St Clair Cemetery, Mt Lebanon, Allegheny Co, PA

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Monday, August 27, 2012

Motivation Monday: Let's Change the World, One Document at a Time

Remember the old slogans used in the past to start a movement?  Remember "Feed The World" or "Yes, We Can"?  Perhaps, now is the time to start changing the world of genealogy in how items are placed online.

Recently, I wrote about finding a new cousin only to see his family tree was what I had worked on with other cousins.  If you missed it, read it at

Have you ever wanted to reach out and strangle all the family seekers who just clone the information they see online?  I know I have.  I've been known to email folks who have taken my information or my writings and asked them to please, pretty please source their information.  Some have taken the hint and others have just ignored my pleas.

Many sites online do say they haven't documented the information found.  To me, that is like buying a house or car unseen.  How many people willingly do that? 

In writing the post on Seek and Ye Shall Find, Maybe, I was pleased to see the comments sent on this subject.  (A big thank you to those who sent them.)  One of the comments from Katherine suggested Ancestry and those other sites ask for sources.

I love the idea, but I'm not sure how it could work or if they are really interested in documentation.  It would be a big project for all family researchers to source the information.  Perhaps, there could be a separate tier for those genealogy buffs who are true researchers and document their information.  Maybe something like Family Trees Plus or Sourced Trees.  It shouldn't be too difficult to program a section for documentation or sources, especially for the old pictures.

Perhaps, we should start a ground movement to those sites who have genealogy information, like Ancestry or Find a Grave,  to create a separate tier.  Thoughts, anyone?

Ahh, genealogy.  As for me, I will look at the information placed online by others, but will only include it in my information if it has been sourced.  Or better yet, only if I can trace their sources.  Just call it being curious, or is it the scientist in me?

©2012 AS Eldredge

Monday, August 13, 2012

Mystery Monday: Another Way Found to Search Your Civil War Kinsmen

The old saying "There's more than one way to skin a cat" takes on new meaning today for researchers who look around Pennsylvania. 

The History of the Pennsylvania Volunteers, 1861-1865 by Samuel P Bates has long been a major source for information for genealogy buffs to research their kinsmen who were in the War of the Northern Aggression.  The book is great for looking up the rosters and histories of the units formed in Pennsylvania.

Now, there's another way to search the book.

Recently, a friend asked if I would be interested in taking his compilation of the units formed, where the units were organized by town and county, the length of enrollment time, the date of organization, and the page number of where this information is found in the Bates book.

Having wondered from time to time what units were formed in the general area in which my Pennsylvania kinfolk lived, I thought this information could be of value to others.

The information is live now and can be found on my ongoing Pittsburgh Newspaper Project.  Check it out at and then click on the PA Volunteers Regiment Location tab.

Ahh, genealogy.  Skinning the cat in genealogy sure can open new lines of thought.  A special thank you to Jerome D for providing the information he gathered and to Lynn B for her rapid fire transcription.

©2012 AS Eldredge

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Thankful Thursday: Seek and Ye Shall Find, Maybe

Ever remember playing hide and seek as a child?  It appears to me that genealogy and searching for our beloved of old are similar to that favorite childhood game. Yesterday, after writing the post on Uncle Charles, I found the name of one of his children online.  There wasn't much information given other than the name and approximate year of death.  Holding my breath, I emailed the owner of the private tree and asked if she was the one for whom I was searching.

The reply came back later, and she was.  After eagerly accepting the invitation to view the private tree, I saw no new documentation.  I added a few pictures and obits to the tree and asked for any documentation.

My newly found cousin has informed me he received the maiden name of a grandma from his grandma which led him to the family tree that I assisted in putting together with another cousin.  And then, I see information which also appears to have come from yet another cousin who I assisted with her research.

While I am sure this is my guy, I am also disappointed not to have unearthed any more documentation.

So, I am thankful to make another connection to my great grandmother through her brother, but strangely disappointed that the research used is my own.

This seems to be a recurrent issue in the world of genealogy.  Family seekers sniff out the information on the internet without going through the extra work of documenting it on their own.  Of course, my big irk is when I see blogs I have written placed as comments on other people's trees with no acknowledgement as to the origin of the data.

Be a great family seeker.  Look at the internet information and use that to begin your search.  Use the information to go back and document everything you can.  Help fill in the gaps.  Make the corrections.  Credit the folks who provide information by using their url and name.  Love knowing you have family members to discover.

