Sunday, December 14, 2014

Facebook delivers a family story detail that I didn't know!

The Zeller Barbershop,
Frostburg, Allegany County, Maryland.
Before 1917.
See that fine barbering emporium on Main Street in the Western Maryland mountain town of Frostburg, above? That was my great grandfather's shop. He was Gus Zeller (1884 - 1927). As best I know he had a business here first and then across the street. Why did he move across the street? Because the shop you see here burned to the ground in a large fire on 14 December, 1917, and that's 97 years ago today as I write this.
I was on Facebook this morning and happened to see a post about this fire that destroyed a big chunk of the downtown business area. Wow, I thought, it happened just three years short of 100 on this day! But then I went on to read all that had been posted and it was the full text of an article that ran in the Cumberland Times newspaper, a larger town that was close by Frostburg. I'm posting the full text of the article here, copied from that Facebook post, in the chance that someone whose ancestor was also the victim of the fire might search and stumble upon this. I learned a thing or two about the events of the day from this article so if it helps someone else, more the better.
A reprint from the Cumberland Times Friday, December 14, 1917

Seven Buildings Totaling Loss Of $150,000 Destroyed – Stiff Gale Balks Firemen Who Fought For Four Hours – Frostburg Department Handicapped, New Auto engine of Cumberland And Coney Firefighters Save Town From Devastation.

FROSTBURG, Dec. 14 – A fire, doing an estimated damage of $150,000, broke out this morning about 5 o’clock from the Shea building, this place, and before it was extinguished burned seven buildings to the ground. The destroyed buildings were: Shea building and a double block residence and average on same lot; the building occupied as store and residence by the Frostburg Furniture Co. and a warehouse and stable on the same lot; a building owned by Mrs. D. J. Betz and occupied on the ground floor by Jeffries Bros., jewelers; Zeller’s barber shop and C. F. Betz’s grocery store; a garage and storehouse on First street owned by the Frostburg Furniture and Undertaking Co.

Burns Four Hours
Fanned by a stiff gale the fire burned furiously for four hours and it was not until 9 a.m. that it was under complete control. For some time it looked as if the Lyric building would also burn, and all its occupants moved their furniture and fixtures to places of safety. The Lyric Theatre suffered considerable damage from the blazes which leaped across from the Betz building, all the east windows being broken and the sash and frames burned.

Lose Everything
The occupants of the Shea building lost everything, as the fire was so far advanced when discovered that nothing could be saved. The building was occupied on the first floor by the Shea’s drug store and McCrorey’s five and ten cent store, on the second floor by offices of Clayton Purnell, attorney; Frostburg Building and Loan Association; Thomas Elias’ tailor shop and offices of Parker-George’s Creek Coal Co., the Gleason Coal and Coke Co. and Sullivan Bros. Coal Co; the third floor of the building was occupied by the local aerie Fraternal Order of Eagles.

Furniture Stock Ruined
The Frostburg Furniture and Undertaking Co. lost their entire stock and almost all the household furniture of Jonas J. Durst, president of the company, who with his family, resided on the second floor. All that this concern was able to save out of an estate valued at $30,000 was two horses, a motor ambulance, a National touring car, two hearses and some embalming instruments.

Groceries Burned Up
C. F. Betz, grocer, lost almost his entire stock, while the entire stock of the Jeffries Bros., jeweler’s was saved. G. W. M. Zeller lost heavily although some of his barber chairs and fixtures were saved. Nearly all the household furniture of Robert Cook and James Durst, who occupied apartments on the second floor of the Betz building was saved. The second floor of the Beatz building was occupied by the offices of the City Clerk J. S. Metzger, Attorney Charles G. Watson and City Engineer William Harvey. City Clerk Metzger saved all the town’s records and the most valuable of his own papers. William Harvey saved most of his equipment and papers. Attorney Watson lost practically everything. Some damage by water was done to the Lyric cafĂ© and the Hosken and Gunter’s pool room. These two concessions moved all their stock and some of their furnishings when the fire appeared most threatening. The second floor of the Lyric building, which is occupied as a residence by Mrs. L.R. Ash and J. C. Youngerman, was emptied, the goods being carried to the houses of friends and stores on the opposite side of the street.

Save Draft Records
The furnishings of the third floor of the Lyric building, occupied by the local draft board, were also carried to places of safety, and scores of men worked untiringly carrying out the immense stock of goods Stanton’s hardware store. Most of these goods were packed in the Catholic church yard. Mrs. Truman Thorpe and Mrs. Isabel Campbell occupied the burned double block house in the rear of the Shea building. The Thorpe family saved much of their household goods; Mrs. Campbell saved nothing but a watch, which belonged to her deceased husband.

Save Hotel
The Gladstone Hotel was in great danger for a long while, but owing to the direction of the wind and persistent efforts of the firemen the damage to this building was slight. The residence of Wm. J. Daily and a house owned by Mrs. John Brady were in great danger for a while and so much fear was entertained for their safety that all the contents were removed to neighboring houses.

Nearby Cities Aid
This was the most extensive and damaging fire experienced in Frostburg since 1874 and had it not been for help from Cumberland, Lonaconing and Midland the disaster would have been probably the worst in the history of the town. Between 75 and 100 men of Good Will Fire Company, Lonaconing, arrived at 7 o’clock with much needed equipment and they worked heroically with the Frostburg Fire Department until the blaze was under control. The new motor truck of the Cumberland Fire Department arrived on scene at 8 o’clock and the strong stream this engine produced, after being attached to the fire plug in front of St. Michael’s Church, was all that prevented the fire from eating its way down Welsh street and First street. The Midland firemen were also on the scene and worked hard until all anger had passed.

New Truck Broken Down
Had it not been for a combination of adverse circumstances the Frostburg Fire Department could undoubtedly have kept the fire confined to the Shea building. The men never worked harder, but they had to work without the new motor truck – their best piece of equipment, which was in Cumberland undergoing repairs. Another handicap resulted from the recent gas failure, which caused a freezing temperature in the hose house and the hose, used only a few days ago at another fire, were found to be frozen when put in use this morning.

Hose Burst
It was not long this morning after the fire bell rang until four of the hoses were connected to as many water plugs, but when the pressure was turned in, three of the lines burst, causing a loss of time for repairs. Add to this, annoyance of a high wind and for some reason an unusually low water pressure and one can easily understand that it required almost superhuman effort on the part of the men of the fire departments to save from destruction a larger area than is now laid in waste.

