Sunday, December 25, 2011

Planning an Open House for an Archive

Earlier this year I took a workshop on running an Archive. One of the points that they brought up was that an Archive is not just for preserving historical items. These items are there for a reason; they are to be used by someone - a researcher, an educator, an historian, etc. That’s why I decided to hold an Open House. This will come at a really good time in our Society too, because we are trying to raise funds for a new building. It could be potentially important to show the prospective donor what an Archive is all about. We need a good environment to keep our treasures in; we need to let them know what we do here. We need to let them know why it is important for our county to keep our history preserved somehow and somewhere.

On doing research for our Open House - I had never done one before – I went to the internet and did a Google search to try find some good advice on how to hold an Open House. I got a hit that came up as the Open House Event Toolkit on the Wisconsin Historical Society’s webpage:

Their Do-It-Yourself Guidelines lay out what needs to go into planning your Open House. The areas it covered were: Whom To Invite (historical organizations, prospective donors), When to Hold the Event (limit the hours open?), What To Show (pick interesting items for the general public), Prepare Your Collection (prepare the layout and label everything), How to Publicize the Event (invitations or public notice?), Providing Refreshments (this is optional), and A Timeline for Preparations (had no idea the planning it took). All this was very educational and some of it I had not even considered.

So now I have set a date, February 6, 2012. I have started going over their Guidelines making notes on what needs to be done and when. I’m not sure whom to invite outside of other historical organizations so I am going to get some advice from our fund-raising people. They may already have a list of people they regularly contact. Next I need to put together an advertising plan. Then with a couple of my co-workers we will start going over what type of items we want to show. As the day grows closer I will post this event on our Facebook page, “Brown County Historical Society.” If live close by please pay us a visit. If anyone else has some advice for me please let me know.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Steeles of Ohio

Reeves Cemetery in Brown County, Indiana.

Our local genealogy society recently had a program on researching Ohio ancestors. Before the program I thought I would revisit the four family lines I had that came from Ohio. Of the four I had more interest on finding more on my Steele family. They ended up in the county I now live in, Brown County, Indiana. I no more to go on from the time they spent in Ohio, though. All I had been able to gather on this family so far had been just census records.

Of this family that came to Indiana was a daughter, Eunice Steele, that had married William Reeves. In the 1870 census in Brown County the family consisted of: William Reeves age 49, Eunice age 46, Rebecca age 15, Harriet age 8, William age 6, Elihue age 3, all born Ohio. By the 1880 census all the same people were listed in this family with the addition of one other person, Mary Steel age 72. So what I needed to do next was go back to Ohio to see if I could find anything new on their life there and find out who was her father. Not being able to travel there I have had to rely on whatever was on the internet to find something on this family.

From all my previous searches I had never been able to find a marriage record of Eunice to William Reeves. The Reeves family being a well researched family on William's side it was known they were all from Belmont and Monroe County, Ohio. No marriage record was found in either county.

Tracing William and Eunice Reeves back to Ohio they were found in Washington County, Ohio in 1850 and 1860. This helped to find two other children in the family - Lydia and David. With the family being there in 1850 it was impossible to find Eunice as a Steele. It had appeared that she had married before the 1850 census going by the ages of the children. But looking at the 1850 census there was a Steele family living right next to them - Henry and Mary Steele. This had to be Eunice's parents. The Mary fit the right age bracket as the one in the 1880 census.

Now it was time to check any new resources that might be on the internet. I rechecked all the census records on Ancestry to see if I had overlooked any other Steele families nearby. Nothing new appeared except a couple lone children in other families. I need to research them when I get time. Next I did a new search for that missing marriage records. I checked all the resources I could think of - Ancestry, USGenweb sites for the 3 counties in Ohio, and even did a Google search. One last thing, let's check Family Search since they have a lot of new stuff on their website. And there it was - the marriage record for William Reeves to Eunice Steele in Washington county, Ohio on 29 September 1844. It does help to revisit resources over time.

One other thing I always check for new information is New burial data is being input daily. Checking several spellings I was able to find Henry Steele buried in Washington County, Ohio in the Lawrence Baptist Cemetery. From the data on his memorial page he had died Aug. 11, 1871. This fits in with the time Mary Steele appeared living with William and Eunice Reeves by the 1880 census. This was a good step forward in proving Eunice's parents were Henry and Mary Steele. I think my step will be to order some microfilm from Family Search to look for a possible probate record or any deeds. One clue that jumped out from the census was that Henry Steele owned land. That will be my next step forward.

Thanks go to all those volunteers that are inputing new data every day. Thanks to Family Search I finally found their marriage record. And thanks to Findagrave volunteers for inputing all the new cemetery information. It really helps those of us that can't travel to the places of our ancestral homeland. I try to help others who have family here in Brown County, Indiana. If I can I try to give back in my own way. Researching my Ohio families I've found many other families that migrated here from these very same counties in Ohio. Anyone that needs help here in Brown County, Indiana let me know.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

A New Lesson Learned - Henry Bolin, My Brickwall Lesson

I've been following a blog, Brickwall Protocol, hoping I could learn some new technique or method to help work on my brickwall ancestors. I started with one of my brickwall ancestors, Henry Bolin/Boland, of which I had only five documents of his existence. He was in the Tax Lists of Wilkes County, North Carolina in 1797 and 1805. He was in the 1800 census in Wilkes County. He was bondsman on two of his daughters' marriages in Wayne County, Kentucky. Nancy Ann had married Jonathan Lovell on Nov. 23, 1860. Betsy had married William Fields on Feb. 28, 1818. I have been searching for any other record of him for several years now. So I started going through these lessons on this blog until I reached BWP No. 12: Point of Reference on

I had already made timelines of this family, had a lot of gaps, and had run out of places to look. Only 2 years ago I had found another son, George Washington Bolin, and his marriage in Russell County, Kentucky to Elizabeth Johnson on Apr. 25, 1835. I also had two more prospective brothers, Andrew and John. I was slowly building a family of his children, but still could not find any more on Henry. The two daughters lived for a while in Pulaski County and then finally moved to Indiana along with the brother George. George moved back to Kentucky and I have followed him through several counties where I had found the two prospective brothers. I had all these little pieces of information, but no idea of how to put them together to find their father.

That's when I decided to use my Henry Bolin on the Brickwall Protocol lessons. I had gone all the way through to lesson no. 12 when it hit me. The title of the lesson was Point of Reference, I had never actually used this. In the lesson you have to put your ancestor in historical context, you have to put dates of historical events on your time line to help you visualize how your ancestor might have reacted to events going on around him. I started looking at the histories of the counties that Henry and his children were linked to in Kentucky: Russell, Wayne, Pulaski, Hart, Adair, and Casey counties (Kentucky is where I had obtained the most information.) When I came across an historical fact: Russell County was formed in 1825 out of the counties of Adair, Wayne, and Cumberland counties.

I had learned a new lesson! I had never thought of this, instead of the children being all spread out across several counties possibly it was just that the county lines had changed. Maybe they were still all in the same place the whole time. Now I have some new places to search for Henry. Now it's time to check these new avenues. I need to adjust my way of thinking - my ancestors just didn't live in a time and place on some abstract plane. A whole other set of conditions existed that might have affected their lives. I just want to thank the Jones Genealogist blogger for helping us to learn new tricks. It just goes to show you can still go back to the beginning and learn a new lesson or two.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Grandma Goldie's Mincemeat Pie

The photo above is my dad's family - from left George Dunn, daughter Lucille, unknown boy, wife Goldie holding son Vonda, and two unknown children on the far right. Grandpa George's family lived with a farmer named Smiser near Trafalgar, Indiana and helped work on his farm. Grandma Goldie cooked and took care of the farmer's children. The children in the photo were Smisers.

Why is it that the way we cook today never quite tastes as good as when we were growing up. My grandmother, Goldie Dunn made the best Mincemeat Pies every Thanksgiving and Christmas. That's one of the things I miss from both my grandmothers, they were the best cooks. I've often wondered how far back their recipes came from. I know a lot of home-cooking was handed down from mother to daughter and much of it was never written down. I've tried store-bought versions and I just can't quite take a liking to them. I'm going to give you a version of Goldie's recipe for Mincemeat Pie. This is the one she used and some of the measurements are missing. I experimented with the amount of meat, usually beef, and I like a little less vinegar - apple cider vinegar is best.

meat, chopped (abt. 2 cups from my trials)
6 lbs. apples
4 boxes raisins
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. allspice
1 pint vinegar
2 1/2 cups sugar

Pick the cooked meat off the bone, put in pan. Put raisins in a pan with water and bring to boil for 10 minutes. Drain, put raisins in pan with meat. Add sugar, vinegar, salt, cinnamon, and allspice. Peel apples and cut them in thin slices. Add apples to mixture. Cook all for one hour. (You can freeze or can mixture.) Put mixture in pie shell with a top and bottom crust. Bake pie at 450 for 30 minutes.