Ahh, genealogy.  Got to wonder how many people just clone the information and just don't care.  As for me, I try to document everything and love making connections to family of the past.  Who knows when a favorite recipe or story of old will come to light?  I have been fortunate over the years to have heard stories from cousins about my direct bloodline that help bring them to life.  That is my goal and the willingness to share stories of the shared past makes me thankful everyday.

©AS Eldredge 2012

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Charles, Is This You?

Is this the final resting spot for Uncle Charles?

Evidence on hand includes:

  • the 1940 obit for his sister which states her brother Charles is still living
  • birth year on tombstone corresponds closely with my Charles' birth in Allegheny Co, PA
  • middle initial on tombstone in Woodlawn Cemetery, Allegheny Co, PA,  is correct
  • Charles was married according to his father's Civil War pension file

    Have been trying to contact descendants of this Charles to see if they can connect the dots: Edith Malanos died 1986 in Broward Co, FL
    Evelyn Difatta died 1968 in Pittsburgh area; her husband died 1983 in Westmoreland Co, PA

    Ahh, genealogy.  It's one mystery after another.

    ©AS Eldredge 2012

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Talented Tuesday: Six Degrees to Kevin Bacon

Have you ever felt an "aha" moment when you finally connected the dots between families in your past?  It appears that every will, every probate, every land transaction I come across in the old Pittsburgh area leads me to connect dots or relationships between early families in the neighborhood.

Just the other day, I posted a connection between Adam POTTER and Henry POTTER.  To my surprise, a cousin of mine emailed to tell me she also had a connection to Adam POTTER as a named guardian in a will.

Here is her excerpt:  ..."my greatx5 grandpap Charles McMILLEN, who I think is a brother or nephew of our Thomas McMILLEN and Margaret (McMILLEN) HENRY, had two daughters, Mary McMILLEN(b 1800) and Elizabeth McMILLEN(B 1799), and the sisters grew up to marry two brothers, James OBNEY and William OBNEY of Robinson Twp.  These guys had a younger brother named Richard McClure OBNEY who lived in N Fayette Twp, and when Richard OBNEY died in 1852, he named ADAM POTTER as the guardian of his minor son, Sanford OBNEY, who later died in the Civil War 1862."

JoAnn also likened our genealogy search to the game "Six Degrees to Kevin Bacon", where movie buffs try to link Kevin Bacon to other actors by identifying movies which tie the actors together.

So, I thought that we could do that as well.  The rules had to change a bit as our family is not in the movies.

The rule change is simple in this version of the game.  I will connect my family to Kevin Bacon using movies and film locations, instead of just actors.

Here it goes:

Kevin Bacon  to Brad Pitt in Sleepers (1996)   --  No. 1
Brad Pitt to Anthony Hopkins in Meet Joe Black (1998)    -- No. 2
Anthony Hopkins in the Silence of the Lambs (1991)   --  No. 3
Silence of the Lambs partially filmed at Morganza in Washington Co, PA  -- No.4
Land for Morganza sold by Wesley GREER  -- No. 5
Wesley GREER's sister in law, Marguerite CLARK is my 2C3R  -- No. 6

Ta da!

And just so there is no confusion, I do relate to Art CLOKEY who gave us all that wonderful character, Gumby.  Or rather, I am related to Joseph CLOKEY who adopted Art.

Ahh, genealogy.  Who knew it could be so fun or hip?

©AS Eldredge 2012

Such a BAD Boy, Chewin' Tobaccy and Lying

"He's such a bad boy, " the poor distraught mother cried as she talked to the local magistrate. "He's been chewing tobaccy and lying.  I can't handle him."

While I don't know if those exact words were ever uttered by a mother in distress, I do know the sentiment was a familiar one in the history of Morganza.  It was known that parents up in the Allegheny and Washington Co areas of PA did threaten their youngsters with the punishment of having to go to Morganza.  I wonder how many children were scared straight....

Morganza.  Just the name of this reform school is enough to send chills down the spine of the local residents.  While I am unaware of any of my family members being sent there "for their own good," I am fascinated by it.  I can't imagine the horrors that happened there and my heart aches for the lost youth of the time.

