Friday, June 24, 2016

How to find out if you have a DAR Patriot Ancestor!

Maybe you know already or maybe you are interested in finding out: do you have a DAR Patriot Ancestor? There are, as far as I can figure, over 200,000 Patriot Ancestors on the official DAR list. Of course there are many more than that number who served in the military or gave civil or other patriotic service and are just waiting for their descendants to find them and show them to the DAR by way of an application.

I've has so many people ask how to get onto the DAR web site and check to see if their ancestor is listed that I wrote up a How To sheet for it with step-by-step instructions. And it is.

How to find the Genealogy Record System or GRS
and see the search page for Ancestors in the DAR database.

1. go to

2. find GENEALOGY at the very top and click there.

3. In the middle of that page you'll see a column heading that says "Genealogy Research, GRS".

4. Under GRS at the top of the list is "Ancestor Search", and click there.

5. That will take you to the Ancestor Search page. You can enter what you know here but sometimes less is more so a last name and a first name is often enough to start. 

6. If it's an unusual name or a name that could have many spellings then use the "Advanced Search" feature. You'll find the link to that on the right. Advanced Search lets you use Soundex. Using Advanced Search and Soundex will bring up more results to choose from.

7. If you've used Soundex or there are more than one men of the same name, they will all come up in the search results. Then you'll need to narrow the selections by birth and death dates as well as locations.

8. Click on the ancestor name to see the details page.

By this time you should have a pretty good idea if your ancestor is already recognized and verified by the DAR!

Saturday, June 18, 2016

1850 Census Love!

I am just wild about the 1850 census. Sure it doesn't give family relationships or how many years the couple was married or how many children she had, but it has a raw freshness that's fascinating.

It was the first census that lists household member, and a lot more! But "more" in a different way that can reveal much about the people enumerated! Maybe the enumerator had that beginner's "unleashed" mindset in which lack of specific and clear instructions meant more candid listings. And it's always interesting to see who had valuable real estate!

Check these two entries from Cumberland, Allegany County, Maryland.

I posted these pages to the Western Maryland History Group on Facebook, which is a closed group of pretty serious historian and family researchers, and got a fascinating response. Brenda, who lives in the Kansas City area for some time recognized the name Jesse Quantrill, who was spending some quality time with the jailer, as you can see above. She added some frosting to this census return with the following, transcribed from this web page. Read on and be amazed!! Thank you so much, Brenda, for going the extra step to make history come alive.
“Mary Lane, daughter of Seth Lane, said to have been one of the foremost citizens of Hagerstown, was infatuated with him, and they were clandestinely married. She was to inherit a considerable sum of money at a certain age which she had not attained by a year when married. By making a very full and sweeping relinquishment he secured this money from the bank in which it had been deposited, and which, it was affirmed, belonged in part to Seth Lane and his son. When his wife had attained her majority he endeavored to collect the money again, alleging that the bank had no legal right to pay the money at the time it had been paid

“With the money of his wife he had engaged in the grocer business in Williamsport, MD. This business was a failure, and the money was lost. He then determined to engage in larger operations. He went to New York City, where he represented himself to be the son of a wealthy Virginia merchant well known there, and purchased on credit a large stock of goods, which he caused to be shipped to himself at Baltimore. This swindle was discovered by the merchants in time to stop a portion of the shipment and save some of the goods. But he succeeded in disposing of a part of the merchandise I a way which baffled all attempts to trace it. To avoid the consequences of this transaction he availed himself of the benefit of the law for bankrupts, but as his action was based on fraud he was cast into prison. For ix months his beautiful wife shared his cell. He finally secured an acquittal and was released. While in prison he had read law under directions from William Price, one of the leading lawyers of Western Maryland.