Grandma Goldie would make a big batch at a time and can it all. Then she would send some home with my dad, so he could make us a pie once in a while. Me and my dad could sit down and eat a whole pie in a day or two. Thank goodness the rest of our family didn't want much of it!

Golda "Goldie" Edith Roberts, born 1899, was the oldest daughter of Joseph Roberts and Nancy Eunice Crouch. Her mother died rather young and that left Goldie to do the cooking for her dad and her four brothers - Ora, Basil, George, and Elmer. Joseph remarried a year later to Frances Harden. So Goldie got some relief from taking care of her younger brothers. I don't know if this recipe for Mincemeat was handed down from her mother, Nancy or her step-mother, Frances. The family says her step-mother took really good care of all the children and really took Goldie under her wing. They all had the best memories of Frances. It's a shame none of them can remember much of Nancy, except Goldie. She really loved her mother.

Joe and Frances had five more children together. The children that survived into adulthood were: Dolly, Clarence, Carson, Warren, and Eva. All are gone now except Eva, she still puts on the family reunion every year. Thanks to great aunt Eva a lot of the old family photos have survived and she's been very generous to share with all of us. The Roberts-Skinner Reunion is always the Sunday after the Labor Day weekend at Brown County State Park. We still have a lot of good cooks in the family!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Historical Context - One Way to Connect

I think this is usually the way it goes with new genealogists, at least it was with me. You usually spend the first few years in a mad dash to get your family lines as far back as you can go until you either hit a brick wall or have to wait for a time when you can cross a geographical boundary to get to the records. At least that's where I'm at right now. Doing genealogy on my family lines for about 10 years now and I've hit both these walls. What do you do in the mean time while you're waiting. Well, I've been doing a stint as a volunteer look-up for other genealogist which incidentally helps hone my own research skills. I ended up working in our local archives which gives me more time handling old records - all types of old records. So I'm getting experience there also. I don't want to stop doing research on my own family. So I pick up a family file once in a while and look back through it to see if I can take any new skills I've learned and apply them to my family research. Also, are there any new sources that have opened up on the internet recently on these family lines?

From my two recent trips to Kentucky I've been a little more open to the history of the places my family came from. After I got all the names and dates copied then I spent the last few hours studying the history of the old home places. This has been my latest pastime, putting my ancestors into an historical context. I got to look at a fascinating history of a river town, Burnside, on the Cumberland River. I drove around the county getting an idea of how the countryside lay. Stopping by an antique shop I picked up a copy of a free history newspaper, The Historical News, by Southern Historical News Inc. It's a free little newspaper that covers the counties of Adair, Casey, Clinton, Lincoln, McCreary, Pulaski, Russell, Taylor, and Wayne. I wonder if they have versions of this paper for other parts of Kentucky? It has articles covering topics in all these counties. I have family lines that come from six of these counties. So that was quite a find.

I don't have photos of these family lines in Kentucky. So putting them in historical context gives me a feel for what their life might have been like from reading the area's history. I guess being a genealogist involves study of history. We've all read stories of the Revolutionary War and the Civil War, but there is so much more out there. Even little stories of the old homeplaces are interesting even when they involve your family or even if it just their neighbors. It still gives you a feeling of touching their life for a short time. I've heard so many little tales in our family of what this great aunt did or where did that great uncle dissappear to or what happened to the children after the parents died. If you know the history of the area and their customs involving dealing with situations like this it can really narrow down the choices they might have made in this time in history.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Migration through Kentucky

Wolf Creek Dam on Lake Cumberland and the Cumberland River.

We recently had a program at our local society meeting on “Researching our Kentucky Ancestors.” After all, where did at least half of Indiana’s early pioneers come from or pass through to get to Indiana - Kentucky! The other half had to come through Ohio, the only two states bordering Indiana to the south and east. From Ohio it is relatively safe to assume that most came down the Ohio River to get to Indiana. That was the fastest and easiest transportation at that time. But this usually doesn’t come to mind when researching migration from Kentucky, a rugged and hilly land.

We took a map of Kentucky and everyone at the meeting put a pin in the counties that their ancestor had first settled in. Our thought was that we could share research resources and strategies in case two or more people had ancestors in the same area. We could share information on county records, where the local libraries were, etc. But when we put the map up during our discussion we all had an “a ha!” moment. All the counties that we marked fell in a distinct pattern. All the pins on the map started at the Cumberland Gap and almost all of them followed the course of one of two main rivers, the Kentucky River and the Cumberland River. Remember that the Cumberland Gap was the only trail that was passable for pioneers at that time coming into Kentucky from other states. Then something else occurred to us. What if you can’t find very much on your ancestor in the county you know they lived in? Then the next thing to try is the neighboring county that is directly down or upriver. This can apply to any state in the beginnings of our pioneer ancestor’s westward migration.

This is what happened to my Kentucky ancestors. I'm not an expert but it seems either the river was their principle transportation and/or the river valleys produced the best land for settlement. The principle area my Guffeys and Conners came from was the Cumberland River valley. Many of their stories came with some sort of reference to the river in their life. My mother was born on Indian Creek which is a branch off the Cumberland. My grandfather and her father, Alonzo Conner, applied for a job on the Rowena Ferry. I have his rejection letter saying they didn't need any help at the time. My greatgrandfather, Lewis Taylor Guffey's death record says he is buried in a River Grave. That's another mystery I may never solve.

Rowena Ferry at Burnside, Pulaski County.

I was talking to a cousin a few years ago about the whereabouts of the children of a great uncle and his wife that both had died prematurely - Claude and Ermine Guffey. She said she could remember the three children had been put on the ferry and were sent to live in Missouri with their other grandparents. All these references to the river in their life made me have a new outlook on my research. All these ancestors lives were directly or indirectly influenced by the river. Their lives were influenced by their environment. This had never occurred to me before. My ancestors were more than just names and dates. They did more than just live in a log cabin somewhere out in the wilderness. Environment had a profound effect on their lives.

I was contemplating why my great grand aunt, Rachel Terry, had moved to Burnside in Pulaski county. It just occurred to me after my research trip last week that the area they moved to was just down river from their home county. Burnside was a bustling river town at the time. They probably just hopped on the ferry and rode downriver to an area where the menfolk could get jobs. You know how experts say "historical context" is important in discovering your ancestors. I say the environment had a little more important effect on their lives. Whenever you can't find anything to round out a family history take a look at their environment. Collect information on local features, the local towns, the rivers and byways, was it mountainous or flat farmland. Did they live along the coast or in dry arid states and what was that like? Collect information on the invironment and you'll begin to understand what their life was like.

Monday, October 31, 2011

I Found Her - Serendipity Strikes Again!

We got back from our research trip a few days ago, my genealogy gal pals and me. I had gone down to Somerset, Pulaski County, Kentucky with low hopes of finding anything. But I agreed to go a couple of years ago and I couldn't back out now. So I went determined to try to find something on my great grand aunt, Rachel Guffey-Terry. I had already made one trip there a couple of years ago with a little luck and had found some of her children at the Burnside Cemetery where I thought most of the family was buried - but no Rachel! So my objective this time was small, just to get a few marriage records for the daughters, and maybe some obituaries, to see if I could track them down.

On my first day there I found four marriages for two of the Terry daughters and two of the Terry sons. John Logan was married to a Helen Gibson Apr. 5, 1928, Tilda was married to Joseph E. Spencer July 25, 1916, Emma Terry was married to Andrew E. Guy July 25, 1921, and Jacob Richard Terry was married to Dora Marie Duncan Feb. 10, 1927. I then checked for obituaries for all the children, thankfully the Historical Society has a nice obituary collection so that saved a lot of time. I only found a couple though for John Logan Terry and Joseph E. Spencer.

That evening after their library had closed my traveling companions and I decided to check out a couple of the cemeteries we were interested in seeing. Seniority won out and we decided to find our oldest companion's cemetery, Freedom Cemetery, on the north side of the county. We had a great time riding around seeing the countryside and we finally found it, taking photos and looking around. So now it was my turn. By the time we headed back to Somerset and started down south to Burnside it had gotten dark on us. Okay we'll locate it tonight, but come back for photos tomorrow when we can see better.

