St Clair Cemetery, Mt Lebanon, Allegheny Co, PA

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Friday, March 16, 2012

One Little, Two Little, Three Little.......

Just this week, another snippet of genealogy history for my family has made its way to my inbox.  Yes, another kidnapping has happened.  Ok, so it happened in 1782.  However, the tale easily brought  thoughts of horror at the events that took place on the CLOCK farm outside of present day Pittsburgh.

History reveals to the readers of today the struggles of the Indians as the white settlers moved west.  As the western part of Pennsylvania became open for settlement, many Scot-Irish, including those who share my blood, moved to the area.  Times were tough for these settlers.  They had to clear the land, and build crude cabins.  They had to plant crops and wait for a harvest.  They had to be on the lookout for trouble, which usually came in the form of Indian attacks. They had to survive.

Who can blame the Indians?  Treaties with them were routinely broken by the government.  Their world was rapidly changing as more and more settlers came to claim the land while Indians believed the land belonged to no one person.

The settlers had to watch daily for Indian attacks.  Usually these attacks were confined to the warmer months when living off the land was easier.  The Indians had been made promises by the British if they would assist them in the Revolution in fighting against the patriots who so wanted their freedom from the power across the pond.  This alliance proved quite deadly for the early settlers.  Now, the Indians could savagely attack and butcher said patriots without fear of retaliation from the British.  Unfortunately, for the Indians, the retaliation from mad-as-a-hornet Scotsmen or Irishmen or Frenchmen whose families were slaughtered seemed much worse.

Here is a snapshot of the newest Indian kidnapping and slaughter to come to my attention, thanks to cousin Susan.

Henry POTTER's young 10 year old daughter, Isabella, had gone to visit neighbors as was oft the case of the times.  Women and children had a habit of banding together when the men were off from their hastily constructed cabins.  Some roving Indians heard the men felling some trees and quickly killed them.  They then went to the cabin with the women and children around and either killed them or took them captive.  The gory details of the attack has been preserved by historians and can be read in full.

What horrors did young Isabella see as she watched her friends' heads being dashed against rocks or trees or brutally slaughtered?  What horrors did she and her mother endure as they were kidnapped by these Indians and held for 18 months? The history books say they lived a life of drudgery.  No doubt that is putting it mildly.

A search party led by George VALLANDIGHAM followed the events of that tragic day.  While this particular search had to end when the Indians crossed over the Ohio River, other treks led by George VALLANDIGHAM were successful.

Why the interest of this story to me?  The names POTTER and VALLANDIGHAM are intertwined with my beloved genealogy.

I have a cousin, Rachel DICKSON b. 1820 who married a Robert POTTER b. abt 1815. The DICKSON family lived in the same little area as the Henry POTTER family and others who share my blood.  I suspect that the young Isabella could have been a cousin of Robert.

Robert is listed as the son of Adam POTTER (1788-1870) whose name is mentioned on several public family trees on  By the time of the 1850 census which lists the names of the house occupants, Robert is gone and living with his bride. The 1820 census for Adam does show one male below the age of 10, so it is conceivable that Robert is this child.  More evidence to support Robert being the son of Adam is found in Cushing's book where it states that Adam POTTER with sons Robert and Adam are remembered as residents before 1820 in North Fayette.

Adam POTTER was an attorney in the area and his name is listed as an executor for the will of Henry POTTER.  I will speculate they were brothers.  After all, how many POTTER families living in the general area of Noblestown in the late 1700s thru the 1800s weren't related?

Just to make these snippet shots even more interesting in my research,  Isabella later married Robert BIGHAM (1805-1893). Robert married Jane GLENN (1812-1889), a cousin of mine through her grandfather who we share.

On to the VALLANDIGHAM connection----

My grandpa fought in the Washington Co Militia under the command of George VALLANDIGHAM.  This is documented through the PA Archives.  Other stories have surfaced over the years where my grandpa was also part of the group of men that hunted Indians that raided the area and massacred the settlers.  The VALLANDIGHAM family were friends of my family as Clement, son of George VALLANDIGHAM and Elizabeth NOBLE, and Rebecca LAIRD (Clement's wife) raised my cousin after the untimely death of Rebecca's sister.