“From Maryland Jesse D. Quantrill went to St. Louis, Mo., where he was soon in trouble and in jail, securing his release finally through the efforts of his wife, who still clung to him. Upon his release he took boat for Cincinnati, and while on board committed a forgery which seems to have been discovered at once, and for which he escaped punishment. From Cincinnati he went to New Orleans, where he became dissipated and began to neglect and abuse his wife. She fell ill, and her condition appeared to work a change in him. He started by boat to take her home to Maryland but while to boat was yet on the Mississippi river he committed a forgery on a Cincinnati bank. He was soon detected in this crime, was taken to Cincinnati and thrown into jail. After a confinement in prison of seven months is wife succeeded in securing him bail, which he forfeited by not appearing for trial, deserting his wife at that place. She next heard of him at Hagerstown, where he was in trouble for a forgery he committed there, but for which he escaped conviction. He then went to Pennsylvania, were he was sentenced to a term of imprisonment in the penitentiary for forgery, and he served three years. While serving this sentence his wife secured a divorce from him, it is said, by the act of the Maryland Legislature. When he hear of her action in procuring the divorce he made many savage threats against her life. But upon his release from prison he married a Pennsylvania lady, and was soon thereafter arrested for another forgery, for which he was sentenced to a term of seven years in the penitentiary.

“Meanwhile, Mrs. Quantill had married a Mr. A. Cowton, proprietor of the United States Hotel, Cumberland, Maryland with whom she was happily living. Quantrill was released from the Pennsylvania penitentiary in 1848. In March, 1849, he appeared in Cumberland. On the fifth of that month Mrs, Cowton was in her apartments, when a servant showed up a gentleman who had just arrived in the city. He dismissed the servant, and closed and locked the door. He then turned to Mrs. Cowton, who was horrified to behold Qunatrill, her former husband. There was murder in his looks, and she screamed for help. He told her that her hour had come, caught her by the throat, threw her to the floor, placed his knee upon her breast, and snapped a pistol in her face. When the pistol missed fire, and just as he was drawing a long knife, several persons who had been attracted by her screams, broke down the door and rescued Mrs. Cowton

“For this attempt to murder he was sentenced to a term of imprisonment. He must have possessed a fascinating personality, for he soon obtained an unaccountable influence over the prison officials and was allowed considerable freedom, even acting as guard over other prisoners. In 1851 he was pardoned upon condition that he would leave the state and never return.”

Sunday, May 29, 2016

What I've learned about death from genealogy

Sure, we who work on family history have this peculiar relationship with death. We seek dates and places of death and spend an unusually large amount of time in cemeteries. Were did they die, when did they die, and who is buried with them? We want to know as much as possible about the circumstances of our ancestor's deaths.

I'm feeling that I've learned something about death from doing this work and I'd like to share observations with you here. As always, feel free to comment:)

1. No one gets out of this life alive. Everyone gets to die. I think that I want to live like I actually know that, and that I know time is limited. When I was in my early 20s maybe I did stuff that indicated I thought I was immortal. Maybe you did too? Now I know that death will come. Morbid? Naw. Just practical. It's good to know firmly that my stuff and especially my genealogy stuff will not go with me when I die. Therefore I need to figure out who gets it.

2. I'd like a nice smallish stone. We can't help but stand in the graveyard and think, gosh, that's a real nice stone over there! I am partial to the older ones, especially the Victorians. You can spot them across the way. They stand tall and maybe have a female figure atop. I like that even though it's not the style now. My Dad, his brother and brother-in-law all chose black granite. Maybe it's a guy thing? I'd really prefer a white marble stone but they deteriorate too quickly. Isn't it frustrating to see an old marble stone all eroded and losing the clarity of the inscription? It's amazing how quickly the old stones are going now. Maybe it's air quality.

3. I do want a stone. I wouldn't feel right without knowing that a stone was in place and waiting. Scatter my ashes where you please, but I want my page on Find-A-Grave. Stop by, leave a note or a flower. I like that FAG iris. When I think about it, that stone will be my placeholder in the physical world.

4. How long did your ancestors live? Having seen a whole bunch of tombstones that say the person died in the 90-something year of his life, and what with Mom being 98 now and going strong, and Dad making it to 92 plus, I need to take care of my parts and pieces because I'll be using them a while, most likely.

