Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year and My Fav Posts of Last Year

I began this blog in, what was it, May of this year. I've learned a lot from the discipline of posting regularly, from the information shared by those who might stumble across my tiny corner of the web, and by having to distill my work down to a short and (hopefully) understandable post. Sometimes while posting it hits me that I have got to be the most obtuse person on planet earth! This newbie still has a lot to learn:)

My three personal favorite posts of the year are the following. First is two-parter from Randy Seaver. His Forum Pointers was super helpful, and find the link on this blog at
In it Randy reminds us how useful the formus (discussion boards) can be. He got me started using forums and I even had the opportunity to start a topic and become the administrator. So thanks, Randy... and thanks too for your answer to the perennial question, what do I do next, on his blog at

Second fav post for me is my Top Five Reasons I Love This Blog because it made me see all over again exactly why regular posting is a necessity. Find it at

Last is My Genealogy Job Description. Maybe it's my favorite and most useful post after all... I look at it every couple of weeks to stay focused. Do you ever lose focus and wander off down some dead end trivial pursuit excursion? No? Well, good for you... fibber;) Here's the link to that post:

Here's wishing all of us a good 2012, with plenty of new leaves on the family tree, juicy and meaningful stories captured, and perhaps a box of very old photographs found with a packet of love letters in the back of some closet or other!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Merry Christmas to All, and Especially Mom and Aunt Betty

All the presents are wrapped and sent, all the cards are mailed. The potato latkes were really wonderful, if I do say so my own self;) Plans for Christmas Day are set and there's not much left to be busy with.

Have amused myself between holiday activities making an online album of historic photos by a photographer who worked in Frostburg, Maryland in the early years of last century, E. Gilbert Irwin. He put together a photo album of the National Pike being refined and it's a really important documentation of Western Maryland. Unfortunately, it's not been online as far as I know.

Fortunately, Mom has one of those albums. When I visited her last I took photos of the photos... OK, not the best way to proceed. I should have scanned then... that is the preferred practice for archiving. But I did what I could do in the time available with the equipment on hand.

I took each image into PhotoShop and sharpened the contrast, cropped to get rid of black edges, mostly. I know, it's not 100% pure to the artistic integrity of Mr. Irwin's work. But it's the best I can do now.

So click on the tab in the upper right that says "Album: Nat'l Pike". Or click here:

If you want to know more about the National Pike, also called the National Road, go to WIKI at

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Happy Holidays!

Here's wishing you and yours a Happy Holiday Season, no matter what those holidays of choice are:) I'll be making potato latkes for Hanukkah, the Jewish Festival of Lights. We'll open Christmas presents and celebrate that day too. I like to acknowledge the shortest day of the year, the solstice, by firing up the crock pot with a hearty stew.

And Happy New Year to one and all. Was it a good year for you? I do hope so. It was a lovely year for me and my family. Our blessings, large and small, were too numerous to mention, and I'm hoping it's the same for you! Let's be optimistic and hopeful for a good 2012. (Seriously, can you even believe it's 2012?)

Now I think I'll take A Long Winter's Rest from blogging (if I can help myself, we'll see:) And turn my attentions to festive matters! I feel like baking:)

Thursday, December 15, 2011

New Assignment: William Price 1828 - 1872

Mom and Aunt Betty have asked me to look into the life of one William Price, my 2nd GGF, and Mom and Aunt Betty's GGF. I asked Mom this morning what they'd like me to find out about him... and Aunt Betty, if this list differs from what you want me to look for please email me:) Also, Aunt Betty, I printed out your tree and ancestor report so I could see what was what, so thanks for those!

And you need to know there a ton of William Prices out there! I had to ask Mom which one was our target on Mom's tree because I found three right off the bat. Just imagine how many I'm going to find as a result of searching!

Our William Price was born about 1828/29 in England. Mom has 1829 and Aunt Betty has 1828. I've not had much luck finding out about births in England and Mom and Aunt Betty are real experienced at this genealogy stuff and I'm a pathetic newbie... so guys, don't hold your breath for any dramatic revelations. (If you want drama you'll have to wait for the third season of Who Do You Think You Are which is promised back on the air in February 2012!)

Our William Price married Diana Thomas on 13 August, 1850 in Mt. Savage, Allegany County Maryland. She was born in 1832 in Wales. They had 8 children. She died in Mt. Savage on 20 July 1871 and he died in Illinois in 1872.

There are four questions on the list now:

#1 Who was his father? We have no given name for his father so I'll be blindly looking for a Price, maybe in Bedfordshire. (Off to Google Maps and Google Earth!) And keep your fingers crossed for me looking there-abouts for any birth records or whatever.

#2 Who was his mother? Maybe we have a first name: Ann. Mom says that there is a random memory in the family that someone had the maiden name of Whitehead and perhaps it was this Ann.

#3 When did he come to the US of A and why? He was a miner here so I'll look for info along that line. And the usual sources for ships records, which I'm willing to bet Mom and Aunt Betty have already sifted through.

#4 Why did they move to Illinois? Again, I'll be looking at his work as a miner and checking local histories and local newspapers... if any exist. I'd hit the jackpot if I could find an obit!

And what's up with her dying in Maryland and him dying a year later in Illinois?

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Done Looking For Nehemiah, I Think

Have spent the better part of the last year looking for traces of my Revolutionary War ancestor and 5th GGF, Nehemiah Newens (or Newin, Newan/s, Newens, or maybe even Newing or Nuens. Take your pick.) All of the collected records are in a big blue binder and in a data file of which I have numerous back-ups both on line and off. Now I'm thinking that I'm done with this project and here's my reasoning on the matter.

See, here's why I love my blog: reason number six (see below.) My blog keeps my thinking as lucid as possible. If I can explain it clearly and concisely to you then it keeps me on track to the best of my ability:)

So back to why I'm feeling done with my search for Nehemiah. I've answered all the major questions from the start of the project that I can. And here they are.

Where did he come from? Most likely the Derbyshire area of England and quite possibly he was a country boy, not a city boy. City boys don't aspire to stone masonry.

Did he serve with General Braddock in the French and Indian War? Maybe but maybe not. If he did he was very young and most likely just a lad. But I find no record of his service as a commissioned officer. Doesn't mean that there are records still to be found but I've looked under ever rock short of going to London and looking in the British Archive... and who knows, I might just do that some day. But for now the indication from records is that he was really too young to have been an officer in the F&I War.

How did he get to York PA? I'm clueless. But he wasn't an indentured servant as far as I can tell. He married into a very prosperous family and if he was an indentured servant, well that's not a conclusion I draw. The most obvious path is that he knew his wife's uncle, Colonel Corry, who did serve in the F&I War and followed him to York.

Did he die in the Battle of Yorktown? No. For whatever reasons he didn't return home to his wife and son in York PA, but moved around to Northumberland and then Upstate New York. He received his Bounty Land Grant from the state of PA while he was in Northumberland County, and filed his pension application from Canandaigue NY.

Why did he end up in Canandaigue, NY? The most likely conclusion is that he knew the area, which was the frontier, because he served in the Sullivan-Clinton Campaign. The officer names from his pension application match up with the S-C Campaign.

Who is Elias Thompson named as his son in Nehemiah's will? It might be that Elias replied to an ad Nehemiah ran for stone masons. Elias came from Pennsylvania but didn't appear in Canandaigue until after Nehemiah has been there about 10 years. Was he the faithful apprentice that took the role of a son? Maybe. Nehemiah thought enough of him to name him in the will.

What was Nehemaih's wife's given name?  He had two wives. The first was Cathrine Kepplinger, referred to in the Myers book as Miss Kepplinger. Her widow's pension application is signed Cathrine Newans. That said, Nehemiah's will drafted in 1820 names his wife, Mary, his sole beneficiary for the rest of her life (and then the remainder to sons Thomas Newans and Elias Thompson.)

