Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Wisdom Wednesday: Mom's DNA Test Tip

OK, so you might have seen the post below about Mom's 95th birthday. What do you get a woman who has everything she wants and more? A DNA test!

Mom and I are both genealogy addicts, so it was past time for her to take a DNA test. Mom lives in the wacky and wonderful state of Maryland so 23andMe can't sell their DNA test kit into the state because it contains "medical" results which can only be ordered by a doctor. My thought is that it only gives you back sort of sketchy results that show what your tendencies might be, and that's not a result you can write a prescription or do surgery for. But, hey, that's Maryland. Without breaking any of Maryland's idiosyncratic laws, Mom got her test and the little box is in the mail back to me in California.

23andMe wants a saliva sample. It's said that the older you get the harder it is to drum up saliva. I know it was hard for me and I was really surprised how hard! I passed on to Mom all the tips I could think of. Take your time, you'll get enough eventually, so no rush. Rub the side of your cheek. That's the hint 23andMe gives. But Mom had a better idea: watch the food channel! Mouth-watering deliciousness! It worked and within minutes she could have filled the whole tube with saliva, way past the line:)

Now we wait for the results and the fun to start!

Mom at her 95th birthday party!
What can I say: we're all foodies:)

This post is inspired by a GeneaBlogger's blogging prompt called Wisdom Wednesdays.

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Sunday, July 28, 2013

Sentimental Sunday: Happy 95th Birthday to Mom!!

Happy 95th Birthday!
Virginia Williams Kelly on her 21st birthday!
My Mom turns 95 years young July 29th! She's happy and healthy, thank goodness, and enjoying life. She follows this blog so here's another birthday wish to her!
Mom was born just at the close of WWI. She was born in July and the war ended in November of that year. Her family all lived in the little mountain town of Frostburg, Allegany, Maryland, and that war must have seemed far, far away, but not so far as to reach out and touch her family and town. One uncle suffered from the aftermath of nerve gas. The coal mining industry that employed almost every man in the area took a hit as coal prices fell when war time demand lessened. Yet it was a very happy childhood, as Mom tells it. No one had much but they all pretty much had the same. We were poor but everyone was poor, so we shared, she often says.
Mom as a baby with her parents,
Cambria Williams (1897 - 1960) and Emma Whetstone Williams (1897 - 1956).

Mom, right sporting a big hair bow and blond hair, with her sister Dorothy Williams Conrad.

Mom and Dad both graduated from the same high school but he was two years ahead of her. It was the last years of the Great Depression but work was to be had in local factories. They worked hard, saved, and secretly married. Each lived at home and more money was saved. But you know how small towns are: soon everyone guessed! An apartment was found and family life began in earnest.

Mom and Dad, an attractive couple.

Mom. Always did love a nice hat. Still does!

Mom at Dad's new office, early 1960s, Ohio.

Kids came along, we all moved to Ohio for better work opportunities. The kids, three of us, all grew, enjoyed college educations, found mates, and lived happily ever after. The doctor (PHD/ JD sister), the lawyer (JD brother) and myself.

Mom got interested in genealogy in the 1970s. Of course as you know, that was before computers. I look at her stacks of family group sheets and all the rest and am glad I waited to jump in until the convenience of the laptop! Mom is as sharp as a tack and remembers stuff I marvel at daily. Genealogy keeps her young, she says. She spent many years hiking over graveyards, climbing stairs in court houses and archives, walking to index remote cemeteries. If she finds anyone over 80 who is not on the internet, she gives them a good scolding!

Mom in the 1980s at the National Library of Wales.

Mom's most recent project is writing up stories of her life. It's an ongoing project and will take a while. First, she is transcribing her handwritten notes from a bunch of those old steno books. (Remember those?) She has always liked writing and this will be another fun project for us! I'll add photos to her writing and get it printed.

Mom: I want to be her when I grow up!!

Mom blows out the candles!

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Saturday, July 27, 2013

Surname Saturday: Mary Ann, Last Name Unknown, wife of John Eckhart

Here it is, the whole week has gone by and it's time once again for my favorite blogging prompt from GeneaBloggers called Surname Saturday. If I don't get anything else "genealogy" done during the week, the week has been a success for me if Surname Saturday gets posted.

This week we launch into the 4th great grandmothers, with the 2nd and 3rd GGMs and a lot of the GGFs having already been covered in previous posts. If you want to check a surname, just type it in the search box over there on the right.

The featured celebrity ancestor today is an interesting woman. She was the wife of a wealthy and prominent man who owned an inn on the Old Pike in the early years of the 1800s, owned slaves and had a head for business, and who owned quite a bit of very valuable property in the area that's now known as Eckhart and Eckhart Mines, Allegany, Maryland. Mary Ann, his wife, however thought differently about the slaves and apparently tried to free them, especially her personal servant, Matilda, and her children. That caused a furor. But I'm getting ahead of the story. First, the line up stepping back through the generations. Here we go!

1. Diane Kelly Weintraub

2. Francis Patrick " Pat" Kelly
1916 - 2007
3. Virginia Williams, that's Mom, living and loving it!

4. John Lee "Lee" Kelly 1892 - 1969
5. Helen Gertrude Zeller Kelly 1894 - 1985

8. Francis Patrick Kelly 1854 - 1923
9. Christiana Eckhart 1861 - 1932

18. John Eckhart 1831 - 1917
19. Mary Myers Eckhart 1837 - 1909
John Eckhart was born 5 Nov 1831 in Eckhart, Allegany, Maryland and died 5 Mar 1917 in the same place. He married Mary Myers on 22 Apr 1859 in Allegany County, Maryland.
Mary Myers was born 20 Mar 1837 in Frederick County, Maryland and died 30 Oct 1909 in Eckhart, Allegany, Maryland.
They had the following children:
9. Christiana Eckhart 1861 - 1932
Maggie L. Eckhart 1864 - ????. She married William Rechter.
Rachael Eckhart 1865 - 1940, who married Thomas W. Gracie, and then at his passing in 1909 in a horrible mining accident, she married Robert Strathan.
John Thomas Eckhart 1867 -1917. He married Rachael Pengilly.
Mary Catherine Eckhart 1868 - ????.