Morganza was first incorporated as the House of Refuge in 1850 in Pittsburgh.  Youth were sent there for various reasons, but there was no need for any conviction of a crime.  Apparently, testimony from a distraught witness was enough for the "sentence" of going there to be reformed.  How many poor children went there?  How many parents sent their child there if they couldn't put food in their mouths?  I imagine it's enough to break your heart.

As the House of Refuge grew, it was decided to purchase land and get the youngsters away from the city.  Perhaps farming would be encouraged.  Land was purchased from Wesley GREER (a kinsman of mine thru marriage) and plans were made, and buildings were built.

According to a 2007 email from a great grandson of Wesley, the land was purchased from the MORGAN family.  The claim to fame for the MORGAN family is Aaron BURR stopped at the farm and spoke of his intent to overthrow the government.

I first became aware of Morganza as I traveled from Pittsburgh down to Washington Co as I was researching my roots.  I saw the building as we drove down the road and asked many questions about it.  Most of the responses seemed to begin with a heavy sigh.

As many readers are aware, a group of volunteers has been painstakingly going through old Pittsburgh newspapers to find marriages and deaths.  While involved in this work, one volunteer contacted me to say she had found many mentions of Morganza in old newspapers.  This sparked my interest as I recalled driving by the old buildings which haunted my memory for months.

We started actively looking for mentions of Morganza or of those associated with the institution in the newspapers and then we decided to add the census information we could find.  All of this information can be found on our Pittsburgh Old Newspaper Project Updates.  

Ahh, genealogy.  Some of our past breaks our hearts, one name at a time.

Herron, James T, Morganza, Jefferson College Times, Vol XLI, No 1, March 2008.
Photo by P. Thomas 

©AS Eldredge 2012

Monday, August 06, 2012

Walking With the Dead at St Clair Cemetery

Last night, the phone rang and the cheery voice on the other end of the line made me smile.  But then, I always smile as I talk with my dear beloved cousin who is as addicted to genealogy as I am.

He had news.

Our beloved family cemetery, the St Clair Cemetery, is in the news again.  There will be a self guided walking tour on September 15 from 9 am to 1 pm.  The Mt Lebanon Historical Society will once again talk to visitors about many of the early residents of Lower St Clair and Mt Lebanon.

Of course, many conversations will be about my dearly departed.  Just wish I could be there to share the stories with the visitors.

Ahh, genealogy.  Walking in the past.  What else is there to say?  Oh yes, let me know if any more of my living kin show up!

Update:  The good folks at the Hysterical Society tell me my 4g grandpa will be there in full Revolutionary garb.  Ok, so it's someone who will portray him.  What fun!


©AS Eldredge 2012

Monday Madness: Got The Fever But No Body Found

Looking out the window at the overcast skies, it seems like a perfect day for running around my mind to see if I can pull together some more facts as I continue the search for good ole Uncle Robert.  As soon as I exhaust the paltry information I have, it's time to search around the internet to see if any other documentation can be found.   Arrgggg, it's Monday Madness alright.

Robert W HENRY(1827-1869) was born in Allegheny Co, PA, and was the brother of my 2g-grandma.  Robert was a godly man and eagerly went in to the ministry.  As a child, he and his family were members of the Associated Reformed Church of St Clair, which eventually became the Mt Lebanon UP Church.  In fact, two of Robert's grandfathers were founding members of the church and so many of his kin are spending eternity resting quietly in the St Clair Cemetery.

Robert received his DD in theology after completing his schoolwork and quickly found a church in Ohio.  He is found in the 1850 census as a clergyman living in Springfield, Clark, OH.  He returns home to marry a childhood friend, Mary Emma MATTHEWS in November 1851.  They are married by his childhood minister, the Rev Joseph CLOKEY. Ahh, CLOKEY, now he's an interesting man that we will have to examine later.  I surmise that Mary Emma's family, James MATTHEWS (abt 1795-aft1850) were probably members of the same church.  At the least, they did live in the neighborhood.

Robert and Mary move to Philadelphia where he pastored a church during the War of Northern Aggression (as mentioned in his nephew's Civil War diary).  Robert is also found in the City Directory in Phile with a house address of 850 N 7th.

In the spring of 1869, Robert applies for a passport.  What I haven't found is any evidence of a passport for his wife.  Was she included on his or was she not going over to Europe for a tour?  I find it difficult to swallow that she would have been left behind on this trip of a lifetime.

