Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Granny Whetstone was missing but now she's found!

Granny Whetstone near the back boundary of their "Farm"
on Midlothian Road in Frostburg, Allegany County, Maryland.
 
 
In the previous post I wrote about Mom's Granny Whetstone, and you can see it here. In short, I'm trying to find official records for her to complete an application I'm working on so that Mom can, hopefully and if all goes well, get admitted to the NSDAR, the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution. And Granny Whetstone is a key player on the line back to our patriot. I've been on a mad hunt for Granny's death certificate. Death certificates are a boon in doing this particular work because they come with a big payload, if they were properly filled out. Think about it. If you get a good one you also get confirmation of birth date, birth location, death date, death location, names of both parents and if the wind is at your back, their birth places. And if you're that kind of curious (and Mom and I are) you can find out what they died of. Cool, huh?
 
So my guy at the Maryland State Archives who knows their web site and facilities like the proverbial back of his hand, did a search there for Granny and came up empty. No Granny, and no death certificate!
 
Once I had a good pout about that, I circled back and thought about how I was going to make up for this loss of birth and death dates and locations and parents, thus linking her back a generation. I checked my research notes in the spiral binder for this project and I have to say that I didn't think I missed a thing. Obits, cemetery, census records, a fruitless hunt for a birth record. Probate stuff, court records, a library card. OK, not that last thing but you get what I mean. I found nothing that was going to satisfy the genealogists that look at DAR application in that big nice building in Washington DC, like a good death certificate. Oh sure, I could piece her life together based on census records and her marriage record, but I needed that death certificate or the application was going to be a patchwork quilt of sources. I wanted clean and streamlined.
 
Feeling like a puppy chasing it's tale, I took my grief to the Facebook group for DAR members working on applications and told them everything. Boo-hoo, Grammy has no death certificate. They were good, really good. There was a flurry of "did you check the ___" questions in which they made sure I hadn't overlooked the obvious, which could happen to anyone. Then the questions turned to the slightly more obscure records and at the end we were down to insurance policies. No one suggested a library card;)
 
I was left thinking about two possible things I might do. The first was to get someone in Frostburg to go over to the cemetery offices and check the records for me, if there were any. It's been my experience that if you go over and ask to look at something and chat a bit and share the story of who and what you're looking for, people get involved and really try to help. So maybe I could get a relative in town to do that.
 
The second thing was that I could try a bit harder to track down some church records in hopes of finding a burial record in a dusty corner. I knew it wouldn't be as complete as the death certificate but hey, it was a shot because it might give a date of death and some other goodies. They were not Catholics so that was out which is too bad because the best church records in town were the Catholic records, and I had already checked those just in case. Maybe they were Lutherans? Maybe. But the minister who married them was a Baptist. And this in a small town where churches come and go almost as fast as the bars. Was not optimistic.
 
Then one of the DAR daughters came forth and offered to look and double-check to see if she could find Granny in the Maryland State Archives online. Wow! That was real nice, but DAR daughters are like that. They love to help each other and the community. A lot of people do, and that's one of the things I like about genealogy and genealogists:) So I took her up on it. "What was her name?" she posted. And then I remembered something. Something very important.
 
Granny's name! In working on her life and the records that captured glimpses into the moments of it, I noticed a distinct pattern. In her early years she was recorded as Catherine Elizabeth or Catherine Eliza, and even rarely, Eliza. Then in later years she went by Kate and Katherine. (You can see this coming, can't you?) I took a quick look at the email request for research sent to my guy at the Maryland State Archive and whatta ya think it said? "Catherine!" I had asked him to look for Catherine! If she was more likely to have gone by Katherine, then no wonder he didn't find her in the records!
 
My new DAR friend found her in the online index in under five minutes! WOW!
 
 
See there? Katherine, with a "K".
And look there, she died in 1945?
 
And the index said that she died, when? 2 January 1947! Mom said that after I was born in the fall of 1946, she talked to Granny on the phone and Granny asked her she was bringing me over so that she could see me. Fall of 1946 and Granny Whetstone was still alive. Yes, Mom, you were right, she was alive and we did go see Granny Whetstone that winter. Right before she passed on the second day of the new year. 1947.
 