36. Jacob Eckhart 1801 - 1835/6
37. Delilah Porter 1812 - 1881
This couple were both born and died in Eckhart, Allegany, Maryland. We find it no end of fascinating that Jacob and his father, John, died in close proximity time-wise to each other. Some ancestors have floated the theory that both might have been poisoned in order to sell the estate to the big coal companies. Read on:)
They had the following children:
18. John Eckhart 1831 - 1917, who married first Mary Myers, and when she died, married Rebecca O'Brien.
Rachael Eckhart 1829 - 1895. She married Basil Anderson.

72. John Eckhart 1768 - 1835
73. Mary Ann ? Eckhart 1780 - 1850 (Find A Grave # 25555482)
John Eckhart inherited the bulk of his father's estate that wasn't reserved for his mother, aside from small items left to his siblings. It was just at the time that the National Road was being developed and he took advantage of its location running right through his property. He was appointed a road commissioner, for which he paid $300 a year fee to the state. In return he was to maintain the road and earned the right to keep a roadhouse, that served those who stopped. In the US Census of 1820 he owned 8 slaves, as he did in the 1830 Census. He was very prosperous.
When John Eckhart died in 1835, his wife, our mysterious Mary Ann who married John then 29 when she was just 17, inherited the bulk of his estate and then attempted to free the slaves. Her sons took her to court and tried to have her declared a "lunatic" and seize the property, including the slaves. She relented and kept the slaves in bondage, but thwarted the sons by moving to Monongahila County, West Virginia. Her will stipulated that the slaves were to be given their freedom upon her death.
Her son, Adam, took custody of seven of the eight slaves when his mother died in 1850. It is generally presumed that Maltilda, her favorite and personal woman servant, was already freed when Mary Ann died. The theory is that Mary Ann, after the dust-up with the sons fled to West Virginia to live with her son Adam and took Matilda.
Shortly after John's death, Mary Ann was approached by Matthew St. Clair Clarke, acting as an agent for a large coal mining conglomerate. He offered and paid $20,000 for the bulk of the Eckhart land. It was shortly thereafter that Mary Ann moved to West Virginia to live with her son Adam. She took that fortune, many millions of dollars in today's money, and her slaves with her.
The old Eckhart land, purchased for $20,000, held some of the best quality coal found anywhere during the 19th Century. This is called The Big Vein and produced millions of tons of coal from the 1830s until after WWI.
It is generally thought that there is miscegenation in this line and that the former Eckhart slave, Maria Johnson, who married Samuel Denson on 7 Jan 1868, in Cumberland Maryland, is a descendant from this line. If you are related to this line, please contact me at
John and Mary Ann's children are:
36. Jacob Eckhart 1801 - 1835/6
Mary Ann Eckhart 1806 - 1893. She married John Hansel and they moved away to Mallory Township, Clayton County, Illinois. Both are buried in the Hansel Cemetery there.
Adam Eckhart 1810 - 1891. He married Sarah Albright. They moved away to the Union District, Monongalia County, West Virginia.
John Eckhart 1824 - 1856. He married Sarah Hayes.
David Eckhart 1824 - 1854. (Find A Grave # 32156854)

That's all we know about Mary Ann. A comprehensive book by H Andrew Brown, "George Adam Eckhart and Philip Hansel of Allegany County, Maryland," sketches out what happened to Mary Ann after John died, and hints that the Adam Eckhart family and some Hansels moved on to Ohio after spending some years in Monongalia, Virginia (now West Virginia) and freed any remaining of their slaves in Ohio. Both Mary Ann and her son David are buried in the Hunt-Eckhart Cemetery, Morgantown, Monongalia County. Also in this cemetery are two boys, James T. who died at four years of age and John W. who died at two years of age. Perhaps Adam, his wife Sarah Albright, along with Adam's sister, Mary Ann and her husband John Hansel are all to be found buried in Ohio. Must say that I'm curious about this line of the family that moved on west.

The book by Brown does not shed any light on Mary Ann's maiden name or any details of her birth family or where they might have resided. Not much to go on. We're looking for a female born about 1780, probably in Western Maryland, probably of the German Lutheran faith. This lot stuck to their own.

The above are screen shots from Find A grave for:
Top: The Hunt-Eckhart Cemetery,
Bottom: Mary Ann ? Eckhart.

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Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Wishful Wednesday: Where, oh where, did my Irish ancestors come from?

One of my greatest frustrations in pursuing my Irish ancestors is not knowing the town or parish they came from. At this point I'd even settle for a county! It seems that you need to have a town or parish name or at least a county before you can go search records with some purpose, especially when dealing with common names like Kelly and O'Kelly... one on every corner! The only place to look for those locations is, obviously, American records. We have a poverty of such records for our Irish ancestors and really I don't know where to look next. Is there some magical document that usually has the birthplace or county of origin for immigrants, and not the ubiquitous "Ireland"? If so I've just plum missed it!

But I can't complain because Mom's been fortunate in finding what she did. Let me tell you about that, but first look at these photos and then a little story.

Way back when Mom got going on genealogy she became a devoted graveyard rabbit. Off she'd go in the car, with or without Dad, to some cemetery or other looking for familiar surnames. She has a dandy collection of tombstone photos too. Remember, this was back starting in the 1970s and before the very helpful web sites that all of us use, such as Find A Grave or Billion Graves.

While my paternal grandfather Kelly was still living she found his grandfather's burial place in St. Michael's Cemetery in Frostburg, Allegany, Maryland. Grandpop refused to believe that was his grandfather because he swore that he and his own father would have known where his grave was, they would have cut the grass and tended the grave.

Long story short, yes that's his grandfather and my great grandfather whose tombstone you see above. (My guess would be that some other sibling was tasked with taking care of that particular grave.) The stone told Mom exactly where in Ireland he was born, that being Shannonbridge in the parish of Clonmacnoise.

That was a very lucky find indeed! We have not been so lucky as regards our other Irish immigrant families. So as an exercise, let me relate here what we know and then you'll see what we don't know. Maybe some kind soul will have a good idea and pity us and give a clue. And then again maybe the Wee Folk are around and will point us in the right direction towards our home places in Ireland when they hear our pleases. Hey, it could happen!

Here's the line up. On Mom's side we have the O'Farrell / Farrell bunch and also the Caton group. On Dad's side we also have the Corcoran family who married into those Kelly folks. Bridget Corcoran and John Kelly met and wed here on this side of The Pond. Here's what's known.