What of the little book, "Ancestral History of Thomas F. Myers"? I believe it was written by Myers and printed by a printer just down the street from where Myers had his prosperous grocery store. The book served as evidence backing up Myers Bounty Land Grant claim in Ohio on behalf of his sister Christiana. The claim was never resolved in their favor.

How sure am I about the above information. Not too sure. You know data... it drifts. And so much of this is simply my conclusions based on what I know of the family and facts strung together. Not great genealogy, I admit. In my own defense, I really do believe that most frequently the most accurate conclusion is the most obvious, baring new information.

That said, I'll organize my big blue binder, making notes where needed so that I can remember what I did. Then I'll write up a short version of the Nehemiah Newans story so that others can share in the search if they wish... and I truly hope someone does!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Top Five Reasons Why I Love This Blog

I've only been doing this genealogy blog since, let's see, what, March of this year (2011.) But in that short time I've grown to see how much I value and love it. Love the whole process of thinking about what to post, sifting through the debris of my looking for ancestors to pick out something relevant and possibly interesting. It keeps me going and I'd freely encourage others thinking about blogging to go ahead and take the plunge.

It's real easy to get started. Just pop Blogger in your search engine of choice and navigate to a sign-up page to get a free blog. The hardest part is naming your blog, but you can always go with a fall-back fav, The (your name here) Family History Blog. And boom, in a couple of minutes you're in business.

Think you'd have nothing to blog about? No problem. Go to for ideas. They have a bunch almost every day. Follow that for a while, take a look at the list of over 2000 blogs for concepts or whatever, see what you like and don't like, and do your own thing! It's a blast.

But enough about you, more about me;) Here are my own top five reason I love my blog.

#1: My Blog Is A People Finder.
This is a small blog by genealogy blogging standards and I only get a couple of visits a day but I'm not in this to have big blog traffic. However it is nice when people find me because of this blog. Like Kris, the researcher working on a project about agriculture in the Finger Lakes area of New York state, who found a tid-bit on Nehemiah Newans. Or cousin Jo Ann, looking for information on Kelly's Pump recently. We're cousins and we've found each other! That happens when I remember to put tags on articles. (See those words below? They're tags.)

#2: My Blog Is An Advice-Getter.
I've posted a question or dead-end problem I'm working on and some very kind people who stop by offer a thought or piece of advice. That's really nice. Most genealogists are really nice. I like that, don't you? Here's an example of what happened when my old CRT monitor died and was replaced by a wide flat screen. I posted, what the heck do you do with all that spare room on the right... is it a place for post-it notes? I got some advice right away: open a browser and your family tree program at the same time! Genius!

#3: My Blog Is A Motivator.
Some days, well I gotta tell ya, it's hard to put one foot in front of the other to move forward. I get stuck in a problem and the whole effort looses its lustre. You ever have that? Well, I think about my blog and look at it and think about the nice people who have found it and communicated with me and I feel better and more motivated. I can see how far I've come and that feels good.

#4: My Blog Is A Planner.
Cheeze! It's so easy to get lost in the stacks of papers, or computer files, or on a data-base web site, isn't it? As I post one entry the process makes me think ahead about what I'll do next and how I can best get that done. If I'm looking for a piece of information I might mention in the blog that's what I'll do next. And some days I even hear back from a kind person about where to look!

#5: My Blog Is An Archive.
How many times have I posted something and then gone on to other matters only later to go back and search my own blog to see what happened. I did that just this morning when I wanted to email Cousin Jo Ann about Google Earth and the old Eckhart property. See that search box on the right? I popped in Google Earth and boom, there it was. I probably visit my own blog more than anyone;) Ha!

I could go on. See the list of my fav blogs on the right? I check them daily to see what's going on in the wild and wacky world of genealogy. I have been know to vent frustration here too... but not too ofter. You probably have your own genealogy troubles;)

Thursday, December 8, 2011

New To Me Cousins!

Got an email the other day from Jo Ann who was  googling around and found my post about the Kelly Pump in Eckhart Maryland. I had been back to Western Maryland to see Mom this past spring and we took a drive to Eckhart to look for the site of the old Eckhart Mansion and the old Kelly homeplace. And there was the Kelly Pump too.

Guy getting water from the Kelly Pump.

Kelly Pump

Old Kelly Home Place down the hill and
across the road from the pump.

I posted to this blog about the trip (remembering to put tags on entries... see those things at the bottom, well they are searchable.) And Jo Ann emailed about her interest in the pump, its history, and possibly getting it a historical designation. The old pump has been on this stretch of road for a really long time since this was part of the Old Pike and the first National Road west. Yup, it's historic. Here's the Wikipedia entry for it.

So I emailed Jo Ann that I'm on board and willing to do whatever to move this nice project along. Then I realized that we might be related!

Emails back and forth and we find that she's the granddaughter of my grandad Kelly's sister's husband's brother. Hey, Jo Ann, did I get that right? Mom, is that right? Remember guys, I'm a newbie here and by definition prone to error! Using the Steve Morse Relationship calculator, Jo Ann is my second cousin and a blood relative. Here's a link to Steve Morse's calculator:

Then Jo Ann told me about grandad Kelly's sister's son's daughter who lives in Florida, Eileen! I just love finding new cousins!!

See, this is just one of the reason why it's nice to have a blog:)

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Almost a Shocker... But Then I Double Checked!

Was on Ancestry and looking for Thomas F. Myers' occupation to find out how wealthy he might have been to spend however much money it cost to print up that little book about his ancestral history. Found out a couple of tid-bits: he lived two doors down from the printer, and that he worked as a house painter. Mom says that he could have made a lot of money in the late 1800s and early 1900s painting houses. By 1910 he and his son, who lived next door, were both clerks in a grocery store a couple of doors down the street.

Then with a few minutes to kill I searched Elias Thompson (one of two named sons in Nehemiah Newans' will) on Ancestry member trees. I got a real nice match with pretty good sources, which I double checked for trust. I did a quick print of the tree branches that interested me and messaged the tree owner that my 5th GGF might be the missing father of Elias Thompson and gave him my email address. Don't know if I'll hear back because the tree owner hasn't been on Ancestry for more than 6 months.

Then it happened! BAM! I clicked on the list of 6 sources cited for Elias' birth and there at the bottom was a tag for Union service records of the Civil War for a "Colored Regiment" veteran named Elias Thompson!

I thought we were white! We look pretty white... no, I'd say we look real white... we look like we're all from Ireland, England, or Wales which we are. We don't tan, we burn;) So the Colored Regiment thing was a shocker. Not that I'd mind because it would make a great story, and you know I do love a great story above all else!

Then I took a close second look after I printed out the service record. And this new-to-me Elias Thompson was born in New York and mine was born in Pennsylvania. OK, not my guy. Makes sense now... we're not black after all. Too bad... it would have made a really cool story.

Monday, December 5, 2011

My Newbie Status Revoked?

Am busy collecting tidbits of information about my 5th GGF Nehemiah Newans and weaving them into a narrative of his life. I've constructed a timeline (see tab at top) that's been indispensable for ready reference as I plow through information that may or may not be relevant. That was a good and useful idea.

That done, up pops the desire to weave a narrative out of it, put flesh on the bones so to speak. So off I went to do that. But I got bogged down with the story of General Braddock and set the project aside for a while. Best to let it cool off.

When I returned to the project I saw how big it was, and rambling too. Who'd want to read that mess? And that was the purpose: to have a document that captured what I'd found out, citing sources, enfolded in relevant history, for others to read. It had to be readable. That was job one! Cousin bait, descendants bait... whatever you want to call it.

In writing there's a maxim: I didn't have time to write you a short letter so I wrote a long one. Long essays and letters usually suffer from TMI Syndrome... too much information. Therefore I knew if I could write a cogent short story about Nehemiah's life, it would be less daunting to flesh the short one out  than it would to simply try to build a skyscraper of a document.

Funny thing is that at about the fourth draft of the short story I saw that it was really the little book (see tab above, Ancestral History, etc.) that drove the engine of the narrative. So that's the way it went.

