Monday, December 26, 2016

Started another blog: The Rooted Tree

For a while now I've been thinking that the blog needed a facelift. It's been going on for over 550 posts since 20 May 2011. I've connected with cousins who are new to me and that was a major objective. I've learned so much from them! And I've learned about what works and doesn't for me in a blog. And maybe my writing has improved, if marginally.

I wasn't sure about what I was looking for in a blog facelift. I had a name for it, The Rooted Tree, and felt that it embodied the spirit of the thing, the concept that one's tree is best when it's rooted in research and proper documentation. While this blog was very much about my personal family history journey, The Rooted Tree would be about the process of research and documentation of one's lineage, in all it's guts and glory.

So far, as of today, there are just six posts to The Rooted Tree. Each one of them takes time for the concept to develop, rough it out, build in details and then write it. Finally, and this is the most difficult part for me, I go back and examine each and every element closely, cite the sources, and test for logic. I'll not get it 100% right each time, that's a given.

Meanwhile, I'll continue to post here but in a less formal and structured way. Just a couple of friends chatting. I'm not going for quantity as I did here. I'm hoping that The Rooted Tree will be a rooted blog. Come on over and see what's going on.

Genealogy Project Wins Christmas!

That's my niece there, reading one of the books about our ancestry. (See stories below.) There were two books, one with the charts and tables, and the other contained stories of all the major lines on my Dad's side going back as far as we can now trace.

She's interested and that's what I'd hoped for. Maybe, some day down the line, she'll have the time and want to pick up the search. Time will tell. If that time does come, and even if I'm gone, she'll have a head start.

My sister got the printed version and my niece and nephew both received thumb drives with all of the documents.

Finally, I feel that the work will not disappear.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

What to do with your genealogy files: update: Our Fascinating Family!

If you take a look at the past post right there, below, you'll see that I'm busy writing my Christmas present to my siblings. Shh, don't tell them, but it's a report from our family tree!

After the chart and report had been generated in Family Tree Maker and printed, it looked, well, seriously boring! There was not one little trace of the excitement I felt when working on my tree! How could anyone be expected to get thrilled about our fascinating family looking at this document?

I wanted a document that equaled my own excitement at the discoveries that had hooked me from the start, and had kept Mom's attention starting in the 1970s and going hard at it until just a couple of years ago. But, how was that going to happen? Tell you what! I think I just stumbled into a way to get closer to what we all want: a document that your descendants will pick up, read, and get to know more about their family's heritage. I never thought I could write an easy 45 pages about just one family line, but once I started it was easy, relatively speaking. I simply stumbled into the answer about how to get this done and here's the story.

I started with the Workman line because I've been spending time on a project documenting who owned which lots in Western Maryland just before 1800 so that line seemed like the natural place to begin.  I had a lot of charts identifying who was where and owned what, and when. But I knew from experience that the only person it was going to excite was me... and definitely not even the husband;)

Started by opening a document and save it, of course. Took a moment to write down on the first page a couple of distinctive things about the ancestors in this line. Our Workman ancestors came from Holland to New Amsterdam in the 1600s so I began there. The immigrant ancestor owned the Brooklyn Ferry and much land in the area. His son Peter was one of the first settlers in New Jersey so I had to mention that. Then his son Isaac had a son Cornelius and they both ventured into the vast wilderness trapping furs. Others followed and that's how we come to those lots I mentioned up top, owned by the Workmen family. With that outlined, I began compiling the long story of the immigrant from Holland, his English father, and what happened after they landed in Manhattan and then moved to Brooklyn, some over 350 years ago.

Then I pulled in all of the interesting documents and photos resting in my files placing them in order. I was careful to cite sources in short form as I went along.

Next I opened my Ancestry tree and had both the document and the tree visible on the screen. In that way I was able to easily copy names, dates and locations for all individuals in each generation. And before moving on I checked each of the offspring (those not in our direct line) for fascinating facts or interesting documents, maps or photos. The generations practically built themselves.

Last I added anything I could remember from my childhood or told to me by Grandma. The icing on the cake was all of the photos Mom has been saving all of these years.

At this point I had a decent but very rough draft and after a fresh cup of coffee, I started editing it and building in smooth transitions from generation to generation. As a treat to myself I added a little speculation and personal conclusions with explanations by saying things like, "it might be concluded," or "perhaps."

Before I knew it, all 45 pages were finished. The very last page listed all of the things that still might be researched plus questions or doubts I had concerning this ancestral line. I wanted to leave clues for any family member who comes after.

Oh sure, there are other better more scholarly ways to approach this type of project. I could have made notes for years, use a fancy program to put the notes in order or whatever. But that's not what happened. What did happen is a Christmas present.