Stocks were Heavy
Owing to the holiday season, all stores were heavily stocked and consequently the loss is greater than it would have been at any other season of the year. Mr. Shea alone places loss at $60,000, while that of the Frostburg Furniture Co. is estimated at between $30,000 and $35,000. These two are the heaviest losers. A conservative estimate places the loss of the others at $60,00, making the entire value of the property destroyed $150,000. The blaze occurred in the heart of the town and the destructive work of the four hours’ fire this morning has changed that section from a block of brilliant stores attired in holiday dress to a blackened area of ruins, which will make the town poorer in many ways until this section is rebuilt.

To Resume Business
Several stores have arranged to resume business at once. Jeffries Bros., who saved all their stock will be open for business tomorrow morning in the vacant room next to the Palace Theatre. This firm had a huge iron safe in the fire, which was filled with valuable jewelry. It was forced opened after cooling off and everything was in perfect condition including the most delicate watches, which were keeping perfect time. The Frostburg Furniture Co. will probably occupy the Gladstone’s annex. The undertaking business portion of this firm will be carried on without interruption, their office being in the Gladstone Hotel until further notice.

My great grandfather went on to build out a bigger and better barbering establishment across Main Street. He stayed on there until he retired and turned the business over to one of his sons. Gus Zeller died in Frostburg, in his home on Main Street and just up the hill from the thriving business he built.

Gustav William Zeller
(1881 - 1927)

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Friday, December 5, 2014

Greetings to all my Workman and Troutman peeps!

You know how you go along and work on one of your family lines and then all of a sudden, you start hearing form new-to-you cousins? That happens to me a lot, and I like it. Recently I've been working on the Workman and Troutman lines of my Western Maryland ancestors. These two lines connect up right where Nancy Ann Troutman married Elisha Workman. Here's what that junction looks like on Mom's Big Tree on Ancestry, which I'm always happy to share with any new-to-me cousins. Just send an email and I'll invite you:)

To me, this is a fascinating line of ancestors. Both lines contain Revolutionary War ancestors who fought or paid taxes in support of the effort and took loyalty oaths. They were prosperous in amazing measures leaving large estates for wives, children, and beneficiaries. And the probate files! Oh the sumptuous probate files! And best of all, this bunch of Troutman and Workman ancestors stayed right where they were and all the records are in Allegany County, Maryland. Lucky me!
And because I have this dandy blog here, one of my cousins picked up on the photo of Nancy Ann Troutman, second below, and obviously a studio portrait, and sent me the one on top! Now this was probably taken at the same sitting as the full body portrait already in my possession due to the kindness of someone on Ancestry. Look, the clothing is the same.
But this image is different, isn't it? Look, it appears to have been reworked somehow, at a later date perhaps. Almost looks airbrushed to me but perhaps other techniques were used. Maybe traditional art materials such as paint or pastels. See how smooth her face is and how uniform the background is? Did the original studio photographer re-work his photo to give the effect of a painting? Was that something photographers did then? Wish I knew.

Image sent to me due to the kindness of Cousin Brenda!! Thank you so very much! What a treasure this is.
Her head looks to be at a slightly different angle. And of course that top image is without her glorious hat. Would she, being a proper lady, have consented to having her image made without her hat? What were the customs then?

Nancy Ann (Troutman) Workman 1826 - 1882.
So greetings and hello to any cousins from the Troutman or Workman line! I'm super glad that you stopped by and please send an email (you'll find it at the top to the right) and let's chat.
And please let me know what you think about this photo! Also, a question for those of you who know about such things, what year do you think this was taken? We'd sure like to know.
Late Breaking News! Cousin Brenda just emailed and said that the top portrait is a charcoal drawing! Excellent. And a real nice one too. Thanks, Cousin Brenda:)
Now if we can figure out the approximate time the photo was done based on the clothing, we'd be golden.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Quick note on Isaac Workman

I've been in contact by email with a descendant of Isaac Workman, DAR and SAR Patriot, and of his grandson Elisha Workman. My great grandmother was sister to his ancestor and they both were children of Elisha. We've been going back and forth about a number of things, and our conversations reminded me of something, a finer point, about Isaac.

I've posted here previously about the Workman Military Lots in Allegany County, Maryland, and you can read that post here. And you can see how many of these lots the Workman family owned in the map below.

A section of the Frostburg State University military lot maps in Western Maryland.

There has been speculation that these lots were earned through military service, but they were not. I was hoping that they were and that the entire male side of the family had gone to war, united as one. What a good family story that would have made! But that was not at all what the records show. I checked everywhere, in Fold3, The National Archive, the DAR records and listing of their Patriots, FamilySearch and Ancestry. He was not in any of them.

What I did find is that Isaac Workman has been verified as a DAR Patriot based on an Oath of Allegiance he swore.

Here's what the Maryland Historical Society had to say about that particular Oath of Allegiance.

Oath of Fidelity:
Abstract                        The Oath of Fidelity was instituted by Laws of Maryland 1777, Chapter 20, An Act for the Better Security of Government.  Every free male 18 years and older was required to subscribe to an oath renouncing the King of England and to pledge allegiance to the revolutionary government of Maryland.  Those already engaged in military service were assumed to be loyal.  Quakers, Mennonites, and Dunkards were permitted to affirm.  There were several penalties associated with failure to obey the instructions of the ACT.  Magistrates neglecting to keep books and transmit them to the Governor were to be fined 500 pounds.  Persons expected to take the oath who did not do so were required, for the rest of their lives, to pay triple the ordinary tax on real and personal property.  They were forbidden to exercise and practice the trade of merchandise or to practice the law, physic or surgery, or the art of an apothecary, or to preach or teach the gospel, or to teach in public or private schools, or to hold or exercise within this state, any office of profit or trust, civil or military, or to vote at any election of electors or senators, or of delegates to the house of delegates.  Oaths were to be administered by the magistrates of each county before March 1, 1778.  One list of those who subscribed to the oath was to be kept at the county court and another sent to the governor and Council in Annapolis. 

Retrieved online January 18, 2013 at Maryland Historical Society,

That's quite descriptive and informative. Men over 18 were required "subscribe" to an oath renouncing England and everything she had to offer. There was no going back now! The punishment for not doing so: for the rest of their lives they were to pay triple the ordinary tax on real and personal property. Yikes! This was serious. And look at that, they were from then forward forbidden from being a merchant, doctor, lawyer, pharmacist, preacher, or teacher. They couldn't hold office or vote either. This was serious stuff.

Isaac lived in Washington County when he took the oath. It was a county that was formed out of Frederick County to the east in 1776 and named for George Washington. (How patriotic is that?) Allegany County where the Workman family lived was formed out of Washington County in 1789 so it's quite possible that he lived in what's now Allegany County when he took the oath.