I'm wondering what happened that the year of her death ended up as 1945 on her stone?
 
 
The URL for this post is:

Monday, September 22, 2014

Granny Whetstone's Missing! (And I can't find her.)

 

Yes, dear Granny Whetstone, Mom's own kind and gentle grandmother, is missing. There she is above with her husband Joseph Hampton Whetstone (1858 - 1939). No, she didn't wander off just now. She's been gone since right around the time I was born. And yes, she's missing from the records. Oh, sure, she's right there in the census records from 1870 with her House family in West Virginia all the way through the 1930 census in Frostburg, Allegany, Maryland. She's there except for a birth certificate but that's to be expected because it's West Virginia in 1865, right after the Civil War and West Virginia is a brand new state, so no birth record for her... and by way of extension, for me. By the way, she was born April 5th and the war ended April 9th. I wonder if there ever was a birth certificate for her?

But I can't complain too much (even though you know I'm going to) because of one census return for Granny and her family. Here it is and you'll notice that she and her husband are there, as well as Mom - Virginia - and her parents, Emma and Cambria Williams. And look, they are all named and the relationships are named too! WOW! Jackpot! Three generations in one record.

Isn't this cool?!
 
Alright, that's nice but what I really want is Granny Whetstone's death certificate. I have the rest of my great grandparents death certificates and I need hers too. So I emailed my guy who knows his way around the Maryland State Archives and off he went to get her death certificate as well as that of her husband, Joe. When I received his package in the mail there was no death certificate for Granny. WHA?? I couldn't believe it. So I went on the Maryland State Archive myself and tried to find her in the index. Got nothin'.
 
Then I noticed a discrepancy in her death year. Her tombstone says she died in 1945. Just look at this photo of it and see for yourself.
 
 
 
 
Mom's tree and it says that she died in January of 1946. Now I'm really confused because if I think about it, maybe that's not right either. Mom remembers - and I asked her about this many times over the years - that after she had me in October of 1946, she spoke with Granny on the phone and Granny said, When are you going to bring that baby over so I can see her? So Mom did, and Granny saw me, and presumably I saw her too. It was winter, Mom said, which in Western Maryland can come anytime really, but usually from November and until about April. That would make it late 1946 and into 1947. And Mom remembers that she took me to Granny's home of many years, on Midlothian Road in Frostburg. So maybe Granny Whetstone passed in January of 1947.
 
Grand pop Whetstone had passed on August 15, 1939, and Mom remembers it well. She and Dad were to get married that day but cancelled until the 21st because Joe died then. Granny continued to live in their home until she passed, as Mom has said.
 
So what's with the missing death certificate? And what's with the multiple death years? I'm at a loss.
 



Mom, Virginia Williams, on the left and her sister, Dot, on the right Flanking their mother Emma Susan (Whetstone) Williams in the light dress and Granny Kate, in the dark dress.
Katherine (or Catherine depending on the record) Elizabeth (House) Whetstone.
Photo, mid 1930s.
 
 
I seriously needed Granny Whetstone's death certificate because I'm working on Mom's application to the NSDAR. The DAR for short, or Daughters of the American Revolution, requires exact and accurate documentation in the preparation of your application. Death certificates are a boon to the applicant because it ordinarily includes birth and death dates as well as the names of both parents and therefore proved the vitals of that person as well as provide a link back to the previous generation.
 
But my Maryland State Archive guy sent a note with the things he did find stating in blatant terms, "She did not die in Maryland."
 
I was in shock. Shocked and maybe a little depressed at how much more work this was going to make for me. Now what the heck was I going to do? I have no vital records for Granny Whetstone. She's just plain missing.
 
More in the next post.