I had been feeling, especially after my last milestone birthday, that I better get going and start preparing all of the collected research and family biographies in such a way so as to tempt a future generation to jump in again. And we all know that I'll be long gone when that happens! All along I've been keeping things organized and tidy as well as backed up. Made sure the appropriate people have certain passwords and account info. Have scanned a lot and there are still some of Mom's binders that could be scanned too, but that's filler work for a rainy day. Now I feel that these family histories are just the thing I've wanted so that I can be sure the work is carried on.

These are the families.

I know the story about when Grandpa Kelly went to Florida and came back and announced to grandma that he was selling the house and moving to Florida. That's when she told him that the house was in her name! Too good not to pass on!

I know the story.

I know the story.

I know the story.
And now, so will they.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

What to do with your genealogy files and research?

So, what do we do? Leave it to a library or archive? Find a family member who wants to carry on? All of those have their benefits and flaws. Ugh.

Recently I was thinking about how to share Mom and my genealogy research with my brother. He's curious but not an avid user. And my sister too. She's interested but hasn't the time to delve in. So of course as a first step I synced my Ancestry member tree with my Family Tree Maker and the printed out some reports. Was going to have that bound but it looked boring, even to me and I love this stuff. So, how could I make it look spiffy and interesting? If it looked sexy then there was a chance that my sibs or some family member might pick it up and give a look, maybe read some of it and get further interested.

One of the things I did here on the blog a while back was the Surname Saturday blogging prompt. Did it for the major surnames on the tree back about four generations. Click here to see one about the Workman family. I posted them dutifully for a while them other things caught my attention. You know how it goes. But those Surname Saturday posts were the closest thing I had to a write-up on the various lines, so I started there and drug one out to see if it would work as a base for something interesting.

Workman was the first up. I had a lot of info on that line and jumped right in editing the Surname Saturday post. It went pretty well and moved along seemingly under it's own steam. Added some old photos, then stories from childhood about relatives on this line, especially those about Grandma Kelly whose line this is. Added wills, land deeds and court documents because brother and sister are both lawyers. I grabbed up anything that explored the story of the Workmans going back as far as I knew and had researched and that takes us back to about 1600.

Of course, there was special attention paid to calling out family stories and conjecture versus facts and documents. I am still conflicted about footnotes and if they should be included. Seems too counterproductive to keeping up interest in the document if the pages look bogged down with sources. But I do want to include them. End of chapter? End of book? Feeling like there's no 'right' answer.

The approach here is for it to read like a personal conversation with my sibs, having a chat about the ancestors, telling what was exciting about them. Sharing the mysteries still to be uncovered, the evidence that's not enough to draw a conclusion, yet. And pictures and old documents, maps. Visual salt and pepper.

Even though the Surname Saturday posts gave me a start, this has become so much more! I started with just three pages and I'm up to 35 and no where near finished. I'm excited because this isn't just a lineage chart, it's the saga of one American family that's emblematic of so many others. As I go, I come to understand much more about the long arc of our family's story in America. It helps me see the elements that makes us, us.

Not yet finished but I have until the holidays. What I can say is that it's coming along better than I envisioned and at this point, it practically writing itself.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Tombstone Found: JOHN COMBS and PERCY CEMETARY and the DAR!

Have no passion for all CAPS, but just had to use them because I'm that excited to share this story:) While at mom's back in May, in Frostburg in Western Maryland, went to see Percy Cemetery. Percy dates from about 1830, with some burials earlier. It was first the major burial place for the Methodist Church in town but then expanded to receive many of the town's prominent citizens until the more contemporary Frostburg Cemetery opened. But first, some background.

I put in a DAR Supplemental Application (supplemental to my original application for Patriot Nehemiah Newan) for John Trimble a while back and received an AIR which is DAR-ese for Additional Information Required. They pointed out that Margaret Trimble Combs, daughter of Patriot John Trimble and wife of John Combs, was lacking a precise death date. When I looked at what I submitted, sure enough, they were right and I could do better!

I narrowed down Margaret's death date by following John and Margaret's participation in the Methodist Church and then Margaret's disappearance from their list of congregants. 1849. That's when she died. And she was missing in the 1850 census too, which was the source document I originally submitted. So her death date was between October 1849 and February 1850.

But where was she buried? John, her husband, was buried in Percy Cemetery and a nice stone was still there stating his death date. Margaret was probably buried there too, but there was reportedly no stone.

John Combs was wealthy and prominent in the Methodist Church giving land for it and presumably supported it with donations. It would be reasonable to suggests that Margaret was buried in the plot adjacent John and that there had been at one time a nice big stone like his. Yet no photo of it was in Mom's tombstone file or on Find A grave.

