Sunday, December 23, 2012

Lucretia J. Smith - Someone's Daughter?

Once in a while in your genealogical research you may come across one of those families that seemed to have moved around a lot, at least it seemed so in the census years. You need to keep in mind though that the census was taken every ten years and a lot can happen in that ten year stretch in between times. Such was my problem trying to find the parents of this little girl, Lucretia J. Smith. I had recently took a day and photographed all the tombstones in one of our small older cemeteries in Brown County, namely the Southview Cemetery. (See the Southview Cemetery facebook page: Every once in a while when I go on one of my pet projects I come across one person that intrigues me, such was the case with Lucretia. I just had to find out who she was and who she belonged to.

Her stone was barely legible, but you could read her name and part of a death date - possibly 1860s. Also it seemed to read "Daughter of L. & H. V. Smith." She appeared to be buried in a family plot with a Lucas family. Two other Smiths were buried nearby, one a Thomas J. Smith and a Leander Smith. Thomas' stone read "Son of Margaret Smith, Died Feb. 22, 1866, Aged 5 years, 4 months, & 18 days. The other one was a Civil War stone for a Leander Smith with no dates on it. It read "Co. K, 145th Indiana Infantry." Now this could possibly be the beginnings of a family for Lucretia. Her stone had named an L. Smith as a father, but the mother was named H. V. Smith. So the search was on for other documentation.

First, a search for a marriage record for Leander Smith was necessary. One was found for him and a Margaret which resulted in bewilderment. Leander Smith married Margaret Lucas on May 3, 1867 - after her son (?) Thomas J. died in 1866. In the 1870 census Leander Smith is found living alone in the next household by Harrison Lucas who has a daughter named Margaret age 32. There is no sign of them living together or any young children as a result of their marriage in the Smith name, more questions arise. Then there's the question what happened to Lucretia's mother, this mysterious H. V. Smith? There was no sign of Margaret or an H. V. Smith buried in this cemetery. Why had Margaret named her dead child, Thomas J. Smith? Why can't I find Leander in earlier census records with another wife and a daughter named Lucretia?

On a whim I decided to look at Divorce Records for Brown County. There I found more pieces to the puzzle. "Leander Smith vs. Harriet V. Smith - filed Dec. 3, 1864. Married Dec. 5, 1857, Harden Co., Iowa. In July of 1862 they moved to Hamilton Co., Indiana where they lived until May of 1863 when Harriet 'eloped' with John J. Robison; they now live in Iowa. Depositions are to be taken from Edward Anderson, Stanton Teeters, and John Smith of Noblesville, Hamilton Co. . . Leander to have custody of their daughter, Lucretia J. Smith, age 5 in 1865 and Harriet to have custody of their daughter, Sarah E. Smith, age 3 in 1864."

That answered most of my questions, except one. Why did Margaret Lucas bury her son, Thomas J. under the name of Smith? Possibly, she couldn't afford a tombstone for him until much later. Maybe her new husband did this for her and she was grateful to him; she wanted to give her son his name. One can only wonder about her reasoning. It seems in the later census records Leander and Margaret lived together as man and wife, but had no other children. Leander died in 1895 and Margaret filed for his Civil War pension. So far no more has been found on Margaret or her final resting place.

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Draper Manuscripts - Booth Research

Still looking for scraps of information for my illusive ancestors I have been collecting historical accounts that might mention any of them. Even if it is just an historical account of their home county or city, etc. This time I got interested in something that some of my older collegues kept mentioning, but I thought it was out of my reach. So I started digging to see if I could find how I could get a hold of these famous Draper Manuscripts. From all the research I did they said I should first get a copy of the Guide to the Draper Manuscripts. So I finally ordered a copy for our local Society to be put in our local library. You can get a copy from the Wisconsin Historical Society Online Store at

I finally got my copy last week and am anxious to go through it. I first decided to make a list of all my ancestors that I want to look up in the index. I also want to look for those persons related along the side lines such as son-in-laws, some of the neighbors that I found listed elsewhere, etc. So I got a little excited at first and started browsing through the guide. There is a lot more to this guide than just an index. The first section describes what each set of manuscripts covers. I was able to pick out a name (some of the more common names such as John Smith) and compare it with what the description of the particular manuscript is about. That way I was able to narrow down which area of the country that was closest to my ancestor.