O'Farrell / Farrell
The journey for this line starts with Thomas Farrell. Presumably the surname was streamlined from O'Farrell to Farrell because some of his sons kept the unfashionable and then fashionable again "'O". Here's what my Surname Saturday post looked like, below.
62. Thomas Farrell, formerly O'Farrell (1795 - 1851)
63. Judah LNU (last name unknown) (1815 - 1859)
Mom has searched for them for years because it was the Farrell line that originally got her started and interested in family history back in the 1970s. All she really knew was what she had been told as a child: that her great grandmother came from Ireland, from "where St. Patrick drove the snakes out of Ireland." Hmmm. Not a lot to go on.
Her foundational work and networking with other genealogists lead Mom to the County Clare clue, but it's still not proven absolutely. Quite a while back Mom corresponded with a researcher in Ireland and they ruled out County Longford.
Thomas and Judah, sometimes listed as Judy, immigrated between 1839 and 1840 as a married couple with two daughters. Their son James was born in Maryland in 1841, so it seems that the couple came to Maryland before moving on to Magnolia, Morgan, West Virginia (then Virginia).
Why they immigrated is a curious thing because it was before the Irish Famine years. Perhaps it was a brother or uncle who might have lured them there to work on the canal or railroad. But it appears that Thomas was a farmer because of an indenture for the rental of land (a copy is in Mom's possession) and his occupation listed as farmer in the 1850 US census.
Interestingly, some of his sons fought in the Civil War on the Union side and remained O'Farrells throughout their lives. Remember, this is the part of Virginia that became West Virginia where neighbor's sons fought on opposite sides! Brothers, too. But the O'Farrell boys stuck together in war and by name.
Thomas and Judah had the following children, some of whom went to live with friends or relatives after the couple died, Thomas in 1851 and Judah in 1859.
31. Mary Elizabeth Farrell (1835 - 1919). Born in Ireland and married Samuel Albert House.
* Catherine Farrell (about 1835 - before 1910), born in Ireland and immigrated with her parents and sister, Mary Elizabeth and my 2nd GGM, she died in Magnolia, Morgan County, Virginia, (now West Virginia). She married James Edward Boxwell.
* James O'Farrell (1842 - 1914). James was born in Maryland, and is age 9 in the 1850 census. He married Henrietta Michael in Morgan County, VA/WV, but they both died at Mora, Pettis, MO. His son's kept the O'. James served in the Civil War on the Union side.
* Thomas O'Fallell ( 1842 - ????) Thomas also kept the O'Farrell, and as did his brother James, enlisted in the Union Army to fight in the Civil War.
* Ann Farrell (1845 - ????)
* Ellen Farrell (1846 - ????)
* Bridget Farrell (1849 - ????)
* Sarah Farrell (1851 - ????)
What's next:
* All of the boys were born in America, and some moved out west. I could do as Mom did and try to make contact with another Farrell researcher to see if we can do better as a combined force.
* I might try tracing their immigration path over again to see if a detail has been missed or become available.
That's all I've got. Can you think of anything at all??

60. Patrick Caton 1814 - 1881
61. Rebecca House 1808 - after 1851
Patrick Caton was born in Ireland in 1814. Because of where he ended up in America, which is now West Virginia on the Potomac River near the long gone town of Magnolia, he most probably was lured by work on the railroads or the canal, as were countless other Irishmen, including possibly the Farrells mentioned above.
In the 1850 US Census he's listed as a farmer, but Samuel (calling himself Samuel Biggerstaff) and Patrick's brother, Francis Caton a man of 30 years living in the household, are listed as laborers. Presumably based on history of the area they were most likely employed by the railroad or the canal digs.
Patrick and Rebecca had the following children:
* Mary Caton 1846 - ????
* Margaret Caton  1847 - ????. She married George W. Meade.
They cared for:
30. Samuel Albert House 1832 - 1917
What's next:
There's a whole lot to do here. Everything, really. Immigration trail and naturalization, and whatever records are still existing for the back woods of West Virginia in the mid 1800s. I really need to talk to Mom about what she found when researching this line. Perhaps we haven't given it too much attention because Patrick Caton was not Samuel Albert's father.

16. John Kelly 1829 - 1891
17. Bridget Corcoran 1830 - after 1910
John and Bridget were both born in Ireland. We know that John was born in Shannonbridge, in Clonmacnoise Parrish, County Offaly (was Kings), but haven't a clue as to where Bridget was born... and without a town and a county we're outta luck with our Irish research.
John came to the United States, met Bridget and married here. They married 21 June 1848 in Cumberland, Allegany County, Maryland. They are there in Cumberland in the 1850 US census with Mary, age one year.
John died first in 1892. The Bridget died in 1912. That lovely Irish cross tombstone serves for them both even though there's only an inscription for John. Perhaps, as with other families, they ran out of money to have it inscribed.
For years we thought that her surname was spelled Corkrane, but further records searches showed that it was absolutely Corcoran! Imagine our surprise, but not too much when you pronounce both versions:)
They had eight children:
Mary Ann Kelly 1849 - ????
8. Francis Patrick Kelly 1854 - 1923
Catherine Elizabeth Kelly 1857 - ????
Michael Kelly 1859 - 1909
Margaret Kelly 1862 - ????
Theresa Kelly 1860 - ????
Thomas Kelly 1868 - ????
John Kelly 1872 - ????