When the short story was finished and Mom gave her seal of approval, I thought what the heck, I'd send it off to the newsletter editor of the Genealogical Society of  Allegheny County, Maryland.  What's the worse that could happen... they'd say no thanks. Harriet couldn't have been nicer! She replied to my email pretty fast and my article is going to run in the Old Pike Post.

So... is my newbie status in question as I'll soon have a published article? No, I don't think so. I think "newbie" is a state of mind... I really don't know very much about this genealogy stuff. I'm just doggedly persistent with way too much focus on one tiny detail at any given time. I have no clue, mostly, as to what I need to do next. I get lost in the forest of the trees and can't see what's what. And citing sources is the bane of my life. Yup, I'm still a wet behind the ears newbie!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Olde Timey Stories

I never get tired of listening to Mom tell about how things were when she was a young girl! Here's a random sampling of some of the stuff she's told me recently. There are lots more - and some I simply can't tell you to protect the guilty - but these seem appropriate for the blog.

Christmas during the Great Depression was meager by our overblown standards but as Mom says, they never knew they were poor because so was everyone else. What they did get was a fresh orange every Christmas as a special treat, so when Mom smells oranges it still reminds her of Christmas.

When I was growing up, Mom always put a fresh orange in our Christmas stocking so even today, around holiday time, when I smell a fresh orange I think of my childhood Christmases and Mom telling us about her Christmas oranges. She also mentioned scurvy and how important vitamin C from the oranges was because scurvy was still more common when she was a kid.

Mom points out that they had what seemed like enough of everything, and plenty of food on the table. Everyone had a big garden in the yard with veggies and chickens in a coop at the back of the property and sometimes pigeons. The men hunted (this is Western Maryland and the hunting is still good in the region) and that put more meat on the table. The women "put food by", or as we say, canned. I can still remember my maternal grandmother's pantry with its shelves lined with all manner of food stuffs. I loved staring at those simple jars with melted wax on top to seal the goods.

Mom has a rather nasty memory about the killing of a chicken and feathers flying. She must have been three or four years of age and didn't understand what was going on so it kinda freaked her out. Still does when she tells the story.

Very early, there was an outhouse in the back of the yard too. Everyone had them. I don't know what year indoor plumbing and sewer lines came to Frostburg, but Mom was still in elementary school when it did. It was very difficult to get your sleepy self to go out to the outhouse in the cold of winter! One spring, a bird decided to build a nest in the outhouse, giving all reason to spend a little extra time seated there.

During the Depression, the front or "best" room wasn't heated during the winter. A tree was set up there and the room heat turned on only for the Christmas celebration. Mom would sneak in (as all kids did and still do) to check out the inventory of presents and the name tags. And of course presents were more likely to be hidden in closet recesses or on top shelves! Mom, undaunted, loved to go on little expeditions looking for hidden treasurers. One year she found a polka-dot dress meant for her! Oh, joy!

My sister took after Mom and always loved knowing what she was getting for Christmas before the day. I never saw the fun in that scheme, but to each his own. I love a surprise:)

Mom, at a year old, with her father
Cambria Williams and her mother,
Emma Susan Whetstone Williams, 1919.

Men who hunt... food on the table.
Grandpa Williams seated with pipe.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Some Awsome New (to me) Cousins!!

Was out on the google-thing giving Nehemiah Newans one more shot. My thinking at the moment is to wrap up what I know (or think I know) about his life now and write it up while it's fresher in my mind. Don't want to get down the road a ways, pick up the project again and think, now where was I on this?

So I go google and what pops up is something I've seen a number of times before and that's an entry to a massive project with Nehemiah Newan as one of the named individuals. It transcribes a portion of the Thomas F. Myers book (see tab above). So what the heck, no stone left unturned, right? I email the contact person and whamo! I get an email back and we're off to the races. It's John on the other end of the email and he provides a connection to a Myers line cousin, Molly! Two new, to me, cousins!!

Cousin John has this truly awsome web site and here's a link.
There's so much rich information there, I'm just getting going on it! WOW!

My absolutely favorite "toy" of the day is this family finder. Really, you have to click on this link and then click on one of those blue dots... I promise you will be impressed!

Did you click on one of the blue dots with photos? I love that!! Way ta go, cousin John!

Anyways, I don't know much more about Nehemiah Newans now that I did before contact with Cousin John but the journey sure is fun!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Giving Thanks

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday... it's the everybody holiday for those of us who live in the good ol' US of A. Not religious, not political. No downside. And who doesn't feel better after giving thanks?

Close to the top of my list is giving thanks for Mom getting me interested in this genealogy stuff! Took dyslexic me a couple of weeks to remember how to spell it. Why do I want to leave out that "a"?

Genealogy is so much fun it's had to imagine why someone wouldn't be interested in it. It's got history and geography in it. And it really tests your powers of reason and logic... as well as your patience;) Plus, there's always something else to learn. I can not ever imagine being bored by this!

And, it's brought far-flung relatives back in touch through our family newsletter. That's real nice too.

So this Thanksgiving Day I'll be giving thanks for genealogy. See you next week. Now where did I leave that turkey? Oh right, I made reservations instead;) HA!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

More Info is Always Good!

See post below:) Cousin Debby filled in a few more names from the Uncle Gene and Aunt Nellie fete, but between us we're still missing names matched to faces. She says that her parents were at this event but they don't appear in the photo.

Don't you get all fussy when a beautiful group photo like the one below has no markings on the back? Think I've labeled my photos but my New Year's resolution is to go through every family photo I have and make sure it's properly labeled. Seriously!
Franks' Daughter, and blogger buddy, helpfully posted a comment about Aunt Betty's table. Here it is:

Aunt Betty's Table, search for "Victorian Eastlake Marble Top Side Table." It looks a lot like that style. Incised carvings and design typical of the Eastlake era of the late 19th century. Check out some history of Eastlake at and follow some of the links there for similar tables.

Thanks, Frank's Daughter!! I had no idea where to start:) But your sharing of the Eastlake thing got me rolling and that web site is a find. Plus, Aunt Betty has side chairs from the same era and they look something like this one below copied from that web site.


I've learned a lot about the Victorian Eastlake style and the why of it, which is fascinating, I must say. Charles Eastlake was an English architect who wrote a vastly popular book that hit the USA in 1872. He made no furniture himself but directed cabinet makers. He proposed a rather clean design but mass-market furniture manufacturers got a bit carried away and added ornamentation of all types. Most was around the geometric theme but you can find sprigs of leaves and other designs from nature too.
Eastlake furniture was also known as Cottage Furniture. It reached its heights of popularity from about 1876 to 1890, and that pretty much fits in with what history we know about Aunt Betty's beautiful table... see post below for picture.
Here's a quote from the web site Frank's Daughter gave me that describes Eastlake's feelings about how US manufactures used his book to come up with designs:

Eastlake himself commenting on his influence in the United States, said, "I find American tradesmen continually advertising what they are pleased to call Eastlake furniture, the production of which I have had nothing whatever to do, and for the taste of which I should be very sorry to be considered responsible."

Friday, November 18, 2011

Picture This

It's Friday and Mom and I have been having some genealogy fun. Aunt Betty too! And Cousin Debby has sent a "mystery photo" of a family gathering and I'm hanging in the air waiting to find out who's who! So here's my picture album for this week and a little story about each:)

Above you see my Grandfather Kelly's family. That's him in the top row: John Lee Kelly. No one called him John. He was Lee to one and all. Peg, Frank, and Gene were known as such by the family. I never heard of Dad's Uncle Eugene, it was always Uncle Gene. Funny, that. Where's the line on the family tree programs where we put our commonly used names? I guess we can stick it in somewhere. But in looking at this photo, probably taken about 1913, I thought it a good idea for myself to put names and commonly used names with the usual dates near the image. Yup, there's my GGF and GGM in the center of the front row. It's really sweet that I can look at this picture, close to 100 years old, and see Grandpop Kelly's family! Don't you think he was good looking?!