I did get one definite hit so far. There was a listing in the index for a James Booth, hopefully mine, that had written a letter about an Indian attack in Wheeling, WV. One of these letters is by James Booth concerning an attacks in 1777-78 on the Charles Grigsby family. My James Booth was known to be in that area about that time. In fact, I had previously found an historical account of how Captain James Booth had been killed in an Indian attack in 1778 in Harrison County, WV. Even if this is just a one page letter written by my James Booth, it would be one of the most valuable items I could acquire.

Captain James Booth left a family with children. I am a descendent of his son, John Booth. His son, John, was also involved in military service during the Revolution. John Booth eventually moved to Indiana which is where my family is from. I'm getting excited about this, but I need to slow down and finish that list. I need to try to cover all my ancestors. Who knows what else I might find.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

A Sense of Community - Sunday Adventures with Dad

Me and Dad, 1955

Remember when you were little, every time dad (or mom) had to run an errand “Daddy can I go too?” My dad and I were inseparable when I was little. Today all these memories came rushing back at me. Sundays are my hanging out day with my longtime boyfriend. His usual routine is that he has to go somewhere to get a cup of coffee - the local countrystore or the local gas station, so I just usually tag along. Sometimes we run errands, like today, we had to go get a new battery for the John Deere before bad winter weather hits. On the way back he had to stop and talk to a guy that has an old truck for sale. While I was standing there in the sunshine watching them, this wave of memories came flooding back about the days I used to go with dad everywhere. Mom took endless photos of dad and me doing things together. I was too young to remember most of it, but the photos keep that memory for me.

Then this brought to mind another thought, is this the sort of thing that my ancestors did. So many community connections were made and good relationship formed. Did my grandfather do the same thing, did my great grandfather? Standing there in the sun watching them I thought, what if great grandpa had to go down the road and visit a neighbor, maybe he had a part for his wagon or maybe this neighbor knew how to make one for him. I know living in the country now I seldom go into town unless I need groceries for the week. If we need a loaf of bread I just jump in the car and go to the local country store. What if great grandma was out of something for her pie, maybe she just sent one of the kids on horseback to the local country store to get some sugar or maybe they walked across the field to the neighbors to borrow some. Each one of these visits to neighbors or local businesses helped to form relationships in their small community.

Maybe a certain person in the community did blacksmith work so the word was passed around the community. Maybe the old widow down the road sold eggs for extra income or maybe she did mending. The word was spread around to all the women in the community. Neighbors helped neighbors so this fostered a sense of community. Sometimes a day long trip had to be made into town or to see a particularly important person to the family in some other town. That sense of community was spread a little farther. Maybe the man at the barbershop would ask, “How are things out your way?” Then the news from the far reaches of the county would be conveyed to other folk in other parts. Maybe in turn we would learn of a new technique to plow a field or learn about the new doctor in town.

Communication was by word of mouth, our ancestors had no televisions or internet. People were the center of their lives, not things. All these interactions and relationships formed a sense of community. We need to remember that our ancestors might have formed many, many interrelationships with their neighbors – close and far. Every time I visit a neighbor I think of the relationships we will form, can they help me out sometime, can I help them sometime. Will these relationships last a lifetime? Will they influence my life somehow, I'm sure they did our ancestors. I think of how so many of my ancestors would move out west only after someone would come back home and tell them of the new and better land they would find. These had a profound effect on their lives too. We need to get back to the values of our ancestors; we need to go back to a people-centered community.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Journal Kept on the River Ohio 1774 - Thomas Hanson's Account

I found this little book among some others that I acquired from another Historical Society who was getting rid of some of their collection. I sat down and read it in a couple of days and it was very interesting. It is a diary of a Kentucky explorer/surveyor about a summer spent traveling down the Ohio River and in through Kentucky surveying out parcels of land to be settled by pioneers and military veterans. The diary was so small I was able to index names of individuals named in it. These individuals were men who were in the surveying party, or who would receive the land surveys, or those they met along the trip. As I read it many questions arose in my mind about my ancestors in this part of the wilderness. Read my previous post on this topic. Following I transcribed a few of the more interesting passages in the diary. The entries start April 7, 1774 and end August 9, 1774.

April 7: We left Col. Wm. Preston’s in Fincastle County at one o’clock in high spirits, escorted by him three miles; eight of us being in company, viz: Mr. John Floyd, assistant surveyor, Mr. [James] Douglas, Do. Mr. Hite, Mr. Dandridge, Thos. Hanson, James Nocks [Knox], Roderick McCra, & Mordecai Batson. We traveled fifteen miles to John McGuffin’s at Sinking Creek.

