census also shows Aunt Wash as being single at the ripe old age of 39 with no children of her own, and living with her widowed mother.

I have found a JW POSTON with wife, Martha, in the 1930 census in Chesterfield Co, SC.  However, this census indicates they married around 1890, and they have several children.

According to the death certificate, Martha Washington POSTON was born November 1, 1870, in Florence Co, SC.  She dies five days after her 71st birthday in 1941.  The parents listed are what I suspected, but the surprise is that she is listed as a widow of James POSTON.  Who?  How?  When?  The informant is listed as Mrs. R C WHITE of Charleston.  Who?

I have seen a photo of her grave at Riverview Memorial Park in Charleston which says she was a loving mother.  Hmmm. When did that happen?  Did she marry late in life?  Did she raise children for a widower?

I'll be interested in seeing the 1940 census when it becomes available.  Perhaps, I will be able to trace who this Mrs WHITE is.  Perhaps, that will lead me in another direction.

Maybe I can get to Charleston and find her obituary.  Perhaps, that would help to clear the path.  In the meantime, watching the trees sway on this cool day seems just the perfect way to reflect on the past.

Ahh, genealogy.  Those unexpected secrets in the family tree are just so, well, gone with the wind. Eh?

©2011 AS Eldredge

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Dotting the I's, Crossing the T's and Reading Ye Olde Documents

True genealogy buffs know what it is like to struggle to read old documents.  Not only can the microfilm be scratched or faded, the writing can be akin to a different language.  I've seen "s" written as "f".  And the slant? Oh my, however did they read their own writing?

Just when you're ready to throw your hands up in the air and run out to purchase even more eye drops for the inevitable eye strain, there's hope in our wonderful age of technology.

Did you realize you can get rid of the neck cricks from angling your head to one side as you try to decipher the old handwriting?  Tis easy, I say.

Let's take this document as our example.

This is an 1852 affidavit of William Shaw providing details of Robert COLEMAN and his wife, Prudence.  The lovely widow Prudence had applied for a Revolutionary War pension and this document is part of the packet held by NARA.  You will note it's easier to make out some words if your squint and hold your head to the left.

Now, take a look after a little stroke of the keyboard.

The effect used on the document is found on Photoshop.  After opening Photoshop, go to image on the toolbar.  Go to "transform" in the drop down menu and choose "skew."  Then, grab the top of the document and head left until you are happy with the slant.  This is a great tool to use.  I image that other photo editing programs also allow for skewing.

What fun this is, and just think how much it will save you on eye drops and aspirin!

Ahh, genealogy. Reading old documents is a sure fire way to find your past, one skew at a time.

©2011 AS Eldredge

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Tombstone Tuesday: Sleep Little Angels, Be Not Forgotten

When researching old cemeteries, it quickly becomes obvious that among the expected deaths of the old and sick are the high numbers of infants.  How many infants are lying with their mothers who soon followed them or lying alone with no headstone?  How many infants are listed as being the "infant section"?

To feed my genealogy addiction, I tend to search around for any new information that has been placed online.  Recently, a new collection of deaths in Pittsburgh, PA, has been placed online by the Family Search crew.  The dates range from 1870-1905.

I looked for some of my surnames and was disappointed.  Then, I looked some more and found a couple of names.  Then, I found a new name, an infant daughter of Cassius M LEA and second wife, Mary Ellen HICKEY.  

This sweet angel, Elizabeth LEA died on August 5, 1882, after living for a brief period of time. She was the second child of the couple and is buried at the old St Clair Cemetery in Mt Lebanon, Allegheny, PA.

This sweet angel was not the first child that Cassius had lost so close to birth.  His first wife, Maggie, died a couple of days after the birth of their only child and daughter in 1872.

While there was a small headstone placed for Cassius at some point, we have yet to uncover one for Maggie or the two sweet angels.  I wonder if the sweet angels are close together in death.  I rather suspect they are as Cassius is buried with the family of Maggie.

So a new name is entered into the family tree and will now be remembered in the future.  Rest sweetly, little angel.

Ahh, genealogy. The angels of the past touch my heart in such a tender way.

Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh City Deaths, 1870-1905, V 32, p47

©2011 AS Eldredge

Monday, November 14, 2011

Confirmed: Grandpa Fought with Francis Marion

Revealing new evidence of rumors gone wild can be frustrating or it can be a shot of adrenaline.  As a teenager, I remember seeing the evidence from my dad's bloodline that documented a patriot in the American Revolution.  That name and line was drilled into my memory banks.  At the time, my mother also said her family fought in the American Revolution as well and, it was under Francis Marion, the Swamp Fox.

Fast forward to the present.  I had followed my mother's bloodline and not found any evidence to support this wild rumor.  Sure, her family lived in the general area of the Swamp Fox and they were certainly there at the time, but that was it.

Until a couple of weeks ago....

I was looking at her family once again just because I hadn't for some time.  I have found that stepping back and giving time to the many thoughts can sometimes assist me in opening my eyes.  Opening eyes and new ways of thinking can also lead to new evidence.


This time, I found a pension for the lovely widow, Prudence COLEMAN (d. 1841).  Now, I've known about Prudence for some years as she is my  4g-grandmother.  I had painstakingly traced the lines back with as much documentation as I could locate.  I have yet to find her maiden name, but there is still hope in my heart.

There it was from NARA.  A pension applied for by the widow of Robert COLEMAN (1755-1825).  Who knew this process would continue after her 1841 death?  The record group is No. 15, W23858.  This wonderful pension supplied the date of marriage and verified the names of the children.  Yipee, this confirms my research.