5. You can die anytime. A car accident took my aunt on a snowy day. Coal mine accidents took friends and neighbors of ancestors. My grandma, when she was just in her 50s, slipped on ice and hit her head hard after church one Sunday and was gone by the following weekend. Yup, you can go anytime.
If this is true, and it appears to be so based on the lives of the ancestors, it would benefit all involved if we were well prepared. Like with a will and making peace and stuff. Legal documents in order would be helpful. For gosh sake, we've looked at plenty of wills and know their benefit to heirs and genealogists too!! Ancestors dying intestate can be fun, but think of the relatives and heirs!

6. Back to tombstone designs. I don't want one that's overly tall and thin. There must be a ratio, I'm thinking, wherein the thing won't crack and fall over. Don't you think? I really am sad to see those old stones with a stub in the ground and the top asunder.

One can hope for an easy death but that's useless. We have little power over those aspects of life's end. But there's so much else that we do have power over and that's a joy to think about.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

One Photo, Many Emotions

Consolidated Coal Company Miners of Frostburg, Allegany County, Maryland.
I'm really lucky to belong to a closed Facebook group for Western Maryland History. This group has amazing members who know the goods when it comes to the history of my ancestors' homeland in Western Maryland. Document from the earliest times back in the early 1700s to now, members of the group bring obscure and overlooked oddities, often with links, and a short citation. There have even been some uploaded documents, especially maps. They're crazy about maps! Memories too get posted there. We have one thing so obviously in common: we love the land and history of our ancestors!
The above photo, taken in the early 1900s, got posted recently and there was a large and strong reaction. It's a group photo of a shift of coal miners all working in the very hazardous conditions that was the very nature of coal mining on what was called The Big Vein along George's Creek in Western Maryland. Men came, often with their families, from Wales, Ireland, and Germany, as well as north from the coal fields in Pennsylvania to the area for the work. It was hard and dirty work but it was a sure way to earn a decent living for your family, if you weren't killed in the process. Strikes were common as the mine owners tried once again to wring extra profits out of the operation by cutting the miner's salaries. But all-in-all, if a man was going to earn a living by coal mining, this was one of the best places to do it.

It's the faces of the miners that hooks everyone who sees the photo. The faces and expressions are clear. Young men, older men but no very old men. By the time a man reached middle age here he was too worn out and his body too damaged to work very hard. Young boys worked with their fathers and brothers for half-pay. They worked side-by-side, and lost limbs or lives in the same way as the men but earned half.

On the Facebook page, posts appeared under this photo. The comments were heartfelt, even emotional, rather than the cool factual comments that typically get posted. This photo was different. You see, many of us have strong men of the coal mines as our ancestors. Bit by bit, the lives of these miner came together as posts popped up.
I looked at it for the first time searching for my grandfather and great grandfather but I didn't see them there. My great grandfather Daniel Williams, who came from Wales to the area to work the mines, was a supervisor at one of the Ocean Mines, so he wasn't in this picture which appears to have been taken elsewhere. My grandfather Lee Kelly worked in the Borden Mines but he did so at a time later than this picture. But just from the looks of the picture, they could easily have been here because they would have fit right in.

There's my great grandfather Daniel Williams, second from the left, with a mining crew.

That's my grandfather, John Lee Kelly, about 1930 when he was working in the mines. That's Dad second from the right. No one knows who the kid on the left is.
Back to the photo up top. Do you see their lunch buckets? There in the front. Everyone had one. These men worked hard doing manual labor that burned a lot of calories, so they had big appetites. My Grandpop Kelly called it a dinner pail because that's what he called the mid-day meal. You can see the size of the bucket and imaging what all went in there. Lots and lots of food. No salads. No kale. No quinoa.
Look how clean their faces and garments are. Obviously this photo was taken at the start of the day when the men were on the way to the mines. By the end of the day they were covered in coal dust. Some homes had a "wash house" out back, for laundry but also as a place where the miners of the family could wash up and change clothes before entering the house. Grandma Kelly's house had a big back porch were Grandpop washed up.

But the killer detail in this big group photo is the lamps on the hats. And I don't use the word "killer" lightly. Those were carbide lamps and if the coal dust got bad or there was gas leaking from the mine, the carbide lamp would cause an explosion.

One of the members of the Facebook group posted that his ancestor raised canaries to be sold to the mining companies. If the canary died, well....

The mine caused all sorts of other businesses to prosper in the area. My great grandfather Gustav Zeller owned a "tonsorial emporium" or barber shop that had big bathtubs where the miners could have a bath on Saturday. He was a prosperous man!

Great grandfather Gus Zeller's barber shop on Main Street, Frostburg, Allegany Co., MD. Notice the oversized barber pole!

That's him. Can you tell he was a barber? Look at that mustache.

The 100 year anniversary of Frostburg happened in 1912. It might be said that the area reached it's prosperous zenith then. The population of the area was around 15,000 and they all came to town on Saturday, market day. Frostburg hummed on a Saturday afternoon as miners and their families came to Main Street. Those miners in the photo? Wonder how many had a Saturday bath at great grandfather Zeller's barber shop?


Thursday, March 24, 2016

Five Generations: Maryland with a bit of Wales, Ireland and a Touch of Germany

It's all the rage across the internet in the world of genealogy: Five Generation Country of Origin Chart. I'll include a link to it below. I saw others' charts and frankly they looked pretty cool so decided to try it myself. Thing is that so many of my ancestors came from Maryland and when I color coded each geographic area, well, look at all that green! Yeah, my peeps come from Maryland!

If you want to try it, here's where to go: Jana's Blog, and click the link at the bottom to download a sample chart. Then edit to make it your own, even adding generations!

Friday, March 18, 2016

Another Workman Cousin, a DAR Sister, and Another DAR Patriot!

Another new-to-me cousin found me through this blog! People Google around looking for general info about their ancestors and find this blog with regularity. She was looking for connections to her ancestors William Workman and his wife the Indian Princess Tereca, and William's father Andrew Workman all of whom I blogged about not too long ago. So she sent an email! Enter Cousin Denise!

Right off we found out that she and Cousin Brenda and I are all DAR members. That's super fun right there because in addition to being DAR sisters we're also blood cousins! So many great ways to be connected.

Right now I'm awaiting approval of my additional DAR application verifying my lineal descent from my Patriot Ancestor John Trimble. And Denise is working on her additional application proving her lineal descent from William Workman's father Andrew Workman. Because Denise had already submitted an additional application for my John Trimble, she had some documents for me just as I had Workman documents for her. We burned the midnight oil playing document swap! What fun!

Now you need to know that for me, the very best thing to happen besides breaking down one of my giant brick walls, is finding a new DAR Patriot Ancestor. (You can find the DAR Patriot Ancestor database and check if your ancestor is listed here.) The DAR has already verified my applications for five Patriot Ancestors and I have two more at National right now and if they go through that will give me seven in total.

I also have a list of other more challenging ancestors that I'd like to get approved by the DAR as new Patriot Ancestors. I'm working them all and that list is right by my side at this very moment. These individuals who are ancestors on my tree that I can prove my descent from but are not yet recognized as Patriots by the DAR because no one has yet submitted an application linking to them. There are about 20 ancestors of mine who might possibly be proven, with a lot of luck. But documenting a new Patriot Ancestor means proving their service and residence at time of service as well as the usual dates and places of birth and death. As you can imagine, each one takes massive amounts of work.

So, with seven Patriot Ancestors done or at National, when Denise casually mentioned that John Trimble's father, David Trimble, is also a Patriot Ancestor, my head about exploded!!

But that's truly not the point of this story. The real point is that I connected to both Brenda and Denise because this blog with my email address was floating around out there on the internet for them to find. We've had a blast sharing a ton of old family records and getting to know each other. None of that would have happened had it not been for this blog.