May 13: Mr. Douglass made a survey of 2000 acres on the upper side of the Creek [near Big Bone Lick] for William Christian, good land. At Mr. Douglas’s return we embarked & floated down the River to Kentucky, 47 miles & by daybreak landed. In our passage we came to an Indian Camp, landed & found two Delawares & a Squaw, we gave them some corn & salt.

July 6: Mr. Floyd, Nash, McCra, and Hanson left the rest of the company with an agreement to meet at Mr. Harrod’s cabin [Colonel Harrod of Harrodsburg fame] 20 miles off, higher on the Kentucky.

Present day Otter Creek - Wayne County, Kentucky

Names mentioned in the diary: Mr. Allen, Mr. Arbuckle, Mordecai Batson, Mr. Blackburn (of Rye Cove), Mr. Boyer, Matthew Bracken, Col. Bullitt, Robert Carlile, William Christian, George Rogers Clark, George Clendennin, Dr. Connelly, James Cowan, Mr. Croghan (Croghan's Fort), Mr. Dandridge, Lawrence Darnell, Dickerson (indian) Col. Donaldson, James Douglas, Lord Dunmore, Ephraim Fields, Maj. John Fields, John Floyd (surveyor) Mr. Glen, James Hamilton, James Hanson, John Hanson, Thomas Hanson, Mr. Hardy, Capt. Harrod, Patrick Henry, William Henry, Mr. Hite, Mr. Hogg (of Pokatalico River), Mr. Holloway, Mrs. Ingles, Walter Kelly (of New River), James Knox (or Nocks), Hancock Lee, Col. Andrew Lewis, Gen. Benjamin Logan, John May, Mr. McCorkle, Roderick McCra, Mr. McCulloch, John McGuffin (of Sinking Creek), Dr. Hugh Mercer, Mr. Nash, Col. William Preston (of Fincastle County), Hancock Taylor (asst. surveyor), Michael Tygert, Mr. Waggoner, Mr. Ware, and Colonel Washington.

Monday, October 15, 2012

A Personal Connection to Your Ancestor

Every time I find a little book on local history or an historical diary my curiosity gets the best of me. I've done my bit on gathering names, dates, and places in search for my genealogical origins, but there is so much you can do at any one time without traveling to the out of the way places. So when I find one of these historical accounts I want to jump back in time and ask, which of my ancestors could have lived here while this was going on?

Our neighboring county, Monroe County, Indiana called me a few months ago and informed me they were downsizing some of their collection. So I made a visit to their History/Genealogy library to see what they had. I was determined to find some good items and bring them back to share and hopefully place in our local library for visiting genealogists to use. I wanted our local Genealogy Society to have use of them for a short while before they went to the library for a permanent home. Much of it was historical accounts/genealogy records from other states that covered local items such as church records, marriage records, etc.

My latest find was a short little booklet of a diary of a Surveyor traveling down the Ohio River in 1774 by Thomas Hanson. This brought to mind several of my ancestors. My Conners were surveyors when they moved into Kentucky territory. Traveling down the river is how many of our ancestors traveled especially when the forests in the wilderness was so dense that daylight hardly made it to the ground. I had even previously found an account written by a neighbor of my Booths that described the lower part of Indiana just this way. I just knew my John Booth had seen the same sight! For a short minute I found a way to make a personal connection to him.

My Samuel Stalnaker is mentioned in another historical account as having inhabited wilderness areas in southern Virginia. The accounts are made by travelers in the wilderness that came upon Stalnaker's cabin. It is a short mention of him, but at least it is a glimpse into his life. I guess what I'm seeking is to somehow make a connection to my ancestors that lived so long ago. After all their blood runs through my veins. I want that personal connection more so than just a cold DNA relationship.

Friday, October 05, 2012

Which Haithcock is Charlotte's Father?

1790 Chatham County, N. Carolina Census

I had made a short-lived attempt the last time that I started doing research on Charlotte's family. Truthfully, I was a bit more inexperienced. I'm going to delve into this again with a little more determination this time. Charlotte Haithcock/Hathcock/Heathcock is my 4th great grandmother. She married Charles Riggins somewhere in North Carolina. From my last post I related my quest on the internet to see what I could find. According to the posts that have been copied over and over again her father was a Scout for General Francis Marion in the Revolutionary War.