The next day my research questions had already been mostly answered so I decided to get more information on the area my kin had settled in, the town of Burnside. Burnside used to be a river town in the 1920s with ferryboats and barges running up and down the Cumberland River. One that I had heard about before was the Rowena Ferry. My grandfather had applied for a job on the ferry, I still have his papers. So I wanted to get a good photo of the ferryboats, and one of the Rowena Ferry would be a bonus. They had several great photos of the ferrys and several great articles of Burnside in the river days. You see, that part of the river is under Lake Cumberland now, so that's one part one could not visit today. After my research companions had gotten their fill of data gathering for the day we decided to hit the cemetery on the way home to Indiana.

The Burnside Cemetery is on a very steep hill and in places the hill is so steep the tombstones are falling over the hill. So I told my older companions to wait in the car as it might be insecure footing for them. I went up the hill to photograph one of the daughter's tombstone, Eva Terry-Conner. She has several bare plots around her and I assumed either her family was buried near her in an unmarked grave or possibly her mother, and my Rachel Guffey. But that was something that I might never know for sure. I backed down the hill slowly to get a good photo of Eva's stone along with the empty plots next to her. I tripped over a small fieldstone - good thing I didn't go rolling down the hill myself. At first I didn't pay any attention to it because it was located right next to another stone with the surname Jones on it. Being that close together I assumed they were both Joneses. After my photo of Eva's stone, I glanced down at the fieldstone again and it seemed to have something carved into it, but it was barely legible. My heart started racing, I could make out what looked like the name Rachel. I got down even closer, I could barely make out one letter at a time by tracing my finger along the grooves. I could make out a T then a E and then an R and another R. The edge was broken off but I just knew what that last letter was. This was my Rachel Terry!

Reading the rest of it was a real pain as the dates were even worse, it had a born and a died date but couldn't even make it out. I didn't care though, I had finally found my great grand aunt, Rachel Guffey-Terry. I raced back to the car to tell my friends. We hadn't even thought to bring anything to help read the stone any better. It was getting late so I decided to take my small victory and go back to Indiana. What am I saying - small victory? This find was worth the whole trip! Now we're planning another trip already, we all found some good information. We all had such a good time and formed some good memories together. Don't you worry, Great Aunt Rachel, I'll be back. And this time we'll spend some more time together.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Rachel Guffey Where are You?

I'm getting ready for a research trip to Somerset, Kentucky with two of my genealogy girlfriends. We've been talking about this trip for 2 years now and finally decided to do it. I have 2 different family lines that came through Somerset, Pulaski County, KY. The first one which I've blogged about previously is my Bolens, which I've been through every thing that I could think of to check in Pulaski county the last time I was there. But I know new information surfaces all the time so I'm going to take another stab at finding more on that line while I'm there.

The other family I'm trying to find more on which I haven't gotten to do much research on is my Guffey family. My Guffeys originated in Wayne County, but I have one lady I've been trying to track down. My great grandfather's half-sister, Rachel M. Guffey, was born in 1863. She is the daughter of their father, Richard G. Guffey, and his second wife, Matilda Hughes. For a long time she just seemed to have disappeared. Most of the family moved out west to Macon County, Missouri. So I assumed since she was a part of the second wife's family she went with them, but could never find anything on her. But serendipity kept popping in on me in my research, prodding me with little hints.

I kept finding records with this Rachel Terry who was listed as a witness in many of the documents I found associated with family members still in Kentucky. Who was this Rachel Terry? Long story short, my curiosity got the best of me and I finally decided to find out more about her. And there it was, on a court document I found in the basement of the courthouse naming this Rachel M. Terry, formerly Rachel M. Guffey. Normally I never would have dug any deeper on this witness except her name kept popping up in all these other documents. I've never found a marriage record for her or any other documents relating her to my family. It had to be my missing great grand aunt and checking in the census there she was living right next to the rest of her family that stayed back in Kentucky. After I started digging into her the pieces just started falling into place. I couldn't believe it. You just ask yourself, why didn't I see all this before?

Now I'm going to Pulaski County to find her final resting place. She had moved there toward the end of her life with her family in the 1920s. Her husband was John A. Terry and her children were: Addison Ragan, John Logan, Etta, Evaline, James Ardell, Tilda, William Samuel, and Robert Terry. I've been able to find more on 4 of her children: John, Evaline, James, and William.

Namely her daughter, Evaline "Eva" had married back into my Conner line from Russell County. There's a lot of family info on her line that I've gotten from on-line cousins. And her son, William Samuel Terry who I've found some info on. And both of them are buried at the Burnside Cemetery just south of Somerset. I've always believed in whole family genealogy. I know genealogists always advise to research the neighbors, friends, even witnesses on their documents. But I always thought that was way too much work. Now I'm a firm believer! Whatever it takes to find that last missing person is my life's passion now. So I'll be elbow deep in old musty records next week, with my trusty digital camera, and hope my two traveling companions have enough of their own family research to keep them busy.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Problem with All These Crosses

A friend of mine, Barb, that manages our local museum has this bad habit of giving me little projects to work on - genealogical puzzles that involve history. When I say I have enough puzzles of my own to solve, her reply is always "but you're so good at this." I don't know how good I am, but I do love solving puzzles. She also said since I liked to write it would make for a good story. Adding an historical element has what got me involved in working at our local Historical Society Archives. Her recent puzzle was about three different men with the last name of Cross and all apparently were involved somehow with stone carving as part of their profession. One of these men it turned out was her great grandfather. I promised her I would take a stab at it. So I had to do some research on these three men.

First of all the easiest one to study was from right here in Brown County, Henry Cross. Most Brown Countians know of his work because he left many beautiful tombstones in our cemeteries. But what he is most famous for is his work that he did for the County in carving three road markers. It is a well known marker and even the local community has assumed the name of Stone Head for this marker. It is a carving of a man's head on a rectangular block with directions and mileage carved on the bottom directing to local towns. Henry Cross was born 1822 and born in Brown County. He died Feb. 26, 1864 and is buried at the Melott Cemetery. So I need to go back further to see where his parents came from.

The second Cross to study was my friend, Barb's, great-grandfather, William Tyler Cross. She has a family bible and a lot of memorabilia on him as he was a well-to-do man of Peoria and Kewanee, Illinois. He owned his own marble-cutting business and I image he left a lot of beautiful marble carvings and headstones. There is also a scrapbook that her mother put together with many pictures of William Cross, newspaper clippings, and a magazine photo as well. From the family bible William T. Cross was born July 12, 1836 in Conesus, New York. He died Sept. 22, 1910 and is buried at the Springdale Cemetery in Peoria.

The third Cross was actually two brothers that were very artistic, one a stone carver and the other an artist. The younger brother, another Henry Cross, was a Chicago artist for many years and lived in Indiana for a short time with his brother, Ferdinand, who was the stone carver. Ferdinand came to Indiana settling near French Lick, Indiana to prospect the hills for good stone. Ferdinand was quite a good carver using the hillsides with rock outcroppings to make his carvings which were fanciful and intriguing to the tourists of the infamous French Lick Resort. Henry was quite good too, being known to have painted portraits of wild west characters such as Geronimo, Sitting Bull, and General Ulysses S. Grant. Both were born in Binghamton, New York with Ferdinand being born on Dec. 26,1838. Ferdinand died in French Lick on May 29, 1912 and is buried at Sulphur Creek Cemetery. His brother died in Chicago but wished to be buried next to his brother, Ferdinand.

You can find info on all these Crosses on

I made a list of my thoughts for this puzzle:
1. First thing that came to me was a name for my puzzle: The Problem with All These Crosses
2. So is it a problem or a clue?
3. All have the same talent!
4. Define areas they came from - possibly New York?
5. All ended up in Indiana (at least Barb ended up in Indiana if not her great grandfather).
6. Could they share the same creative gene, thus showing a relationship?
7. Or could this be a case of "occupation matching a name?"

I promised Barb I would try to find a connection - she's sure there has to be one - between all these stone-carving Crosses. I can gather what info I can on most of these men as they were all linked to Indiana and a lot of their life is recorded. Going to New York is out of the question, for now at least. And the farther back I go it looks like it will be a monumental task! No pun intended.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Provenance - Word for the Day

"Provenance refers to the practice of keeping groups of records together based on who created them. Collections should be maintained based on the creator of the records. They should not be 're-organized' into collections based on subject or classification schemes created by someone else." We all have an inclination to reorganize things in a way that we know how to find them. When a record is created the creator had a purpose in mind and we need to respect 'their' purpose and not conform them to our way of thinking.

I recently attended the Fall workshop for Archivists put on by the Society of Indiana Archivists. The area was beautiful and was at the Prindle Institute at DePauw University. The workshop was "Nuts and Bolts: Archives Basics" and it is intended for new archivists going into a situation they know little about - and that was me. I recently took over the Archives of the Brown County Historical Society. I knew little about what actually goes on at an Archives. Even though I have been an assistant at the Archives for three years, I knew little about what went on behind those doors where the records were actually kept. This was a good starter course for me and I can also see how it will help me as a genealogist. I know more now that would help me if I need to go to an archives for my family history research.

