Thursday, July 28, 2011

A Not So Funny Drinking Story

Here's another drinking story for you. Mom emailed me yesterday to tell it. All the drinking stories have been kinda funny up till now but you know how it goes: eventually there's a "come-uppance" and there's "hell to pay" for the foolishness. Here's what Mom wrote.

"Daniel Yeast was born on 24 Apr 1818 in Mercer Co Kentucky. His parents were John Leonard Yeast and  Elizabeth Peavler. John Leonard's brother was Peter Yeast who married our third great grandmother Sarah Wooten.

This is the story of Daniel Yeast who married Mary Jane Curry. Daniel was a traveling salesman and on  April 12 1875 on this way home he stopped at a saloon for a libation. He left the saloon and was robbed and murdered. His body was found the next morning near the Salt River. Apparently he was 43 when this happened. He left 6 sons.

Our third great grandmother Sarah Wooten Yeast would have been Daniel's aunt. Love M"

Mom speculates that he was traveling with goods and even perhaps currency. As a traveling salesman we can presume that he had the gift of gab. Add the libations and on that particular night it was a formula for disaster.

YIKES, Mom! First the ancestor who poisoned maybe 3 or 4 husbands and her friend, now this?! Oh, did I tell you that story about the arsenic murderer? No? Maybe next time.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

More Drinking Stories

A number of humorous family stories on my Dad's side start with the phrase, "He'd been drinking a bit." I've posted here about my Dad's maternal grandparents, Ma and Pa, Ma being Moretta Workman Zeller (3 April 1859 - 24 MAR 1946) and Pa being Gustav Zeller (3 FEB 1858 - 12 Mar 1927). Pa owned a couple of very prosperous barber shops in Western Maryland and there was money around so life was enjoyed in that way. Ma... well she just ruled her kingdom, so to speak.

Pa liked to drink. We are guessing that it might have been a tad stressful to run his barbering empire and live with Ma. So he liked to go on drinking binges, or as the family called them, "go on a toot." Don't know where that expression came from but it was around. Pa would disappear for a couple weeks or a couple of months, hire a hotel room and enjoy himself to the max.

He liked to go up to Pennsylvania but sometimes he'd just go on down to Cumberland from his home in Frostburg, Maryland, a trip of under 10 miles. Once (and probably more than once) he took a room in the Queen City Hotel. The lobby of the hotel doubled as the ticket office for the railroad station. It was grand in it's day. Sad to say, it was demolished in the 1960s for an urban renewal project, back when urban renewal trumped preservation. Here's a link to info about the old Queen City Hotel on WIKI:

The old Queen City Hotel, Cumberland MD.

Pa always took a room with a balcony. See the balcony rooms there? One time he even hired a band to play just for him. It was the Arion Band of Frostburg, still in existence and one of the oldest community bands in the USA. See info on WIKI:

Ma got a bit tired of Pa's disappearing act so she hauled his sorry self off to Chicago where his parents resided. Ma thought that should straighten him out! What she found was that Pa's father liked to drink as much as Pa did, so off they'd go! Ma and Pa's son Gus (Dad's Uncle Gus) was born there in Chicago.

Pa's father, Charles William Zeller (May 1829, Germany - 17 MAY 1901, Chicago) and mother, Mary (APR 1816 Germany - 11 SEP 1906 Chicago) are also interesting an have some family stories behind them. He was a confectioner, a candy maker, and she a diabetic. See how funny life is?

Gustav Zeller (3 FEB 1858 - 12 MAR 1927).
A very well-groomed man! It was his business after all:)

The first streetcar comes to Frostburg, MD.
See Pa, Gustav Zeller, in the lower left quadrant
in his white barber coat?

Ma, Moretta Workman Zeller
(3 APR 1859 - 24 MAR 1946)

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Another Drinking Man

There are a number of our ancestors who served in the Civil War, all on the Union side. They lived in Western Maryland and what was to become West Virginia so their sympathies were with the Union even though Maryland and Virginia were slave holding states. The western part of those geographic areas still run contrary to whatever is going on east of them:)

A handful of our Civil War era ancestors were railroad men so they were off the hook as the railroad ran supply lines for the Union into southern states. Others were coal miners and it was coal that fired the railroad steam engines. Presumably they were all left alone as none of them have Civil War service records as far as I can tell, but I'm a newbie here with this genealogy stuff.

One of the half-dozen ancestors who did serve has a fun family story behind him. In a solidly Union family was Samuel Albert House (1832 - 1919). SA House is Mom’s great grandfather on her mother’s side. Now as Mom tells it, Samuel Albert House was quite a drinking man. This habit often got him into plenty of hot water, especially with his wife and her father.