Chatham County seems to be place this family occupied for the longest time. According to the census there are four men living there in 1790 about the time she was married that could be her father - James, Hosiah, William, and John Haithcock. Gathering the information from the census record only three of these men have females in the family. This in itself is not a deciding factor to drop one of these men, but I'll make a note of it for now. I may have to make a decision later on the preponderence of evidence in one man's favor. From family trees that have been posted there is a possibility that there could be two more that may have lived here for a short time - Isaac and Charles Haithcock. The consensus seems to be they are all brothers or some other sort of kin. I'll go along with that since it is such an unusual name and all living in this same county.

Then the next problem is how does one sort out which one could be her father? Going on the assumption that he may have been a scout in the war then the next step would be to look for military records for all of these men. From my first attempt to find her father I had already gone through the ususal records such as Wills, Probate, Marriage Records, Deeds, Tax Lists, etc. This new more determined quest will be to survey what other types of records are available and how this could help to prove which man is her father. Also I will start a timeline and try to fill in the blank years with whatever records I can find. Hopefully I've gained a little more knowledge and experience this time around.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Looking for Scraps for my Mysterious Haithcock

When you've hit a brickwall with one of your ancestors what do you do? You grab at any little clue that might give you a lead to continue on. I have several of my lines that come from North and South Carolina that go back to the Revolutionary War era. One of those that have intrigued me most is my Haithcock line. There is a lot of information on the web about the Haithcock surname and its origins. That's good, but I still need to find that one man that links from my line to the Haithcock line that has been researched.

I've traced my line back to the north central portion of NC touching on the counties of Wilkes, Guilford, Randolph, and Chatham. My line goes back to when Charles Washington Riggins married Charlotte Haithcock in the 1790s. I've found countless posts on this marriage and this family, but very little on Charlotte's origins. A most mysterious post that has been shared by many researchers on the web makes one statement. Charlotte Haithcock's father was a scout for General Francis Marion during the Revolutionary War. I don't know where this statement originated from and how many times it has been circulated. I do know that one of those statements as gone as far as naming her father as "Scott" Haithcock, obviously twisting the word "scout" into the name Scott. I've contacted countless of these people asking for documentation or a clue as to where they got their information.

Not fully trusting any of these posts I have got to do my own research. Dutifully searching the web I found a list of General Francis Marion's regiment - pay roster - with no mention of a Haithcock. How do I know how complete this list is, and as a scout maybe he was not paid as a regular soldier. I've rented microfilm for all these counties and searched all kinds of records. So now I've taken to picking up any historical account I can find and reading it.

King's Mountain National Military Park

So I found this little pamphlet entitled, "Kings Mountain" put out in 1955 by the Kings Mountain National Military Park. I was willing to dig for any kind of information I could find that might tell something about that area of the country during the Revolutionary War. It was a very interesting read. It is so hard to find any historical account of what went on during this war other than a compiled history in a few paragraphs in a history book. I want details. Was General Francis Marion involved in this battle? Who were these men that fought this war in North and South Carolina? Could I find a clue about my ancestor - this Haithcock? Every little bit I read leads me onto some other reference. There's got to be a clue somewhere. My next read is to find the book on General Francis Marion by William Gilmore Simms. I've heard this is the best historical account written. If anyone knows of anything else that might educate me better on the history of this area during the War I would appreciate any suggestions.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Owl Creek Boys - James M. Yoder

Taken at a Reunion of the 82nd Indiana Volunteers 1906

James M. Yoder - Taps Sounded for Civil War Veteran
From the fast thinning lines of the once vast host that wore the uniform of blue, James M. Yoder has been mustered out. He goes to join the ranks of those now arrayed in the service of the Great Commander beyond the veil that divides time and eternity.
Mr. Yoder succumbed last Friday at his home on Owl Creek, about two miles west of Nashville. Just three days previous he passed his 88th birthday. He was born in Monroe County, Indiana on April 21, 1843. He moved with his parents to this county when he was two years of age. He had been married twice. His first wife was Catherine Waltman and to them was born one son, Marion Yoder, of Indianapolis. His first wife died April 25, 1872. Later he married Eliza J. Baughman and to this union 12 children were born: Ira, Ida, Cyrus, Myrtle, Maud, Edith, Boone, Roy, Ralph, Dorval, John and Pearl. Nine of the children and their mother survive.