So off Mom and I went to see if we could locate John Combs' stone and see if Margaret was there but had been overlooked.

John Combs stone.
That's John's stone there on the right and see that small stone leaning against the tree? Check this out, below!
Right, it says Margaret!!
Here's the line-up with Margaret's stone in the foreground and John's off in the back, left.

Here's the photos of what I found. You can see John Combs' stone and then look! There's the top of a stone within five feet of his, leaning against a tree that says "MARGARET". I'm willing to bet the farm that it's her stone!
Of course that's not going to satisfy the DAR genies but it satisfies me.
And here's the wild and crazy part. In the wide view photo up top, you'll see a house right in back of John's stone. That's my Grandma Kelly's house and they were grandma's 3rd great grandparents. WOW! John and Margaret were within 100 feet of me as I played on Grandma's lawn as a kid!
Margaret, you were there all the time, dear girl.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

The season for bashing Ancestry Member Trees? Take a second look!

Really, it's been going on for a long time and I don't mean to infer otherwise, but of late it seems to me that it's open season on Ancestry Member Trees. A recent email conversation by a probable new-to-me cousin, a blog post or two by the usual experts, and even more Facebook posts that hold AMTs, or Ancestry Member Trees, up to scrutiny and even ridicule, float by as I comb such trees carefully looking for hints and evidence. And I've found hints and evidence all over the place! Treasures! The Good Stuff!

If you're new to all of this genealogy stuff you might not be familiar with the term AMT and why someone would want to bash them. As you probably know because of their TV commercials you can build a tree on Ancestry by following those shaking green leaves. Enter a name, click on a leaf to find records, photos, stories and all manner of info about your ancestor. It looks so easy!

One of the hints is usually a grouping of Ancestry Member Trees built by other Ancestry members, like yourself. You can choose to add what they've posted in whole or in part, and thereby build out your tree really fast, if you don't take time to question and evaluate what you're adding. In this way - by not carefully evaluating what someone else has put on their tree - you can easily build what some call a "garbage tree" with no real records or sources. You can tell which trees are the garbage trees because the only source you find is a reference to someone else's member tree. It's easy to see why AMTs have a bad reputation!

But, look. It's not the trees themselves or the shaking green leaves or hints that's a problem. It's the way members choose to build out their trees: without records. But there are other, better trees out there, and plenty of them. You just have to look.

Is it just me who is finding gems right there on AMTs? I doubt it! Just last week I was working as a volunteer Genealogy Consultant for our DAR chapter and helping a chapter member with a supplemental application. A supplemental application happens when a woman who is a DAR member and has already submitted an application proving her lineal descendancy from a Patriot Ancestor, then wants to submit another - or supplemental to her original application - proving her lineal descent from another Patriot Ancestor.

We DAR members who are crazy about genealogy simply love preparing supplementals. But those chapter members who might find the application and their research a challenge can request help for one of the chapter's Genealogy Consultants. That's when I arrive on the scene!

So there I was working on a supplemental for a chapter member. It all seemed fine except for one very important aspect of the application and that's the proof connecting generations. What I really wanted was a will but I knew that this guy, the father, died intestate. It was back in the 1760s and civil records of birth were not kept in that time and place. They didn't attend a church with good record keeping habits, so that was out. Land records were also an option but this was a father / daughter connection and so based on previous experience, I know not to get my hopes up. Had checked Ancestry will and probate files and came up empty. I was just about to turn to FamilySearch and getting ready to spend hours and hours "browsing" the probate records when I though to check Ancestry Member Trees for any tasty tid-bits. And there it was! The will of the father naming the daughter and her husband!

Of course I needed a source citation, but now that I had the probate file with will and other papers that some wonderfully thoughtful and caring Ancestry Member had posted to his Individual page, I carefully looked at every one of them checking for hints of where these documents might have come from. Finally, three-quarters of the way down the stack of pages, I saw a tiny pencil handwritten notation at the top. Vol I, pg 408. Gold!!

In no time, I navigated my way through the probate files on FamilySearch and found what I needed. I knew the volume number and page number for one of the images and the will was about four pages before that. Nice!!

Quite recently I've found more and more treasures like this which is interesting. I remember not too long ago when Ancestry users would keep the good goods away from their trees. "I got mine, you work to get yours" was the attitude. But why, what's the point in that? Where's the harm in sharing the best stuff we have? I just paid $40 for three death certificates and believe me when I say that I can't wait to get them scanned and posted to my Ancestry Member Tree.

I have a bunch of stuff I've ordered and received from archives. There's that time I called the courthouse and a kind clerk went and got the document I asked for and emailed it to me! I want to share that too. Share it all. What good does it do to sit in my files here while I hold on to it with my stingy hands? I use it but it would be far better shared and helping others. The individual page on Ancestry is the very best place for me to leave it. 

