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.