At the outbreak of the Civil War Mr. Yoder enlisted in Company D, 82nd Indiana Volunteers, and served three years, or until the close of the war. He served with credit and was mustered out with the rank of Corporal. In politics Mr. Yoder was an ardent Republican and took an active part in the work of that party. At various times he served as delegate to state conventions. He was a member of the Baptist Church. He took a prominent part in the activities of the G. A. R. On every Memorial Day he was a familiar figure in the services, paying his tribute of remembrance to the comrades who had answered the call.

Funeral services were conducted at the Methodist Church in Helmsburg Sunday afternoon, at 2 o’clock, by Rev. W. C. Chafin. Burial was in the Lanam Cemetery. The burial services were in charge of Jules G. Ord Camp, No. 40, United Spanish War Veterans, of Columbus, under the Command of John E. Taggart. Mr. Yoder became an honorary member of the Ord Camp last November, at which time James Bond, Benjamin F. Sibert, Ambrose Bartley, and William Devers also became honorary members. These four members were present at the funeral. They are all who are left of the Civil War veterans in this county. “Uncle Jim” as he is familiarly known here, expressed the desire to Commander Taggart to be given a military burial. Thus another defender of this great nation has joined the ranks of those who have passed on before.
(Brown County Democrat, April 30, 1931)

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Owl Creek Boys - Ezekiel M. Tomlinson

One of our Owl Creek boys that was mentioned in the newspaper article at the beginning of this series paid tribute to one, Ezekiel Manville Tomlinson, who was a Civil War veteran. He was born on June 30, 1843 in Indiana. His parents were John Tomlinson and Mary Joslin. He was living with his parents in the 1860 census in Washington Township and when he joined the military he was single. He went by Manvil most of the time. He and his family came from the valley just west of Nashville called Owl Creek. When the war broke out he was registered in the Draft of 1863 with information stating he was age 20, a farmer, single, and born in Indiana. It’s not clear how long he served in the war without seeing his Draft card. The Indiana State Archives maintains copies of these on microfilm. From his Civil War Pension card he served in Company K of the 145th Indiana Infantry. Also from his obituary his funeral was conducted by Jackson Woods Post G.A.R of which he was a member.

Manvil Tomlinson's Civil War Pension card

After he came back from the war, Manvil was married to a young lady by the name of Sarah Rebecca Coffland. Some records say she was a Coffman, but there wasn't any Coffmans in this part of Brown County. More than likely she was a sister to the Coffland brothers, George and Samuel, who were from the same neighborhood and who also served in the War of the Rebellion with Manvil. Nevertheless, their marriage record reads, Zekial M. Tomlinson was married to Rebecca Coffland on Sept. 10, 1864. From this union they had two known sons, Hiram Alonzo and Charles C. Tomlinson. Rebecca died sometime around 1882. Manvil applied for guardianship over his two sons in 1883 and the Guardianship records refer to Sarah R. Tomlinson’s Estate.

On Oct. 28, 1882 Manvil married a second time to a Martha Lindsey. From this union he and Martha had five children of which three survived to adulthood: Estella E., James A., and Allen Tomlinson. Manvil died March 26, 1921. Martha is buried next to him and she died in 1925. He and three of his sons, Hiram, Charles, and James are buried at the Greenlawn Cemetery in Nashville. Manvil has a Civil War stone.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Owl Creek Boys - George W. Bowden

An old Owl Creek image

One of the Owl Creek boys that joined up to serve their country in the Civil War was George W. Bowden. He was not a native-American; in fact according to census records, George was born in England. He married a native Brown County girl, Eliza Ann Kelley on November 8, 1861 right before the war. He lived to come back a raise a family, but only for a short time. According to the 1870 and 1880 census he and Eliza had four children, Ruth A., William J., David A., and James J. Bowden.

George died sometime in the mid 1870s, because by 1877 Eliza had remarried to Alexander Wilson. Eliza Ann Wilson filed a Probate in 1888, his widow, as guardian to get the Civil War pension that was due her children. She filed again in 1890 as widow of George Bowden. George has a Civil War monument in Duncan Cemetery, but unfortunately it has no death date. According to Eliza’s obituary of May 11, 1911 it stated “she had been married twice, her first husband being George Bowden, who died 30 years before.” Her surviving children were (with George) Prof. William Bowden of Cambridge, Indiana, and James Bowden of Nashville.