Next up are the photos of Aunt Betty's table, which is a whole story unto itself, which I'll save for a later time. But look at this beauty! I know next to nothing about antiques but I'd really like to find out where it was made and maybe that will give us a clue as to its origins. So there's some sleuthing to do about this beautiful table:) If you have any tips that will point me in the right direction, please share! Or will Aunt Betty and I have to end up on Antiques Roadshow in order to find out? Does anyone know how to get to those Keno brothers??

Now here's Cousin Debby's photo. She's asked if Mom and I can recognize anyone. Not off hand, we can't. But Mom and I looked real hard at it yesterday during our marathon morning phone calls and here's what we noticed... which I'll list under the photo.

OK, so here's what Mom and I came up with.
See in the front row? The woman with the corsage and the man standing to her left and behind. Mom thinks thats Mary Helen Gormer, or Nellie as Mom knew her and Uncle Gene. Mom looked at the photo and immediately guessed that it was Uncle Gene in that bow tie!

So we went on to guess what kind of occasion this was. Our bet is that it was a milestone wedding anniversary. Gene and Nellie were married 3 Jan 1910. This looks like a photo taken in the late 1950s... look at those fancy clothes! Don't they just scream late 1950s?! We think so. If this was taken about January 3rd 1960, it would have been their 50th wedding anniversary! And look in the upper right corner: you can see a stair rail with, what, Christmas cards?! Could be.
Mom thinks that's Nellie's sister seated to her left. Mom said "That looks like Nellie's sister." And I trust Mom on this unless we get facts otherwise;)

So who are the rest? Mom and I can't identify them. None of my aunts and uncles on the Kelly side, because we'd recognize them. So we're guessing that the people are mostly on the Gormer side and friends of the happy couple.
Cousin Debby? Do you have any more information for us? We're about to bust to know!!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Really Making Me Nuts Today!

Mama warned me that in life, some days you get the bear and some days the bear gets you. Bear got me.

I am looking hard as I can for the arrival of my 5th GGF in the Colonies and no luck. Have checked British Army Officer listings... nothing. Have checked ships lists... nada. Have checked indentured servants lists... zip. Did this man simply telaport to the Colonies around 1750 - 1760?

Maybe I'll never find him. That's a dismal thought but I guess it's time to set this mystery aside and move down the road a bit. Am now trying to find any trace of him in York, Pennsylvania.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Was That A Tornado That Hit Us?

Aunt Betty and I enjoy local Frostburg, Maryland history. The last time I was in to visit we had a good chat about the Underground Railroad that ran through Frostburg. I always had a feeling that the Underground Railroad did run some branches through there up to Pennsylvania or west to Ohio. But you know how it is with the Underground Railroad: it was a pretty secret business and I mean seriously secret because lives depended on it.

Here's a really nice web site about the Underground Railroad, "Pathways to Freedom":
There's an interactive at where you can mouse over and see the number of slaves held in each county. Start with Allegheny County, the western most county, and move east. You'll see that the numbers of slaves increases dramatically as you move right on the map.

Anyhoo, that's not what I set out to share with you. I wanted to mention a wonderful web site and one of my all-time favs about good ol' Allegheny County and Western Maryland, a very special part of the world for me and a lot of other people! Allegheny County has Mom, Aunt Betty, the Princess Restaurant, and Frostburg State University. Here's the web site:

Aunt Betty sent an email with a link to a page about the Frostburg Tornado of 1891. I saved looking at it until I had a chunk of time to really enjoy it! Glad I did. Go see for yourself! There are photos and everything. You can read a very detailed article lovingly transcribed by Mary Jo Price from the Frostburg Mining Journal (housed at the Ort Library on FSU's campus, microfilm available and a real treasure.) Shout out to Mary Jo... thanks so very much!!!

Here's a link for you... and I really think you'll enjoy this one a whole bunch. So go grab a cuppa whatever and sit for a spell, and read all about the Frostburg Tornado of 1891!

The Thomas Building - Water St.
Here's one of the photos from that link above...seriously, go see!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Puzzle Pieces all Asunder

OK, so here's information pertinent to filling in puzzle pieces of the life of my 5th GGF, Nehemiah Newans, as concerns his first wife Miss Kepplinger, that I've gleaned from the Myers book (see tab at top for full contents.)

Thomas F. Myers was the great grandson of Nehemiah Newans. Newans married Miss Kepplinger. (Her given name, as per her widows pension application, was Catharine.) Her mother was sister to Colonel Corry of the French and Indian War. (Therefore might we consider that Catharine Kepplinger's mother's maiden name was Corry?)

Catharine was sister to Mrs. Macelvaine. No given name.

Catharine's uncle was Mr. Koontz who owned the Colonial Hotel of York PA. The Myers book reports that the Continental Congress assembled there while it was vacated from Philladelphia. Can we assume that Catherine had then two sisters, a Mrs. Koontz and a Mrs. Macelvaine... therefore can we assume that there were at least three sisters in the family?

Miss Kepplinger's father ground wheat for the soldiers at Valley Forge. He had seven indentured service and paid for their work for seven years. He was partners in a salt works on the Patapsco River where Baltimore is now located, called Beason, Kepplinger and Magoun. This firm conveyed salt to Beasontown, now Uniontown, PA.

The best I can think to do now is to Google all this mess and see if I can make the puzzle pieces grow a bit... maybe grow enough so that they fit together.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Riddle Me This

So yesterday was working on defining the next step in tracking down more about Nehemiah Newans, my 5th GGF. (See many posts below... am kinda obsessed with this guy's life;)

Something was needling me, like a lot. Something in the back of my mind was really bothersome but for the longest time I couldn't exactly put my finger on it. Then it hit me like the proverbial ton of bricks!

In the first section of the book, "The Ancestral History of Thomas F. Myers," it is established that Thomas F Myers' great grandfather is Nehemiah Newans and that Newans married a "Miss Kepplinger." Why would Myers, who presumably contracted for the book's writing, have her addressed as "Miss Kepplinger"? Sounds like he didn't know her first name! Strange, that.

Her given name was Catharine, which is proven by her pension claim for her presumed deceased husband Nehemiah Newans, of which I have a copy. So why doesn't the book use her full maiden name? I'm at a complete loss here. If you have any clues for me, I'd so very much appreciate knowing what they are. This one even stumped Mom, and that's saying a whole lot as she's been doing genealogy since 1970!!

Here's a comment:
Jenny Lanctot said...

Two questions: (1) When was the book written? It may have been customary at that time to refer to a woman as "Miss" to indicate that she was not a widow or divorcee.

(2) Was she ever referred to by her full name or by Catharine Newans in the book? The author may not have been told her given name, or it may be that Myers did not descend from that particular marriage, but a different marriage for Newans, and did not feel it was necessary to provide her full name.

Not sure this answers any questions, but maybe it's food for thought. Good luck!

My reply:
Hi Jenny!
Think you're on to something:) The book was written in the late 1800s  so it's entirely possible that using Miss would have been totally formal and appropriate way to indicate that she was not widowed or divorced and that she was from a proper family with stature in the community.
Her full name was never used in the book.
Thomas F. Myers, her great grandson who had the book published, lived from 1841 to about 1920.  

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Fog of Battle

Today I'm feeling lost in the fog of battle: my battle as a newbie to genealogy, and trying to piece together the threads of the life of Nehemiah Newans. Luckily for me Mom, our family's first generation digital genealogist, has built out our tree nicely with over 60,000 ancestors. (Go, Mom!)

My job, as I see it, is to carry this tree and the stories that come with it forward. To that end I'm digging deeper into the life of my fifth GGF, Nehemiah Newans. Have just been up a big ol' blind alley (see below) and am feeling all foggy-headed about the direction of my research. Am I missing something important? Yeah, probably... that's my newbie lack of knowledge at work! But Mom with all her years of experience is my wingman and double-checks all my work. How lucky am I?

If I feel lost, am wondering how many of you also feel lost in the fog of missing data, web sites with bad information posted, bogus trees, misinformation, dead ends, and unsourced data?

But that's not all of the cause of my battle-weary fog. My research plan had a clear path and now it doesn't. Am thinking I need to step back, get the situation at arms length and regroup. Take a break, and start with a fresh eye. Can't help but feel that I'm missing something in plain sight but am too close to see it. I trust my gut on stuff like this.

Monday, October 31, 2011

It Doesn't Add Up!

First off you need to know that I'm awful at math, and I mean simple arithmetic. They almost kept me back in second grade to repeat it because of my poor math skills. (True story.) Think I'm dyslexic or something but for me numbers just don't add up. So when I see years and try to calculate backward to figure the birth year... you see the problem here.

Have been working (forever, seems like, but not too long for all of you experienced pros) on Nehemiah Newans, my 5th GGF, and Revolutionary War soldier. His pension application written in 1818 says that he's 70 years old. A book written by his grandson says that he served as a commissioned officer with general Braddock landing at Alexandria VA in 1754-55. So grabbing up my calculator (seriously, I need one for this) If he was around 70-ish in 1818 (and that's IF) then in 1754 he would have been 6 years old. Even I know: that does not add up!

Why this didn't occur to me prior to ordering the microfilm of British Officers who served from 1754 to 1757 from FamilySearch, I don't know!! What I do know is that he is not listed on that roll as serving in either Braddock's two regiments (the 44th and the 48th) or at Fort Cumberland (the 43rd Regiment). Grabbing my calculator again, if he was with Braddock at age 16 or so he would have been 80 in 1818... and that's entirely possible. But he's not listed on the microfilm. Now maybe he wasn't a commissioned officer. That's possible, right?

Have been thinking hard about where to look next and Mom and I have come up with two seemingly sensible paths of inquiry. First, he might have been commissioned and served later in the British Army, later than the time frame stated in the Myers book. Perhaps the author of the Myers book knew that Newans, Thomas F. Myers' grandfather, had served in the British Army and because the author had geographic proximity to the Braddock Expedition, he patched the Braddock story on to Newans' life history. It's a stretch but it has Mom's seal of approval as a possibility. The Myers of that era made up puffery. So I'll be ordering more microfilm for British officers of later years.

The second theory is that Nehemiah Newans wasn't in the British Army at all. The first location we have for him in the Colonies is York PA. Maybe we should now refocus on York PA and see what we come up with? Have been wondering how he came to York PA. Now that's a mystery that doesn't add up either!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

No Luck: No Nehemiah Newans Listed

Was off the Family Research Center in Mission Valley here in San Diego today and take a close look at some microfilm of British Officers circa 1745 - 55. Was hoping that my Revolutionary War ancestor who reportedly came over with General Braddock (see Thomas F. Myers book, tab above) would be listed as a commissioned officer in either the 44th or the 48th Regiments of Foot. Also checked the regiment at Fort Cumberland just for fun while I was at it. Came up empty. Nothin. Nada. Zip.

Am super bummed out by this. Yeah sure it's part of the process and we don't get a gold ring every time we dig in the pile, but come on! I was mentally set up to find him and didn't. Want to go suck my thumb in the corner.

OK, so what's my next step? Not sure. Could try to hire someone to look him up in The British Archive. That could get expensive. But first, think I'll take the advice of the British expert at the FRC who suggested checking regimental museums.

Oh, and if you notice even more typos than usual it's due to the new keyboard that came with the replacement computer... or at least that's my story and I'm sticking to it;)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Happy Birthday to Me... But it's not about me any longer

Today is my birthday and I'm having a hoot of a time! Mom and I had a chat this morning by phone where she told me my birth story (again) and I thanked her for birthing me. HA! This time she added a detail about how Dad got to the hospital late and Mom was just about to deliver so the doc gave him a lecture and Dad gave as good as he got. Aunt Dot, Mom's sister, said she thought they were going to come to blows over it right there in thye hospital!

But today I'm thinking that I'm here because of Mom, of course, and my ancestors and that in some way I really do feel that connection back through time to each one I've learned about. So today is not just a celebration for my birthday as much as it is, for me, a celebration of the ancestors.

Through genealogy I've learned so very much about my family's history and times and places. Now that's something to celebrate! FIESTA!! (After all, I live in Southern California:)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

What Was I Thinking?!

I dunno. Sometimes I do stuff that's totally off base, or even more frequently, get something in my head that's kinda the opposite of what the facts are. I'm new to this genealogy stuff so guess that excuses can be made for some of the nonsense I do, but for the rest of it... oh, my!

Take for instance, the color of the cover of the Thomas F. Myers book (see tab at top) where I say in a previous post that it's tan in color. Well when last I went to see Mom I took the book out to photograph it and whatta ya know, it's black!! I was shocked! How could I have gotten it so very wrong? Tan is not black!!

Here's another example: I kept on thinking that Nehemiah Newans was a captain, but it looks like he was a sergeant. Maybe he was a captain later, and even a major after that as it says in both the Myers book and the ad that ran in Canandaigue as land for sale next to Major Newens' property.  So is it me confusing the facts again or a mish-mash of facts all pointing in different directions? Obviously I need to double and triple check my work.

UGH! This genealogy makes my head hurt...:) Is it just me???

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Kris "Kringle" Comes Early

Remember a while back when I didn't find a surname board on RootsWeb Mailing lists and message boards? No? What say, you have a life??

OK, so the surname I didn't find was Newans and that's one of my Revolutionary War ancestors that I've been digging around for. So I volunteered to be the administrator for the Newan/s board. And whatta ya know, a researcher named Kris popped up and contacted me!

Now Kris is no run-of-the-mill amateur genealogist (like myself:) She's a real researcher working on her graduate thesis and is presently focusing on foodways in western New York state. She noticed the RootsWeb post to the Newan/s board and the connection to Ontario County and in particular, Canandaigua, NY.

So she and I have been back and forth and the really interesting thing is that she's opened my eyes to the importance of agriculture in the very early 1800s. She even reminded me that in the 1820 census two individuals living with Nehemiah Newans were agricultural workers. Must say that I'd been thinking of him as a stone mason, which he was. But Kris pointed out that almost everyone in the area at that time was involved in ag. There were even ag fairs!

Even more flesh is being put on his bones: he had a thriving business as a stone mason with apprentices, and Kris thinks they might have been Italian as many were at that time. He had a wife and son living with him. He owned property, which included at least four good sized lots in the center of Canandaigua. And he was also engaged in agriculture and the household had two individuals just for that purpose.

Amazing what we find out if we just go look! Thanks Kris for your gift of a deeper understanding of my ancestor!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Wait, Wait, Wait... Now Hurry Up!

This newbie has been waiting and waiting for my two microfilm rolls ordered online from Family Search to be delivered to the local Family Research Center. Yesterday I found out that they have been there since about the first week in September! Between me not knowing what I'm doing and them switching over from the old system to the new one... and some misinformation along the way: they said they'd call me... am feeling lucky to have them available at last! BTW, they do not call you when the films arrive at the Center. You are to get an email and that's where it all went kablooie for me! And yes, they did have my correct email address, thanks for asking.

Never mind, the records that hopefully contain proof that my Revolutionary War ancestor, Nehemiah Newans, served under General Braddock in the mid 1700s are at my fingertips and ready for me to sit in the darkened room, quietly, the reader before me (my head at an uncomfortable angle... am I too short, what's the deal?) making swisssshhh sounds as the rolls spin into the past. I'm gonna be a while.

The point of the title of this blog post is that I've lost precious time here, about a month as I figure it. I know that I have until the week before Thanksgiving but I'm jittery that all the work won't get done. Heck, I'm always jittery that all the work won't get done;)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Those Who Don't See The Value

Was on facebook this morning and saw a heartbreaking series of posts from people who found old letters in a dumpster. One batch was rescued and the sister of the dumpster diver was going to make some collage art out of them. I was about to post a suggestion that she try to find a home for them with a living relative, but then thought that it was perhaps a living relative that did the dumping.