Oh, yes, I'm aware of the potential to violate copyright in doing this so I do check carefully to see if the location where the document was found has limitations. If so, then I'll post a PDF page stating what was found and where, giving as much info as possible that helps someone else find it as easily as possible.

Wouldn't it be great if we all did this? Wouldn't it be wonderful if we all shared our best stuff? Trees would get better and better. Let's do that!

Let's share that good stuff!

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Is there a 12 Step program for genetic genealogy? Maybe!

Oh, no! Another DNA cousin has popped up!

I don't mean to seem ungrateful for the connection to another DNA cousin at all. In fact, I welcome all of them. It's just that every time I see that "We might be cousins" subject in the email, I know that I'll be spending some bunch of hours trying to sort it out. Right now it seems there are so many people testing with the Big 3 and then finding GEDmatch that I have to hustle to keep up.

I didn't even realize that I had a "problem" until I saw this blog article, "The Stages of Genetic Genealogy Addiction", by Roberta Estes that it all sunk in. Houston, I have a problem!

I can check them all off but have drawn the line at #7 and refuse to spend any more to get DNA relatives tested! Can't do it. Won't do it. Seriously, I just about have come to the point where I don't need to because the cousins are shelling out their own money to buy kits!

Happily, I've not gone the whole route to number 10. Not in a cab going somewhere and thinking about the next DNA match. But I am at 9, at home, thinking about the next DNA cousin. Hmm. Thanks, Roberta, for pointing this out;)

Great grandmother Moretta Workman Zeller with Gustav Zeller and sons Charles, Bert, and Gus Jr.
(Photo thanks to cousin Brenda. She's a peach!)

Sunday, July 3, 2016

New meaning found in the 4th of July and old meaning kept alive

I've always loved the 4th of July since I was a kid. Loved the home-town parades with kids on decorated bikes and streamers flowing, families pulling kids in decorated wagons, the local school band, a troop of scouts marching and the corn queen sitting on the back deck of a convertible, waving to all, regally! I just love that stuff. Not everyone does. They can go ahead and make fun, and I'll just take their seat and be as happy as can be.

Love the soap box derby. Love the ice cream socials that raises money for the senior center. The Elks weenie roast. The smell of the big smoker set up behind the church for the picnic. Pies, oh my, the pies!

Love the fireworks, not all of them purchased legally. Sparklers, which were featured on the news today as highly dangerous. Must confess to being a bit happy that we didn't know that when we were young. The surprise of an early evening rogue fireworks display by neighbors down the way, lasting for only a half-a-minute. Or one high-flyer firework breaking the evening silence. Lightning bugs in jars. Wouldn't be complete as a summer evening without them. Mosquitos too.

I enjoyed the simple childhood pleasures that followed me in fondness of memory into adulthood. Oh, sure, now we all see the danger everywhere. But then there was freedom and fun in it.

I also remember that time when circumstances dictated that we move into a high-rise building on July 4, 1976. The Bi-Centennial. We were somehow invited up to the penthouse to view Op Sail and the fireworks over the Hudson River. That was an exhausting but memorable 4th of July!

Now in my older adulthood I also understand the truer meaning of the 4th. Today I've thought about my eight Revolutionary War ancestors recognized by the DAR, as well as those who haven't yet been recognized. Since being active in the DAR their memory has gained added dimension.

I wonder if any of my ancestors were born on the 4th of July. I'll have to look.

Enjoy your 4th!

Backyard picnic or church picnic, we found ourselves at a picnic on the 4th of July!

Friday, June 24, 2016

How to find out if you have a DAR Patriot Ancestor!

Maybe you know already or maybe you are interested in finding out: do you have a DAR Patriot Ancestor? There are, as far as I can figure, over 200,000 Patriot Ancestors on the official DAR list. Of course there are many more than that number who served in the military or gave civil or other patriotic service and are just waiting for their descendants to find them and show them to the DAR by way of an application.

I've has so many people ask how to get onto the DAR web site and check to see if their ancestor is listed that I wrote up a How To sheet for it with step-by-step instructions. And it is.

How to find the Genealogy Record System or GRS
and see the search page for Ancestors in the DAR database.

1. go to

2. find GENEALOGY at the very top and click there.

3. In the middle of that page you'll see a column heading that says "Genealogy Research, GRS".

4. Under GRS at the top of the list is "Ancestor Search", and click there.

5. That will take you to the Ancestor Search page. You can enter what you know here but sometimes less is more so a last name and a first name is often enough to start. 