George Bowden was truly a brick wall to research. There is no trace of him before he came to Brown County, no naturalization records can be found there. The only clue that might help a Bowden family researcher is in the 1870 census there is a Frances Bowden living in his family the age of 59, also born England. She could possibly be his mother or an aunt. We would like to hear from any Bowden family historians if they can help us fill in George’s life before Brown County.

George Bowden's Civil War Pension card

George Bowden is on the 1863 Draft Registration List for Brown County. At the time he stated he was 30 years old, a farmer, married, and born in England. He served in the Civil War in Company D of the 25th Indiana Infantry. He was drafted on October 5, 1864 and mustered out on June 4, 1865. At the time he gave his residence as Columbus, Indiana which was more likely that was where he mustered in.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Owl Creek Boys - The Matheny Sons

Francis A. Matheny House (built c. 1858)

Taking a look at the family of John M. Matheny who was mentioned in the previous article from a newspaper clipping one can see a much bigger picture. John’s father, Francis A. Matheny was born in Kentucky in 1804 and he moved his family to Indiana in the early 1830s. Two of his oldest children, John and a daughter, Rachel were born in Kentucky according to census records. Francis and his wife, Eliza A. Matheny had a family of at least nine children. Francis A. Matheny built a large log home on Jackson Branch Ridge Road that is still there today. It has been thought that it might be the largest existing log home in Indiana that is still standing from the 1800s.

Francis A. Matheny - Shipley Cemetery

Just down the road from Francis Matheny’s house and still on the same property is a small cemetery where Francis A. Matheny has his grave marked. He has Masonic Lodge emblem on his gravestone. Sadly nothing has been found for his wife. Francis died in 1861 and according to his Will his wife survived him. Of Eliza A. Matheny little is known about her except from census records she was also born in Kentucky about 1802. Of the known nine children there names in order by age are Rachel C. born 1833, John M. born 1835, Felix G. born 1835 (a twin?), Francis D. born 1838, Nancy J. born 1840, James M. born 1842, Thomas J. born 1844, Andrew R. born 1847, and Salem T. Matheny born abt. 1850. Starting with the two daughters both were married in Brown County. Rachel married John Christy on March 17, 1855. The youngest daughter, Nancy J. Matheny married Frank A. Cunning on Feb. 15, 1864. The girls remained in Indiana.

Francis D. Matheny's Civil War Pension card

Now for the sons we found that after marriage they all moved west to states such as Illinois, Nebraska, Kansas, and some most likely beyond. What is especially interesting about the sons is that almost every one of them was Civil War veterans. Felix G., Francis D., Thomas J., and Andrew R. Matheny all moved to Champaign County, Illinois. Francis D. Matheny married Mary Cooper in Brown County on May 22, 1865. He served in Indiana and Illinois. James married Nancy J. Pettigrew on March 13, 1863 in Brown County and they moved to Kansas. He served in an Indiana infantry unit. Thomas J. and Andrew R. Matheny also served in the Civil War. The youngest boy, Salem, doesn’t show up in the next census so it is assumed he died at a young age. And we know from the previous post on John M. Matheny he ended up in Nebraska.

James M. Matheny's Civil War Pension card

I’m going to follow this family a little more to see if I can wind up the family statistics. All the sons mentioned previously are named in an old compiled list of Brown County men who served in the Civil War. So far nothing has been found to show that Felix had ever served in the Civil War. All-in-all the Mathenys were a most patriotic family. It’s a shame all the children moved away, the family left behind a large estate with a beautiful huge log home in one of the most beautiful places to live, Brown County, Indiana. I drove by it the other day and tried to get a photo, but it was almost obscured by huge draping trees, what a sight! Maybe I’ll try again this fall after the leaves are off.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Midwestern Roots Conference - New Revelations

I am still reeling from the recent Midwestern Roots Conference. I came away with some new revelations and a new outlook on the future of genealogy in the upcoming decade. Family stories are what usually first attracted many of us as children who eventually became the family genealogist. These stories are what will keep attracting new budding genealogists in the future. The old procedures for collecting names, dates, etc. is not as important anymore. It is the story that lies behind those names and dates. Every person in your pedigree or family group sheet has some sort of story about their life. These stories need to be told.