One fb friend of the poster wrote: "I have lots of photos of people who were friends with my mom when she was young (30's & 40's). Some have names on the backs and others don't. What do you do with these kind of pictures. I just want to toss them, too."

Guess I am particularly touched at this time because I've been looking at Mom's saved letters from WWII. A real treasure and giving the entire family pleasure and insight into the lives of our family during the war years.

Below is a photo from facebook of the dumpster dive letters. Here's what the poster wrote: "More treasure from my dumpster diving brother. An entire grocery bag filled with old letters between a couple name Everette and Grace- spanning the late 1800s through the 1950s. So sad that this was tossed in the trash. I hope to pay them some small honor by using these things in my work."

What, if anything, do I say to help them see the value?

Monday, October 17, 2011

WWII: Stuff From Mom's Archive (AKA the closet)

Top: Mom's war ration book.
Two images below: Post card from Mom's brother Camey, July 17 1943.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Off to War! Letters From Camp: Don't Show This to Mom

So here we are taking a look in Mom's archives (closet) at some letters written by the brothers during WWII. Reading through them, the first thing that struck me is that while the boys enthusiastically signed up, the first letters back bemoaned the rigors of camp life and training.

It must have been a shock to go from a relatively cushy life of making your own decisions about where and when you did everything to being given orders about every detail of your life. But the brothers acclimated fast and even came to like the life.

Below is a letter from my Uncle "John" (not his name, see post below) who complained most bitterly at first then went on to stay in the Army after the war. Notice near the end of the letter, after all the grumbling, he says, "I've learned to enjoy this life". So see, already he's getting accustomed to Army life and enjoying it a bit! Buy, hey, who likes to go on duty at 1AM when just 6 months earlier you were out partying?!!

And the language is a tad salty so you'll see lots of ** where the offending words are;) Hey, it was war. The reference to "death warrant" refers to Dad's notice to go for a thorough physical. See post below about Dad's hands.

HOTEL SHERMAN SQUARE: New York, no date:

Don't show this to Mom
Hello lug,
Say, Pat, I hear you just received your "death warrant". Well listen, buddy, you have every reason in the world to stay out of this damn place and by Jesus you'd better do just that. You hear this line of s*** that the army makes you a man -- well, ol' buddy, I've been in here six months, and outside of gaining a few pounds, this damn place ruins a guy.
I have talked myself into trying to like this life, but, Pat, it is no good. There is nothing here for anybody, and especially for a person like you - so stay the hell out of here.
A person has to take too damn much s***, which I know you could never do, so ol' buddy so if they do happen to call you up for a physical, you have all the damn physical defects in the books. The hell with those guys. Pat, as I said before, I've learned to enjoy this life, but, boy, you'd never go for it - so stay out.
This is kinda funny - me telling you what to do - I guess, in fact I know, you'll take care of yourself, but I wanted to drop you a line anyway, so I just used this as an excuse. Well, buddy, I'm going to grab a few hours sleep before I go on duty at 1:00 tonite. Take care of everything, and I'll probably see you at Xmas.

Dad didn't go to war because of his physical challenge but he did work at a munitoins factory. Here he is at work at ABL in Western Maryland.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

WWII: Let's Go Sign Up!

Of course being a Baby Boomer I'm curious about what brought us to the post-WWII era and what the Great War was all about. Mom has shared many of her memories from that time and I'm about to launch into some of them here, especially the letters she and Dad received from their brothers off to war. Some are funny, some sad, but all give a glimpse into life at the outbreak of  war and the uncertainty about what tomorrow might bring.

Just a side note at this juncture: if I'm talking about living relatives on the blog you'll not see a last name or location in order to protect their identity. And if the given name is too distinctive and the person might be spotted based on it then I'll be shifting names. The deceased can fend for themselves;) Ha!

When the war started, Mom says that all of the young men ran down to the local recruiting office to sign up. Dad and his brothers, Mom's brother and brother-in-law all joined. Dad joined up even though he had a job at a munitions factory. He hid a physical trait from the recruiting officer but was found out when he got further down the line. You see Dad had an accident when he was two years old and burned his hands on a hot stove.  Here's a tracing of Dad's little hands done by his Grandmother two days before the accident.

Unfortunately Dad's hands never healed correctly and he was unable to have full range of motion with his fingers afterwards. See how the little fingers in the tracing above look normal? After the accident they were sort of webbed slightly together at the base. It never stopped him from doing anything he wanted to... except join up at the start of the war!

He was found to be ineligible for service and so he returned to his work at the munitions factory. Mom was probably secretly thrilled to have him back;)

Off the boys went and that's when the letters started coming. In the group of them Mom and I looked at recently you could tell the boys were writing brother-to-brother and letting it all hang out. No shiny coat of false bravado, even though they were each patriots of the first order and we're all very proud of them. These letters are real.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

FOUND: Second Cousin Debby!

A while back I posted about small genealogy groups and how they work to make connections between lost relatives. Here's a link to that post:

Finally I just took a note card and used snail mail to see if I could make contact with the people mentioned in the Genealogical Society of Allegheny County's newsletter Old Pike Post. Well guess what? Received an email back! As best I can figure using the Steve Mores One Step web site's Relationship Calculator (and I need to say that figuring relationships is a mystery yet to be unraveled to this newbie so I'm happy to have Steve's widgit) Debby is my second cousin and a blood relative! WOW!

This is the very first time that I'm had the great pleasure of using genealogy work to find an actual living relative... most are of the other kind with a tombstone and all;) And this is very cool!!!

By the way, my Dad's Uncle Gene is Debby's Grandfather. Am hoping that we'll spend lots of time comparing charts and family stories.  Oooh, maybe she has pictures to share... my favorite thing!!!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Kobel Indian Massacre

The second day of my recent and too short visit to Mom began with a discussion of a tragic event that had us searching the internet for even more information: the Kobel Indian Massacre. Oh how we love mining the internet for details of the ancestor's lives:)

On my Mother's Whetstone side, going back 7 generation, was a family named Koble. Jacob Kobel was born about 1682 in Germany and died in Berks County Pennsylvania. He Married Anna Marie Egli (1684 - 1774) in 1708 in Germany. The couple arrived in New York in 1710 having had an infant son die at sea. Once here, they went on to have nine more children, one of them was our ancestor, Maria Barbara Kobel born about 1712 in New York.

They were part of the great Palatine Migration. You can read about  about the Palatine Migration here and the Kobel Indian Massacre here .

The Historical Society of Pennsylvania also has a write up about the massacre with images of original documents at

One of the afore mentioned Anna Marie and Jacob Kobel's offspring was Johanna Heinrich "Henry" Kobel born 20 July 1712, who married Marie Salome Hoffman about 1740. They both died on 16 November 1755 in the massacre that bears their name.

As the Newhouse web site states, "After killing Henry and Maria, the Indians pursued, captured and then scalped at least five of the eight children, as they fled into the neighboring woods. The Indians fled only upon hearing other settlers coming to the Kobels' aid. Two of the scalped daughters survived, one to tell the story of the family tragedy,...."

A contemporaneous letter included the following description of events:
"One Kobel, with his wife and eight children, the eldest about fourteen years and the youngest fourteen days, was flying before the enemy, he carrying one and his wife a boy, another of the children, when they were fired upon by two Indians very nigh, but hit only the man upon the breast, though not dangerously. They, the Indians, then came with their tomahawks, knocked the woman down, but not dead. They intended to kill the man, but his gun (though out of order, so that he could no fire) kept them off. The woman recovered so far, and seated herself upon a stump, with her babe in her arms, and gave it suck; and the Indians driving the children together, and spoke to them in high Dutch, 'Be still, we won't hurt you.' Then they struck a hatchet into the woman's head, neck and tore off the scalp. The children then ran: four of them were scalped, among which was a girl of eleven years of age, who related the whole story; of the scalped, two are alive and like to do well. The rest of the children ran into the bushes and the Indians after them, but our people coming near to them, halloed and made a noise. The Indians ran and the rest of the children were saved."