By the way, nice piece of trivia, the descendants of men who paid the 1783 tax assessment are eligible for the SAR and the DAR because a part of it went supply the Revolutionary War effort. Here's a link to the an index of that tax roll. If you want to look for an ancestor you'll be best served by looking at all of the entries.

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Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Just a family story or the absolute truth?

In doing genealogy we often hear that we are to look askance at those family stories grandmother told us. More myth than truth, we've been told. So look to the records and turn our backs on the stories, was the advice. Hmmm. Bad advice.

I was thinking about this today when I was reading about the Irish story teller or seanachie. Story telling is a long tradition in Ireland and other Celtic areas. It's more than just a tradition, it's an art, really. There was no written record of the stories of each clan so it was the oral tradition that kept the very life and history of each clan alive. Additionally, bards were paid by the chieftain to tell the clan stories for education as well as to make up new stories for entertainment.

I know in my own family lines where the Irish tradition was kept and held dear, the family story had an honored place. Grandmothers were the tellers of stories and did it with pride and passion. They instructed the children of each generation with a serious intent that they all learn and remember the stories, the better to know who they were and who they came from. The stories helped define us as a clan in the New World.

Now I have a better grasp of which generations could read and write and had the option to make a written documentation of the family stories. Yet, they didn't do that. The written word was for the bible and legal matters, not family stories. Family stories were like a special treat, told only if you were good and sat quietly and listened. We loved the vast supply of stories told for entertainment and still retell them even today. Only now am I sorting out which stories were meant to educate us.

On my Mom's side, my 2nd great grandmother was born in Ireland and came here as a young girl. Mary Elizabeth Farrell was born 22 November 1835 and migrated with her parents and young sister, Catherine. They came in the years just before the Irish Famine, and we wonder if they saw the handwriting on the walls and got out. Or were they residents in one of the harsh Alms Houses and offered passage to get them off the government's rolls. We have yet to check the records in Ireland in any serious way, but we have a clue about where to look given to us by Mary Catherine herself!

My grandmother was Emma (Whetstone) Williams (1897 - 1956). She loved family and was proud to be first a Whetstone and then a Williams, two families with proud histories in the Western Maryland area where she lived. Her own grandmother was Mary Elizabeth (Farrell) House (1835 - 1919), who came from Ireland, and told the children stories she wanted them to remember. Mary Elizabeth told Emma that they came from the place in Ireland where St. Patrick drove out the snakes.

Yeah, I can hear the skeptics who dismiss such stories as bunk. I hear you loud and clear. But this is not just any family legend of made up stuff spun together out of the shadows from a fire on a winter's night. This is different.

It's an Irish origins story. Let me break it down for you. It's Irish. There are drinking stories and infant stories and fairie tales, and harvest stories, and summer horse race stories and more, much more. We are very particular about the type of stories we're telling. So this story of our family coming from the place in Ireland where St. Patrick drove out the snakes is a family story that conveys family history. And it's an origins story. You don't mess with origin stories especially family origin story. You can mess with drinking stories all you want, and are encouraged to do so. But do not mess with the family origin story.

And look what Mary Elizabeth did there! She wanted her descendants to remember where their people had come from so she put it out in the most memorable way possible. She said, where St. Patrick, the very patron saint of the land, did the most flamboyant (at least to my mind) act of his life. The very place where he drove the snakes out. Supposedly. But you see it doesn't matter if he did or didn't. This isn't about St Patrick or what he did. It's about remembering an important aspect of one family's story and putting emphasis on it in such a way that it is remembered.

See what I mean? So don't go and dismiss that family story outright because some guy with a blog says you should. Ask yourself what kind of a story-telling tradition your people came from. Are there different kinds of family stories? Then ask if your story is a frivolous one that entertains or a big import one about who your family was and what happened to them. And remember it might not be the best, most riveting full-blown epic story. It might simply be a short description of something that happened to your people, some time, some place. A bit of a fragment might be all that's left of that epic saga of the history of your clan. Is this a story for education or entertainment? That's a big clue.

My advice to you is to treasure that family story because it very possibly is the real deal.

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Sunday, November 30, 2014

Randy Seaver's SNGF: Thanksgiving Memories

Every Saturday Randy Seaver over at Genea-Musings blog throws out a challenge to other bloggers called SNGF or Saturday Night Genealogy Fun. The topics are usually an attractive ploy to this blogger so I have to resist dropping what I'm doing and whip up a post. This week I just have to succumb to his bait and do it because he's challenged us to recall and blog about one of our Thanksgiving memories. So Randy, here's my Thanksgiving Memory.

I have a lot of good memories from childhood Thanksgiving feasts but I want to blog about another kind of Thanksgiving. I remember this one in particular because it always reminds me of the deep human need to establish community and form a family of choice no matter where we go and how far from home it is.

In 1988 we had just moved to Florida and the beautiful west coast resort island of Marco Island. The population swelled to 10,000 in the winter tourist season but was less than half that in the hot steamy summer months. Thanksgiving was one of the last holidays to be celebrated by the locals before the winter visitors descended in mass. By Christmas you could feel the difference at the local supermarkets because the check out lines were longer and the prices higher.

We moved to Marco in the spring, just as snow birds went back north, and by fall we had a whole army of new friends. Everyone there was from somewhere else and had moved to warmer climates for health or just to retire. People made new friends with a greater ease than I'd ever seen before. It seemed that all it took was one diner out and you had a new set of best friends. A group of about a dozen or more of us were the new Rat Pack. We went to every concert, every special event, and hosted parties like only those new to a group of friends can manage.

We ladies fixed it that instead of having small Thanksgiving meals on our own we'd do it together. Two o'clock in the afternoon satisfied those whose tradition was a mid-day meal as well as those whose custom was to eat at a later hour. Drinks upon arrival with finger food, and then the big feast a bit later. Our new best friends Jeanie and Bob were hosting. It was settled with enthusiasm and plenty of laughter.

On Thanksgiving morning we awoke to a thin layer of ice on the pool! Icicles had formed on the gutters and it looked more like Massachusetts than Florida! The novelty added to the festive nature of the day.

Jeanie, who had somehow escaped cooking a turkey all of her married life until this point had gotten volunteered by Bob. Jeanie kept saying, "I can't believe he did that," which didn't make it less so. I spent the afternoon before Thanksgiving at her house prepping the turkey, mixing up enough stuffing for an army, and and giving pep talks as well as spouting things my mother taught me about turkeys. The glasses of wine helped a lot. Jeanie seemed ready for the task.