It's reported that he got drunk and went over to Virginia to enlist in the Army of the Confederacy just to be disagreeable. At least that's how the family story goes so I was off to check it out. And it’s true because you can see his enlistment and mustering records in the Army of the Confederacy through!

What you can also see is that he mustered in August of 1861 and deserted by October of that same year. Maybe it took him two months to sober up? Hey, I did mention that he was a drinking man!

Samuel Albert House, date unknown.

Monday, July 25, 2011

About the time Grandpop Kelly went to Florida

I don't know what it is about Mom and me but we both embrace the wayward behavior of our ancestors and those who had just a splash of a character defect about them. My Dad's side were Men of the Drink. They were Irish and German and what Irishman or German gent doesn't like a stiff whiskey to brace against the cold and damp or a beer to celebrate? Celebrate what? Monday, Tuesday, etc.

Just this morning I asked Mom what Dad's relationship was with his own father. It seems to me that mostly guys love guys differently... it's a guy thing. So I can't remember exactly how Dad loved his father. She said that they really loved each other and that there was a lot of mutual respect. Dad thought Grandpop was so very smart and it was sad that he left school after 3rd grade to work in the coal mines to help support the family. He could have been a lawyer, Dad said.

And Grandpop loved Dad back. Dad was the oldest boy and made a nice successful business career for himself. Family men loving the men in the family in their own way.

Then she went on - and this is the fun stuff - to tell me a story about how she and Dad made a present for Grandpop in the 1950s of a new suit and a train ticket to Miami where Grandpop's sister, Aunt Edith, lived. Grandpop stayed up all night on the train (he was kinda a night guy) drinking and talking to just about everyone. Had a wonderful time. Then when he got to Miami he partied on with one of Aunt Edith's sons... the one that wasn't a priest;)

When Grandpop came back home he'd lost some weight, due to all the drinking and not much eating. AND, he wanted to sell the house and move to Florida! (I kinda do remember this part and all the fuss about moving to Florida.)

That's when he found out that the deed wasn't in his name but only Grandmas. You see, the house had belonged to her father, Pa, and when he died he left it to Ma, Grandma's mother. Then Ma left it to Grandma. And Grandma hated the heat so no moving to Florida! Things were rocky for a while between Grandma and Grandpa, but they loved each other so it all worked out in the end. Kinda, if you know what I mean;)

Grandpa in Florida having too much fun!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Getting Centered ... Again

Well it was off to the Family History Center in Mission Valley for me this morning! Met with their resident England expert to get a feel for the area called Derbyshire. In the little book, "Ancestral History of Thomas F. Myers" it says that my Revolutionary war ancestor Nehemiah Newans came from Derbyshire and I wanted to know more about it.

The expert was there once again as she usually is on Thursday mornings. I refreshed her memory about my situation and asked her in the most general way to tell me anything she knew about the Derbyshire of the 1750s or Derbyshire in general. In genealogy we are usually after specific questions with pretty specific answers, it felt kinda strange to ask such an open-ended question, but it was well worth it:)

My expert was great and we chatted on for almost 45 minutes or so. I learned that Derbyshire is quite beautiful and scenic, the kind of place you'd go to on holiday as she had been a couple of years ago. It's hilly and you'd be in the moors. Jane Austen wrote of this place. All over those hills are large limestone rocks and boulders... the type used in masonry to build dry masonry field walls to keep your sheep in place, churches and grand houses.

Stone masons were of the working class. Nehemiah Newans' father was a military surgeon, and his brother were a "lawyer and a doctor", or whatever that meant in that time and place. Young Nehemiah wanted to follow his uncle's footsteps and be a stone mason: a working class man in a family of professional men. There's gonna be a problem there!

My expert also noted that in the mid 1700s the Lutheran community was building churches in the Derbyshire area. Interesting both because of the stone mason connection as well as it being noted in "Ancestral History of Thomas F, Myers." that Nehemiah Newans' wife from York PA, Miss Kepplinger, was from a Lutheran family.

My expert also told me that a military surgeon would be moving around, much like the military of today. So that confuses the issue of Nehemiah Newans coming from Derbyshire. Is that where their ancestral line comes from or is that simply where they were living at the time his father bought his military commission?

She also inferred that if he was a city boy he'd say he came from that city, like Derby. Derbyshire is the name of the county. It might indicate that it would be good to look at smaller towns ... where they were building a Lutheran church of limestone about 1730 or so...?

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Wanted: Brick-Layer and Stone Mason, 2 Please

Have been burning the midnight oil on my Revolutionary War ancestor, Nehemiah Newans... well, I'm a morning person so guess that's burning the late afternoon oil for me;) Was wondering what to do next (see last post) and after cruising through and posting to forums decided to recheck my list of things to do.

Was really after hunting down an obit on him so googled around and figured that I'd give a whirl. After getting angry at it -- totally my fault -- figured out how to drill down then search under the right rock. No obit. However, did find an ad in Canandaigua NY in the Western Repository newspaper posted by a Nehemiah Newing looking for hired hands as brick layer and stone mason. See below. His ad is at the very bottom in the left column.

"To BRICK-LAYERS. Two or three Journeymen BRICK-LAYERS, who can also plaister and lay stone, may have constant employ through the season, and liberal wages allowed them -- Apply to NEMEHIAH NEWING. Canandaigua, Aug. 27, 1804.

I've previously posted to this blog about mention of a Nehemiah Newing as listed as a “brick and stone-mason”, in the Early Business Men of  Canandaigue (about 1804 era), "Canandaigua
Village History", History of Ontario Co, NY, Pub 1878.

So of course I checked the 1800 and 1810 census for Nehemiah Newing and came up blank.  The US Census for 1810 shows the following: Nehemiah Newans at Canandaigue. FWM 26 - 44: 1,  FWM over 45 1, FWF 45 Over 1, Number in household over 25: 3, Number in household: 3. (

This thread of him being a stone mason is really interesting because it runs through his life. It's stated in the Thomas F. Myers book, "Ancestors of Thomas F. Myers", that Nehemiah Newans as a young man wanted to follow his uncle and be a stone mason but his father thought better of it (below his station in life, what with the brothers being a doctor and lawyer) and bought him a commission in the military. Nehamiah's son, as mentioned as such in his will, Elias Thompson, was listed in the 1850 US Census as a mason. (Ya gotta love that 1850 census!)

So right at the moment and until proven otherwise I'm thinking that Newing and Newans are one and the same guy. You buying this logic or am I nuts? Any thoughts, comments, concerns, true-life stories?

See that! He's looking to hire two or maybe even three guys to work for him! Business was GOOD:)

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Nehemiah Newans: Where to Go From Here?

This newbie has been digging deep in the data mine - at least deep for me - about my Revolutionary War ancestor, Nehemiah Newans. Found his surname spelled a variety of ways but have settled on the way it was on his last will and testament, Newans.

Last evening found myself idly thinking about where I might look next for more of his life's story. So I quick grabbed up his file and a sheet of paper and started thumbing through what was there and making note of what was missing. I listed 23 lines of inquiry.

OK, I'm really new at this so granted, there's probably about ten times more questions that should be on that list:) Think I'll go back and look at Randy Seaver's list of what to do next, posted to his GenaMusings blog not too long ago, titled, "My Research Problem Solution Advice". Here's the link:

I spot two things right away on Randy's list that can help me along. First, I need to go back to the San Diego Family History Library and chat with the knowledgeable friendly folks there and see what they say. I found my last visit very helpful and I learned a lot watching a pro in action. Can't wait to see what this visit turns up:)

Next, I should be posting to forums online. I have some information to share but sure could use the help of others working on the Nehemiah Newans thing. Forums is going to be my middle name for a while. OK, so it's off to the Forums for me!

Mom and her good friend and neighbor,
Mary Middleton, 1938.

Ha! Just got off a search on RootsWeb forum and what did I find there? The closest match is my own Mom's post! Go Mom!! Here's the link:

Monday, July 18, 2011

Amanuensis Monday: The Will of Nehemiah Newans

Well it's Amanuensis Monday all over again. As GenaBloggers, one of my fav sites, says: Amanuensis Monday – An Amanuensis is a person employed to write what another dictates or to copy what has been written by another. Amanuensis Monday is a daily blogging theme which encourages the family historian to transcribe family letters, journals, audiotapes, and other historical artifacts.

So today I'm going to transcribe the Last Will and Testament of my Revolutionary War ancestor, Nehemiah Newan who has been reaching out beyond the grave and making his presence felt! So here goes and thank goodness this one was pretty easy to read. Special thanks to the nice people in Ontario NY Records and Information Management who copied and sent it to me:) It is dated 23 March 1820. He died in November of that same year.

"I, Nehemiah Newans of the town of Canandaigua in the County of Ontario and State of New York do make and ordain this my last will and testament in manner and form following ---"

Then follows the proforma wording about payment of debts and continues as follows.

"All the rest and residue of my estate both real and personal as shall remain after my debts are paid I give and bequeath unto my well beloved wife Mary Newans to have and to hold the same to use and enjoy during her natural life and the remainder of all such estate after her decease shall invest in the heirs of my sons Elias Thompson and Thomas Newans ---"

The document goes on to name Moses ATWATER Esq. as sole executor. Witnesses were Thomas BEALS, Chester LOOMIS, and E. S. (?) COBB.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Randy's Saturday Night Challenge: A Piece of Pie

Randy Seaver of GenaMusings blog offered up a good challenge once again and this time it involved, of all things, making a pie chart of the geographical distribution of your great great grandparents. Not liking math or anything math-y, I was attracted to the challenge when he posted a link that would do the math for me. Cool:)

Here's a link to Randy's blog and the Saturday challenge: Slide on down to yesterday and give it a try. It's very nice and until I made my list I had no appreciation for how wide-spread my people would be! My guestimate before actually charting it out was three states: Maryland, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania. How wrong I was... take a look below.

Check it out: more of my people were in Illinois, Ireland and Wales than in West Virginia or Pennsylvania! And two were even still in Germany!

So thanks Randy for this challenge and some all-over-again appreciation of the trails of the ancestors:)

Saturday, July 16, 2011

An Envelope Full of Information! I'm Thrilled!

Yesterday received in the snail mail copies of land sale records and probate filings for my Revolutionary War ancestor, Nehemiah Newan! The RAIMS folks in Canandaigue, NY really came through for me and my $25. Whatta deal! Thanks, RAIMS of Canandaigue, NY.

I can see that Nehemiah Newan sold three parcels of land in the early months of the year he died, 1820. Wonder if he know he wouldn't make it much longer? Now I want to try and plot them out - just curious - to see if they are adjacent. As best I can tell after a quick glance the land seems to be near the center of the old town.

The will names his wife, Mary Newans and two sons, Thomas Newans and Elias Thompson. Who the heck is that?! And MARY? The wife in York, Pennsylvania was Catharine in the petition for widow's pension. Are Mary and Catharine one and the same person? Is it "Mary Catharine" as I recently suspected or are they two different people, "Mary" in New York and "Catharine" in Pennsylvania? I'm thinking they might be two different people.

Plus, the spelling now is Newans, with an "s" at the end. And who is Elias Thompson, for pitty's sake? As a newbie I'm learning real quick from experience that one question answered results in a couple more questions popping up.

As I shared this new info by phone with Mom this morning she commented that you never are "done" researching any given ancestor. There's always more to learn. So you're done when you've had enough, eh Mom?
Family picnic, 1957.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Nehemiah Newan: She Said He Was Dead

OK, so here's what we have so far on my Revolutionary War ancestor, Nehemiah Newan. He was most likely born in England (no proof) and came to the Colonies with General Braddock (no proof). He enlisted and fought in the Revolutionary War, was wounded at Green Springs VA, honorably discharged at the conclusion of the war as a captain and received a Bounty Land Grant in western Pennsylvania in Westmoreland County. Much proof on all that.

He "removed" to Canandaigue, NY in 1796 (by his own statement in his pension application of 1818) and possibly died there in November of 1820. Am waiting on proof of that. (See previous post.)

This morning I happened to read an article in Family Chronicle magazine about scoundrel ancestors, which always tickles my fancy. Scoundrels are the ones I love best because of the interesting story. You know me, I'm all about the stories.

Because I'm really new to this genealogy stuff there is much to learn and sometimes just stumble across a factiod I can really use. Such was information in the scoundrel article.

So when Nehemiah Newan removed to New York he left behind a wife, possibly named Mary Catharine Kipplinger, or just Mary (how she's listed on most family trees) or just Catharine (how she signed her widow's pension application). She stated that her husband, Nehemiah Newan, was killed in the last battle of the war in the Battle of Yorktown and she never saw him again.

Yeah, well, seems right: she probably never did see him again. It's been my working premise that he deserted her their son Thomas and went to New York to a very remote little village on the frontier were soldiers were known to settle.

What I found in Family Chronicles was a tid-bit explaining that deserted wives of that era said they were widows. Good cover story:) The article gave an example of a woman stating that she was a widow in the 1800 census. Makes sense, doesn't it?

1810 Census from Canandaigue, NY listing Nehemiah Newan.
That's him 12 down from the top as
Neh(small h) Newans.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Time Traveler Trips

I often feel like a time traveler. Have noticed the frequent use of that word in popular media but couldn't relate ... I like the here and now pretty well. As a newbie genealogist I find myself trying to imagine how the ancestors lived, what they did, and how they decided to do the things they did. Seems to me that the imagination helps move the work move along, helps solve mysteries, or just to know which rocks to look under for clues or information. Playing What If is my most popular game in putting puzzle pieces together.

Am guessing that this is a common tactic amongst genealogists. Mom says that when she started her genealogy quest 25+ years ago she'd spend so much time imagining what the lives of the ancestors held that she'd even dream about them. Gosh just today she told me she dreamed that she was standing in a group of ancestor women and all of them were pregnant! Isn't that, well, pregnant with meaning?! Go Mom!!

Easter, 1957. That's Mom on the right pregnant
with my sis. Dad is on the left holding my brother
and that's me in front of him in the belted dress.
I have cousin JC, the kid on the lower right,
 to thank for this lovely time traveling photo.

Monday, July 11, 2011

A Bit of Amanuensis Sharing and a Story of the Civil War

I really like the GenaBloogers web site. It's a rich haven for those of us nuts enough to go a-blogging about this genealogy stuff. They suggest topics every day so if you don't have the blogging muse perpetually at your side ... just go to GenaBloggers and pick out a suggestion that fits your mood. Here's the link to their site, but you'll probably see them on the recent postings that pop up over there on the right:

Today is Amanuensis Monday. The site says, "Amanuensis is a person employed to write what another dictates or to copy what has been written by another." OK, I've done that so here's some sharing.

James Snider  is my mother’s first cousin 3 times removed. He's Mom’s maternal great grandfather, Samuel Albert House’s ( 1832 – 1917) mother’s (Rebecca House 1808 – 1851) sister Mary’s son. James Snider was born in 1840. He lived in what’s now West Virginia, and mustered in the Second Potomac Brigade of the Union Army at Cumberland, Maryland in late August, 1861. He was there to sign up on the very first day, August 27, 1861.

The Second Potomac Home Brigade was attached to the Railroad District in West Virginia and mostly employed guarding the B and O Railroad from Keyser to points east of Cumberland. The railroad was one of the strategic advantages of the Union forces as supply lines. He signed up to serve three years but only made it to New Years Eve of his enlistment year before getting shot. He died the next day.  

Seems that the Company got drunk - because that's sort of what some people do on New Years Eve, especially if you are a young guy with a bunch of other young guys and not at home. One of the men in his company, Rudolph Luteman, took his rifle and shot and killed our ancestor, James Snider.

I accessed both his and Luteman’s Civil War records at NARA
through The letter Leutman wrote to the commanding officer from his holding cell pleading for mercy seven months after the shooting was easy to find. Here is a section of the letter.
“I did not bring in the whisky, on which I got drunk, but I received it from friends, and I swear you that I never left my post or slept on it. It is stated by witnesses that I had not the intension to kill him, and I never (?) quarreled or had differences with the killed man before.”

Luteman escaped a month later. Funny thing is I see records for a guy with the same name mustering in again in Cumberland, 28 Sept, 1864. Wonder if it's the same Rudolph Luteman?

The Luteman Letter

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Stumbling Blindly I Found a Detail

Sometimes it seem that this newbie has to stumble blindly through the forest of information until she finds a detail that otherwise remains overlooked. And so it was yesterday. The thought came to me that it might be good to know more about the village where my Revolutionary War ancestor, Nehemiah Newan, settled in 1796: Canandaigue New York. A google search brought up the usual ... plus one other item at:

It's a link to a lovely transcription, entitled as follows:

"Canandaigua Village History 
History of Ontario Co, NY, Pub 1878   
Pgs.  101 - 110
Kindly transcribed by Donna Walker Judge & Deborah Spencer"

It was delightful reading so I copied it over and printed it out so I could take the time it deserved. Last evening I read it, thoroughly enjoying every paragraph and was thrilled to find reference to someone who might be my Nehemiah Newan.

The business men of the village in 1803 were: THOMPSON & BENJAMIN, watchmakers and jewelers: Elijah MOSEBY, blacksmith; John W. STOUGHTON, tailor; Robert SPENCER, boot-and shoe-maker; Ishmael BRICKLE, barber and hair-dresser; John HALL, saddle-and-harness-maker; James SIBLEY, watchmaker and jeweler; William ANTIS, gunsmith; Samuel ABBY, carpenter and joiner; Augustus Porter & Co., merchants; FREEMAN, ATWATER, and John COCHRANE, tinware; and THOMPSON & BENEDICT, whose business is not noted. In 1804 the business men of the place were increased by the advent of Peter BROWN, cabinet and chair-maker; Little & Hawley, hatters; Jonathan M. BEACH, blacksmith; Nehemiah NEWINGS, brick and stone-mason;

Hmm. That seems pretty close to me. Plus, the little book of Thomas F. Myers' ancestors (see previous blog posts here) mentions that a young Nehemiah Newan in England wanted to be a stone mason but his father thought better of it and purchases a military commission for him. Not that I buy into the Myer book 100%. And not saying that there might not have been a man named Nehemiah Newings.

Unfortunately there seems to be no Nehemiah Newan in the 1800 census but I need to take a much closer look at that as well as the 1810 census.

Know what I did for fun last night? Sat and compared neighbors on the 1810 and 1820 census... with a magnifying glass. Hot dog! Whatta Saturday Night in Genealogy Land!

Site of the Eckhart Mansion, Eckhart Maryland,
Chrissie Myer's grandaughter's in-law's ancestor's home place.
Kinda related, but I just like this picture so here it is,
even thought it's a stretch to relevance;)

Friday, July 8, 2011

And Then He Died

Seems that recent days have been full of Nehemiah Newan my Revolutionary War ancestor. Have made strides in filling in blank sections of his life and that puts a smile on this newbie's face:)

Yesterday was googling around and entered simply his name and the town where he's traced to, Canandaigue. One entry came up and it was an obituary index listing published in Geneva NY newspapers of the Finger Lakes region of New York State. "Nehemiah Newan, Canandaigue NY, 8 Nov 1820." Sounds about right. He'd have been 72 years old.

So my next task is to google around and look for old newspaper records in archive and then reach out for a look-up person to copy what's hopefully there. Best case scenario will be to find an lengthy obit telling all about his life. DREAM ON, NEWBIE!

Petition for PA Land grant Page 2.
Nehemiah Newan's signature in lower right area.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Let's Change Some County Names Just For Fun

This newbie is working an a Revolutionary War ancestor, Nehemiah Newan who served in the 1st Pennsylvania Line. At first I kinda thought he was a bit of a dork. His family in England were reportedly professional man and his highest aspiration was to be a lowly stone cutter, if you believe what was written in a family history. As I've looked into the twists and turns of his life my respect for him has grown. Now I think he's pretty cool.

Two steps forward in my search, at least it feels like forward motion, came in the form of emails. The first was from the County of Ontario in New York and their RAIMS office. Wondered for about 20 minutes what RAIMS was and then went back to the home page to find out that it's the Records Archives and Information Management Service! OK, so I can see them wanting to say RAIMS and not that whole mouthful!

Rosemary at RAIMS emailed back to my query that yes, they did have both a deed and probate records for a Nehemiah Newan in the target time period. Fill out the form and send $25. DONE. I think that the probate records indicate he died in 1820. Hopefully that will be cleared up when I receive what Rosemary found. I'm clueless as to what the deed might be about.

The second email came from that nice Mr. McWilliams of the PA Archives. He gave some handy info about searching for deeds in western Pennsylvania counties. Here's what he wrote: "Keep in mind, District 1 lands were located in Westmoreland County in 1785-1788, but would have been in Allegheny County, 1788-1800. The lands are currently located in Butler and Lawrence Counties."


Petition for PA Land grant Page 1, 1818.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Learning About Land Records

Feel as though this blog ought to be renamed the "Nehemiah Newan Blog" after my Revolutionary War ancestor;) Oh well, that's my obsession of the moment and I'm happy with it.

In frustration, at the beginning of Monday's hunt for the land grant records of NN mentioned above, I emailed the Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission's web site archivist. Received a reply today from Mr. McWilliams. Nice to know an actual person is on the other end to help.

Yesterday realized that I didn't know diddly-squat about land records, deeds, abstracts and the like. So spent a while googling around looking for articles. The best, if not the freshest, came from I've noticed that some of their articles are from the 1990s and don't take into consideration issues in internet genealogy. Much recommending of books and little surfing on the "interwebs". Just an observation as I'm happy as a newbies can be to have any information at all, fresh or otherwise!

As is my method, such that it is, I open a Word doc and copy text from multiple articles over so that it can be printed out for perusal and study. I have tons to learn about everything and love my yellow highlighter!!

So here's my next task: try to find out if Nehemiah Newan sold his land in Westmoreland County, took the proceeds and purchased that land in upstate New York. After last evenings reading, think it's best to find a look-up service to go to the courthouse in Westmoreland and look for a deed transfer abstract or index. Have no idea how to hunt for someone to do that but maybe I'll ask Mom when I call her today. Then I can email or call the local genealogical or historical societies. Am I on the right track here??

Joseph E. Whetstone (1816 - 1897), ca. 1890. He's my GGF.
Love looking at old photos for clues.
He's got a book in his right hand. Bet it was a Bible. And maybe glasses in his left? But, woah, look at his beard! That's a beauty.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

FOUND! Nehemiah Newan's Revolutionary War Land Grant Survey!

WOW! This is a biggie for this newbie:) Yesterday on the 4th of July, killing time before the burgers went on the grill and then off to see the fireworks, I took a stab at the archives at the Pennsylvania Historical & Museum web site. I landed on the home page for the state archives at:

From there I went to Land Records. Here's the link:

The chart offered boxes to choose from and finally I clicked on Donation Land Series:

I chose Donation Land Register at:

Then I found the Listing of Veterans Entitled to Donation Land at:

That brought up a PDF page and there I found Nehemiah Newan but spelled Newmeans! He was listed as a sergeant and awarded 250 acres on 5 April 17, 1794. Cool.

But where was this land? That's what I wanted to know. While I was there I clicked on over to check the listing of claimants whose land was in New York or partially in New York. I had suspected that he might make that list as he was living in upstate New York in 1810 through 1820. Nope, not there so that theory is eliminated.

On we go. Next stop, the Donation Land Register: Numeric Tract Listing:

Ok, so he was awarded 250 acres. I Clicked around the lists of 250 acres and found:

There he is, 6th from the bottom, number 13 under the 250 acre awards! That gives me the land survey book number and page number: Book D-52, page 27.

Found it! Now back to the Archive's Land main page at:

And there clicked on: Copied Survey Books to go to "COPIED SURVEYS, 1681-1912" at:

Here I clicked on the correct Volume number, D-52-27 at:

And there it was. After all this time wondering where Nehemiah Newan's land was and if his move to Canandaigue, Ontario County, New York was the location of his bounty land grant, well, not.

So going forward I'm working off three theories. First that he sold his Westmorland County PA land and purchased the land in New York state. Or he might have been part of some sort of land swap so I'll need to check the PA Archives again. That sure is a good web site. Last theory is that he might have somehow "double dipped" and received two land grants. Don't even know if that's possible but there's research to be done on that topic as well.

Whatta 4th of July!!!

Reply to comment from Frank's Daughter: Burgers OK. Fireworks all in my head;)

Monday, July 4, 2011

Clean Up My Act, Citation-Wise

I really need to clean up my citation act here. As a rank and file newbie I get it about citations. I taught college for 10 years, so I get it big time. I've googled around and am thinking that the Chicago style is the way to go. Any opinions out there? Maybe I should use something like Citation Machine? And I must have Evidence Explained. Yeah... this part is kinda like "work" for me. Oh, well, it's just another aspect of being a grown-up. Bummer.

Meanwhile it's 4th of July so I'll wait and clean up my act starting tomorrow morning. Seriously, I must do this.

Add On:
Talked to Mom this morning. I gotta tell ya, love her to pieces, but noticed that she's a pound shy on the citation measurements in her Family Tree Maker. I've been wondering why and today we talked about it. Those sources and citations are all in her head!

Back 25+ years ago when she started doing genealogy it was just an amusement, a past-time. So when she went on over to the courthouse and copied a record she made a note on it about where it came from, entered the info on the proper line and tucked it in a file. Over the years she got serious about this stuff and went from paper pedigree charts to Family Tree Maker. When the transfer happened the citation notes got left behind.

Now here she is with 57,000 individuals on her tree and missing citations here and there. She'll say she just does it for her own amusement... but I can tell... she wishes she had proper citations from the get-go. At 93 she's busy working on new trails of the ancestors and doesn't care to go back and finish the paperwork. She needs one of those Hollywood-type personal assistants to make the connection between all that paperwork in the binders in her closet and the FTM individuals. Guess one day you'll twist my arm to do it, eh MOM?

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Mining Stories

Grandpa Kelly (John Lee Kelly born 4 Mar 1892, Eckhart MD, died 28 May 1969, Frostburg MD), as I remember him, was often ill. He worked in the coal mines as a young man with some of his brothers. His father and older brothers worked on the rail road, which was the better job. The younger brothers found what work they could and that was in the coal mines.

It's hard back-breaking work and dangerous too. We still see stories but in the early centuries of the 1900s it was way worse. Mine owners then and now look to the bottom line and not the welfare of the men who do the work. You can probably sense my opinion on the subject.

My Grandpa Kelly had black lung disease and died of his battle with it. It wasn't pretty to watch.

But I have other, happy memories of him. He had a playful nature, loved a joke or playing a joke on someone. His favorite activity was taking a ride in the car, the simple pleasure of enjoying the passing countryside. I love that too. And he was pretty happy watching the world out the kitchen window from his favorite rocking chair at the center of the household. He liked TV too, and before that radio. They expanded his world.

He loved Jimmy Durante and did a fair impression of him too when he'd say, "Haaa-Chhh-Chhh-Chaa," or "Goodnight Mrs. Calabash wherever you are." Always made me laugh!

He took a nap every afternoon on a daybed in the dining room. In winter, before they got the new furnace, he'd climb down to the basement and stoke the old coal furnace and climb back up again on a narrow ladder. That took a toll on him and he'd have to "rest up a minute", coughing intensely.

He was skinny as could be but Grandma would cook him anything he desired anytime of the day or night. They loved each other plenty. "Come here Cutie and give me a kiss," he'd say to her.

Sometimes when he'd get angry at a perceived injustice he say something about "getting the Molly Maguires after em'" to take care of the offending party. As a kid, I had no idea who the Mollies were but they sure did sound ominous!

A couple of years ago I asked Mom about the Molly Maguires and she didn't remember Grandpa saying anything about them. The name Molly Maguires stuck with me so clearly that I had to google that term and find out what I could. Low and behold, here they are:

It's a dramatic tale of "good" versus "evil, depending on which side you're on. Last winter surfing channels I found the movie about them! As Wikipedia makes reference, "The Molly Maguires, starring Sean Connery and Richard Harris, was released in 1970". I watched it... didn't win any Academy Awards:)

It's funny the tid-bits we remember and how they fit into the lives of our ancestors. I can remember Grandpa sitting in his rocker shaking his fist at some politician and vowing that the Mollies would right it all.

Grandpa Kelly on the right standing
with his brothers and father, Frank,
Francis Patrick Kelly (1854 - 1923)

Grandpa Kelly with Grandma, 1942

Friday, July 1, 2011

Getting Centered

Went to the San Diego Family History Center in Mission Valley yesterday and it was very much worth it! They could not have been nicer. I was super in luck because their expert on UK records is there on Thursdays. After a brief tour of the resources, she and I sat by a computer in a cozy nook while she surfed various web sites in search of Nehemiah Newan or his father, Thomas. It was a learning experience for this newbie to watch a pro do it.

Could see right away that it was worth that half-hour spent before arrival at the FHC getting my records organized and ready to be grabbed out of the file. I told her what I knew, in a nut shell, and what I wanted to find out. She went right to work.

First stop was the Bureau of Land Management looking for the land grant made to Nehemiah Newans. I sure would love to know exactly where his land was in Canandaigue, Ontario County, New York. We checked Pennsylvania and New York, then Ohio just for fun. Nothing came up on the BLM site but it was instructive for me to see how it works.

Next stop was Unfortunately it was down for maintenance. Oh, well. Try again later:)

Then we surfed on over to the National Archives UK. I thought it was a pay site so I wasn't using it... rookie mistake;) Here's the link.

There we found four possible matches for Nehemiah's father, Thomas. My guide looked at one location name and said, "That's not right." She knows her place names! Then she got a gazetteer for Britian and flipped through the pages to find Stoke Orchard, not Stoah Oarchrd as listed. Whatta pro! The three other listings for a Thomas Newan came from Essex.

We spent some time on Family Search, which I have not been using as much as I could. She searched around on it, as I watched her go and took notes. Lovely!

Finally she showed me In Search of The "Forlorn Hope", A Comprehensive Guide to Locating British Regiments and Their Records." It comes in two volumes and my guide took the first off the shelf (1640 - WWI). We browsed it a bit until I could browse on my own and then I thanked her profusely for her time. I didn't want to keep her forever figuring that she probably had a life:) Best guess is the we spent a bit more than an hour together.

She steered me to the Forlorn Hope because it will be important to know what regiment Braddock commanded when he landed at Alexandria VA in 1755... if I was going to find Nehemiah Newans in the roster under Braddock's command.

After a short break, I flipped open the Forlorn Hope and it opened right to the section page for the French and Indian Wars! I considered that a break... and then figured that I wasn't the first seeker looking for that era. It took just a moment to find the regiment that landed at Alexandria VA in 1754-55. Now I had a regiment number and name plus the place from which the regiment was recruited: Essex!

I came home exhausted, but in the best way:) It's so very nice to be working on an ancestor who served in the Revolutionary War over this 4th of July weekend. Nehemiah, as I think about the broad expanse of your life and times I like you better and better!

Uncle Harold and Aunt Dotty, May 1943.
Uncle Harold served in WWII.
Happy 4th of July to everyone and especially our veterans!

Look! Olive Tree Genealogy just posted that it's free UK access through July 8th. I'm gonna snag that deal! Thanks for the info:)