It was rough on the frontier. I sometimes forget how difficult and scary it must have been for the ancestors... until I run headlong into something like the Kobel Indian Massacre.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Reading Grandma Kelly's Will

Before we left Cousin Cynthia's home she brought out a copy of Grandma Kelly's will. She found it in a box in her basement, as we all seem to stumble into treasures hidden in plain sight. I remember the reading of the will after Grandma passed. We gathered in her old kitchen (she had two kitchens, too long a story to explain now but maybe later) and her will was read. We laughed, we cried. We remembered Grandma.

In the days ahead I'll transcribe it as Cousin Cynthia did, for safekeeping. I'm guessing that the original is much faded as my copy is just a ghost of a document now. I do know that it was written in ball point pen (prone to fading) and on sheets of notepaper that Grandma used for everything from shopping lists to her will. After all, she had raised six kids during the depression so she knew a thing or two about practicality. With equanimity she left something of importance to her to each of those six children. So here for your interest is the last part of her will which just about brings me to tears whenever I read it.

Now I have written this as fairly as I know how and hope that each and every one of you are satisfied.

I have one last, and I add my most important request that all of you regardless of circumstances that will arise (altho unseen or unspoken to me) promise from the time this will is read to you, first never argue with one another and second to help one another in every humanly possible way, and third love one another as you did when you were being raised by your daddy and me.Good-bye and always remember how much I and dad always loved you.

P.S. If there is anything you don't want give it to one of the family - No outsiders.

As Cousin Cynthia rounded the corner to this last part there wasn't a dry eye in the house. That was Grandma all the way... loving one another, and No Outsiders! Then we had a good laugh too!

Grandma Kelly (Helen Zeller Kelly 1894 - 1969)
center, surrounded by all six children, about 1981.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

First Stop: Cousin Cynthia and a Suprise Guest!

This is the story, in parts, of my recent visit back east to see Mom and the family. It's personal but I do want to share it with you because it's really special and time spent with family is precious. I hope that you have such good times too sharing family and family history.

The first stop was to see Cousin Cynthia in Hagerstown, Maryland. It was raining but the rolling hills and farm land made a beautiful fall picture as we drove along. When we arrived, gracious hostess that she is, much to our surprise waiting for us was a beautiful repast... but even more surprising... her brother Cousin Mike and his wife were there!!

Cousin Mike and I hadn't seen each other in a boatload of years, so there was plenty of catching up to do. It was really good to see his wife too, who is also working on genealogy. When we were kids, maybe 4 or 5 years old, Mike went to the hospital and upon his return I said, "Oh, Mickey, my Mickey" and threw my arms around him. We were close to the same age but the years passed and we had separate lives. You know how it goes. Now he has two children and four grands. Lucky guy!

Cousin Mike and I on the left... and some neighbor kid there on the right.

The visit ran late because we talked up a storm and then got to watch a video of Cynthia and her husband's trip to Ireland just last summer. It was wonderful and covered the section of their trip to Clonmacnoise, our Kelly clan Irish home place, which is story in itself for another post.

Now here's a side note: Mom made a pot roast for us the day I arrived - and you haven't LIVED until you've tasted my Mom's pot roast and all the trimmings - but we got delayed at Cousin Cynthias. There was some confusion in communications and, well there you have it. Long story short, we got to Mom's late but had the pot roast the next day. And if pot roast can be even better the next day, it sure was!! Well worth the 5 hour flight and 3 hour drive in the rain just for that pot roast:) You shoulda been there!!

The next morning Mom and I got to work on genealogy and steam was coming out the door of her work room:) We got ourselves organized over coffee and then to work. I made copies of the last four family photo albums while she surfed the internet looking at details on the Kobel Indian Massacre. That will be the subject of my next post. Warning: it's gross!

Friday, September 30, 2011

A Very Special Gum Wrapper

Cousin Steve sent photos of the gum wrapper mentioned earlier here (see post Seriously G2). I wrote: Received an email this morning from Cousin Steve who just got some more memorabilia from his brother. (His Mom and my Mom were sisters.) In the holdings was a Wriggley's gum wrapper and on the back was a note from his Mom written on the first date she had with what turned out to be her husband and my cousin's father! How magical is that?

Asked Steve to email me the scan of the gum wrapper whenever he got around to scanning. I expected to wait a long while because, well, the man has a life;) But yesterday there it was! So take a look... how wonderful is this?!

Wonder what she meant by "real" date?

The Happy Couple, May 9, 1943

Here's what Cousin Steve wrote about his Mom and Dad and their courtship for the Summer 2011 edition of our family newsletter:
My mom, Dorothy Frances Williams graduated from Frostburg State and was teaching in the Baltimore area when she “laid down the law” and said they were going to get married or else. She had had enough of this long distance romance. So on Friday the 13th in November, 1942, Dorothy and Harold were married. Even the minister questioned whether they really wanted to get married on Friday the 13th!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Good Gestalt and Another Drinking Man Story

Joel Weintraub said something that this newbie thought very interesting at a lecture he gave covering the 1940 census release next year. Well he said a lot of interesting and important stuff... thanks, Joel! But one thing sticks with me: genealogy is geography, or words to that effect. Sorry if I've misquoted Joel:) Nevertheless, I got the point that you need to spend time going beyond names, dates, and places in order to understand more about the ancestors.

One of the things that's also sticking out as I scan the horizon of the ancestors is the need for me to understand the era, get a gestalt for it, a feeling for the whole of it. Here's an example: somehow I had this erroneous concept that no one was in the Western Maryland area in the early and mid 1700s. Bad gestalt! It was populated with frontier farms and a couple of taverns. Taverns were popular... wonder why;)

This becomes an issue for me when I think I have one family group and it turns out to be another. I see a family with kids with names that are close but don't exactly match. Then in a little while I see a mirror family with almost identical names, a few variations, located "over the hill." Grrrr.

Now for the drinking man story. There were men who partook of the drink in my family and some stories to go with them. Mom said to me yesterday, so your Dad's uncle drowned in a rain barrel. What?!! Yeah, seems he got drunk and passed out, face down, in a rain barrel. Tragic... but why am I laughing??

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Seriously G2

I'm infatuated with this idea of how we second generation genealogy people are so different than our first generation relations. I think we need a support group. Or maybe there is one and this newbie just doesn't know it... and if so please let me know:)

Received an email this morning from Cousin Steve who just got some more memorabilia from his brother. (His Mom and my Mom were sisters.) In the holdings was a Wriggley's gum wrapper and on the back was a note from his Mom written on the first date she had with what turned out to be her husband and my cousin's father! How magical is that? He also discovered her prom picture. He's warming up the scanner as I write this. (His summer fun is golf and his winter fun is genealogy.) Can't wait to hear what else he finds!

He and I are both second generation genealogy fans. Actually there are degrees to this G2 stuff, I'm finding. My Mom is seriously into genealogy but his wasn't so he's got all the work to do on his Dad's side. He's starting from scratch with the usual early brick walls to overcome. We both benefit from the extensive work that Mom and Aunt Betty have done on the Williams side. Our work will be to figure out what the next step might be into the future. We already know where the hardest brick walls are because Mom and Aunt Betty pointed them out to us right away! And those walls look gigantic, at least to us now. I need a support group!

Mom, her Mom, Aunt Dottie (her sis) and
Uncle Camey (her brother). Abt. 1930.

Monday, September 26, 2011

I'm G2 and Loving It!

So this is what this newbie is: second generation genealogy! G2! Being second generation, I've taken up the mantel of this genealogy stuff and some days it's too much fun and other days it's kinda heavy.

In the beginning when I'd talk to Mom (who let me remind you, is 93 and been doing genealogy since the 1970s) she'd tempt me with all manner of fun facts. She knows her kids and she knew exactly where my hot buttons were. She started with the stories... and had me at, "Did I ever tell you about our ancestors the counterfeiting twins?"