6. If it's an unusual name or a name that could have many spellings then use the "Advanced Search" feature. You'll find the link to that on the right. Advanced Search lets you use Soundex. Using Advanced Search and Soundex will bring up more results to choose from.

7. If you've used Soundex or there are more than one men of the same name, they will all come up in the search results. Then you'll need to narrow the selections by birth and death dates as well as locations.

8. Click on the ancestor name to see the details page.

By this time you should have a pretty good idea if your ancestor is already recognized and verified by the DAR!

Saturday, June 18, 2016

1850 Census Love!

I am just wild about the 1850 census. Sure it doesn't give family relationships or how many years the couple was married or how many children she had, but it has a raw freshness that's fascinating.

It was the first census that lists household member, and a lot more! But "more" in a different way that can reveal much about the people enumerated! Maybe the enumerator had that beginner's "unleashed" mindset in which lack of specific and clear instructions meant more candid listings. And it's always interesting to see who had valuable real estate!

Check these two entries from Cumberland, Allegany County, Maryland.

I posted these pages to the Western Maryland History Group on Facebook, which is a closed group of pretty serious historian and family researchers, and got a fascinating response. Brenda, who lives in the Kansas City area for some time recognized the name Jesse Quantrill, who was spending some quality time with the jailer, as you can see above. She added some frosting to this census return with the following, transcribed from this web page. Read on and be amazed!! Thank you so much, Brenda, for going the extra step to make history come alive.
“Mary Lane, daughter of Seth Lane, said to have been one of the foremost citizens of Hagerstown, was infatuated with him, and they were clandestinely married. She was to inherit a considerable sum of money at a certain age which she had not attained by a year when married. By making a very full and sweeping relinquishment he secured this money from the bank in which it had been deposited, and which, it was affirmed, belonged in part to Seth Lane and his son. When his wife had attained her majority he endeavored to collect the money again, alleging that the bank had no legal right to pay the money at the time it had been paid

“With the money of his wife he had engaged in the grocer business in Williamsport, MD. This business was a failure, and the money was lost. He then determined to engage in larger operations. He went to New York City, where he represented himself to be the son of a wealthy Virginia merchant well known there, and purchased on credit a large stock of goods, which he caused to be shipped to himself at Baltimore. This swindle was discovered by the merchants in time to stop a portion of the shipment and save some of the goods. But he succeeded in disposing of a part of the merchandise I a way which baffled all attempts to trace it. To avoid the consequences of this transaction he availed himself of the benefit of the law for bankrupts, but as his action was based on fraud he was cast into prison. For ix months his beautiful wife shared his cell. He finally secured an acquittal and was released. While in prison he had read law under directions from William Price, one of the leading lawyers of Western Maryland.

“From Maryland Jesse D. Quantrill went to St. Louis, Mo., where he was soon in trouble and in jail, securing his release finally through the efforts of his wife, who still clung to him. Upon his release he took boat for Cincinnati, and while on board committed a forgery which seems to have been discovered at once, and for which he escaped punishment. From Cincinnati he went to New Orleans, where he became dissipated and began to neglect and abuse his wife. She fell ill, and her condition appeared to work a change in him. He started by boat to take her home to Maryland but while to boat was yet on the Mississippi river he committed a forgery on a Cincinnati bank. He was soon detected in this crime, was taken to Cincinnati and thrown into jail. After a confinement in prison of seven months is wife succeeded in securing him bail, which he forfeited by not appearing for trial, deserting his wife at that place. She next heard of him at Hagerstown, where he was in trouble for a forgery he committed there, but for which he escaped conviction. He then went to Pennsylvania, were he was sentenced to a term of imprisonment in the penitentiary for forgery, and he served three years. While serving this sentence his wife secured a divorce from him, it is said, by the act of the Maryland Legislature. When he hear of her action in procuring the divorce he made many savage threats against her life. But upon his release from prison he married a Pennsylvania lady, and was soon thereafter arrested for another forgery, for which he was sentenced to a term of seven years in the penitentiary.

“Meanwhile, Mrs. Quantill had married a Mr. A. Cowton, proprietor of the United States Hotel, Cumberland, Maryland with whom she was happily living. Quantrill was released from the Pennsylvania penitentiary in 1848. In March, 1849, he appeared in Cumberland. On the fifth of that month Mrs, Cowton was in her apartments, when a servant showed up a gentleman who had just arrived in the city. He dismissed the servant, and closed and locked the door. He then turned to Mrs. Cowton, who was horrified to behold Qunatrill, her former husband. There was murder in his looks, and she screamed for help. He told her that her hour had come, caught her by the throat, threw her to the floor, placed his knee upon her breast, and snapped a pistol in her face. When the pistol missed fire, and just as he was drawing a long knife, several persons who had been attracted by her screams, broke down the door and rescued Mrs. Cowton

“For this attempt to murder he was sentenced to a term of imprisonment. He must have possessed a fascinating personality, for he soon obtained an unaccountable influence over the prison officials and was allowed considerable freedom, even acting as guard over other prisoners. In 1851 he was pardoned upon condition that he would leave the state and never return.”