The URL for this post is: http://nutsfromthefamilytree.blogspot.com/2014/09/granny-whetstones-missing-and-i-cant.html

Monday, September 15, 2014

One Lovely Blog Award, Part 2: Share Seven things about yourself

 

Randy Seaver over at the Genea-Musing Blog passed on to me the One Lovely Blog Award and you can read all about that here. I was very happy to receive it from such a prestigious blogger who is on every Best Of list! But of course there are catches that usual come with awards and this one included what felt to me like a catch:

Share seven things about yourself 

Seven things about me?! And I'm assuming that the seven things should be at least a little interesting, shouldn't they? That's gonna be real hard. So here they are and you'll soon see why I am balking at this part of the honor;)

1. I don't like to talk about me very much. I'll share if it's helpful to someone else but otherwise who wants to hear all about me? No one. Oh, sure I'll tell a story from my point of view but that simply serves the story. Therefore, this is going to be hard. So here I am wasting one of the seven with a statement that I don't like to share things about myself... there, that killed one of em';)

2. I was born in the same county that Mom and Dad were born in, all of my grandparents were born in, and 6 out of 8 of my great grandparents. Those two were born in Wales and Ireland, that being Daniel Williams (1852 - 1920) the coal miner from Wales and Catherine Elizabeth (House) Whetstone (1865 - 1947) born in Ireland. The county I was born into is Allegany County and it's a lovely lush green piece of mountain Maryland heaven. When I'm visiting Mom I don't have to go far to find all the home places. And I can really appreciate it from afar now that I live in Southern California and don't have to shovel their record setting snow accumulations.

3. At my core I'm just a country girl with city leanings. I love the freshness of the woods and am happily surprised when I see a springtime stream and can go looking for tadpoles and wildflowers. Sure, sure, everyone enjoys a real upscale restaurant in the city or a Broadway play that just opened to rave reviews, but at this point in my life I've had my fill of city life and I'd rather have a pot of fresh vegetable stew on the stove in my own home. For years I lived in Manhattan but I feel right at home on this Southern California canyon with the skunks, raccoons, opossums, grouse, hummingbirds, a rattlesnake or two, and the rare coyote and all manner of critters and birds.

4. To me the most useless thing in the world is having the common cold. Can't think. Use up all the tissues in the house. No appetite. Useless waste of time. Now whose idea was that?

5. I'm short. All these young people are tall. I don't like it.

6. I think best either in the shower or in the car by myself taking a ride to nowhere in particular. Because we live in Southern California and there's water conservation going on, long thoughtful showers are out. A lot of us think best while going on a car ride. By ourselves. Having a car full of people is counterproductive to thinking, don't you feel? I've been know to be deep in thought and driving to a specific destination only to be suddenly shaken out of a reverie and realize that I'd completely forgotten where I was going. And of course I'd passed the exit I wanted. Don't laugh. I bet you've done that too!

7. I like to do indexing. When FamilySearch was running their 1940 census project I was a cheerful participant. Then when we all pitched together to break the world record for the number of indexers indexing in one day, I was there. The records I seek out are death certificates. I really like them. Texas are my all time faves. If I get a bunch of them from a geographic area over a couple of years, well I could do that indexing all day long. And I read those death certificates too so I'm a slow indexer. I find them fascinating because they tell a lot about a community. Number of gunshot deaths, density of clogged arteries or heart attacks, a rash of infant deaths. I can't help but wonder why.

Well, see I warned you that I don't like to talk about myself. Next time I need to tackle the list of blogs that interest me and that I want to pass this One Lovely Blog Award on to. I've only got 15 to give out so that will be difficult. I think we're in a sort of Golden Age of genealogy blogging. Yes, picking out 15 will be real hard!


My Mountain Maryland.


The URL for this post is:

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Mom's DAR adventure: It will take a village

I always thought it a great big sad shame that Mom was never able to make application to the DAR. It's not like she didn't have an ancestor who was already recognized and accepted by them as one of their Patriots, because she did. He's one of our Wonderful Whetstones and you can see my Surname Saturday post about Capt. Jacob Whetstone (1738 - 1833) and the entire line here. Problem is that a family genealogy book was put out by an interested party stating that Jacob Whetstone's line took a turn at Somerset County and then headed west. In fact, there were two Jacob Whetstones in the area at the time! Our guy was the one who got the Military Lots:) That ought to tell ya' right there that he's the one who served.

But let's set that can of Whetstone worms aside and get back to this business that Mom had not had an ancestor who was officially approved by the DAR and recognized as one of its Patriots. Until right now. (I'm all but giddy!)

Got an email from Cousin Rich who informed me that he just checked the DAR web site and looked for our ancestor to see that he is now listed, and approved!! Giddy, I tell you:) I congratulated him and his wife as well because they were the ones who readied and submitted the application. Man, I thought, that's got to feel great, to have a brand new patriot officially listed! That was some super good genealogy work on Rich's part because, well, you know, it's West Virginia where court houses burn down every other Halloween, or at least that's how it seems.