Then one thing lead to another and before I knew what hit me I was ordering up my copy of Family Tree Maker and downloading a GEDCOM, when just short weeks before I didn't know what a GEDCOM was! Next I signed on and was introduced to those shaking leaves. UH OH!  You know what I mean;)

It wasn't long before I discovered the responsibility of it all too. Data checking. Care of the archives. Putting information out to the relatives such that more of the cousins and their offspring get interested too. Looking down the long road to see that what has been compiled is not lost.

But there's fun as well. Hearing the stories is great and I wouldn't have missed it for the world... thanks, Mom! And discovers our scamps and scoundrels is always entertaining. But right at the moment on my learning curve the thing that keeps me going and putting one research foot in front of the other is that I do love wondering about my ancestors and what their lives and times were like. Whenever I'm in a slump I dig into the past of one of my ancestral lines. Just this week was wondering about Delilah Porter and who her father really was and if it was the famed Revolutionary War soldier, Moses Porter. I think I have a good clue too that it's Moses' son. But I'll let Mom be the judge;)

Friday, September 23, 2011

"Officially Irish"... I love it!

Was checking out the genealogy blogs that I follow this morning and found a post to "Help: The Faerie Folk Hid My Ancestors" that mentions an official Irish Heritage Certificate to be issued starting later this month to those who can prove Irish ancestry... and that otta be, what, about 9 out of 10 people on planet Earth?! I immediately thought, oh so cool. I want one!

It seems to be a flat out money making scheme - at 40 Euros a pop, just think of the profit - but it's all good fun too because you don't really get anything but a piece of paper to trot out on Saint Patrick's Day and spill some green beer on. But hey, sign me up: I'm Irish!

Here's the link to Deborah Large Fox's blog and links to the official stuff.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Thank Goodness for Small Genealogy Groups!

At Mom's urging, I joined the Genealogical Society of Allegheny County Maryland and now - for my $12 a year membership - receive their newsletter, by snail mail mind you, The Old Pike Post. It's a labor of love, you can tell right away, and I'm so glad to have it. The Post usually starts off with a longish story from a member about their search for ancestors. Even though mine haven't been included just yet, it's a fascinating read! How the mystery of tangled family names gets solved in each issue is a whirlwind story:)

Mom received her issue before I did and commented that the listing at the back of the latest issue included a couple looking for a group of my ancestors: Eckhart, Gormer, Kelly, and Natolly. I grabbed up my issue and the highlighter, noting their email address. Mom tried it and it bounced. DRAT! So she's off to mail them a note. She's good at stuff like that from back in the days when everything was done by snail mail. When she mentioned sending them a note I was, like, du'h....

So me, being an internet-based person you might say, got on the web browser trying to find the afore mentioned couple. No luck on that with google searches but then got the idea to try family trees on Ancestry. No luck with that ... ah, truth be told, didn't even get very far. And here's where FOCUS comes into play... I drifted off chasing Moses Porter instead. How did that happen??!! No focus.

But never mind and look at that... I lost focus just then writing this post. Started off saying thank goodness for small, labor-of-love, genealogy groups. And bringing it back that's where I'll leave it:)

Thursday, September 8, 2011

First Time Jitters

I went to the Family History Center in Mission Valley, San Diego, a couple of weeks ago and their resident British expert showed me how to browse and order microfilms online such that the films would then be delivered to the Center and ready for viewing. Good stuff for this newbie to know:)

Am looking for proof that my ancestor Nehemiah Newans actually was in the British army in 1754/55. After narrowing down the offerings (which I was shocked to see are VAST) came to a group of about six, and finally decided to order two.

Have received email updates twice: for the order and later that they were shipped as of August 26th. At the moment I'm waiting patiently for them to arrive. But I have the jitters. Did I do it correctly? Are they really ordered and in transit? How long should I wait before panicking? Someone told me that the Center only keeps them for 7 days so you have to run down there and get a look right away. OK, now I'm about ready to panic for real! That's a lot of pressure!

So I called the Center and just asked. They are very patient there... don't you just love patient people? She told me that yes, an email goes out when the films arrive so not to worry that I won't know when they arrive. And that it could take a couple of three or so weeks to get there and to call in a week or so if I don't hear from them and they'll be glad to check the status. That an email goes out from the Center telling me that the films are there waiting for me. Finally she said that I'd have 7 weeks (not days) to look at them. WHEW! Jitters gone.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Church Document Translation Come Home to Roost!

Remember those Congregational Church documents a while back and how the kind Maureen of Wales translated the pages? No... OK, so here it is from the top.

Aunt Betty was given the originals of the founding documents for the Frostburg, Maryland, Welsh Congregational Church, drafted 1873. Mom is on a Wales mailing list and put out a call to anyone willing to translate. Maureen replied and said that she was working on a project about Welsh founding church documents anyway, so to the good all around!

Meanwhile, I was visiting Mom and she was having fits trying to get the copies of the documents to Maureen and thinking about snail mail. I said, oh no, I'd just take a picture with my cell phone and send it to her (Mom's) email inbox and she could forward it to Maureen. Done deal!

Maureen did the translation but noted that page 4 was missing. I thought I'd messed it up and went on a wild goose chase tracking it down only to be told later by Aunt Betty that page 4 was in English and didn't need translation and that's why it wasn't included. About to drive me nuts!!

Just today I received an email from a woman in London saying that she'd read my post and thinks that her ancestor, Rev. Isaac Thomas, was the first pastor of that church! Oh yes he was! I checked the files on my computer and attached them to the reply to her... of course I couldn't wait to forward all to Mom and Aunt Betty!! Hey, maybe she's related because we have Thomas people on our own tree...? Mom? Aunt Betty? Is she kin?

Anyway, it caused me to notice that this blog doesn't have my email address because the woman in London had to Google and email me through my artist's web site. So there ya' go. I put it up on the right hand side there as I should have done from the start. It never once occurred to me that I might write something that someone would want to contact me about... such a newbie! Ha!

GG Grandmother Dianna Thomas Price, abt. 1832 - 1871

Friday, September 2, 2011

Those Who Labored

It's the start of Labor Day Weekend and I'm remembering all of my ancestors and what they labored at. I'm also thinking of those of our countrymen out of jobs today who want to labor but can not and I'm especially thankful for every blessing I have. (Wait, I'm getting ahead of the holidays... that goes with Thanksgiving!)

Amongst the ancestors there's a long list of farmers in the late 1700s and throughout the 1800s. In the 1700s we also have a tax collector (for the British Crown before the revolution in which he was a captain but turned to farming after) and a stone mason. Stone masonry was big back then. Have an another ancestor who was a stone mason and laid stone on the National Pike in Maryland and then traveled the area plying his craft and writing letters home to his beloved wife. (Note to self: must get digital copies of those precious letters from Mom and transcribe. Am so glad Mom's a bit of a pack rat!!)

As the 18th century moved along, there were plenty of coal miners. And rail road men too. The two occupations sort of go together in Western Maryland in the late 1800s. Those who could got work on the rail road. Those who couldn't went to work in the coal mines. Hard work all around.

Then there was my great grandfather Gustav Zeller. He was a barber and I've told a tale of two about his drinking fun here on the blog. He was quite the promoter and built his business up to a couple of shops throughout the county. Put a big fish tank in the window with exotic goldfish swimming around. His son took over from him when Gus Sr. retired. Gus Jr. also ran a floating card game in the basement with lots of drinking amongst the leaders of the community... but that's a story for another time!

In the 20th century many were teachers: seems to be the family business of the mid-century moment. Recently there's a turn to the law and the digital age. We keep up with the times!

Barber, entrepreneur.

Tobacco distributor, entrepreneur.

Pro baseball player.

Rail road and coal miners.

Computer wizard.


And not to say that the women of the family didn't work at home! See post below about Grandma... now that was WORK!