Last year I was given a box donated to our archives that contained genealogical notes and records of a deceased county resident. I didn't know the first thing about what to do with this box. Did I go through it and try to organize everything? I finally faced the fact that I couldn't tackle this box for a while and set it back for another time. I'm still wary about starting on this box again, but now I have a little more knowledge about what I can do with its contents. According to the definition of 'provenance' I don't have to reorganize everything. It was put in a particular order by its creator and it should stay that way. I might try to list the surnames contained in it for genealogical use. Now that I'm a little more confident I might take another look in that box.

Another thing I learned that my predecessors didn't teach me is that an archives are created to be used not kept hidden away. These records are of course kept here to be preserved for posterity, but why are they kept? They are here for a reason - for the use of researchers and family historians. I came away from this workshop with a little more confidence and a little more knowledge of how an archives operates. I want to thank the SIA for a great workshop and I would love to take other workshops presented by them in the future.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Importance of Having a Good Network!

I've been thinking the past couple of days on what subject I wanted to cover in my next blog post. I didn't know until about 15 minutes ago when I decided to check my e-mail. And there it was - it came to me - in a query I posted to my network of genealogy friends. It's very important to have a good network of genealogists to field questions and ideas to. I know which friends to send which questions to. And if I don't I send it to all of them. At least I know I'll get some kind of feedback for my question. I have friends in the northern, western, and central parts of our county that I know if I get a look-up request I can forward it to them. They'll know more about their own neighbors than I would anyway. Also I have a couple of contacts for general Brown County history. And they all know if they get requests for my southern family's histories they can contact me as well.

My first thought for a blog post was a complaint about the lack of volunteers in certain parts of the country that I'm researching my families. I wasn't quite happy with that subject because it had a negative outlook. I still get frustrated on this subject, but then I realize what a good network of genealogy friends I have right here. I hope we can at least help others needing information from our county. And they will always get some kind of answer.

The query that I fielded to my friends was from a photo I had found in our Archives of a Civil War Soldier. On the photo is said "J. T. Eller, R Q M" on the first line and "45th Indiana Vols." on the second line. I had not heard of this surname in our county so I sent the photo to all my contacts and got an answer back right away from three of them. From the three of them we were able to piece together a short biography of this soldier. Now, instead of just a photo of an unknown soldier lost in our Archives I have a piece of written history I can attach to the photo. All will go in our Surname files and I can feature him in our next newsletter in the hope that someone researching this family will find it someday.

I want to thank all my genealogy friends, they are great bunch!

John Thomas Eller, 145th Indiana Infantry, Rank: RQM (Quartermaster)
Born in 1840 and died in 1914 from Monroe County, Indiana

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Second Civil War Letter of David A. Whitehorn

David A. Whitehorn was the son of David Allen Whitehorn Sr. and Amy Cox Whitehorn. He was born 1837 in Brown County, Indiana. He died in the Civil War at Kennesaw, Georgia in June of 1864. He was in Company C, 22nd Indiana Volunteers. He is listed in Brown County's Roll of Honor. His Civil War stone is located at Mt. Zion Cemetery in Brown County. His second known letter is transcribed here.

Camp at Winchester, Tennessee
July 30, 1863
Dear Father,
I now seat myself down to write you a few lines to let you know that I am well and in fine spirits and hope that those few lines may find you and family all well and doing well. I have nothing strange to write this time. I will tell you that we have been paid off and you can go over to Captain Adams and get twenty dollars that I have sent home. I started it the 29th of this month and it will be at Nashville before you get this letter. I want you to write as soon as you get this letter and let me know whether you got my money or not and give me all the news that you have. I got a letter from Lige the other day and he told me that the old man Kennedy said my clothes were not there. I hate that for there is as good as fifteen dollars out of my pocket. I think that Steve Kennedy traded them off for whisky, so no more at present. I still remain your dear son until death. So fare you well for this time. Write soon.
David A. Whitehorn to Allen Whitehorn

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Civil War Letters of David A. Whitehorn

This is one of two letters written by David A. Whitehorn dated February 17, 1863. The copies of these letters were donated several years ago to our local Brown County Historical Society. I ran across these letters last year and as far as I know they have never been published. The originals at the time were in the possession of John Whitehorn. They were written by David A. Whitehorn Jr. and sent to his parents, David Allen and Amy Whitehorn, and to his brother, Elijah Douston Whitehorn. They were badly worn and some of the writing is illegible, but here is the transcription of the first letter.

Camp near Murfreesboro, Tennessee.
Feb. 17th A.D. 1863

Dear Father and Mother,
I now take my pen in hand to let you know that I am well and hearty and to sincerely hope and trust that those few lines may find you and family all well and doing well. I received your kind and welcome letter on the 14th of this month bearing date February 7th. I was glad to hear from you and to hear that you was all well except Caroline. I was heavy heart to read your letter when I came to the part that told me of the death of my beloved little sister. But there is one thing that consoles me and this is this I know she is gone to rest for God has said in his holy word to Suffer the little children to come unto me for of such is the kingdom of God. She was called in her infancy, I hope I may be as well prepared as she. I intend to try to meet her where parting will be no more and war will never come. I want you to write and tell me what ailed her and how long she was sick. But little did I think when I left home the last time that I would never be permitted to see her on earth. It surprised me to hear of her death, but we all have to go. She has paid the debt that we all have to pay sooner or later.

I will now tell you that I have just returned off of a scout, we were gone from camp for 14 days. We had a hard time and last night we were on picket and it rained all night and such a muddy night you never saw as we were. I have no strange war news to write to you. We were in camp and I don’t see any sign of moving soon. I hope that peace will soon be made so I can return and see all of you that were still on the land and among the living. I still hope that they will be waiting for me when our Congress takes their seat. I will hope for the better if I never see it. I will write a few lines to Lige. He told me in your letter that he was not very well but I hope that those few lines may find him enjoying the best of health. He wanted me to let him know how the President’s Proclamation set well. He will have to guess at that for I am bound head and foot and cannot leap an inch. You all know what is the matter for it is death to speak disrespectful of the President or any of his cabinet. You know what I think of it.

I must soon close. I want you to send me some more postage stamps and I will pay you well for them. I will say in conclusion that I expect to draw my pay in a few days. I think I will get 4 months pay and if I do I will send 60 or 65 dollars home this time. I want you to write soon and give me all the news that is going at present. Still I remain your dear brother until death. So fare you well.

David A. Whitehorn to Allen Whitehorn and E. D. Whitehorn

P. S. I understand that since I parted with you last Fall that a dear daughter from you and a dear sister from me Christ dost call. Father and Mother do not mourn her troubles are over, her crown are won, and you by faith must soon follow on. When I last left home her eyes were sparkling with her cheeks like the rose were in full bloom and they now lay moulding in the silent tomb. I hope that I may be justifiable before Christ to stand that I may ___ .

Thursday, September 15, 2011

My Brickwall Bolens

My Bolens have given me a hard row to hoe the past few years. I've tried everything to chip at this Bolen brickwall. I've gotten a small piece chipped out every once in a while. I just got back from a trip from Kentucky for a reunion. But on the way down I had decided to stop off at a couple of courthouses. I've been trying to find something on a connection to this Henry Bolen, a possible father for my 3rd great grand uncle, George Bolen, and his sister and my 3rd great grandmother, Nancy Ann (Bolen) Lovell. I discovered that my uncle George had moved around quite a bit coming from Wayne County, KY where Nancy had married Jonathan Lovell and then they all moved to Jefferson County, Indiana and then George moved back to KY to Russell County where he married Elizabeth Johnson and then to Casey and then Hart and then Meade counties, Kentucky and finally back to Indiana where he settled back down next to his sister's family again.

So on my trip down I decided to look for more clues. On the Tax Lists I discussed in my last post I found that he had paid taxes on land in both Casey County and Russell County, Kentucky. So I stopped by first in Liberty, Casey County, KY and looked through their land records database which has been nicely indexed. Couldn't find anything there. I double-checked the books just in case something was overlooked when it was indexed. I couldn't figure out why George had paid taxes here but could find no land records - unless he had rented or mortgaged land frome someone else.

My next stop was in Jamestown, Russell County, KY. We were running close to closing time so I grabbed my digital camera. I could just photograph any records I found. I finally found a deed for George Bolen selling 50 acres to a William McNeely. And on the next page is was involved in another deed with a James A. Wilson. That one rung a bell - the Andrew Bolen that appeared in all the same tax lists had been married to a Nancy Wilson. That one helped me to tie this Andrew closer to my George - one more little chip! Just a few more minutes before closing - so I decided to photograph the index with spellings of Bolen to Bowling etc. I could examine this more in detail when I got home.