Cousin Rich really worked hard on this one, but he was helped by Mom in a major way that put all the pieces together. Without the document she found, which we've come to call the "friendly lawsuit", there might have been no proof of our connection to this new Patriot.

After the dust settled a bit and the congratulations were flung around and emailed back and forth, I had a moment to think and realize what this meant. Mom now had her Patriot under which she could finally make application to the DAR! Wow! It could finally happen for her.

I'd recently read that the usual application processing time which can take more than a year is fast tracked for those over 90. Mom qualifies at 96 years old. Maybe we could actually get this done:) I emailed Cousin Rich and explained what I wanted to do and he replied instantly that he'd love to help get Mom in the DAR. Now I had my team in place to work up the application for Mom's lineage and  to show the Patriot's service. See the ducks? Look at them getting into a tidy little row.

Time is always of the essence but especially when the prospective member is 96. So wish us all luck, and may the wind be at our backs. I so want Mom to be a DAR member at long last. I haven't told her yet. Shh, this is just between us. I'll keep you posted:)


Mom at less than a year with her parents, Cambria "Camey" Williams (1897 - 1960) and Emma Susan (Whetstone) Williams (1897 - 1956). Mom's patriot is on her mother's line.


The URL for this post is: http://nutsfromthefamilytree.blogspot.com/2014/09/moms-dar-adventure-it-will-take-village.html

Thursday, September 11, 2014

The One Lovely Blog Award!

 


I get email feeds from the blogs I really really like and don't want to miss and the rest of the blogs that interest me I read in my news reader. At the top of my list are a scant few that always get looked at no matter how fast my morning is running. Tops amongst them is Randy Seaver's Genea-Musings. It's educational and newsy, and often just darn amusing. Seriously, if you aren't subscribed go do it now. And while you're there take a close look at the tabs at the top. You'll find Best Of posts and the tab for Source Citations. That's worth the price of admission right there!

Anyway, Randy received the "One Lovely Blog" Award. The award is one of those things that goes around the blog-a-sphere from time to time. It's a swell way to shine a spotlight on the blogs you follow and would share with a good genea-buddy. It's a nice thing:) Randy then did me the honor of including this blog on his list of Lovely Blogs. Isn't that Lovely? I think so:)

Here are the rules, as stated on Randy's Genea-Musings:
  1. Thank the person who nominated you and link to that blog
  2. Share Seven things about yourself 
  3. Nominate 15 bloggers you admire (or as many as you can think of!)
  4. Contact your bloggers to let them know that you've tagged them for the One Lovely Blog Award
So I'm going to take some time and think about which 15 blogs to nominate and then think some more about the 7 things I want to share here about myself. Then I'll be back real soon and make a proper post. How's that?
 
But right now I'm doing Number 1. So here's a proper Thank You, going out to Randy Seaver.
 
 
 
THANK YOU, Randy Seaver!
 
 
 
 

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Food of the ancestors: feels like love

I remember both of my grandmother's cooking and maybe you remember yours too. It was wonderful to be in their kitchens and smell the glorious scents of heaven nearby. My Grandma Kelly was an excellent baker and came from a German way of cooking. Breads, sweet cakes, pies, and those little scraps of pie dough sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar that had no name, except, "Yes, please!" The food of our ancestors lives on in many of our hearts even though those who cooked with love are now gone.

My husband's family came from Eastern European Jewish roots. When I married him and went to family food-based events, I noticed some similarities between Grandma Kelly's cooking and his family's cooking. In short, they both had German roots. For example, noodle dishes that were either sweet or savory were often on the table. At my core, I understood kasha varniskas, an Eastern European Jewish dish that combines kasha which is buckwheat groats with noodles, mostly bow tie pasta. A "Danish" pastry by any name is still a wonderful thing.

Recently, my husband received a link from an old buddy of his so he sent it on to me to enjoy, sending me to this video titled, "Deli Man". It caught my interest not just because the food looked mouth-watering but because it speaks to traditions in food passed down through generations, with love and respect.