Sunday, May 29, 2016

What I've learned about death from genealogy

Sure, we who work on family history have this peculiar relationship with death. We seek dates and places of death and spend an unusually large amount of time in cemeteries. Were did they die, when did they die, and who is buried with them? We want to know as much as possible about the circumstances of our ancestor's deaths.

I'm feeling that I've learned something about death from doing this work and I'd like to share observations with you here. As always, feel free to comment:)

1. No one gets out of this life alive. Everyone gets to die. I think that I want to live like I actually know that, and that I know time is limited. When I was in my early 20s maybe I did stuff that indicated I thought I was immortal. Maybe you did too? Now I know that death will come. Morbid? Naw. Just practical. It's good to know firmly that my stuff and especially my genealogy stuff will not go with me when I die. Therefore I need to figure out who gets it.

2. I'd like a nice smallish stone. We can't help but stand in the graveyard and think, gosh, that's a real nice stone over there! I am partial to the older ones, especially the Victorians. You can spot them across the way. They stand tall and maybe have a female figure atop. I like that even though it's not the style now. My Dad, his brother and brother-in-law all chose black granite. Maybe it's a guy thing? I'd really prefer a white marble stone but they deteriorate too quickly. Isn't it frustrating to see an old marble stone all eroded and losing the clarity of the inscription? It's amazing how quickly the old stones are going now. Maybe it's air quality.

3. I do want a stone. I wouldn't feel right without knowing that a stone was in place and waiting. Scatter my ashes where you please, but I want my page on Find-A-Grave. Stop by, leave a note or a flower. I like that FAG iris. When I think about it, that stone will be my placeholder in the physical world.

4. How long did your ancestors live? Having seen a whole bunch of tombstones that say the person died in the 90-something year of his life, and what with Mom being 98 now and going strong, and Dad making it to 92 plus, I need to take care of my parts and pieces because I'll be using them a while, most likely.

5. You can die anytime. A car accident took my aunt on a snowy day. Coal mine accidents took friends and neighbors of ancestors. My grandma, when she was just in her 50s, slipped on ice and hit her head hard after church one Sunday and was gone by the following weekend. Yup, you can go anytime.
If this is true, and it appears to be so based on the lives of the ancestors, it would benefit all involved if we were well prepared. Like with a will and making peace and stuff. Legal documents in order would be helpful. For gosh sake, we've looked at plenty of wills and know their benefit to heirs and genealogists too!! Ancestors dying intestate can be fun, but think of the relatives and heirs!

6. Back to tombstone designs. I don't want one that's overly tall and thin. There must be a ratio, I'm thinking, wherein the thing won't crack and fall over. Don't you think? I really am sad to see those old stones with a stub in the ground and the top asunder.

One can hope for an easy death but that's useless. We have little power over those aspects of life's end. But there's so much else that we do have power over and that's a joy to think about.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

One Photo, Many Emotions

Consolidated Coal Company Miners of Frostburg, Allegany County, Maryland.
I'm really lucky to belong to a closed Facebook group for Western Maryland History. This group has amazing members who know the goods when it comes to the history of my ancestors' homeland in Western Maryland. Document from the earliest times back in the early 1700s to now, members of the group bring obscure and overlooked oddities, often with links, and a short citation. There have even been some uploaded documents, especially maps. They're crazy about maps! Memories too get posted there. We have one thing so obviously in common: we love the land and history of our ancestors!
The above photo, taken in the early 1900s, got posted recently and there was a large and strong reaction. It's a group photo of a shift of coal miners all working in the very hazardous conditions that was the very nature of coal mining on what was called The Big Vein along George's Creek in Western Maryland. Men came, often with their families, from Wales, Ireland, and Germany, as well as north from the coal fields in Pennsylvania to the area for the work. It was hard and dirty work but it was a sure way to earn a decent living for your family, if you weren't killed in the process. Strikes were common as the mine owners tried once again to wring extra profits out of the operation by cutting the miner's salaries. But all-in-all, if a man was going to earn a living by coal mining, this was one of the best places to do it.

It's the faces of the miners that hooks everyone who sees the photo. The faces and expressions are clear. Young men, older men but no very old men. By the time a man reached middle age here he was too worn out and his body too damaged to work very hard. Young boys worked with their fathers and brothers for half-pay. They worked side-by-side, and lost limbs or lives in the same way as the men but earned half.