Take every chance you can to get out there and make connections to both cousins and others searching for your ancestral lines. Start a blog, post to message boards, join genealogical societies and historical societies in the places you research, join Facebook groups and post your questions. Make yourself and your connections to your ancestors visible on the internet. You'll be so glad that you did.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

The Indian Princess Finally Makes Her Entrance!

I remember sitting on the front porch with Grandma Kelly, sitting in the swing that overlooked West Main Street in Frostburg, Allegany County, Maryland. Main Street was, well, the main street and even though it's name was changed from Union Street to Main Street, it was the number one thoroughfare in the little mountain town in Western Maryland.

"Yooo-hooo!" Grandma would wave and call out to all foot traffic. She loved greeting people and more likely than not, she knew absolutely everyone who came past. And if she didn't, she'd ask, "Now Dear, who are your people?" And they'd tell her. Frostburg was like that then in the 1950s.

One summer day when we were sitting there she told me that there was an Indian Princess in the family, and by that I was sure she meant the Workman side of the family, her mother's people. She knew all about them. Grandma told me lots of good stories about all of the families going back generations on her side and on Grandpop Kelly's side too. I remember and have proven all of them except for the Indian Princess story.

But that's typical, isn't it, in American genealogy? There's a fictitious Indian Princess in just about every tree, isn't there? I'd never been able to find one on our tree, but suddenly that changed because of a Facebook post recently.

I posted something to my Facebook page and Cousin Glenn popped up and commented that he just found out that there is an Indian Princess on the tree in the Workman line, so off I went to find out what he was talking about! After a couple of emails, he sent a link to an obit of a Susan Workman's husband, Noah Alan Skidmore, and in the obit it says that Susan's mother was an Indian Princess!

Here's the link and check out the obituary:

Here's what it said:
Susan was born in the year of 1822 on June 21. She was 18 years old and Noah 24 years old when they were married. Susan was the daughter of William and Teraca Workman. She was born in Dutch Hollow, a small community two miles below Frostburg, Maryland. Susan’s mother was a Cherokee Indian Princess. Susan and her family were living in Kernes, West Virginia. when Susan and Noah were married. Susan was dark skin [sic] with very high cheek bones and jet black hair. Susan wore her hair in long braids. Susan was a talented artist, painting birds and animals. Susan’s father, Bill Workman, was also known as Indian Bill. He was a Revolutionary soldier. He received 800 acres of land for services to the government and he sold all of the land for a barrel of whiskey.

So Susan's mother was Teraca, or Tereca. I flew so fast to Google that name! And yes, she's the real deal!

Teraca's father was Chief Lonacona, aka. George Washington Cresap Fish, of the Fish Clan in the Turtle Tribe, born about 1700. His brother was Chief Nemacolin who is famous in Western Maryland.

But wait, as soon as I get that nailed down, this pops up and I'm not sure who is the father and who is the brother. This is from

I would love to find other descendants of this Lenape chief, who was born 1715 in a village on the Susquehanna River in Pennsylvania and died 1767 on Blennerhassett Island, in the Ohio River between the states of Ohio and West Virginia.He is in the history books:

"A Delaware Nation Chief, Nemacolin played an important part in the blazing of trails into the American wilderness. In 1752, he was hired by Thomas Cresap and Christopher Gist to act as a frontier guide. Together, he led the team along existing Native American footpaths in the Allegheny Mountains. From these explorations, they carved a major pathway into the west. The trail they blazed became to be known as Nemacolin's Trail."

Nemacolin was the son of another, and more important chief, Checochinicon, and the father of still another, Lonacona, a.k.a. George Washington Gist. Lonacona's daughter was named Tereca, and she married William Workman. They migrated to West Virginia and raised six children. William and Tereca were my great, great grandparents.

Obviously, I need to do a lot more digging about this family.

See what happens when an Indian Princess pops up?!