I wish I had my Grandma Kelly's recipes. I often asked her how she made things and even attempted to take notes. Mom did too, more often than I did. We were both persistent yet gave up after many tries. You see, Grandma didn't follow any recipes. It was a handful of this and mix with your fingers just so until it looked like this. Just a little more because it didn't feel right. Now add a pinch of salt. Not a big pinch but a medium size pinch. If video was available then it would have been perfect to catch her on-the-fly brand of cooking!

So check out the video link, above, for Deli Man. And enjoy:)


Grandma Kelly in her kitchen with Grandpop and their youngest child, Louise.
 

The URL for this post is: http://nutsfromthefamilytree.blogspot.com/2014/09/food-of-ancestors-feels-like-love.html

Friday, September 5, 2014

Wow! The Lonaconing Journal! Who knew?

Mom and I had talked about the "Lonaconing Journals" a couple of times and we even thumbed through her copy on one trip back east from here in San Diego where I live to the little mountain town of Frostburg in Western Maryland where our ancestor lived and Mom still lives. One of the great sagas of our family that carried through the generation of the 1800s and into the 1900s is that of the coal miner. Mining was the occupation put on many a census for the men of the family from that first wonderfully descriptive census in 1850 down to about 1940. That's over 100 years of the hard, crippling and low paid work of mining.

"The Lonaconing Journals" is by a woman who really knows her way around the coal mines of Allegany County Maryland, and that's Katherine A. Harvey. The proper and full title of this work is "The Lonaconing Journals: The funding of a coal and iron community, 1837 - 1840". Published in 1977 by The American Philosophical Society, it was I've been told, a master's degree thesis. This work along with Ms. Harvey's PhD dissertation, "Best-dressed Miners: Life and labour in the Maryland coal region, 1835 - 1920", Cornell University Press, 1970, is all you'd ever need when trying to imagine your coal miner ancestors, especially if the come from Western Maryland. Of all that I've ever read about coal mining and coal miner's families in the area, these two are the very best!

Here's how Harvey describes the facts of the Lonaconing Journals:
The Lonaconing journals, kept by the super-intendents of the George's Creek Coal and Iron Company, cover the period 1837-1840. Their setting is the recent Appalachian frontier, and their subject is the building of an experimental iron furnace and the development of its adjacent company town in western Maryland. The principal figure in these activities was John Henry Alexander (1812-1867), topographical engineer for the state of Maryland, professor of mining and engineering at the University of Pennsylvania, one of the founders of the National Academy of Science, a member of the American Philosophical Society, and author and editor of works on many topics.
Harvey states on this same page, page one, that the Journal chronicling the earliest days of the company miraculously survived all moves and destructions of other company documents, files, and papers! It is a window into a point in local history not otherwise available.

It paints the picture of an area in the first days of a boom time. The lives of the miners here - mostly immigrants from Wales, Ireland, England and Scotland with a few from Germany - were better than miners elsewhere and they were more prosperous too. When they moved into the area back then, miners brought the entire family and the area had as a result a much more stable population, unlike other mining town where the miners were almost always single men. This was a relatively peaceful and prosperous mining community.

Don't want to paint too idyllic a picture of it all. There were wage disputes, attempts at unionizing that met with management's resistance and dirty dealing, and awful strikes. The ill or injured miners and their families were sometimes summarily evicted from their cottages because they could no longer work. It was a hard life by today's standards but a pretty good deal for the miners of the day and much better than they were going to get in Pennsylvania to the north and West Virginia to the south.

Mom's ancestors along her father's line, the Williams family,  were almost exclusively coal miners in the George's Creek Mine Field in Allegany County, Maryland until the 1920s. The Williams family's patriarch, Daniel, came from Wales from a line of coal miners, and all worked in the Western Maryland mines from about 1841 to the time of the Roaring Twenties. Mom's father, Camey or more formally Cambria and given the very traditional name for Wales, was brought to the mines to work at a young age. His father, Daniel Williams, immigrated to work there and became a supervisor. He eventually got the fever of owning a mine during the boom times of WWI and purchased one in Mt. Savage near his home place in Ocean, Maryland where he worked for the Consolidation Coal Company. He then bought another mine over in West Virginia. The West Virginia mine, as best Mom and Aunt Betty can figure out, was rich in tin. After he passed it was eventually lost for unpaid taxes. The Mt. Savage mine property is still in the hands of one of Daniel's descendants.