Remember me mentioning the ice on the pool and gutters? Well it proved too much for the delicate nature of the county's electrical grid. Jeanie was to put the gigantic turkey in to roast at 9 AM promptly, and she did. At about 9:45 the electricity went out. My phone rang immediately and all I could think to do was tell her to keep the oven door closed. At any cost, just keep it closed and pray to the cooking gods. At a few moments after 10 the power sprang to life and we were back cooking again. Then 25 minutes later it went out again but for only 10 minutes. And so it went all the morning and into the afternoon.

Guests began arriving just after 2, and the bird was still cooking and it smelled great. Jeanie and I and a few of the ladies who were known to be the best cooks huddled in the kitchen while Bob and his guys poured as much libation as was decent to at that hour.

Not everyone knew what was going on. There were those few in the know and had been sworn to secrecy and those who knew nothing. By the time all had arrived along with their offerings of nibbles, side dishes, salads, and deserts, the consensus was that the turkey was probably done. Probably. Well, maybe. Someone ran back home to fetch a meat thermometer so we could know how much trouble we were in and if we'd be waiting until 7 or 8 that night to sit down to the feast. Meanwhile power was going out with increasing regularity. The candles in every room made a lovely glow while four women fretted in the kitchen. Gosh, that big turkey looked good and smelled good, but was it raw inside? We waited as long as we could, opened the door and stuck in the meat thermometer. It was broken!!

By 3:30-ish all had arrived and it was time to get going and serve the bird. It was a gigantic creature. But was it fully cooked? And what of the stuffing? One of the older ladies who had raised a large family pushed up to the bird, grabbed a big bowel and a gigantic spoon and went mining for stuffing with gusto and confidence. When her head rose out of the fragrant steam of the bird's inner regions, she pronounced for those crowded close in that the big bird was indeed done to perfection! Hurrah!

By this time there were plenty of empty wine bottles and a few scotch glasses as well. Our appetites were primed and everything smelled wonderful. The turkey was brought to the table for carving with pomp and revelry, and Bob carved it like the master of the manor that he was. (Hmm. Was that why he volunteered Jeanie to cook the bird?) All praised Jeanie and her deft handling of the big magnificent Turkey.

To this day I don't know if it was the best turkey of all times... or whether that was the wine talking. It was a rousing success and we all had a happy fun day and evening. It was a memorable Thanksgiving.

By the next year Maury had been taken by complications of diabetes and his wife moved back up north to live with the kids. Paul and Mary sold their business to their son and moved away. We only stayed two more years before we moved to San Diego. That Thanksgiving was like a moment out of time.  Gosh, that bird really was tasty!

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Saturday, November 29, 2014

A cold day in the morning

Sometimes in reading my own blog I can see that I get carried away with details that are simply small bits of bigger stories. Occupational hazard in a pursuit in which no detail is left unexamined. For example, I was just setting out to tell you something about John Combs of Allegany County, Maryland when I stopped to consider maybe you have no earthly idea where and when I'm talking about. That's never good. So let me take a wee bit of time out and just have a good ramble about the area where my ancestors lived, and where my Mom and Aunt Betty, in their 80s and 90s, still live.

This time of year you are likely to get mostly cold days. Tonight it's going to be 27 degrees. Now that's not so bad if you're in Alaska or Minnesota. But this is in Maryland which has a more southerly latitude, and sensibility. We're talking Western Maryland, or as the more tourist-inclined entities like to now call it, the Mountain Side of Maryland. Your house better have the heat on and been winterized, and the car too. Tomorrow, it will be, as the oldsters in previous generations liked to say,  a cold day in the morning.

Maryland is at least three states within a state. There's Eastern Shore which is the old plantation country and situated between the Atlantic Ocean and the Chesapeake Bay. The weather is milder there and much of the land enfolds - or rather is enfolded by - water. Farming is and was the traditional pursuit of old time families there since the very first settlers, but fishing is strong too.

Being the old Plantation Maryland there were slaves to do the work. In Western Maryland there were slaves as well but not as many. The slaves in Western Maryland were often owned by men who owned and ran an inn, tavern, and road house. The number of slaves who worked on farms were fewer. It's mountainous here and the farm fields run up and down often steep embankments. In the eastern part of the state the land is flat and fields much larger requiring more farm hands.

The Western Shore describes the land west of the Bay. If you decide to click through to take a look at the Wikipedia listing for it, you'll not see much. It includes the greater Baltimore - Washington D.C. metropolitan area, also called by some Southern Maryland. Southern Maryland is where the Big History is. The nation's capital, first settlements, and a historic marker every couple of feet. It's probably where Strangers from Afar first get acquainted with what they think is Maryland. The historic homes there are just about the best I've ever seen, but then I'll admit bias. If you've been to Annapolis you know what I mean. (And yes, I've seen the beautiful and grand plantation manses of the South.)

My ancestors inhabited what's generally known as Western Maryland. That link right there to a Wikipedia page will tell you quite a bit about the area, how isolated it is and difficult to get to, how cold it gets in the winter with 20 inch snowfalls as noting to be excited about, and how different the population is in temperament. Pioneers had to go through The Narrows pass to proceed west, and some of them stopped right where they were and styed there. I sometimes get the feeling that my ancestors were squeezed into place by the land and the mountain formations, and just couldn't get unstuck.

It's really quite beautiful with hills gently rolling. Here in California where I live, we have proper mountains. The "mountains" in Mountain Maryland are really hills, old rounded hills geologically speaking. Western Maryland is not a gigantic piece of America, measuring just 120 miles from the eastern part of Frederick County in the east, through Allegany County in the middle, to the western most boundary of Garrett County in the west. Running through the middle from east to west is the Old National Road, one of the earliest routes from the young nation's capital to the western territories. I've written about that route west before so I'll not cover it again now, but just know that having this major wagon road west come through the middle of the county brought some ancestors here and took others of their descendants away west.

Above, old photos of the National Road about 1910.

So that's the gist of it. But what I can't possibly convey is what this crazy, neighborly, cozy, snowy, picture-perfect summery place is like to those who live there. How lovely and attractive it is to tourists in the fall, and how it beckons skiers in the winter. How city dweller escape the oppressive heat of summer and take refuge in the hills with cool afternoon and evening breezes. To the outsider it's too charming by half and many leave to return to their dwelling place and think of it as a very attractive place to retire. A university, reasonably priced real estate where you can purchase a lovely home for a little over $100,000, and a newer hospital. Good book stores and plenty of history lovers and hikers. Lots of wildlife too. And plenty of those cozy diners where you can get a real good breakfast for about $4, served with local news and a strong cup of coffee.