On the Facebook page, posts appeared under this photo. The comments were heartfelt, even emotional, rather than the cool factual comments that typically get posted. This photo was different. You see, many of us have strong men of the coal mines as our ancestors. Bit by bit, the lives of these miner came together as posts popped up.
I looked at it for the first time searching for my grandfather and great grandfather but I didn't see them there. My great grandfather Daniel Williams, who came from Wales to the area to work the mines, was a supervisor at one of the Ocean Mines, so he wasn't in this picture which appears to have been taken elsewhere. My grandfather Lee Kelly worked in the Borden Mines but he did so at a time later than this picture. But just from the looks of the picture, they could easily have been here because they would have fit right in.

There's my great grandfather Daniel Williams, second from the left, with a mining crew.

That's my grandfather, John Lee Kelly, about 1930 when he was working in the mines. That's Dad second from the right. No one knows who the kid on the left is.
Back to the photo up top. Do you see their lunch buckets? There in the front. Everyone had one. These men worked hard doing manual labor that burned a lot of calories, so they had big appetites. My Grandpop Kelly called it a dinner pail because that's what he called the mid-day meal. You can see the size of the bucket and imaging what all went in there. Lots and lots of food. No salads. No kale. No quinoa.
Look how clean their faces and garments are. Obviously this photo was taken at the start of the day when the men were on the way to the mines. By the end of the day they were covered in coal dust. Some homes had a "wash house" out back, for laundry but also as a place where the miners of the family could wash up and change clothes before entering the house. Grandma Kelly's house had a big back porch were Grandpop washed up.

But the killer detail in this big group photo is the lamps on the hats. And I don't use the word "killer" lightly. Those were carbide lamps and if the coal dust got bad or there was gas leaking from the mine, the carbide lamp would cause an explosion.

One of the members of the Facebook group posted that his ancestor raised canaries to be sold to the mining companies. If the canary died, well....

The mine caused all sorts of other businesses to prosper in the area. My great grandfather Gustav Zeller owned a "tonsorial emporium" or barber shop that had big bathtubs where the miners could have a bath on Saturday. He was a prosperous man!

Great grandfather Gus Zeller's barber shop on Main Street, Frostburg, Allegany Co., MD. Notice the oversized barber pole!

That's him. Can you tell he was a barber? Look at that mustache.

The 100 year anniversary of Frostburg happened in 1912. It might be said that the area reached it's prosperous zenith then. The population of the area was around 15,000 and they all came to town on Saturday, market day. Frostburg hummed on a Saturday afternoon as miners and their families came to Main Street. Those miners in the photo? Wonder how many had a Saturday bath at great grandfather Zeller's barber shop?


Thursday, March 24, 2016

Five Generations: Maryland with a bit of Wales, Ireland and a Touch of Germany

It's all the rage across the internet in the world of genealogy: Five Generation Country of Origin Chart. I'll include a link to it below. I saw others' charts and frankly they looked pretty cool so decided to try it myself. Thing is that so many of my ancestors came from Maryland and when I color coded each geographic area, well, look at all that green! Yeah, my peeps come from Maryland!

If you want to try it, here's where to go: Jana's Blog, and click the link at the bottom to download a sample chart. Then edit to make it your own, even adding generations!

Friday, March 18, 2016

Another Workman Cousin, a DAR Sister, and Another DAR Patriot!

Another new-to-me cousin found me through this blog! People Google around looking for general info about their ancestors and find this blog with regularity. She was looking for connections to her ancestors William Workman and his wife the Indian Princess Tereca, and William's father Andrew Workman all of whom I blogged about not too long ago. So she sent an email! Enter Cousin Denise!

Right off we found out that she and Cousin Brenda and I are all DAR members. That's super fun right there because in addition to being DAR sisters we're also blood cousins! So many great ways to be connected.

Right now I'm awaiting approval of my additional DAR application verifying my lineal descent from my Patriot Ancestor John Trimble. And Denise is working on her additional application proving her lineal descent from William Workman's father Andrew Workman. Because Denise had already submitted an additional application for my John Trimble, she had some documents for me just as I had Workman documents for her. We burned the midnight oil playing document swap! What fun!

Now you need to know that for me, the very best thing to happen besides breaking down one of my giant brick walls, is finding a new DAR Patriot Ancestor. (You can find the DAR Patriot Ancestor database and check if your ancestor is listed here.) The DAR has already verified my applications for five Patriot Ancestors and I have two more at National right now and if they go through that will give me seven in total.