Bridget's parents were James Corcoran born in Ireland about 1806, who married Anna Dolan also born there but about 1810. This information has come to us quite recently from a geanea-pal who combs old records of Western Maryland, and long story short, she found what we could not! Were we thrilled!! So here is what we know of this family unit. Here are the parents:
James Corcoran (about 1806 - ?)
Anna Dolan (about 1810 - ?)
They had these children.
17. Bridget Corcoran 1830 - 1912. born in Ireland.
* Thomas Corcoran 1835 - 1893. Born in Ireland, he married Mary Ryan and they both died in Shawnee, Perry, Ohio. (Find A Grave Memorial# 41251606)
* Isabella Corcoran 1840 - 1916. She was born in Allegany, Maryland, and married John F. Kenny and died in Crooksville, Perry, Ohio. (Her Find A Grave number is 43044520). John is buried in St. Michael's Cemetery in Frostburg, Allegany, Maryland.
* Catherine Corcoran
* Francis Corcoran
Look at that: Thomas and Isabella both died in Perry County, Ohio. Googling it's history I find that it was known as a coal rich area and is found on an almost direct line west from Cumberland, Maryland. It looks like Thomas and wife Mary went out to Ohio so that he could work the coal mines, and then after Isabella's husband John died, she went to live with her brother, died there and was buried in the same cemetery.
I took another look at the 1860 census for Allegany County, Maryland on the page where James and Anna (recorded as Ann) are listed. Of course he's a miner. Then as we all like to do, I nose around on the next page and find James and Anna's daughter, Bridget married to John Kelly, and living that close by.
And from a birth index for Perry County, it looks like some others in the area might have used that Corkrane spelling too. I'm just saying.
Thomas interests me so I searched about Perry County, Ohio and found this interesting passage.
SHAWNEE is eight miles south of New Lexington, on the Straitsville branch of the B. & O. R. R. It is one of the greatest coal-mining points in Ohio.
And also this from the same source as above, and continues to paint a picture:
A recent visitor writes; "New Straitsville is in the heart of the richest coal-producing district west of Pennsylvania; it is only three miles over the high, steep hills to bustling Shawnee, with its mines and blast furnaces; southward are Gore, Carbon Hill, and finally Nelsonville, all strong mining towns of the Hocking Valley.
What's next:
So much to do! The entire family of James and Anna is ripe for research. Can't wait to get started, with a list and everything! This has been long overdue.
* They were here by 1840 because their last child, Isabella was born here and the rest were born in Ireland. Where did they come from in Ireland?
* Where-oh-where are the parents James and Anna buried? My best guess would be a cemetery in Allegany County, Maryland, but nothing turns up. Bummer. Want to look for this because I need death dates and some closure.

Looking for your Irish ancestor's home place?
I was googling around for an overview of typical documents generated here in the States that might have your Irish ancestor's place of origin. Irish Genealogy Toolkit has a seemingly comprehensive listing here. So now the first thing I'll do is take that list and check off what's been reviewed and what's yet to be checked. The only one glaring omission from our scrutiny of that list is military records. I don't hold out too much hope for that as all of these men immigrants would have been in their 60s during the Civil War.

This is not going to be easy. It might just be impossible. If you have any tips to point us in the right direction, Mom and I would be forever grateful.

Wishful Wednesday is a blogging prompt from Geneabloggers. If you're thinking about starting a blog this is the source for all things

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Saturday, July 20, 2013

Surname Saturday: House, but not those other House people

It's time for this week's version of one of my favorite blogging prompts from GeneaBloggers called Surname Saturday. If you are a blogger and not doing Surname Saturday, please let me encourage you to give it a try! Here's my own blog post about Cousin Bait and Surname Saturday has been the very best one for me. Randy Seaver over at his excellent blog, Genea-Musings left a comment and be sure to read that too because it gives clear instructions on how to construct a Surname Saturday post!

This week we're into the 3rd great grandmothers, already having covered earlier grandmothers and a bunch of grandfathers in previous Surname Saturday posts. To check a surname, just plug it into the search box near the top right under the surname graphic. Are we related? I'm continuing to include some of the collateral folks as better cousin bait. It seems to be working:)

OK, so about that title for this post. You ever go charging into a line of ancestors and run across a really juicy story and get all excited about it and the way it could add pizazz to your family history? And then wake up one morning, have a cup of coffee and think, hey, that's not right! Yeah, it happens. And it happened on this House line.

For a really long time, Mom thought that we were descended from the famed Andrew V. House and John Valentine House of the House Heirs Association events, which is a very juicy story with millions of dollars hanging in the balance. You can read about it by clicking here for Part I to find the basics of the whole affair, then here for Part II where we follow the money, and finally here for Part III in a post that tries to uncover what is known about all that land the King of England supposedly gave the Count. It's complicated! Just know that even though we have in our possession copies of some of the House Heirs papers, now Mom and I are totally doubting that we're connected to this line at all!! Begging the question: if not them, who do we descend from?

1. Diane Kelly Weintraub

2. Francis Patrick " Pat" Kelly
1916 - 2007
3. Virginia Williams, living and loving it

6. Cambria Williams 1897 - 1960
7. Emma Susan Whetstone 1897 - 1956

14. Joseph Hampton Whetstone 1858 - 1938
15. Catherine Elizabeth House 1865 - 1947

30. Samuel Albert House 1832 - 1917
31. Mary Elizabeth Farrell 1835 - 1919
I wrote a longish blog post about Samuel Albert House on February 25, 2013 and his strange life which you can find here. It tells the story of various jobs and moving and finally settling in Frostburg, Allegany, Maryland.
There's also an amusing post about the Counterfeiting Twins here, and those two, Rev. Edward Francis and Joseph Martin, were SA and Mary Elizabeth's children.
They had these 16 children:
* James I. House 1844 - ????. He married Sara C. Wilson
* John T. House 1855 - 1954. He married Sarah Dennison.
* William H. House 1858 - 1907. He married Ada Elizabeth Garlitz.
* Mary Amelia "Molly" House 1861 - 1949. She married John R. Davis.
* Samuel T. House about 1862 - ????. He married Emma Siebert.
* Garnet Soloman House 1864 - ????. He married Rhoda ?.
15. Catherine Elizabeth House 1865 - 1947
The following were the twins:
* Rev. Edward Francis House 1868 - 1926. He married Martha Edith Dennison.
* Joseph Martin House 1868 - 1950. He married Rose Praut and upon her death married Madge Cook.
*George House 1870 - 1871.
* Sarah Ellen "Sadie" House 1870 - ????. She married William Harvey Reckley.
* Margaret Anna "Nan" House 1872 - 1968. She married Philip Long.
* Sadie F. House 1873 - ????.
* Charles Harley House 1875 - 1945. He married Blanch Perdue.
* Michael A. House 1878 - ????. He married Lillian Meade.
* Nora House 1879 - 1964. She married Denton R. Kaseycamp.

Samuel Albert took his mother's surname as his own and changed it from Biggerstaff, his natural father's surname, to House some time after the 1850 US census. The presumption is that he was illegitimate and his father was Isaac Biggerstaff. Some records/ trees have him as the son of a House man who lived in Harper's Ferry but there is not evidence of that suitable to quote. What we do have is this index from Hampshire County Virginia/ West Virginia. Here's what that index looks like, along with the 1850 census listing:

1850 US Census

Hampshire County (now West Virginia) index of births.
And here's the URL of the index at "Hamshire County VA: Vitals: Births":
Now let's check out this House line back from Samuel Albert House's mother, Rebecca House Caton, and then his maternal grandfather.

60. Patrick Caton 1814 - 1861
61. Rebecca House 1808 - after 1861
Remember we're after following the House family line back so we'll leave the Catons alone except to say that Patrick Caton came here from Ireland. Because of where he ended up in America, which is now West Virginia on the Potomac River near the long gone town of Magnolia, he most probably was lured by work on the railroads or the canal, as were countless other Irishmen. In the 1850 US Census he's listed as a farmer, but Samuel (calling himself Samuel Biggerstaff) and Patrick's brother, Francis Caton a man of 30 years living in the household, are listed as laborers. Presumably based on history of the area they were most likely employed by the railroad or the canal digs.
Patrick and Rebecca had the following children together:
* Mary Caton 1846 - ????
* Margaret Caton  1847 - ????. She married George W. Meade
And then of course they cared for:
30. Samuel Albert House 1832 - 1917

122. James House 1777 - 1862
123. Margaret Hartley about 1787 - about 1847
James House was born in the western frontier, also called at this time the Far West, in Morgan County (was Hampshire County), Virginia, now West Virginia. I can not even imagine what life was like for him growing up and later caring for his family! He owned at least 115 acres of farm land on the Potomac River, that became the subject of legal wrangling after his death.
Margaret was also born in the same area in Morgan County (was Hampshire County).
They had the following children:
* Dinah House 1803 - after 1880. She married Aaron W. Boxwell.
61. Rebecca House 1808 - after 1861
* William House 1811 - 1881. He married Susannah Johnston.
* Mary House 1814 - 1905. She married Jacob Snyder who died. Then she married Elijah Shambaugh.
* Susan House 1818 - 1854. She married George Washington Athey.

Well, there you have it. Who was James House's father? If you know or have a clue please let me know because it's driving Mom and I crazy!

Jame's wife, Margaret Hartley's parents were Rebecca Biggerstaff  (1754 - 1826) and John Hartley (1750 - 1825). The 1782 census for Hampshire County shows a William Biggerstaff Jr. and Sr. living in proximity to a Thomas Hartley.

So here's the deal and if you are confused, it's real easy to get that way. Samuel Albert House' mother and natural father were related. Rebecca House, his mother was great granddaughter to that William Biggerstaff Sr listed above. Isaac Biggerstaff, his natural father was great grand son to the same William Biggerstaff Sr. And see that George Tarvin who is next on the list above? That was the minister of the church the Biggerstaffs were prominent members of. Interesting, huh?

Well, at least none of this bunch owned slaves. That's something to be happy about.

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Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Wisdom Wendesday: Just a couple of random thoughts, probably not worth mentioning

Well it's been a crazy week, what with losing our dearly loved old dog. A vet told us when we lost the last dog that the first 24 hours are the worst, and the next milestone is three days, and then at a week you are remembering the good more than the bad. That's been true for us. It probably true when we experience any loss: after time begins to heal, we remember the good stuff most.

But now at exactly a week, and because I feel like it and not because I'm on any schedule, I'm feeling the urge to write again. So let's do another GeneaBlogger's blogging prompt called Wisdom Wednesdays.

Mom is writing! Mom loves to read and always was a good reader. Anywhere she went she had a paperback book in her purse. She never minded waiting anywhere for anything at all because it gave her more time to read. It runs in our matrilineal line because her mother loved to read too and was always reading. That's three generations of avid readers right there.
But now instead of just telling me her stories she's writing them down. She's got quite a document going too and it's such fun to read as she writes it! Keep going, Mom!
I once worked for a guy who was a really good writer and that task was a big part of his job. He encouraged me to write but I demurred, believing that I was not a writer. He said that if you can think, you can write and that the more logical your mind is the easier it is to write. Sounded good to me so I gave writing a try. I think he was correct in that analysis, and have enjoyed writing ever since. I'm super glad that Mom enjoys writing too!

Internet connection. This is so wild and it was all news to me, but I mention it in case someone else needs the info. Did you know that if you have a wireless network in your home all sorts of things can interfere and make your signal weak? Did not know this, until this week. My desktop on the east side of the house has an internet connection from the wireless modem on the west side of the house. It's not that far, really, but when I checked for how good the connection was it always showed two or three bars out of five. Good enough to get me online but not warp speed.
But over the last couple of months internet service would disappear now and again. After trying the usual unplug and restart a bunch of times, I called Time-Warner about our cable internet service. Very long story short, our new heater and air-conditioning system was interfering with the wireless modem signal. Yeah, I know: what!?
Solution: signal repeater or booster. Super easy to install: plug it in a wall outlet between the modem and the desktop, and follow the step-by-step instructions you see on your computer monitor.
I kid you not, now I have five glorious bars!! Who knew that a heater/ AC could interfere with a wireless internet connection? Wireless phones, microwave ovens, and garage door openers will degrade your signal too.
Here's a link to a cached page from Microsoft with a pretty clear article on improving your wireless internet signal.
And here's a link to an article about making a signal extender with a can.  And click here to see how to make a parabolic dish antenna out of aluminum foil. I tried the aluminum foil project and did get a boost of one bar. It was at that point that I went and bought the wireless signal booster.

That's all for now:) Happy Wednesday!

Coal miners in Eckhart, Maryland at Eckhart Mines.
I'm told that the old Eckhart Mansion is there in the upper right hand corner.
(Thanks to one of the Eckhart cousins for this gem!)

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Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Thoughtful Tuesday: Young and Old Grandfather Williams

I love the Geneablogger's wonderful Daily Blogging Prompts because they lend structure to my blog posts and keep me moving through the week. Quite a while back and inspired by them I thought of a new one, called Thoughtful Tuesday. The objective was to contrast the young and the old version of an ancestor and illustrate that with photos. Of course for my many less wealthy ancestors who could not afford the delights of the photographer's parlor, there is no photo record from those years of the last half of the 1800s. This young and old contrasting just doesn't have enough range, so I decided to do it for grandparents only.

I've done three of my grandparents and the only one left is my Grandfather Williams, Cambria Williams (1897 - 1960) named after the Cambria mountains of Wales but always called "Camey". He was a handsome young man and throughout his life had a big luxurious head of hair.

But I'm getting ahead of myself! First let me give you the links to the three other grandparents so you can see how this has been shaping up. And I'm posting the less-elegant form of the full link because some might have trouble with the usual "click here", or so I'm told.

Grandmother Williams

Grandpop Kelly:

GrandMa Kelly:

All right, we're all caught up. The Williams family, headed by Daniel Williams (1852 - 1920) who was born in Wales, and his wife Jane Price Williams (1862 - 1939) was a large house full of kids and, at times, grand kids. It stood in Ocean, Maryland a small place no where near the actual ocean but in the mountains of Western Maryland and at the heart of the coal mining fields. Daniel was a coal miner and a foreman, so he was a good earner, as they say. With eight boys and one daughter, there were plenty of mouths to feed. But young strong boys could work in the coal mines if they had an "in", and Daniel's boy sure did! Here's what Aunt Betty wrote to me a while back about Daniel:

Daniel worked for the Consolidation Coal Company as a foreman  at mine #16 at Ocean, MD which is about a mile from where he lived. He was chosen to take a large lump of coal from Ocean Mines to the Chicago World's Fair in 1893.
When it came time for Camey, the second youngest boy, to take his place in the mines, his father tried him out and then fired him saying that he wasn't cut out for it and was "lazy". Mom remembers clearly her father telling about this and saying he was so claustrophobic down in the mines that he was happy to be fired.

Here are two pictures I'm thrilled to have from Aunt Betty. By the way, Aunt Betty is Camey's younger brother Charles' daughter. The notations on the photos are hers. What a good idea!

See in this photo just above, Charlie, Aunt Betty's dad, is the youngest in front on the left, and Camey the next youngest on the right.

Mom has a photo of her father Camey as a handsome young man, but it was in an old dilapidated domed glass frame. When we took it all apart to see what could be done we noticed that the image was also domed but in very poor condition. I took a couple of photographs of it to see if a repaired version could be made and here's what happened, below. That old photo was doomed for destruction but with a little PhotoShop magic at least now future descendants can still enjoy the image.

Then Camey met and wed Emma Susan Whetstone (1897 - 1956) and they married 2 Sept 1916. Here they are below with their first baby, my Mom, Virginia Mae, born two years after they walked down the aisle.


But this exercise is all about contrasting the young ancestor with the old. I can see the ravages of time in my father's parents, plain in photographic form, but Mom's parents seem much the same even though they obviously did age. Look at that photo above. She's serious but gentle and he's smiling and having a good time. That's pretty much how I remember them too, even in old age.

This photo above is one of my favorites of Grandfather Williams. He was a very active guy and loved nothing better than being out in the woods hunting or fishing. There he is with a dandy rainbow trout, and a really large one.

Bottom line and my thoughts on Grandfather Williams is that he was his own person. He didn't remain working in a job he didn't like even though it was easy to come by and insured an good income. He took the road less traveled and became a tobacco route salesman with a vehicle to get him down back roads up in the mountains so he could fish or hunt. He did what he loved and it showed in every fiber of his being. May we all be so lucky.

Camey and Emma enjoying the great outdoors in Western Maryland!

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Saturday, July 13, 2013

Taking Time

We lost our very good dog this week. So I'm taking time to (1.) clean the whole house because he was a super shedder, and (2.) grieve. This probably doesn't belong on a genealogy blog, but he was family and his illness and loss has taken me away from this work.

He was 16 and a half and we adopted him when he was three after his first elderly owner died. He was a mess and three other people had adopted and returned him due to behavioral problems when we got him. We saw a loving dog-boy in need of rules and some psychological help in order to remove the anxiety that plagued him then. Every moment of care for him was repaid abundantly in love and happiness.

He was a funny and very playful boy who loved almost everyone he met, especially older people and other terriers. Somehow, he knew when a person needed comforting and go lean against their leg. He was a natural therapy dog.

When he met other terriers nature kicked in. He'd give those terriers a play-bow and off they'd go doing their terrier thing! At home, he'd go pick a toy from his toy basket and bring it over to us and give it a toss. Game on!

When he was out with my husband, upon their return he'd run in the house, find me and jump up on the chair or bed, say hello, and then run to his water dish. (Our dog, not the husband.) Oh sure, other dogs do all that stuff but it's special to us because he was our boy.

I hope that you've loved a dog at some time, or a cat too. (He really did not like cats and thought they were just another elaborate toy to be chased!)

We miss him.

At the beach, La Jolla, California.

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Thursday, July 11, 2013

Treasure Chest Thursday: Our Brick Walls, A Coal Miner's Prayer

You know how it is: when something comes up on your radar as a pleasant surprise and a little while later a similar thing pops up again? Well it was like that for me recently when someone who is helpful and a genea-pal to all posted "The Coal Miner's Prayer" to the Allegany County, Maryland RootsWeb mailing list. Then in a couple of days Genie Regan who is "editor by default" of the wonderful web site of all things Allegany County, Our Brick Walls, posted another Coal Miner's Prayer!

I can't decide which I like most, and why should I, because each has its charms. If you have coal mining ancestors, especially those who were coal miners over The Pond and came here seeking a better life for their families only to find hard work and difficulties here, then your heart will melt just a bit (or maybe a lot) reading the following.

From Our Brick Walls:

Allegany County ~ 1845

Take a look at these hands, Lord.
They’re worn and rough.
My face scarred with coal marks. My language is tough.
But you know in the heart lies the soul of a man.
Who toils at a living that few men can stand.
There’s sulphur and coal-dust and sweat on my brow.
To live like a rich man — I’d never learn how.

But if you’ve got a corner when my work is through,
I’d be mighty proud to live neighbors with you.
Each dawn as I rise, Lord, I know all too well
I face only one thing — a pit filled with Hell.

To scratch out a living the best that I can.
But deep in this heart lies the soul of a man.
With black-covered faces and hard calloused hands,
We ride the dark tunnels, our work to begin.
To labor and toil as we harvest the coal.
We silently pray, "Lord, please harvest our souls!"

Just a corner in Heaven when I’ve grown too old.
And my back it won’t bend, Lord to shovel the coal.
Lift me out of the pit where the sun never shines,
‘Cause it gets mighty weary down here in the mine.

But I’d rather be me, Lord, Tho’no riches I show,
Though tired and wary, I’m just glad to know
When the Great Seal is broken the pages will tell
That I’ve already spent my time in Hell.
~Author Unknown
(Courtesy of Marion Chappel)

From Shawn McGreevy posted to the MDALLEGA RootsWeb email list.

The Coal Miner's Prayer

Each dawn as we rise, Lord we all know too well,
We face only one thing - a pit filled with hell.
To scratch out a living the best we can,
But deep in the heart, lies the soul of a man.
With black covered faces, and hard calloused hands,
We work the dark tunnels, unable to stand
To labor and toil as we harvest the coals,
We silently pray "Lord please harvest our souls".

The Coal Miner's Prayer, By: W. Calvert

Some of the coal miners on our tree, and some other photos:

My great grandfather Daniel Williams (1852 - 1920), second from left and a mine supervisor.

Standing, my Grandpop Kelly, a coal miner who contracted black lung disease.
John Lee Kelly (1892 - 1969)


Above, the interior of a typical coal mine interior in the George's Creek mine fields,
at the Frostburg Museum, Frostburg Maryland.

Treasure Chest Thursday is a blogging prompt from GeneaBloggers.

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Monday, July 8, 2013

Mappy Monday: Old Military Lots in Allegany County, Maryland

I like maps. They get me visually organized. Can't have enough of them, especially of the area where most of my American ancestors spent the bulk of their time, and that's Western Maryland, northern West Virginia where it kisses Allegany and Garrett Counties of Maryland, and that bit of south and western Pennsylvania that touches those same two counties. There aren't enough pins in my pin box to mark all of the locations were my ancestors dwelt there. And sometimes, if the conditions are right, I can look at a map and make a new observation, like the time I looked at the Military Lot Map and saw how close the Eckhart, Porter, and Workman families lots were! No wonder those branches intermarried like it was a contest!

One of my favorite memories of maps was an exercise using Google Earth. Don't you just love Google Earth? I was curious about where exactly George Adam Eckhart's (1729 - 1806) property was located. I knew they were lots numbered 3644, 3645, 3646, and 3694. Adam Eckhart most likely didn't serve in the Revolutionary War directly but he might have lent aide, as they say. Most authorities on this line believe that he purchased his land and when the Military Lots were surveyed by Francis Deakins in 1787, and the assignments made, the lots marked as belonging to Adam Eckhart were already owned by him.

The original Deakins map was lovely but it wasn't going to help me much because there were no landmarks that could identify where the lots were in today's terms. There is also a map drawn in 1796 of Military Lots, but that map has few contemporary landmarks, except the "Potowmack River", or Potomac.

Map of Military Lot tracts, 1796.

The most helpful map in my quest to find Adam Eckhart's property was the one just below. This wonderful effort combined the Deakins map with today's landmarks, as well as the names of the assignees of the lots. Suddenly the relationship of Eckhart property to Porter land was abundantly clear. All the Eckhart boy had to do to see the Porter girl was walk up over the hill!

This wonderful map, a portion shown above, was a joint project of the Evergreen Heritage Center and Frostburg State University has been a very special resource for me. As the map states:

This map represents the historic military lots on and surrounding the Evergreen

Heritage Center property surveyed by Francis Deakins in 1787. Various modern

landmarks have been mapped for reference use and were not present during the

original survey.
So now that I had a really good idea about exactly where the Eckhart lots were in relation to a road or two, off to Google Earth I went to see Eckhart, Maryland. The top image below, as best I can calculate, is just about where lot 3644 was. See the road there on the upper right of this first image? Across that road and just out of sight of this image is where the old Eckhart Mansion stood. The stable was across the road and perhaps its footprint or old stone foundation can be seen as a reverse "c" shape mid-left in the image.
The "mansion" was a residence and also an inn along the National Road. Adam's son, John, paid the government $300 per year for the right to run that establishment. As a road commissioner, he was responsible for upkeep on his assigned stretch of the Old Pike. It also gave him the right to make a deal with stage companies in order to use his place as their official stop. From what I understand, and there are plenty of experts on this subject who could do a better job of this, the location of this inn meant that John Eckhart's contract was with lesser stage lines who would use his place as a watering stop for livestock and meals for folks traveling. The bigger splashier full-service inns were in Frostburg just up the road a couple of miles and that's where the premiere stage lines stopped with passengers who enjoyed a fine meal and a room.
I met some Eckhart descendants on Facebook and they clued me in as to the details of the property and where the inn or old Eckhart mansion stood. I found out from a NatGeo program on national highways that inns on this stretch of the Old Pike road in Allegany County had the stable on the opposite side of the road, and downhill from where travelers ate and slept. Makes sense. The big find for me from these other Eckhart descendants is that there is still a grave marker on the old Eckhart family Cemetery! And here's a photo of it below.

The marker sits on that mound in that green oval shape you see mid, right.

And here it is: the grave marker for George Adam Eckhart put there by some of his descendants.

Mappy Monday is a blogging prompt from those wonderfully helpful folks at GeneaBloggers! Try them, you'll like 'em:)

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Saturday, July 6, 2013

Surname Saturday: Wooden / Wooten and Waggoner, a "2-fer"

It's time for this week's version of one of my favorite blogging prompts from GeneaBloggers called Surname Saturday. And it's a two-for-one, or 2-fer. This line ends in a jumble right here at Sarah Wooden/Wooten Waggoner Yeast Durst. And if you've been doing this a while, you can probably detect where the problem is by looking at that name! What was her maiden name: Wooden or Wooten, or even Woodin? And who are the misters Waggoner, Yeast, and Durst? Mom and I have some answers and a couple dozen questions, right here, right now.

We're up in Garrett County, the most Western county of the state of Maryland and the location of a patch of one of the early roads west. It's still a place where the citizens are hearty and rugged and love to brag about how high the snow drift was last winter on the road in front of their house. I've personally seen a 20-foot drift! Fun and dangerous.

And again this week, I'm including all the names back from the great grands so as to better attract any cousins out there searching randomly;) So here we go!

1. Diane Kelly Weintraub

2. Francis Patrick " Pat" Kelly
 1916 - 2007
3. Virginia Williams, living and loving it

6. Cambria Williams 1897 - 1960
7. Emma Susan Whetstone 1897 - 1956

14. Joseph Hampton Whetstone 1858 - 1938
15. Catherine Elizabeth House 1865 - 1947
They had 12 children in all and they are:
1. Diane Kelly Weintraub

2. Francis Patrick " Pat" Kelly
 1916 - 2007
3. Virginia Williams, living and loving it

6. Cambria Williams 1897 - 1960
7. Emma Susan Whetstone 1897 - 1956

14. Joseph Hampton Whetstone 1858 - 1938
15. Catherine Elizabeth House 1865 - 1947
Joseph Hampton Whetstone followed his father's chosen occupation as a stone mason in a time when even the streets were cobble stones and needed to be set by hand. They lived just on the outer edged of the town of Frostburg, Allegany, Maryland.
Catherine Elizabeth kept a garden and was often seen working in it sporting her large sunbonnet. Joseph turned a portion of the basement into a cold cellar with his masonry skills so that what Catherine grew would be well kept over the winter.
When Mom's mother, Emma, was small and maybe less than 8 or 10 years old, their house in town burned to the ground. The entire family was left in the middle of January with only the clothes on their backs. Afterward, Joseph did two things: he joined the Frostburg Fire Department, all volunteers, and built for his family a fine house on the outer edges of town, the one with the big garden and cold cellar in the basement.
Joseph H. and Catherine were the love birds in this line-up. Mom has letters they wrote back and forth while he was away working as a stone mason. They are sweet and tender. Interestingly, she was his housekeeper after his first wife, Amanda Dennison, died. They eventually married.
They had 12 children in all and they are:
Charles Albert Whetstone 1887 - 1965
James Franklin Whetstone 1889 - 1960
Clarance Hampton 1891 - 1976
Grace Elizabeth 1893 - 1959
Peter Whetstone 1895 - 1906
7. Emma Susan Whetstone 1897 - 1956
Edna Whetstone 1900 - 1922
Margaret Ann Whetstone 1902 - 1996
Joseph Edward 1903 - 1972
Leslie Laurance Whetstone 1905 - 1995
Viola Whetstone 1906 - 1997
George Washington Whetstone 1911 - 1975

28. Joseph Edward Whetstone 1816 - 1897
29. Sarah Waggoner 1825 - 1880
Joseph Edward and wife Sarah were born and died in Garrett County Maryland in and around the tiny community of Grantsville. He was a stonemason. The winters are harsh here and my guess is that daily life then was not easy. I blogged not too long ago about a letter Sarah received from her mother, also named Sarah, just before she died and you can read it here to get a feel for the times.
They had these 13 children:
Elizabeth Jane Whetstone 1842 - 1896
Susan Emily Whetstone 1844 - 1877
Peter Yeast Whetstone 1847 - 1918
William Whetstone 1850 - ?
Charles Whetstone 1851 - 1880
Charlotte "Lottie" Whetstone 1852 - 1872
Mary Alice Whetstone 1856 - 1862
14. Joseph Hampton Whetstone 1858 - 1938
G. O. Theodore Whetstone 1860 - 1861
John Edward Whetstone 1862 - 1896
Bradford Whetstone ?
Zoe Violet Whetstone 1864 - 1948
Frank Whetstone 1869 - 1959 1887 - 1965

58. Unknown Waggoner
59. Sarah Wooden 1810 - 1870
Sarah, mother of Sarah Waggoner Whetstone, full name was Sarah Wooden Waggoner Yeast Durst. Her maiden name was Wooden, sometimes seen as Wooten, or even Woodin. Her first husband was a mister Waggoner, but this was the frontier and there are no clear records. Who exactly Mr. Waggoner was, we don't know, but hold that thought for a paragraph or two.
Sarah married Peter Yeast (1808 - 1851) before 1830. He's an interesting person and we might just as well talk about him right here because there doesn't seem to be any other spot to do it on Surname Saturday. Peter Yeast ran a roadhouse tavern on the old National Road. The Old Pike at this time was the main way west, before the railroads opened the county for easy travel to western territories. Running a roadhouse and inn was a position that gave one access to many people, both local and passing through, so in 1842 Peter Yeast was elected to County Commissioner. During that time his son-in-law and my 2nd GGF, Joseph Edward Whetstone, who was working as a blacksmith and living close to the inn, took over running the road house.
When Peter Yeast died in 1851, Sarah married Phillip "Major" Durst (1817 - 1888), a prominent landed man of the area. Frankly, I still haven't figured out why they called him Major, so that goes on my to-do list.
But here's something that has my attention of late. On the Allegany County message board I met a woman who was also researching her Waggoners of the area. Long story short, we are going to compare our DNA to see if there might be a Waggoner connection. She's just purchased the kit so it will be a while. She pointed out that there is a whole thing about the spelling of the Waggoner name that might be a clue that our Waggoner people are connected. She knows a lot about this line so we're hopeful, and if there is no trace of a match that connection can be set aside.
Sarah and Mr. Waggoner only had the one child:
29. Sarah Waggoner 1825 - 1880
Sarah and Peter Yeast had a bunch of kids, and some of the boys served in the Civil War:
William B. Yeast (1828 - ?)
John Yeast ( 1830 - ?)
Alfred Yeast (1834 - ?)
Thomas Yeast (1836 - ?) He died in Filmore County, Minnesota.
F. F. Yeast (1837 - ?)
Elizabeth Yeast (1840 - ?)
James Michael Yeast (1842 - ?)
Sarah and Major Durst had no children together. He had children from a previous marriage.

William Wooden (1777 - 1834)
Sarah Sally (1782 - 1843)
We don't know too much about this couple, except that he was born in Prince George's County, Maryland and died in what's now Garrett County, Maryland. He was a slave owner, sad to say. That still creeps me out. He had four slaves in 1830.
Poor Sarah Sally. Not 100% sure that was her name and no surname. Not a lot to go on there. My to-do list at this juncture on the tree is gigantic.

William Woodin (Wooden) on Find A Grave,
memorial number  81802114

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