A good example of this was the opening program on Saturday, "1848 Cincinnati Riverfront Panorama Unveiling" that was presented by Patricia Van Skaik of the Cincinnati Public Library. Frankly, I don't have any family that came from this area, and when the program began I didn't even think it would be that interesting for me. It turns out I was wrong, it was amazing! Here is their website:

They have taken this daguerrotype panoramic photo and divided it into miniscule sections, the accuracy and detail is amazing. They were able to zoom way in and pick out details of what the city looked like back in 1848. They didn't stop there. Their team picked out buildings with names on them and researched the families that ran the businesses. This all relates back to the main theme - the stories! Just displaying an 1848 photo and pulling out all the detail would be interesting up to a point. After you've seen it - it's over. It's the stories that they pulled out of this photo that makes it an amazing adventure. Check out more of the panels here:
I came away from the Conference inspired!
(P.S. I hope the Cincinnati Public Library forgives me for using their photo, but I just have to share their project with everyone!)

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Owl Creek Boys - John M. Matheny

Civil War Pension card

From the post on the “Illustrious Men of Owl Creek” one of the boys from Owl Creek, John M. Matheny, was mentioned as being one of the 'brave Owl Creek boys who offered their lives a sacrifice on the alter of their country in the dark hours of the great Civil War.' I've made it a personal project to research the lives of these boys. I had thought the Coffland brothers were hard to find, but John was even more elusive. Almost all that could be found of John was a mention of his military career. From the Brown County Democrat article of Feb. 8, 1906 John Matheny was named as Colonel of the 82nd Regiment Indiana Volunteers. He mustered in as a soldier of Company H in 1862 and apparently he quickly went up the ranks.

John M. Matheny was the son of Francis A. and Eliza L. Matheny and was born about 1835 just after his family came to Indiana from Kentucky. In the 1850 census they were living in Washington Township and John gave his occupation as clerk. Shortly afterward he moved to Saline County, Missouri where he married his wife, Sarah Cheuvront on April 26, 1857. They then moved back to Brown County shortly before the war probably by 1858 because he was in the 1858 tax lists there in Washington Township. At the start of the war John answered the call for his country. He served from 1862 till 1865 still living in Brown County. After this time he and his family became extremely elusive again.

It was extremely difficult to find him or his family in any federal census afterward. A Google search led to several posts on Genealogy websites that helped to find his movements from Brown County. From this I was able to determine that he and his family moved on to Nebraska. One of the posts gave his location in the 1870 census in Ashland, Saunders County, Nebraska. His household consisted of John M Matheny age 35 occupation carpenter b. Indiana Sarah Matheny age 33 wife b. Ohio, Francis Matheny age 8 son b. Indiana, and Laura Matheny age 4 daughter b. Indiana.

1881 Nebraska State Census, Cass County.

He shows up is in the Nebraska State Census of 1876 and 1881 where they were living in Cass County. A list of his children from the 1881 state census gave his children’s names as Frank age 19 born Indiana, Laura age 14 born Indiana, and Cora T. Matheny age 8 born Nebraska. Other records are spotty; John M. Matheny was listed in the 1893 Veterans census in Greenwood, Cass County, Nebraska. His wife died in 1889 and she is in the burial records on USGenweb (Nebraska - Cass County), but nothing is found for John. On line sources give his full name as John Milton Matheny and his death in 1895. No other information is available as to where John is buried or where he died. Did he get recognition for his military service in Cass County? Does he have a Civil War stone on his grave? All this would have to be more fully documented by a family researcher. He most certainly was remembered by his comrades back on Owl Creek in Brown County, Indiana.

From the Official Records of the War of the Rebellion; Indiana Adjutant General Records: Matheny, John of Nashville, Ind. Aug. 9, 1862 Captain, Co. H, 82nd Ind. Infantry Regiment. March 4, 1864, Lt. Col. Sept. 30 and Oct. 31, 1864 regimental commander; Nov. 15-Dec. 21, 1864 commanded regiment during Savannah, Ga. (March to the sea) campaign and January-April 1865 Carolina campaign; June 9, 1865 mustered out at Washington, D.C.