There's another Bolen that seems to be in the same places as George too. I have run across a John Bolen but since it's such a common name down there I haven't looked into him, just taking note when he appears. So when I found a land record with him and his wife, Celia (Sharp)Bolen, that grabbed my eye. So I photographed this one also. Doing this helped me to get another chip out of that brickwall. This land record named Celia and her siblings in a land record and named her deceased father, Isham Sharp. One of her brothers, by the name of Joel Sharp was also named in the deed. That is the name that grabbed my attention next. Where had I seen that name? I checked back through all the census records I had for my Bolens. There he was, a Joel Sharp was in the 1830 census in Jefferson County, Indiana next to a John Bolen and a few pages over from my Bolens. They had to be connected - I think I'm putting together a family - one chip at a time.

Since I started following around George I've found other family members that normally I wouldn't have found simply by staying in Indiana with Nancy's family. Since I haven't been able to find out much on Nancy I think if I can put together her family one sibling at a time I can round out her family and maybe make a connection to this Henry. I've found going through the index that I photographed a couple of other deeds I would like to take a look at. I'm thinking I might have to plan another quick trip to KY soon.

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Surprises in Kentucky Tax Lists

Most Tax Lists are pretty straight forward, giving name and tax paid on a certain parcel of land or maybe some personal property. Not much more useful information can be gleaned from them. In doing research on my Kentucky ancestors I have found a wide range of types of Tax Lists. I most usually use tax lists for those time periods that precede the census year 1850 so I can get more details on this person or to help me find them in a certain area. But in using Kentucky Tax Lists I have found a few nice surprises.

I was tracking my 4th great grandfather, John Booth's, movements in Kentucky. After compiling a timeline I found there were a couple of large time gaps from the time he left Harrison County, Virginia (now WV) in the 1780s til the time of his marriage to Sarah Kinder in 1792 and then his final move to Jefferson County, Indiana in the 1810s. He didn't show up in the census records for these times, and they might not have even had a census taken during these times. I found these tax lists for Shelby county: 1795, 1796, 1797(he's not listed), 1799, 1800, 1801(not listed), 1805, and 1808. Most of these Tax Lists only had him listed as paying tax on a horse. The surprise I did find though was in 1796 his name is right next to a James Booth, which from later research I found out was a brother. This was a nice surprise! But these dates he did show up in helped me to fill in the years he was actually in Shelby County, Kentucky.

The next instance of using Kentucky Tax Lists was when I was trying to get a lead on my Bolen line by tracking down a brother to my 3rd great grandmother, Nancy Ann Bolen. I had hit a brick wall with this family so I decided to try to find something on the brother, George Washington Bolen/Boland. George was found in the 1840, 1850 and 1860 census records in Kentucky, but I needed to find him before that time and maybe even the years between since he had moved around quite a bit. He was in the 1838-1841, 1846, and 1848 Tax Lists for Russell County, the 1842 in Casey County, and 1853 for Meade County. I found several nice surprises and more info to follow up on. There were other Bolens that I could check on for any connections. I found that George had paid tax on some land - another set of documents to check. Then I noticed one other Bolen was in most of the same tax lists wherever I found George, an Andrew Bolen. This could be an important lead.

One other important find was that in the 1840s and 1850s tax lists these could serve as an early census. If you don't check all the headings at the top you might miss it, but there was a column on the far right of a 2 page census that read "Number of Children Between the Ages of ..." This helped me to pinpoint the right George Bolen in each area as there was another George Bolen in one of these counties. By tracking the number of young children I was able to discern the older George Bolen from my younger one.

As to where I have gotten access to these Tax Lists, my first resource was the Indiana State Library being a close drive for me. They have a pretty nice collection on microfilm. And when I do make a trip to Kentucky, I have used the microfilm collection of the Kentucky Historical Society's library. I also rented microfilm through the Family History Library. That's nice to use when I need Tax Lists for states that are farther away. Of course, there are many free indexes that can be found on USGenweb. I'm an avid Tax List researcher and the more information I can find on my ancestors can only help me to fill in the time gaps. And, you never know what more you'll find.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Books for Soldiers - Camp Atterbury

This post isn't directly related to genealogy but is a good cause. I found a good classic book, Hudson Bay, by Robert M. Ballentine written in 1848. I don't know how I lucked out on this find. My sister works on the military base, Camp Atterbury in Indiana. She told me on my last visit, you have to go with me to see this little library, they have some really good stuff. I'm sure other military bases must have the same set up for its soldiers. They have a small library housed in a mobile home type building. Their policy is that all military and base personnel can come to the library and take as many books as they want - no charge. They can take as much reading material as they can carry when they go overseas. The books come into the library mainly as donations.

What surprised me was their historical collection. About 1/4 of their collection consists of all types of books on American and World History, Politics, WW1 and WW2 historical accounts, and even a few books on genealogy related subjects. There is one section on American History that stays at the library for all to come in and read.

Back to my book, the title grabbed my attention because it was a semi-historical account of the Hudson Bay Company. It was written as a fiction but by a writer that was a member of this aged company in the early 1840s. Another selfish reason is that I have Hudsons in my family and have always wondered if there is a connection to Henry Hudson for whom Hudson Bay was named. But that is a future research subject. I'm just three chapters into the book and am totally engrossed. I think it will give me a good historical view of those times in the history of our continent and its exploration. If you have some good books laying around donate them to military base libraries.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Romancing the Stone

Photographing our small local cemeteries is one of my side projects that I do whenever it seems to be a beautiful day to go tromping around in a cemetery. I had started this day on an old cemetery just down the road from my house, called the Melott Cemetery. I had walked down two rows and was photographing each stone. I came to two identical stones sitting next each other; clearly none of the other stones in the nearby rows were close to them. They were beautiful in their simplicity and design. They were simple stones both made of marble with an oval design cut on the face. The lettering was all inside the oval and was of the same style. The problem was that the second stone was broken and part of it missing. I searched everywhere for it. Being a genealogist I decided that to correctly record this cemetery I should find out as much as I could about who these stones belonged to. This is the first time I had taken this much time. I had become captivated by this pair of stones.

To find out who the broken stone might have belonged to, first I had to find out about the person on the stone that was still intact. It was on the left facing west. It read:
Hannah M., wife of John Moody,
Born Mar. 9, 1820, Died Nov. 11, 1863,
Aged 42 Ys. 8 Ms. 2 Ds.
Odds are the broken stone belonged to John Moody her husband, but I needed more proof. All that was legible on the broken stone was:
67 Ys. 6 Ms. 16 Ds.
There was nothing left of the top of the stone. For all I knew it could have belonged to anyone else. I checked our Brown County Cemetery book and Hannah was the only Moody in the book.

The next thing to do was to find a John and Hannah Moody in the census. That proved to be harder than I expected. I did a search on Ancestry in the 1860 census for Hannah Moody. Going by her age calculated from her stone she would have been about 41years old. None were even close to her age with a husband named John. This is the most trouble I have ever had finding anyone. I was about to give up and thought, why don’t I just record the stone with the information I have and go on. But I’m tenacious and I’ve learned sometimes you have to be creative in your searches. That’s why I like using Ancestry’s soundex searches.

I finally found what I thought was my couple in the 1850 census in Wood County, Virginia. The family members were John Moody age 51, Hannah age 31, Lysander age 19, John age 12, and Jacob age 8. Hannah’s age was a little off from my calculations but this seemed to be the closest family I could find. I needed to find them in the 1860 to help prove this was the same couple and to check her age. This time I used one of the sons’ names, Lysander as it was an unusual name. I found a family that seemed to match the couple in the 1850 census. In Brown County, Ohio the family was Jacob Moody age 68, Jacob surely didn’t look like it was John though. The wife was Mary Moody age 56 or 36. I couldn’t quite make it out. But a couple of the other children seemed to match up. In the household was Jacob Moody age 17, the right age to match the Jacob in the 1850 family. Lisander age 32 was living in the next household. But what really convinced me it was the same family was that there was another boy in the family by the name of Jonathan Hines. The Hines name leaped out at me, there was a Hines family in the 1850 census living next to John and Hannah Moody. That had to be them. I also remembered that on Hannah’s stone her name read as Hannah M. Moody. The M had to stand for Mary! But how did I know this was still the couple that belonged to these stones?

It was time for research on the local level. There was a marriage record for a Jacob V. Moody to Juliana Foreman in Brown County, Indiana on Oct. 18, 1866. This occurred three years after Hannah’s death so was this the father that had remarried or the son, Jacob that married? The next document I needed to get was the 1870 census to see what Moodys were living in Brown County, Indiana. It showed a Jacob Moody age 32 with a wife named July age 25. So this was the son, Jacob Moody, living in the same area. From this I could deduce that the son, Jacob didn’t belong to this broken stone. The stones were apparently made at the same time both looking to be very old and same weathering. There were the two other sons, Lysander and John, that was in their household in the 1850 census but it is highly unlikely that the stone belonged to either of them as the age on the stone was for a 67 year old. This had to be John Moody Sr. This is what a friend of mine calls "inferential genealogy."

To make a long story short, I posted the information on for John and Hannah Moody. A short time afterward I received a note from a descendent of this couple. She was so thankful that I had found what she had tried to find for years, the grave of John Jacob Moody. She was a descendent of the younger Jacob Moody and confirmed my research results that this was indeed the right couple. I handed over to her the memorial page of the Moodys on Findagrave. A copy of my research results are filed in the Archives of our local Historical Society. My long infatuation with these two stones was over, but I still like to go by and look at them once in a while. I may not be their descendent but I’m guessing I’ll be the only one that remembers where they are and will be a regular visitor.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Family Reunion Preparation

September is a big month for family reunions, especially in my family I have five that I try to attend every year if possible. The first one I went to as a child was my father's family, the Dunns. The best memories were of eating til I was stuffed, listening to an uncle play his banjo, and then going to the playground with my sister and cousins. That's how we got to know each other. I never did know what dad was doing while we were at play, I suppose just spending time with siblings talking.

Now that I'm grown I attend family reunions for a different purpose, collecting more family history and family stories. At first I just asked questions and got little feedback. But I found if you step back and give them some room and put an old family heirloom or a photo album on the table, everyone has some sort of comment or some story to tell. I have put together a binder with old photos of people and places, old homesites, a favorite pet, etc. In between the photos I threw in a few documents to get their attention. The photos attract them, but the documents bring out the latent family historians.

The last reunion that I started going to was a "lost community reunion," from Russell County, Kentucky called the Indian Creek Reunion. These types of reunions give you a different type of view on your ancestors. You can hear stories of their neighbors and possibly distant cousins. This is especially helpful if you don't have many family stories handed down in your own family. Their stories can corroborate the stories in your family. It's interesting to get another family's point of view. Maybe some sort of community event occurred and your ancestors might have played a part in it that you never knew about. You might talk to someone that remembers things that your grandparents had forgotten. I'm often asked "who were your grandparents?" They've said "yes, I remember them, I remember the time your grandfather . . ."

These reunions can be an untapped source of new information. You get a sense of real community between these people. It's going to be hard this year to pick which ones to attend, but I'll try to make them all if I'm not worn out by the middle of September. Check in your area to see if there is some sort of community reunion, or like in my home county here in Indiana, an Old Settlers Reunion. They all have something valuable to offer for you family history.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Full Moon Names - A Fun Topic

Every morning I watch the news and weather, especially the weather. Weather has always intrigued me. As soon as I hear a storm coming I'm the first one out the door looking up at the clouds. One thing that peaks my interest from my local weather forecaster is that he informs us each month on the old names of the Full Moon. I've heard a few of these names before and I'm sure most of you have heard of the Harvest Moon. This morning he said the August Full Moon was called the Sturgeon Moon. My curiosity finally got the best of me this morning, so I decided to "Google-it." A Google search turned up none the less, "The Farmer's Almanac," an old time favorite of our farmers and any countyfolk here in the Midwest. I copied their first paragraph here:

"Full Moon Names and Their Meanings
Full Moon names date back to Native Americans, of what is now the northern and eastern United States. The tribes kept track of the seasons by giving distinctive names to each recurring full moon. Their names were applied to the entire month in which each occurred. There was some variation in the Moon names, but in general, the same ones were current throughout the Algonquin tribes from New England to Lake Superior. European settlers followed that custom and created some of their own names. Since the lunar month is only 29 days long on the average, the full Moon dates shift from year to year. Here is the Farmers Almanac’s list of the full Moon names."

And a description of this month's full moon is here.
The August Sturgeon Full Moon: The fishing tribes are given credit for the naming of this Moon, since sturgeon, a large fish of the Great Lakes and other major bodies of water, were most readily caught during this month. A few tribes knew it as the Full Red Moon because, as the Moon rises, it appears reddish through any sultry haze. It was also called the Green Corn Moon or Grain Moon. names

Monday, August 08, 2011

A Family Displaced

The Conner family were early pioneers in Russell and Clinton County, Kentucky. My grandfather, Alonzo Conner and his wife, Millie Ann Guffey-Conner were born and raised in this part of the country where Lake Cumberland is now located. Alonzo came from a long line of property owners here where his great-grandfather, Lawrence Conner, received a land grant for 200 acres. It was in the fertile river valley of the Cumberland River on Indian Creek tributary. The land was handed down from Lawrence to his son, Cornelius Maguire Conner to his son, William Lawrence Conner and finally to Alonzo and siblings.

Alonzo Conner was born March 13, 1885 and wife, Millie Guffey, was born November 1, 1890. They were married November 6, 1907 and had eight children. They began their life along the river in the rich bottom lands farming and raising their family. Their youngest daughter, Mary Anna Grider Conner, was my mother and this is where she was born and raised. By the time all the children were of age and left home Alonzo received a letter in the mail, one that he had been dreading. He had heard that this big government project was coming, but was hoping they wouldn't decide to do it on his ancestral home. The letter read:

War Department, Wolf Creek Dam & Reservoir, December 12, 1947.
Dear Sir: It has been determined that your property located in the 2nd Magisterial district, Russell County will be acquired for the Wolf Creek Dam & Reservoir. It will be acquired prior to 30 April 1948 and negotiations toward purchase will be initiated in the very near future.

By the time all was said and done Alonzo received $850 for 30 acres and a house, and had to be out within four months. If he wanted to keep his home he only had a very short time to tear it down and/or move it somehow to another location. Fortunately his family had more land in which to move to. Some were less fortunate. With time being too short it was decided to build a new home elsewhere. All the memories, the old homeplace, and the beautiful river valley would soon be lost forever.

It's quite sad when I think about it, I will never be able to see where my mother grew up. Their old homeplace along with all the others in this community that were left behind were numbered by the government and put on a list. They were torn down and the land was cleared of all the farm fields, woods, and any traces of the community were erased. Fortunately the Conner's have handed down a lot of family photos which is all that is left of their heritage there. Each year the Conner's hold a family reunion on Labor Day weekend in Albany, Kentucky. There is also one held the following weekend for all the residents who formerly lived there, the Indian Creek Reunion, which is held at the park below the Wolf Creek Dam. Many families lost their ancestral homes as well, some being the Stearns, Griders, McWhorters, Tallents, Cooks, and Agees. The burials in the cemeteries in the valley were relocated to higher ground and many you will find now in the Government Cemetery, or sometimes the Hickory Ridge Cemetery. Whenever I drive across the Wolf Creek Dam I look down on the river side and try to see what little is left of the river valley they lived along. Possibly I'll get a glimpse of some memory that was left behind.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Kinnick Connections

Since I started blogging I've been able to find out more on my Kinnick line. My 4th great grandparents were George and Hannah (Grimes) Kinnick of North Carolina and Indiana. Their daughter, Nancy Kinnick, married Joseph Allen in Davie County, NC. Unfortunately I haven't been able to find a marriage record for them yet. Joseph and Nancy followed her brother, Jabez Kinnick, to Indiana in the 1850s. They settled in Johnson County, Indiana in Clark township and are buried at the Rocklane Cemetery. I made a trip there yesterday and took photos of the two cemeteries that all the Kinnicks are buried in including Nancy's parents, George and Hannah in the Nolin Cemetery.

Last year I met a new cousin who starting attending our Genealogy meetings and she let me borrow her book, "The Kinnick Family" by Nettie Edna Kinnick Waggener. She never would take the book back and told me to keep it. This fine old lady, Charlotte Wyatt, passed away recently and I'm very grateful to her for the gift.

Now, I started searching through the blogs, my new obsession, and found others researching the Kinnicks. This was my mystery family. In the book my line supposedly ends with the death of my 2nd greatgrandmother, Nancy Catherine Allen, Joseph and Nancy (Kinnick) Allen's daughter. But my line did not end - one daughter did survive, my greatgrandmother, Stella Pearl Allen. The mystery is this, there is no known father for Pearl or any marriage record for Catherine. Catherine married a Frank Samuels but that was several years after Pearl's birth. The book reports her as a deceased child. Pearl never talked about her parents, I don't think she knew who her father was. Her obituary said her parents were Charles and Catherine Allen. But there were no Charles Allens living in this area. I think Pearl made this up because she might have thought being a child born out of wedlock was shameful. The only record I could get on Pearl that she had to fill out herself and might tell who her parents were was her Social Security card application. On the application Pearl listed her mother as Nancy Katherine unknown and father as unknown. Ordering this document was well worth the price and the wait. I think Pearl knew she had to tell the truth on a government document. The truth was 'she didn't know'. None of my family knew either. Pearl S. Allen was born Apr. 25, 1879 and died Apr. 19, 1978. Pearl married William Ambro Brown and lived in Brown County, Indiana the rest of her life.
P.S. There's no marriage record for Pearl and William Brown either!(Do I see a clue here as well?)

Now my next task is to track down Hannah (Grimes) Kinnicks' parents.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Dreaming Genealogy

If you have been doing genealogy long enough it inevitably comes - the Dream about doing genealogy. Some of mine are rather pleasant, I'm driving through the mountains toward a little town and down below is a beautiful lake or river. I get out and start wandering through the town when I find a small little storefront genealogy society. I go inside and it is just full of all the documents I've ever tried to find. In fact this has happened to me to some degree. I've been through beautiful country in Tennessee, West Virginia, and Kentucky. This is my favorite part of the research trip. I love to visit new places that are off the beaten path. Of course the goal is to find that one piece of paper that proves an ancestor, but don't discount the whole experience.

Take some time to take photos or drive through the countryside. Cemetery hunting is the best way to see where your ancestors lived. I take in everything and take photos of everything, even the little hole-in-the-wall library or the country store I stopped at for directions. It gives me a record of the places I visited in case I want to go back. My first research trip on my own I visited the little town of Williamsburg in Whitley county, Kentucky and then traveled across the state line into Tennessee to Campbell county. What beautiful country! I imagined what it was like for my greatgrandmother, Mary Emily Reeves, to have been born and raised here in the 1840s. I drove around one whole day just looking for where her father, George, was buried to no avail. But when I go back I'll know where to look next. I know he's there somewhere. That trip created an unforgetable memory. I did find that little hole-in-the-wall genealogy society that had a large collection. I spent a whole day there and made loads of copies. I visited the aged courthouse and wondered if my family had ever walked its halls. I also found that beautiful lake just outside of town - in La Follette, TN - where I just had to stop and stare. I use the photo now as my screensaver.

A message for those that just do their genealogy on the internet you're missing something very important just sitting in front of that computer. Take the time and plan that research trip no matter if it's just for a day. I've just spent a day driving to southern Indiana and relish it every time. Take the time and really enjoy the fun part of genealogy. Stop and smell the wildflowers along the way.

See the photo of my Dream Lake at the bottom of this blog page.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Miscellaneous Books at the Recorder's Office

I made a discovery today! It wasn't concerning my own genealogy but something none the less that made me want to shout. Two years ago I discovered the Miscellaneous books at our local Brown County Recorder's Office. I had looked at them only quickly enough to check on someone elses' sources. At the time I was researching the topic "Horse Thief Detectives in Brown County." It was published in the March 2011 edition of Indiana Genealogist of the IGS quarterly. I had used the Miscellaneous Books then to get names of those involved in the creation of the organizations. I had also checked them when I was helping to compile a Church History for one of local churches that had burnt, the Grandview Apostolic Church. Little was known about the early people that had established this church and I thought I could at least get the names of the Trustees.

I started on another research topic this month, the Fox Hunts that occurred in Southern Indiana and namely the one that occurred here in Brown County in 1925. We recently had a large panoramic photo donated to our Archives of the Fox Hunt that occurred here in 1925. I was hoping to find evidence of local Fox Hunting Clubs that might have been organized during that time. I couldn't find anything easily in the index under Brown County Fox Hunters so I decided to take the time to look through the whole index to see if maybe there was a listing under any other names.

As I started in the A's I noticed the types of filings that were listed in the index. There were Elections of Trustees for churches and other organizations, Appointments of County positions, Articles of Association by cemetery associations. All this great stuff is in the Miscellaneous Books. Then I started noticing other things that I hadn't seen before such as: Guardianships, Estates, Last Will and Testaments, Survivorship Affidavits, Affidavit Stating Heirs and even Divorces. I starting taking notes to see if any these had been recorded anywhere else. I double checked my list with the Will Books and Probate Books that had been compiled years ago and are at our local library. Of my list of 17 entries in Miscellaneous Book 5 for 1924-1932 about half of these I couldn't find anywhere else. This will be an ongoing investigation to check even more sources to see I have overlooked something. But, I surmise that some of these entries refer to events that might not have occurred in our county but needed to be recorded here for legal purposes.

But what a find! Consider this as an alternate source in case you can't find a record elsewhere. Or maybe as a record "to add to" your primary source documents. Whatever your need is please be sure to check on these little known sources that are hiding in plain site.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Death Records in Indiana

Looking for a death record in Indiana can sometimes be a bit daunting and other times like cutting butter with a hot knife. It all depends on the county you are looking in. First of all, Indiana only started recording deaths as well as births and full marriage information in 1882. So most dates can be found after this year. In the 1930s the WPA was established and one of their better projects was to index Birth, Death, and Marriage Records. Not all counties were indexed by the time the WPA was terminated though. I'll share some of my experiences in several counties.

Let's start in Hamilton county, as usual there's always one book of death records at the local County Health Dept. that always came up missing some years ago and Hamilton county is one of those places, as well as Brown county. What's nice is that when the WPA indexed the death records at least most of these lost books got in the index before they came up missing. Unfortunately Brown County didn't get that lucky, we have no alternate resource for this missing book. Hamilton county is one of those counties though that are very protective of their death records. You have to jump through hoops to get the information. But by the time I had visited their office for the tenth time they had gotten to know me and even let me go in the backroom to look at the books myself. Now Brown county is just the opposite, when you walk in their office they have a card file for visitors to look through which has all the death information on them. Then if you want a copy of a death certificate you can pay for one. The only problem is they won't put the family information on the certificate. You have to photocopy the index card for that. Bartholomew county also has the index card system that visitors can look through. Monroe county is more like Hamilton county, they are very protective of their records and you have to give them your life's history to get a death record. Literally you have to fill a long form for every death record you want a copy of. The only good thing is they don't charge a fee if it is for genealogical purposes. Johnson county is more lenient about visitors viewing their death records if you let them know it is for genealogy. They will give you the book and set you at a table and you can copy off the information yourself. Morgan county is more like Monroe county, they are protective of their records but not overly so. Jefferson county is more like Johnson county, they will let you look through the books yourself if you tell them it is for genealogy.

The last place that I have had problems with is Marion county. I feel like if any of my ancestors died in Indianapolis or thereabouts they fell into a black hole. But there are two resources there that are a little different. The county health dept. is a lot more visitor friendly. They have a special day set aside for genealogical requests. You'll have to check their website for more information. The most daunting was the Indiana State Health Dept. It was just like working with any big corporation, they don't seem to have time for you. I've heard from other researchers about this one too, not just my own experience. They can't seem to find death records in their own files and they ask you to go the the State Library first to find the death record in the index that you are looking for. I hope someday they will become more genealogist friendly.

As for other counties in Indiana you will have to contact them and sort of feel them out before you visit to know what kind of experience to expect. If writing for a death record always give plenty of information about yourself and your ancestors. Send a SASE too so they don't have to mess with that part. Always be courteous and thank them. As the old saying goes, you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Finding Greatgrandmother Ferguson

Have you ever gotten a document that you thought would help but only helped to confuse you further? That was the way it happened when I was trying to find the origins of my greatgrandmother Rose Etta Ferguson. Actually I found two of them equally bewildering, but ultimately I was able to use them with a little detective work. The first piece of documentation I sought was her death record. Her son, my grandfather, George A. Dunn, gave the information on the death record. According to his info she was born in 1865 in Madison, Jefferson County, Indiana. That part was true - at least that was what was in the family stories. Also her father was listed as Dave Ferguson but no mother was listed. From there I went to get her obituary but found that didn't help much only giving names of children and the approximate time she had moved to Johnson county. I made an attempt to look her up in the census. I did find a Dave Ferguson in Jefferson county in 1880 but with no daughters by that name. I felt that it was the right family or some sort of family to Rose Etta but I needed more. Next I decided to get her marriage record to my greatgrandfather, George M. Dunn. They being married sometime after 1882 in Indiana I had a good chance of finding a complete marriage application with more family data reported on it. What came next was amazing but it helped me to finally find her. On their marriage record her name was listed in 2 ways. At the top it read George M. Dunn to Lusetta Ferguson, married Feb. 15, 1892. At the bottom where both signed she had written Rosetta Ferguson. If this little piece of information hadn't been on there I never would have found her and what's more amazing is that whoever chose to index these marriages had enough common sense to include both names. Thank you, whoever did that, you saved my life!!!! The next piece of information that was puzzling was her father's name was listed as John B. Ferguson and mother as Lydia Lovell. So now I had to decide, who did I trust to report the correct information? My grandpa who said his name was Dave or Rosetta herself who said her father's name was John - did she give the info or did her husband? I never would have doubted my grandfather before until now. So I took all this information and combined it to help me look for Rose Etta Ferguson in Jefferson county. There she was in the 1880 census living with her father, John B. Ferguson and mother, Lydia Ann, under the name Lusetta at about the right age. The next piece of information that helped tie it all together was this Dave Ferguson I had found earlier turned out to be John's brother and was living nearby. It's curious how names can be changed around but still have a ring of truth to it. There's one question I have never found the answer to - why did Rose Etta change her name from Lusetta? No one in my family ever seemed to know about her other name. All it took was some odd pieces of information and with some good hard detective work the true facts came to the surface.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Genealogy as your Hobby

Have you ever read historical accounts of the times your ancestors were living? I think most genealogists wonder at one time or another what their life must have been like. Genealogy is much more than putting dates and faces to a name on your family tree. But the truth is, genealogy is a hobby that you can fashion to your own requirements. You can strictly keep it to dates and places or you can fashion it into a full-blown family history. The choice is up to you. But I think the first time you take a look at one of those 100+ year old documents you will be smitten. Recently we had a visitor at the Brown Co. Archives. She had driven down from Michigan to find proof of a relationship link of her John Kirts to a James Kirts. That would help provide proof of a link to a Revolutionary War soldier, Conrad Kirts. She wanted to get in the DAR. Sometimes I frown at these research requests and think she's missing the fun part. So we helped her gather as much linking evidence as possible, but still couldn't find the best proof possible. We did prove that land passed from James to John Kirts, but with no details to spell out their relationship. I'm not sure what kind of evidence that the DAR needs, but hope she got enough to make her case. As she was leaving our conversation turned to the DAR, where she gave me this last bit of information, "If I can prove this link to Conrad Kirts then he'll be my 8th entry into the DAR." My jaw dropped. I guess she did find her way of having fun with genealogy.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Educating Myself in Genealogy

I started attending our local historical society in Brown County, Indiana because they would occasionally have interesting programs posted in the newspaper. From that I learned that they had an Archives that was staffed by volunteers. Over the years they had had many good volunteers that had started this Archives and had published some material that was to found here. But I knew there was a lot of good genealogical information that was still unpublished in this county. I decided to pop in one day and offer to volunteer to transcribe whatever they needed. I started on the Tax Lists, something I knew was a very under-utilized source in many counties. Working there I gained many good friends and discovered many good sources that were buried there. The current volunteers at the time knew little about genealogy and didn't know what a great resource they had for genealogists. I then volunteered to do the look-ups that they really didn't seem to like doing. From all this work I was doing I was actually learning myself. I was teaching myself to be a better researcher. I have learned to read old handwriting, learned to dig deeper, learned to use unusual sources, and learned so much more about the history of this county. I have come across so many interesting stories of Brown county's people and history. From all these stories I have now launched upon a new path. I am going to start writing a monthly e-newsletter from these stories that I have found. I have been writing the quarterly newsletter for our Brown County Genealogical Society for about 5 years now but that was mostly data with a few short stories thrown in. This new venture will be a good exercise to try to tie together history and genealogy. That's the way a good genealogy should be written, not just dates and places. Our ancestors were more than just names, dates, and faces. They lived at a certain time of our country with neighbors, circumstances, and environment that affected their daily lives. It behooves genealogists to better themselves. The circumstances of history affected our ancestors. If you should decided to write a family history it should encompass all these things. It will help you to understand what your ancestors' lives were like. Genealogy and history should go hand in hand.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

I'm from Where?

I used to say my family hails from Johnson County, Indiana. But after getting into genealogy 10 years ago, that question is a little harder to answer. The last 10 years in Indiana I've done research in Johnson, Brown, Hamilton, Jefferson, Bartholomew, Decatur, Jennings, Boone, Morgan, not to mention a few others I can't remember. My father's side is from all these areas in Indiana. On my mother's side we start with these counties in Kentucky: Clinton, Wayne, Pulaski, and Russell counties. Then there are the areas of Kentucky that my father's side goes back to in the very early pioneer days: Shelby, Floyd, Whitley, and Wayne counties. I sometimes wonder if my father's Lovealls knew my mother's Guffeys in Wayne county back in the 1820s. That would be amazing wouldn't it? That area's population was a lot smaller back then and maybe they would stop by the closest trading post or general store. You know how the old men do - sit around the woodstove and swap stories or share the goings-on in their part of the county. When I was growing up I would spend summers in Kentucky at my grandparents', the Conners. My pappy Conner would do just that. He would walk or ride the mule to Rosie Conner's store where there was a big woodstove sitting in the middle of the room with chairs all around it. I can imagine all the tall tales that went on there. I still have a photo of that store and the big woodstove somewhere,I must try to locate it. I'm sure that tradition hasn't changed in centuries at least in Kentucky, the meetings at the local gathering place. Even here in Brown County this tradition still goes on at our local country store. I've even sit in and listened to some of their stories. What fun! You can learn a lot.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

A Restless Family

Growing up in the Dunn and Conner families was quite contradictory. My Dunns were the restless ones, coming from Virginia to North Carolina and finally to Indiana. On other side were the Conners who had settled in one county in Kentucky and had stayed there for many generations. I guess that's why my roots are divided and long. Not to say long in duration just long in distance. When I was growing up in Indiana we were constantly on the move not necessarily a long distance but all around Indiana and back to Kentucky a few times. My father went where there was work and he took us with him. The same was true of his parents, they were what is called truck farmers. They would work for and live with big farmers for a season and work on their farm. Sometimes they would sell any excess produce they had for extra money. I can't remember my Dunn grandparents ever owning a home of their own. I guess my father had inherited that restless spirit - always on the move for a better life as did his ancestors. I can barely remember some things but I know it happened from the photos that were left to me and the stories that were passed down. Dad worked doing construction for many years helping to build some of the major interstates in Indiana. I remember living in Thorntown, Indiana in a tiny trailer that we stayed in while he worked on the roads. Then there was the time we went back to my mother's home in Clinton county, Kentucky. Dad and mom both helped grandpa Conner work logging trees with horse power while grandma Conner took care of me. I have fond memories of her. We still had that tiny trailer we lived in and it was parked just across the dirt road from the Conner home. After that we came back to Indiana where dad found more work and we finally bought our first house. He must have gotten a pretty good job by then. We were finally able to settle down, dad must have found what he was looking for. He was able to have his small vetable garden and raise a few pigs. Mom got to have her chickens and a flower garden. I guess we had found our American dream. I thank the Dunns for their need to find a better life. I also thank the Conners for showing dad what a home was like.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Who was Lewis Taylor Guffey?

Remembering my mother's wish for me to find out about my family, my very first research subject was her elusive grandfather and my great-grandfather, Lewis Taylor Guffey of Kentucky. Of course, I had to start with a brickwall at least it seemed to me, a beginner! Where do I start? I know we had drove all around Clinton County, Kentucky looking for his burial place when I was younger to no avail. All I had was a name, his wife's name - Ottie, and 3 of the children's names that I had grown up with - my grandmother Millie, her sister Louetta, and a brother, Lewis Jr. I had heard of census records as being one of the most important genealogical tools in finding a family so I decided to look for the family. I picked the year that I knew grandma Millie was born - 1890 - and looked at the census year following her birth. The Federal census was taken in 10 year increments so I first picked the 1900 census to look at. I also looked at the 1910, 1920, and 1930. On each of these I was able to find names of other children as well as where they were living at each census year. From that I could possibly find where they were buried. In the 1900 and 1910 census Lewis and Ottie Guffey were living in Clinton County with 7 children, 4 more than I had known about. In the 1920 census Ottie Guffey was found living alone and Lewis was nowhere to be found. I surmised he had died in the years between. By the 1930 census Ottie had disappeared. From this information I found that I could possibly find a death record as this part of Kentucky had started recording Death Records in 1911. I had found Lewis Taylor Guffey's death record! But none for Ottie? Lewis' death record was a little mysterious. It read a place of burial - river grave. What did that mean? Did he drown and his body lost? Was he buried near a river? That mystery will remain a mystery I guess for now, but at least I knew why we could never find a grave for him. But from this search I learned a lot about the whole family. Unfortunately Ottie's burial is a mystery also, could they both have been buried at a small family plot near a river that has been lost to time? That's what I choose to believe. After all your genealogy quest is a personal one.