Daniel and his progeny weren't the only miners who came from Wales on Mom's side. The most famous is Benjamin Thomas and his family. Below is the ships' passenger list for the Barque Tiberius where his family is listed. You can see that Benjamin and four of his sons are listed as "colliers" or coal miners.  My great great grandmother, Diana, is just 6 years old!

 
 



 
 Benjamin Thomas and family were recruited in Wales by the Consolidation Coal Company and as such their passage was paid for by the Company and they arrived at the Port of Baltimore in July of 1837. The Company had been busy with their engineers and workers building out the mine and iron works. All was ready for the miners to get to work making a profit, and they did in the fall of that year. And their plans were BIG! Once the whole operation got going, there were was a superintendent, four managers, numerous clerks, and 400 mine workers working under them. Periodically the Journals noted that a couple more families from the Tiberius had arrived, found lodging and were ready to work.

The passages included in Harvey's book are excerpts from the complete set of Journals. She admits to leaving out much of the technical details. Included are some passages from the actual journals kept by John H. Alexander from 1837 to 1840 with a lot of technical description about how the furnace was built as well as some of the more innovational aspects of the entire projects. But the day-to-day stuff about the miners is the real fascinating material.

A post office is established. Local clay gets turned into bricks and those bricks get put to work on many projects and were even used as floors in the dirt floor "shantees" or very modest cottages purchased from farmers nearby. Blacksmiths were hired. Blacksmiths up and quit, likely hired away by mines in neighboring states. Boarding houses popped up for the few single men but mostly housed families until they could find a proper house or cottage. Roads got built, men were injured.

The activity continued at a fast pace until the usual harsh Western Maryland winters gave the whole project a reason to slow down.
February 21.-Mercury stands at -1 at 7 A.M. The mornings have been so cold for several days past that the stonecutters at the hearth could only work in the afternoons.
February 22.-Thermometer at 7 A.M. stands at --9.
It is so cold that a number of hands could not work out of doors. Carpenters again stopped working at the molding house in consequence of the severe cold.

Some newly hired workers just don't work out.
February 23.-John Thomas, who has been here since October last and was intended for a furnace keeper, will persist in getting drunk and has been discharged.
I have no idea if this John Thomas was the son of our Benjamin Thomas, listed on the Tiberius manifest above.

And more accidents happen. Snow comes in March and again in April finally making a last appearance in May. Talk about harsh weather!

In Volume 2 of the Journals, the details of the lives of the miners working for The Consolidation Coal Company were recorded. This is the very best description of the terms of employment and daily life under the Company I've ever had the great pleasure to read!  Rules like no dogs being kept in the heart of the winter without the specific approval of the superintendent are noted and a directive that  houses must be kept clean and tidy, making a pleasant appearance. It was set out in writing that the miners must work from sunrise to sunset all days of the year except Christmas and Sundays. And most importantly, no distilled spirits and no drunkenness. Ever. At all. And if the rule was violated, people were fired.

On page 46 I read this.
February 19.-The night passes off quietly. The revelers at Buskirk's pass the sentinels by keeping high up the hill. Benjamin Thomas, miner, and wife stopped by sentinels in a state of intoxication.
WOW! That's our Benjamin Thomas! He and Hanna (Evans) his wife were drunk. Now that's well worth knowing! So the story is that they and others would scamper up the hillside and move as quietly as possible through the woods to get to the home of the Buskirk's where liquor was served. Everyone knew about it and most found their way, often on a Saturday night. And of course the mining company knew. It was no problem at all for them to wait in hiding for intoxicated miners and their wives as they loudly stumbled home.

It always amazes me how such juicy details are hidden and waiting for us to find them, deep in an obscure record. If Mom hadn't been so curious about the life and times of her ancestors she might have skipped the "Lonaconing Journals" in search of some index or listing with less of a beating heart. But she didn't. She found it in a local library and copied out the pages. Her notes from this time when she first read the Journals are a treasure to me. It's like she's right here with me, and we're finding it all over again!


Daniel Williams (1852-1920).

 


 
The URL for this post is: