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!