I've often wondered why my ancestors chose to come to Allegany County and stay there. The earliest were after land and prosperity that came with it. The Irish and the Welsh came to work on the railroads and in the coal mines. My German ancestors brought the retail trades of confectionary and barbering with them. 
The area is less prosperous now that it was 100 years ago and the coal is all but gone, and only the lower grade stuff being stripped from the land. When you get down to it, it was then and still is now all about the land, one way or another.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Posts and their popularity

Guess which posts are the most popular? Seriously, go ahead and guess.

This blog has a built in traffic monitor that tells me how I'm doing and how many visitors look at each post. I have a curious nature so every once in a while I check it and see what's what. Have to mention that I'm not the type of blogger who monitors my blog traffic too often or one who maybe hopes to eventually slap some adds over there on the right side and earn some revenue, although come to think of it, if I did I could get more genealogy stuff! No, I'm happiest and think the blog is doing it's work if a new-to-me cousin contacts me out of the blue. And that happens regularly enough so all's right in my blog world.

Posts that get pretty good traffic are the ones picked up by other blogs or Best Of articles. Then everyone has to click through to see what's of interest. That's pretty cool but it's a once in a while thing and a novelty that keeps me amused for a moment or two. These are not the posts that get the most traffic.

What totally floats my blogging boat is knowing what terms people Google and are looking for that brings them here. I hear that "genealogy" is the second most searched term, after porn, and I'm willing to bet that you already knew that;)

Overwhelmingly, people are seeking out information on and Googling DNA. And toping that group of posts is Neanderthal DNA. People must be fascinated by the concept that our origins have a different path than what they might have thought. I was somewhat amused when the topic of Neanderthal and Homo Sapiens interbreeding first hit the mainstream press how a good number of people had a freak out. Postings to social media revealed a deep dislike of such a thing! All I can say is: LOL.

The second term that brings a crowd is Haplogroup. There's nothing like a hearty discussion of what percent Neanderthal each of us might be, but after that Haplogroup is what attracts attention. I get it because it still fascinates me to think of some millennia-ago ancestor traversing continents, mating with other travelers, and little by little, moving on.

I think that the popularity of personal DNA testing is a transformative thing in our world. This self-knowledge at our deepest levels is a powerful tool that we're only starting to comprehend. And I think and anticipate that it will bring even more changes and some in ways we can't even imagine now. We struggle with it. We push it away and then draw it back to us. We Google and then click away. But more and more of us are using the personal DNA test and liking that we can. We understand more about how DNA works as we go along. What seemed a steep learning curve a couple of years ago is becoming common knowledge very quickly. The numbers of people tested continues to climb, companies offering services expand their offerings, and slowly the price still continues to come down. We want to know increasingly more about ourselves.

Imagine what you and I might have said 20 years ago if we were told that anyone, anyone at all, could spit into a tube and a month or two later find out who we match based on a common ancestor. Not to mention the Neanderthal thing;)

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Monday, November 10, 2014

The Troutman wrap-up and what I found that I didn't know

If you've been following along as I tracked down the life and times of Peter Troutman and his descendants down to my sweet and dear Grandma Kelly, you'll know how much fun I've been having. I've traced the line from Grandma Kelly back through her mother, Moretta (Workman) Zeller, and then her mother, Nancy Ann (Troutman) Workman, then her father Benjamin Franklin Troutman then to the patriot, Peter Troutman. The land records were plentiful and yielded much as did the court records and estate papers. I started to realize that vital records are nice and easy but all the other records just mentioned sometimes give a much fuller picture of what was going on in a family.

When I finally got back to Peter Troutman's generation I felt like I had arrived at my destination! He was the one who fought in the Revolutionary War, and moved from Berks County in Pennsylvania to Somerset County in the western part of the state taking advantage of his military land grant. He settled there and became a part of the community. He farmed, of course, but he was a weaver and carpenter. With other men from the Southampton community, they rebuilt the Comp Church after a fire destroyed it.

His son, Benjamin Franklin Troutman, remained in the area also farming and working as a gunsmith. He went down to Cumberland, Allegany County, Maryland to work as an apprentice to a blacksmith and learn the trade. But then look! His father was a carpenter and he probably learned much of that craft from Peter. So he knew carpentry and metal working and used those skills to become a fine gunsmith. He's listed as such in a book about gunsmiths of the region. It is said that he was a "fine musician" and played the fiddle.

He apprenticed in 1807 and married in 1812 so I'm wondering if he met his young bride while sojourning in Cumberland because she was from Maryland. Oh, and I should mention that Cumberland and Southampton are about 15 miles apart.

His daughter Nancy Ann Troutman married Elisha Workman from a prosperous and landed family in Western Maryland. Their families resided just 12 miles away from each other. Until quite recently I had difficulty organizing some of the records for Nancy Ann. Growing up she was called Nancy, but once she married she became Anne or Anna, or even Angeline. Maybe I had three different people? But no. Once I made a list of which name she used and when I could see how it went. Her birth family called her Nancy, a diminutive of Anne. It was only in her marriage that she was also called Angeline. All the same person.

I don't really know why knowing such details of these ancestors lives makes me so happy, but it does. I guess it gives them some flesh and bones. Early on when I first started doing genealogy I read something that's stayed with me. The writer said that it's what the dash represents, the one between the birth and death years, that's the most fascinating part of this work. Yes it is!

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Thursday, October 30, 2014

Bounty Land records... and the elusive records for Peter Troutman

Lately I'm obsessed with one of my ancestors who fought in the Revolutionary War, Peter Troutman. I've written about him recently and about the quest for his estate papers. After finding what I was looking for I moved on to his bounty land papers. I had a lead and a number from a DAR record: BLTW#40921-160-55. Now what the heck did that stand for?!

Oh sure, I googled. That was a lesson in pure frustration. Sometimes googling is not the way to go.

I really like digging around the Pennsylvania Archives online. This link is my favorite and leads you to a page about Research Topics. Notice the list on the left and you'll see "Genealogy". Under that you'll see a tab for "Land Records" and that's where the bounty land goodies are kept. If you scroll down the page you'll see a good explanation of the whole bounty land process, and that's helpful. As I understand it, the soldier or his widow would first make application for land given out as a bounty or special payment to the infirmed soldier or the widow. There were local lawyers and agents to be dealt with and papers to fill out and letters to write. So the land just wasn't given out as a bonus pay but as a thank you from the government to the old warrior hard on his luck and not able to work, but only after some proper documentation and proper checking. And you know how we genealogists love documentation!!

After the application was approved, a warrant was issued to instruct the surveyor to go survey the actual land and provide a plot map indicating boundaries. This step also initiates the production of a title, which is not finalized until later.

Next step is the survey. We've all seen the old survey maps and the strange measurements and notations on them. I am especially fond of the old surveys that identify landmarks like an oversized rock or old oak tree.

Once the survey is completed it was, at lest back then in the late 1780s, copied neatly into a survey book. Next, a return with written description of the land was conveyed in Pennsylvania from the office of the Surveyor General to the Secretary of the Land Office.

The last step was that a patent was issued with title to the land conveying clear title and all rights.

As much as I enjoy a stumble through the old land records of the fine state of Pennsylvania, I ended up sending an email to an archivist asking for guidance. I included the cryptic code from the DAR record of BLTW#40921-160-55 and asked if he had any idea what that meant and where I might find it. I thought it would take a couple of days to get a reply, but one came back in an hour or two. Here's what he wrote:

“B.L. Wt. 40921-160-55” refers to a Federal Bounty Land Warrant (40921=warrant number; 160=number of acres; 55=act of 1855). The warrant would not have been for land in Pennsylvania. You’ll want to search the unindexed bounty land applications and surrendered warrant files at the National Archives in Washington D.C.

It was a federal bounty land warrant!! I thought it was a State of Pennsylvania warrant. So that's why I couldn't find it. And look what he wrote: The warrant would not have been for land in Pennsylvania!

Long about that time one of my internet Troutman researchers provided a transcribed document that spelled out that this land grant number belonged to the widow!! If it was the widow's, where was the patriot's land grant... if he had one? And so I dove back into the Pennsylvania Archives. Only this time I found it!!!

See that notation on the top image referring to the west side of the Little Allegany Mountains? And the mention of the township? That's exactly where the Troutman family settled when they moved from Berks County to Somerset County. It's right there near the Comp Church at Comps Crossroads, the church that Peter and his neighbors built, and the churchyard where he and his wife and some of his children are buried. Yes, this was his land grant for certain, this was Peter Troutman's land, my 4th great grandfather. And I'm glad to have found it.

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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Benjamin F Troutman's estate file and a genealogical good deed

I'm always amazed at the willingness of strangers to come forward and offer help to fellow traveler genealogists! It warms my heart when I hear of such tales but when it happens to me, honestly, words fail. Here's what happened.

I was stumbling around and not getting very far establishing a connection between my gg grandmother, Nancy Anna Troutman (1826 - 1882) and her father Benjamin Franklin Troutman (1780 - 1856). Oh, there was no doubt in my mind that they were father and daughter, but proof was what I was after. (You can read about that proof here.) Ever have that happen, when you just know there's a familial relationship but the documents elude you? Well, that's where I was.

I knew exactly what I needed, and it was in Benjamin F. Troutman's estate papers. He had a will, so there was that, but it stated "all my children", which is of no use to us at all. "What are their names," I kept asking him in my mind. Why couldn't he have taken a minute and had the foresight to just name them all? But he didn't. Yeah, sometimes it's like that.

So where was I going to find that list of children? Had to be in the estate papers. I looked around the internet in the usual places for mention of the estate papers and a list of heirs and sure enough, clues indicated that there were estate papers and they named all the children.

I picked up a clue that the genealogical and historical society in Benjamin's residential county had them so checked their web site. Sure enough they provided a research service for a fee. I filled out their research request form and mailed it with a check with a fee for copying the rumored 27 pages in the file. I know these things take a while so I waited and waited. Finally there was a letter that said they lost some staff and were backlogged and it would be even longer before they could work on it. Too bad for me.

Now what? I put out some feelers to folks I had met online in my search for the Troutman family and someone suggested going right to the county courthouse. It was rumored that if you could find the right person they would copy stuff for you! Wow! Couldn't wait to call.

I called. Found the right person. Jeff was his name. He did it, he found the pages I needed and scanned them, and ... drumroll please... emailed them right to me right then! I couldn't thank him enough. It was easy for him to do, so why not, he said in an email. And he really would rather not have to print out a copy, slide it into an envelope and use postage to mail it. Free and easy all around, and one super happy customer.

Sure, I know that this isn't the only county that does this and Jeff isn't the only county clerk to jump in and find a record. It's just that when you really want a specific record and it means a lot to you, and then one person come to the rescue it feels like so much more. I know you "get this".

Nancy Anne (Troutman) Workman (1862 - 1882).

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Monday, October 27, 2014

Fishing for Troutman and catching some links

The adventure continues as I amass documents and make links along my Troutman line. Dad's mother, Helen (Zeller) Kelly's mother's line climbs back up the family tree to two notable families of Western Maryland, the Troutman family and the Workman family. Both are listed on the DAR patriots list so I wanted to know more about their service and what else I could find out about their lives. Add to that the fact that these two families lived about 12 miles from each other in the mid to late 1700s and... how could I not investigate?!

The game was to crawl back in time and look at each generation as I go knowing full well that the terrain gets more challenging back past 1850 and that wonderfully delightful 1850 census. (After working in the "dark ages" before 1850 for a while and then moving up in time to the glorious 1850 census, it feels to me like someone opened a window!)

I started with my Grandma Kelly making sure all vital records that were available for her and husband Gustav Zeller were in the file and scanned as well. At this point, the name of my overall genealogy game is to double and triple check to make absolutely certain that I've requested every available vital record for each ancestor. As you've probably found out, the archives and state vital records folks too quickly run out of goodies for us and we face that ugly message, "the first death certificates were required in Maryland in 1898." So I want to make absolutely certain that I have grabbed all the low hanging fruit that I can. But I digress from fishing.

Grandma Kelly's mother was Moretta (Workman) Zeller (1859-1946) and her mother was Nancy Ann (Troutman) Workman (1826-1882) who married Elisha Workman (1816-1864), and I blogged about Elisha recently and you can read that here. Nancy Ann sported a number of names throughout her life and that was not a help when tracking her in records, I want to tell you! While with her birth family she was Nancy but once she got married she was either Anna or Anne, except for a little while when she was Angeline as she is listed in the 1860s census. Some legal documents and her will show her as Anna A. Go figure.

Anyway, that name thing was a bit of a problem because how do you prove that the Nancy in the estate papers of her father, Benjamin Franklin Troutman (1780-1856), is the same person as Anna A. in her will? How, indeed! Then I found Daniel.

Daniel Troutman was Nancy Anna's brother, and you can see that relationship in the way the names are listed in her father's estate papers. Did I tell you about her father's estate papers? No? OK, let me get back to that in another blog post because it's a heart-warming story about genealogical kindness. Here's a look at a the disbursal list from Benjamin's estate.

As you can see there, Nancy Anne is listed as "Nancy Workman". There, on the list above her name is Daniel, listed as "Danl". Presuming as we do that "heirs" is children unless otherwise stated, he's her brother. Having her listed as Nancy Workman is a lucky find because it narrow down the possible candidates who could be "Nancy Workman" and points directly to our girl. Oh, and did I mention that one Daniel Troutman is listed as the administrator of Nancy Anna's husband, Elisha Workman? There ya' go. The two generations are linked.

In looking for and finding the vitals of an ancestor I sometimes get so excited when I find gold that I forget to look for records that link the generations. Gotta stop doing that. The links the thing.
Nancy Anna (Troutman) Workman (1826 - 1882).

Sunday, October 26, 2014

He died of syphilis

During WWI the first cause of absence from duty was Spanish influenza and the second most prevalent reason for absence from duty was due to syphilis. There was no penicillin then and one of the most commonly used "cures" was injections of mercury. As you can imagine, that didn't go well. It wouldn't be until after 1943, just in time for the Second World War, that science would ride to the rescue with penicillin. But before that it was pretty much take your pick: die from the symptoms of syphilis or from the symptoms of mercurial poisoning. Even when penicillin appeared, it was only effective in the primary or secondary phase of the disease. Once the disease reached the tertiary stage and went to the nervous system or the brain, you were a gonner.

Our ancestor went off to WWI as did so many of all of our ancestors. I've written here previously about Mom's Uncle Jimmy who was gassed during that war and it's definitely not him I'm writing about now. No, this is a very distant cousin of Mom's who served overseas and possibly brought home an unwanted "present" for his wife, although I don't know for sure about her. He died of complication of this deadly STD at the Veteran's Hospital in the state where he lived, and he died about 1940-ish, just a couple of years before the widespread use of penicillin, which is too bad. The records indicate that he'd had it for at least 20 years, and the last three years of his life were the worst of it as it spread to his brain in the third stage, thus necessitating institutionalization.

Of course you know how we are as genealogists. We learn of something such as this in our family, even if it is out on a sort of remote branch of the family tree, and have to go search about it! Our neighbor down the street is a doctor who worked at the Center for Disease Control (CDC) before he retired, and while walking dogs I asked him what he did there and he said that his area was sexually transmitted diseases or STDs. In an effort to make small talk, we chatted about the prevalence of syphilis now. (Stop laughing, we did!) He said that these things go around in certain populations in waves and that a couple of years ago syphilis was the most common STD right here, locally. Really?! I guess I thought these things were all but eradicated due to condom use and easy cures. Not so, he said. (For more about brothels and the British Expeditionary Force during WWI, click here. Did you know that officers were given condoms but enlisted men were not?)

The dangers of STDs were known during WWI and recruits were trained not to succumb to temptations and not to visit brothels while being shown some pretty scary pictures of those who did not resist. Sometimes that scare tactic worked and more often it didn't.

As I often remind myself, we weren't there and we don't know what happened, so I don't judge.

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Saturday, October 25, 2014

It's been a while.

Gosh, it's been a couple of weeks since I've posted here and there were some big doings in the family that kept me away. My brother got married thus adding another leaf to the family tree, and this is a lovely one. They've known each other 40 years and now it's official. The families and friends were thrilled. Mom's thrilled too, and she stole the show when she answered, "I do" with my brother! I don't know whether she was afraid that he'd forget the answer or if it was just pure enthusiasm. Here's Mom, now 96 years old, smack in the middle of the happy couple.

They were married in St. Michael's Catholic Church in Frostburg, Allegany, Maryland, the same church where Mom and Dad were married and where Dad's parents were married on 30 September 1913. 101 years of family weddings in the same church!
So that lovely wedding took up most of my time while visiting Mom. Last time I visited which was last summer, she and I made plans for this trip which included trips to cemeteries and a historical and genealogical society over the boarder from Western Maryland where she lives and into Pennsylvania in Somerset County. But as you see, all that went out the window, happily, as we took the bride to have her hair and nails done the day before and then went around to check on details. It was a whirlwind time with family!
When I got home, the boxes of Mom's genealogy materials that I'd packed and shipped arrived not long after the suitcase was empty. Three good sized boxes packed full of treasures arrived on my doorstep and I unpacked them with uppermost care. Lovingly, each item was placed into its new home. There was about one-third of Mom's surname binders, a book about the Troutman family, paper dolls given to Mom by Aunt Marg about 95 years ago, and Mom's high school graduation picture in its original paper folder. Mom's copies of Western Maryland Genealogy, a small format publication that's no longer in business is now with me and I can't wait to dig into those.
And there's one last binder: Mom's collection of death records and obits for the family. I dusted it off and got a cup of tea and curled up to read about the adventures of one family's members. I love reading death certificates because they give up so much information. I sipped my tea and learned and learned. Connections were made, causes of death revealed life style and genetic disposition, maiden names were verified. I can only imagine how much fun I'm going to have looking at the dozen or so other binders!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Elisha Workman c1820 - 1864: Fun with probate files

I'm digging around two of my ancestral families on my father's side, namely the Workman and Troutman families. If you look at a map of Western Maryland and find the little town of Frostburg and it's neighboring village of Mt. Savage, then follow the road up 12 miles into Pennsylvania and see Southampton, you'll have traced the path between the Troutmans in Southampton and the Workmans in Mt. Savage.

Nancy Ann Troutman lived in Southampton with her parents and her father Benjimin Franklin Troutman was a famed gunsmith. Somehow she met and married Elisha Workman, from down in Mt. Savage, of the Workman family who were big landowners in that area. The patriarch of this landed group in Maryland was Isaac Workman (1742 - 1827). One of his sons was John (1779 - 1859) and his son was our Elisha (c1820 - 1864). When Isaac came to the area he grabbed up as many of the military lots from the Revolutionary War as he could. In the end he and his sons owned a cool dozen of those 50 acre parcels given to the soldiers who fought. How he managed to get that many contiguous lots together, I can't even guess!

A section of the Frostburg State University military lot maps in Western Maryland.
Notice "Workman's  Desire" just to the left of center.

It was long thought that all of those Workman men had fought in the Revolutionary War and had been awarded lots for service but further examination of the records show no such thing. Isaac did however swear an Oath of Allegiance.

For a while the boys all farmed together but some decided to move to Knox County, Ohio, so when old Isaac decided that farming was probably a younger man's game he sold or gave some of his lots to his sons. Some of those sons later moved to Ohio and rented out the land to Isaac's grandsons. By the time Elisha came along he had to rent two parcels from his uncles in Ohio.

When Elisha died in 1864, he was renting at least two parcels from his uncles Cuthbert and John L. Workman. I wouldn't have been able to piece all of this together without the probate papers. He died intestate and so his property moved through the usual probate system, leaving a dandy trail behind for me to eventually follow. I'm thinking that because this family all left extensive wills designating the ownership of their land, Elisha might have died unexpectedly and suddenly and had no time to make up a will. A farming accident, perhaps?

Elisha must have had quite the big farming operation because a reading of the estate inventory provides a dandy window into their property. I find about two dozen cows, a dozen horses, so many pigs I stopped counting, wagons and other farm equipment. The household items were sold back to the Widow Workman, but the bulk of the heavy farming equipment and most of the livestock were sold to other farmers.

It was interesting to find that while Elisha Workman rented the land he worked from the uncles in Ohio, he purchased a couple of hundred acres in the not too distant area of Accident, Maryland, which he rented out.

I'm willing to bet that Elisha over on The Other Side felt bad about leaving this world without having made a will. But, on the other hand, it sure did give me a dandy picture into his life and family!

His wife was Nancy Ann Troutman and she's interesting in other ways. Guess I'll have to write about her too.

Partial inventory from property sale of Elisha Workman's estate.

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Monday, October 13, 2014

Too hard to read? Fixed it!

See that image up top? How would you like to spend some time trying to read and transcribe that? No? Me either.

Mom was doing some research back in the early 1990s on our Revolutionary War ancestor, Peter Troutman who lived most of his life in Southampton, Somerset County, Pennsylvania. She needed to get up to the Historical and Genealogical Society and History Center there but couldn't right then so she wrote to them and outlined what she needed. They sent her a package, for a very reasonable contribution. I'm now working on Peter Troutman and have that packet sent to Mom. And that image up top is what all the pages look like. Ugh, I thought, this is gonna get ugly.

That first image used to be called a reverse stat or photostat. It was cheap to make and served well when a copy was needed but at the lowest possible cost. Thank goodness that the inexpensive desktop copier is everywhere today and we don't have to deal with stats any longer!

I put it off diving into the packet of dark papers for a while, maybe too long because I was starting to feel guilty every time I glanced at the bundle sitting atop the scanner. When I get problems like this standing in the way of progress, my way of moving forward is to just ask myself what the heck the problem really is. I just couldn't get past the total darkness of each page. So how could I overcome that? I Googled.

After trying a couple of different search terms he word "invert" arrived. Seems that Photoshop, including the ubiquitous Photoshop Elements, has a invert tool. Actually the invert tool is pretty cool stuff. You'll find it under the Image > Adjust tool group. See  a demo here. You can also find it if you're using Paint and here's a quick demo here.

It's super easy to do and I'm glad I did it. Once the scanned document was inverted, it looked pinkish so it got converted to grayscale. In Photoshop you can find that under Image > Mode. All three images are above so you can decide which you like best.

You'll probably want to file each under a different file name so if you need to, you can backtrack to the earlier version.

I breezed through the transcription and my eyes were happy about it too.

Here's a bonus just for fun. Used the Paint invert tool on a photo of my orchids! Cool, huh? Imagine what you can do with pictures of the kids in their Halloween costumes!! Now that's scary.



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Just finished Mom's DAR application and I have to say...

It's finally completed and I have to say, as a genealogy nut, I'm probably hooked for life! I should explain. Back in 1987 Mom had been doing genealogy for about 15 years and realized for quite some time that my sister and I were qualified to join the Daughters of the American Revolution, if she got busy and put that application together for each of us. I was working full time and trying to run a business and doing too much travel and my sister was going to graduate school so neither of us had the time or energy to do it for ourselves.

I recalled this time and Mom's efforts on our behalf recently when I was at my DAR chapter luncheon and meeting. The member sitting next to me was putting the final touches on the applications for her two daughters. She said that they weren't yet interested and I replied that it was a wonderful gift she was giving them and they'll be thanking her later, just as I thanked Mom!

A while back I thought it would be nice to turn the tables and fill out an application for Mom, and I have written about that here recently, and you can find those posts here, here and here. The application Mom put together for me used one of Dad's Revolutionary War ancestors. At the time Mom might have joined but had no qualifying ancestor, the main requirement for membership. Recently, one of Mom's ancestors was verified so now Mom is good to go!

The weeks passed and I worked hard on it, finding proof documents, ordering birth and death certificates, checking the census records, examining probate documents. There was a mad chase while looking for Granny Whetstone's death certificate that turned out to be an object lesson all unto itself about the spelling of a name throughout a lifetime! It was a ton of work and I loved every moment of it.

I don't know how this will turn out and if my hard work will be deemed worthy by the powers that be and the genealogists who review applications at the NSDAR headquarters in Washington, D.C. Be that as it may. All I know is that I loved it. Loved the rigorousness with which documents needed to be examined and mined for little tid-bits of information. The precision demanded when it came to the simple yet confoundedly frustrating task of copying a date and repeating it in at least three places! Why should that be so hard for me? Is it because I am a tad dyslexic around the edges? Yeah. My brain tends to transpose numbers. Can you imagine how frustrating that little quirk of my brain can be when filling out a form with plenty of dates? Yet I loved it.

I can see how DAR daughters get hooked on this. The entire process is seductive and addicting if you love this work. Proof! That's the name of the game. Proof: it taxed me sorely. At the heart of it was proving the most simple things about an ancestor. For the male is was date and location of birth, date and location of death. Then for the female it was the same date and location of birth, date and location of death. And a record of the marriage. Last, for the line leading to the patriot, a connection to the next generation. Proof. Never have I felt so close to understanding the meaning of that word.

And here's the cool thing. If it got done right and is passed on and verified, Mom earns admission to the DAR and the right to a pin with the ancestor's name on it. How cool is that? I must confess here, I want those pins with the ancestor's name on it. I want a lot of them. Is that bad? I don't think so!!

I need to include a disclaimer here. I don't speak for the DAR, and really, that should be pretty obvious. But they like it when you let the world know that it's just you speaking and not them. And I do want you to know that the DAR is way more than genealogy. They're all about serving and volunteering in the community and helping out where they can. If you're interested, check out the main web site and click on through to register your interest. Or let me know and I'll help you find a chapter near you. Or you can use the web site to find out if your ancestor is already listed as one of their patriots. Here are some links, in case you want them:)

The main DAR web site:
How to join:
Chapter locator:
Membership interest form:

Just interested in the genealogy? Click on this:

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