Now to a bigger mystery in the affairs of Robert.  He dies of Yellow Fever while visiting in Alexandria, Egypt.  This is verified by news of his death in the Presbyterian Banner.  The Banner made no mention of his wife.

Mary continues to live in Phile after the death of her beloved and teaches at a college.  Unfortunately, she has a stroke and falls in the bathtub on December 26, 1881.  Her death information has been found in Philadelphia, and her obit has been located in Pittsburgh.  Her body is brought back to Pittsburgh for the funeral and the burial.

Where are they?  Her obit tells us her father is deceased, and I have yet to determine when he died or where he was buried.  I suspect he is either at the St Clair Cemetery or the Mt Pisgah UP Church Cemetery as those were the two closest Presbyterian churches and cemeteries closest to his residence.  The HENRY clan is all buried at St Clair, but her tombstone has not been located.  To be fair, the early records for St Clair are all gone and many of the early headstones are damaged or gone.  I know where the HENRY clan is buried.  I know where Robert's parents are buried.  I know where his siblings are buried, but where are Robert and Mary?  Was Robert buried in Egypt or would his body have been brought home?  Would Mary have been buried with her family or with her inlaws?

Mary had at least one sister as determined by the 1850 census.  The sister was Harriet V MATTHEWS.  As they were living with one Emiline MOORE, I suspect Emiline could have been the eldest child of James and his wife, Margaret.  Either they all died before 1860, or they relocated, or they married.  I can't find any evidence of the family.

Robert and Mary had no children of their own, but I think of them often.  Did he resemble his sister in his looks?  If so, I can easily imagine his looks as I have a picture of her in my possession. 

I wonder if or when I will find them.  In the meantime, I think I'll sit and reflect as these gray clouds swarm outside the window.

Ahh, genealogy. I will guess that these storm clouds gathering would have been minor in comparison if his lovely bride had not been included on the voyage.

Sources:  RW Henry passport application
                         1850 Federal Census
                         1880 Federal Census
                         1867 Philadelphia City Directory
                         1868 Philadelphia City Directory
Pittsburgh Commerical Gazettep Dec. 30, 1881
Family Bible
History of the St Clair United Presbyterian Church of Mt Lebanon, PA 1804-1904, pg 29

©AS Eldredge 2012

Sunday, August 05, 2012

Potter, You Say?

Stories about the olden times and the settling of America are fascinating.  Ok, so maybe some of them are more fascinating than others, and some comments from the readers can catch my attention.

Recently, I wrote about little Isabella POTTER, the daughter of Henry POTTER.  As written about in some early history books of the area, little Isabella was captured by the Indians at the tender age of 10 and lived "a life of drudgery" before she was released.  As I researched the story sent to me by a cousin of mine who is directly descended from Isabella, I realized I had a double connection to little Isabella.  Now, they are both by marriage, but can you imagine the stories told 'round the old fireplace at night?  Can you imagine how Isabella and her clan most likely did not like or trust the Indians?  Can you imagine what they felt when they were rescued?

Back to the moment at hand. Little Isabella grew up and married Robert BIGHAM.  Among other children who I have not researched, they had a son, Robert, and a daughter, Jane.  The son, Robert, was born in April 1805 in Moon Twp, Allegheny, PA and married Jane GLENN (1812-1889.)  Jane is my 1C4R.  In other words, she and share a grandpa--  Her paternal grandfather is my 4g grandpa, who is buried at the St Clair Cemetery in Mt Lebanon, Allegheny, PA.

Just to add fun in to how I relate the family, I also have a cousin, Rachel DICKSON (1820-1909) who married Robert POTTER (abt 1815-1887.)  They are both buried in the Chartiers Cemetery, Allegheny Co, PA.  Rachel's grandfather is the same man who is the grandfather of Jane who married Robert and my 4g grandpa.  Robert POTTER is the son of Adam POTTER, who I suspect is the brother of Henry POTTER.

So, to the kind person who commented they were related to Henry POTTER and asked how I was related, I hope this answers your question.  Now, how are you related?  And what fun facts or stories can you add to the genealogy branches?
Read the original post here

Armstrong County, Pa., Her People, Past and Present, J.H. Beers & Co., 1914, pg 412-413
Personal email from S. McFeatters 3/2012
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

©AS Eldredge 2012