According to the affidavits found in the pension application, grandpa Robert served the American interests under the command of Captains Simonds and Witherspoon.  He also served in Brandon's Regiment in Marion's brigade.  He was in several skirmishes including the memorable Battle of Fort Moultrie near Charleston.  Grandpa was also sent by Francis Marion as a scout in pursuit of the British and Tories around Monck's Corner.

With my blood soaring again, I read each page of the pension application and used it to further document the line.  How much more fun can a genealogy buff have?

Another day, another super find.  Mama's words are proven true yet again.

Ahh, genealogy.   If only I could hear them from her lips again.

©2011 AS Eldredge

Friday, November 11, 2011

Our Heroes of World War I Remembered Every Day

Veterans Day is upon us.  As we stop and take time to reflect on those wonderful heroes of the past that we call grandpa, cousin, brother, or uncle, be sure to thank the wonderful men and women who place their lives on the line for our freedoms today and everyday.

The Pittsburgh area newspaper project that I have been involved with for almost two years now is still growing.  Just this week, more than 4300 names were added to the death index.  As it has been from the beginning, this is a tremendous resource for those who are searching for our past.  The value to genealogy buffs for Pittsburgh area is priceless.  Of course, some of us want to find even more names on the index.  It's interesting to think about how many people have lived and died in our little area of the world. 

An added feature to this project has been the transcribing of old newspaper articles about the World War I military personnel from the Pittsburgh area.  There are a series of articles describing everyday life in France with our doughboys as one reporter lived and traveled with them over a period of months in the fall of 1918 and through the winter of 1919.

These articles, which appeared in the Pittsburgh Gazette can be read at .  For those who are interested in their Pittsburgh area roots, one of our awesome volunteers also took the time to index the names of the military personnel that were mentioned in the newspapers.  There are over 73000 names on the list.  Perhaps, you too will be find your loved one's name and the description of the battle in which they were wounded.  Perhaps, you will find tears running down your face as you realize what they went through for you and me.

So, say a prayer today for our military personnel and say a prayer for those brave warriors who believed in our country enough to fight for it and for us.

Ahh, genealogy.  A snapshot of the past has me on my knees praying for our military today.

©2011 AS Eldredge

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

How is There a Heckler in the Group?

Last spring, I finally found the death date and final resting spot of William Wiley HUNNEWELL, the brother of my 2g grandmother.  With excitement growing by leaps and bounds, I asked a really cool friend of mine who lives in Pittsburgh to go and find the grave.  My sweet tea buddy, JR, sent the picture to me, and now, I am left with more questions.

There's a HECKLER among us.  What?

Let's jump back to what I do know through many slow hours of documentation, and with the assistance of another HUNNEWELL blood cousin of mine, Larry.

William Wiley HUNNEWELL was born Sept 19, 1848, in Pittsburgh.  He was a son of Benjamin F HUNNEWELL (abt 1806-1849) and Sallie Ellen (Helen?) BYLES.  Benjamin died when a cholera outbreak happened in the area, and the lovely widow was left to raise her seven children.  We find her having farmed out the older children in the 1850 census, leaving just her and only two of the younger children with her.  They were Mary Jane and William Wiley.

William joined the Union forces and served in the  Co. E, 102nd PA Infantry.  He was wounded in March 1865 when Lee attacked Fort Steadman.

After the war, he goes to Wisconsin for a bit.  He marries Alice G in 1884 and has one son, William B HUNNEWELL.  William B is living in Philadelphia in the 1920 census with a wife and two daughters.

As noted in a previous entry, William Wiley was a member of the GAR Post #3 in Pittsburgh. Read more about it here .

William Wiley marries Emma (1873-1931).  He then dies in October 1931 and is buried at Homewood Cemetery in Allegheny Co.

 From the Pitt Post Gazette  Oct 5, 1931

HUNNEWELL- At West Penn Hospital, on Saturday, October 3, 1931, at 11 am, William W, husband of the late Emma Hunnewell of 301 York Way. He was a member of the Post No. 3 GAR. Remains at the home of the Ferguson Wood Co., Forbes St at McKee Place, Oakland.  Services will be held on Tuesday, October 6, at 2:30 pm. Post No. 3, GAR and all other members of GAR and friends invited.

The obituary tells us that his wife, Emma, departed earlier, while the gravestone tells us the year.  What is odd is the other name on the stone--  H H HECKLER.  Who the heck is that?

My best guess is that Harry H HECKLER is the brother of Emma.

There was a Emma HECKLER born about 1872 that had a younger brother, Harry living in Skluylkill Co, PA in the 1880 census.  However, there is still a Harry HECKLER living in Pottsville in the 1930 Federal Census with a wife, Cora MILLER, so that pretty much eliminates this line of thought.

What is odd about it is that the Harry H HECKLER found living in Allegheny Co, PA, in the 1910 Federal Census is married to a Laura M. So where is she?

I have yet to determine exactly who the H H HECKLER is on the tombstone.  Obviously, it was important enough for the name to be on the stone.  As there is no death date, I don't know if the body is there as well.  I am curious as to who this HECKLER is among us.........

Ahhh, genealogy.  Just thinking of the puzzles and the Hecklers makes me smile.

1850 Federal Census, Pittsburgh 9th Ward, Allegheny, PA pg 549
1850 Mortality Index
1920 Federal Census, Allegheny, PA
1880 Federal Census, Pottsville, Schuylkill, PA, pg 387
1910 Federal Census, Pittsburgh Ward 13,  Allegheny, PA
Veterans Burial Card from
Grave photo courtesy of JR Jamieson, May 2011

Update:  I was asked if I had thought about the possibility of Mr Heckler being the first husband of Emma.  The thought crossed my mind, but I think there would have been a death date on the stone if that was the case.  I also had found evidence of Mr Heckler's wife being named Louise.  Good idea, though.  Keep 'em coming.

©2011 A S Eldredge