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