Rebecca's sister, Eleanor LAIRD, died shortly after the birth of her only child, Margaret Eleanor Laird Vallandigham HENRY.  Margaret was the daughter of Samuel Smith HENRY who later becomes an Ohio State Representative.  An old letter details how Samuel would visit his child and provided for her and her future education.  Ahh, but that is another story for another day.

Now you can understand why the story of Isabella's kidnapping caught my attention.  Perhaps her story will give you pause to reflect on the blood shed in the making of our great country.

Ahh, genealogy.  Life flows on and on through our blood of the past.

Cushing, Thomas.  History of Allegheny Co, Chicago: A Warner Company, 1889 
Larimer, Rev Bob. A 200th Anniversary of Noblestown
Allegheny County Will Book 3
Probate Index, Holmes Co, OH 

©2012 AS Eldredge 

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: On Living and Dying in Old Pittsburgh Area

Two years and folks are still dying to get in the index!

My favorite brainchild genealogy project recently celebrated its 2nd anniversary as the volunteers from our Allegheny County Rootsweb mail list are still feverishly working to index the deaths, marriages and divorces from old Pittsburgh area newspapers.  I've wondered just how many bottles of Visine we have purchased since then?

The wonderful volunteers deserve a huge pat on the back as over 85,000 death entries and over 24,000 marriages have been indexed and placed online for all to dig through.

During the last two years, our adventures have expanded to include a World War I military personnel index which has over 73,000 entries.  Also added was a great 1893 article on the boys of Co. E from the "Recent Unpleasantness" that some of my readers might call the Civil War. 

In addition, we've added a number of articles on World War I which provide an everyday look in to the lives of wartime Pittsburgh men and women as they served overseas during the 1918-1919 timeframe.

And just to really make you fall on your knees and pray for those children who were sent to the House of Refuge which later became Morganza, we've been searching for articles on the institution and for as many names as we can locate and placing it online.  Some of the tales are just so heart wrenching. 

Check out all we've done here:

You can also find the indexes here:
Note while the date of last update reflected on the main index page is November 2011, the individual updates were last completed in mid February 2012. 

Ahh, genealogy.  What great volunteers there are to make old news "new" for us and to render genealogy buffs "wordless" in appreciation.

©2012 AS Eldredge

Upcoming Genealogy Workshop in York, PA Set for April 14

One of my dear sweet cousins who shares my McCLAIN blood called recently to chat about some of our dearly departed kin and to share his news. 

Dear sweet Frank tells me he has become extremely active with the local genealogy folks as a volunteer at the Family History Center located in York. Not only that, but dear sweet Frank is also a speaker at the upcoming Susquehanna Valley Family History Conference in York, PA on April 14, 2012! 

Here is Frank's topic:
Creating Your Own Book Using PAF – Frank Long – This presentation will equip a genealogist/researcher with the tools to convert a bland set of facts and images into an exciting and attractive book.  A step–by–step process will be covered with suggested dos and don’ts.

Dear sweet Frank also tells me that keynote speakers Don and Jeanine Hartman are great presenters who will talk about Genealogy on a Shoe String.  Boy, don't we all want to know those secrets!  Since I am unfamiliar with the speakers, I took a quick peak at their family website which contains something like 719,000 individuals. 

Local newspaper editor Jim McClure is an accomplished historian who has published many books on the York area and is also scheduled to speak.

All this fun stuff is making my mouth water.  Wish I could go, but perhaps dear sweet Frank will take notes for me?

In the event you are planning to be in the York area in mid April, or if you are looking for a fun weekend trip, head on out to the conference.

Oh, and thanks Frank for the kind words you said to me on the phone.  You see, dear sweet Frank gives me a heartfelt hug for really jump starting his research and being his sounding board over the years.  Keep on and never give up. 

Ahh, genealogy. Those tidbits of information that come in from time to time are our lifeline to the past and give us hugs from our dearly departed.

©2012 AS Eldredge