I also have a list of other more challenging ancestors that I'd like to get approved by the DAR as new Patriot Ancestors. I'm working them all and that list is right by my side at this very moment. These individuals who are ancestors on my tree that I can prove my descent from but are not yet recognized as Patriots by the DAR because no one has yet submitted an application linking to them. There are about 20 ancestors of mine who might possibly be proven, with a lot of luck. But documenting a new Patriot Ancestor means proving their service and residence at time of service as well as the usual dates and places of birth and death. As you can imagine, each one takes massive amounts of work.

So, with seven Patriot Ancestors done or at National, when Denise casually mentioned that John Trimble's father, David Trimble, is also a Patriot Ancestor, my head about exploded!!

But that's truly not the point of this story. The real point is that I connected to both Brenda and Denise because this blog with my email address was floating around out there on the internet for them to find. We've had a blast sharing a ton of old family records and getting to know each other. None of that would have happened had it not been for this blog.

Take every chance you can to get out there and make connections to both cousins and others searching for your ancestral lines. Start a blog, post to message boards, join genealogical societies and historical societies in the places you research, join Facebook groups and post your questions. Make yourself and your connections to your ancestors visible on the internet. You'll be so glad that you did.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

The Indian Princess Finally Makes Her Entrance!

I remember sitting on the front porch with Grandma Kelly, sitting in the swing that overlooked West Main Street in Frostburg, Allegany County, Maryland. Main Street was, well, the main street and even though it's name was changed from Union Street to Main Street, it was the number one thoroughfare in the little mountain town in Western Maryland.

"Yooo-hooo!" Grandma would wave and call out to all foot traffic. She loved greeting people and more likely than not, she knew absolutely everyone who came past. And if she didn't, she'd ask, "Now Dear, who are your people?" And they'd tell her. Frostburg was like that then in the 1950s.

One summer day when we were sitting there she told me that there was an Indian Princess in the family, and by that I was sure she meant the Workman side of the family, her mother's people. She knew all about them. Grandma told me lots of good stories about all of the families going back generations on her side and on Grandpop Kelly's side too. I remember and have proven all of them except for the Indian Princess story.

But that's typical, isn't it, in American genealogy? There's a fictitious Indian Princess in just about every tree, isn't there? I'd never been able to find one on our tree, but suddenly that changed because of a Facebook post recently.

I posted something to my Facebook page and Cousin Glenn popped up and commented that he just found out that there is an Indian Princess on the tree in the Workman line, so off I went to find out what he was talking about! After a couple of emails, he sent a link to an obit of a Susan Workman's husband, Noah Alan Skidmore, and in the obit it says that Susan's mother was an Indian Princess!

Here's the link and check out the obituary:

Here's what it said:
Susan was born in the year of 1822 on June 21. She was 18 years old and Noah 24 years old when they were married. Susan was the daughter of William and Teraca Workman. She was born in Dutch Hollow, a small community two miles below Frostburg, Maryland. Susan’s mother was a Cherokee Indian Princess. Susan and her family were living in Kernes, West Virginia. when Susan and Noah were married. Susan was dark skin [sic] with very high cheek bones and jet black hair. Susan wore her hair in long braids. Susan was a talented artist, painting birds and animals. Susan’s father, Bill Workman, was also known as Indian Bill. He was a Revolutionary soldier. He received 800 acres of land for services to the government and he sold all of the land for a barrel of whiskey.

So Susan's mother was Teraca, or Tereca. I flew so fast to Google that name! And yes, she's the real deal!

Teraca's father was Chief Lonacona, aka. George Washington Cresap Fish, of the Fish Clan in the Turtle Tribe, born about 1700. His brother was Chief Nemacolin who is famous in Western Maryland.

But wait, as soon as I get that nailed down, this pops up and I'm not sure who is the father and who is the brother. This is from

I would love to find other descendants of this Lenape chief, who was born 1715 in a village on the Susquehanna River in Pennsylvania and died 1767 on Blennerhassett Island, in the Ohio River between the states of Ohio and West Virginia.He is in the history books:

"A Delaware Nation Chief, Nemacolin played an important part in the blazing of trails into the American wilderness. In 1752, he was hired by Thomas Cresap and Christopher Gist to act as a frontier guide. Together, he led the team along existing Native American footpaths in the Allegheny Mountains. From these explorations, they carved a major pathway into the west. The trail they blazed became to be known as Nemacolin's Trail."

Nemacolin was the son of another, and more important chief, Checochinicon, and the father of still another, Lonacona, a.k.a. George Washington Gist. Lonacona's daughter was named Tereca, and she married William Workman. They migrated to West Virginia and raised six children. William and Tereca were my great, great grandparents.

Obviously, I need to do a lot more digging about this family.

See what happens when an Indian Princess pops up?!