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Owl Creek Boys - George and Samuel Coffland

Civil War Pension card

From my last post I had found a list of Civil War soldiers from a particular area of Brown County that had been published in our local newspaper back in 1906. This group of men had served in the Civil War and had been residents of Owl Creek in Washington Township. At the end of the article it mentioned that some of them had died in the south. Did they die in the war, did they still live on Owl Creek by 1906, or could I even find them at this late date so long after the war. I did the usual searches in our Obituary book, looked to see if any marriages were made in their names, and I looked at the Brown County Roll of Honor listing soldiers that died in the Civil War

I had settled on trying to find a couple of these men, George and Samuel Goffland. They seemed to be the most elusive of the bunch. Doing a lot of searches I found nothing on the surname Goffland. However there was both a George and Samuel Coffland in the 1860 census for Brown County, Washington Township. The paper could have misspelled their names. They both had disappeared by the 1870. I then checked for marriages for a George and Samuel Coffland. Nothing for Samuel, but George had married a Serena Henry on June 26, 1859. Yes, George and Serena Coffland were in the 1860 census, but not in the 1870. I checked for any remarriages - Serena had remarried to George Parks in 1867. Something must have happened to George Coffland in this median time period. In the 1870 census in George and Serena Parks’ family were two Coffland children, William and Perry C. Hannah Coffland. Next thing to check was for a divorce or a probate record - no divorce was found. I hit the jackpot with a Probate record for George W. Coffland. It gave one of the children’s names, William A., and the wife, Serena. It gave guardianship information for the child, and it stated he had gone to live with grandparents in Missouri and then on to Kansas.

Checking back on the Roll of Honor I did find a George W. Coffin who had died in action, probably another misspelling, but none the less, my George Coffland. The last thing I wanted to obtain was some sort of military information for George. I checked on and found his Civil War pension card where Serena had filed for a widow’s pension in 1865 on June 26 and then again as a guardian under the name of Serena Parks in 1868. The pension card also gave George’s unit, Company H, 82nd Indiana Infantry.

Now we have to find Samuel Coffland/Goffland. There was very little on him in Brown County. He only appeared in the 1860 census as a 20 year old living in the household of James and Rhoda Coflin. Trying to track down George’s lone surviving son, William helped to find Samuel. Taking the information from George’s Probate gave a clue as to where to look for Samuel. James and Rhoda Coffland, more than likely the grandparents of William, went to live in Woodson County, Kansas and then to Greene County, Missouri, and that’s where Samuel was found. From Samuel is buried there in the Hazelwood Cemetery in Greene County along with his wife Elizabeth. From his cemetery stone he was born in 1840 and died in 1929. One last piece of documentation to get was something giving his military service since his stone did not. From I obtained his Civil War pension card. He was in Company C, 22nd Indiana Infantry as well as another military unit he had served in. He filed for an invalid pension on May 11, 1886. His widow filed on June 10, 1929. Both these Coffland brothers were well remembered by their former residents on Owl Creek as well as Brown Countians who remembered them as two young men who served their country well in the war.

Civil War Pension card

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Illustrious Men of Owl Creek

Benjamin R. Kelley

Owl Creek was so named from the many owls that once infested the lonely regions. The owls have disappeared; the round log school house has long since crumbled into dust. The hewed log school house is now used as a stable. It stands as a memento of other days, a relic of the past, inviting owls and bats to come in and chant a requiem to departed cheerfulness. Is it any wonder then it has so long borne the name of classical Owl Creek for in its lovely valley has lived and loved some illustrious men whose works shall follow them. To the legal profession let us named the late Judge James Hester, Hon. Anderson Percifield and Hon. Ed Campbell. Among its preachers and divines have arisen from humble birth the Rev. Berg Frost, Rev. Daniel Campbell, and Rev. Ira Yoder. Some of its teachers have been Joel R. and John W. Carter, William and James Bowden, James L. Campbell, Jennie Wilson, Sylvester Barnes and Joshua Bond.

Owl Creek has not been without her worthy and competent officials. Let us mention Wren Brummet, township trustee and sheriff of Brown County, Stephen A. Kennedy, sheriff of Brown County, John S. Williams, auditor of Brown County and afterwards member of the State Legislature, Charles Taylor, township assessor, William O. Barnes, eminent physician and afterwards member of the legislature in the state of Kansas, Captain James M. Yoder, chairman of the Republican central committee of Brown County.

We cannot close this article without mentioning some the brave Owl Creek boys who offered their lives a sacrifice on the alter of their country in the dark hours of the great Civil War. Let us mention them: John Matheney, Col of the 82nd Regiment Ind. Vol; George and Samuel Goffland (Coffland), James M. Yoder, George Bowden, Benjamin Kelley, Manvill Tomlinson, Caleb & Daniel Ferguson, William and Sail Barnes. Some of the boys returned to happy homes and some were left in lonely graves in that distant southern sunny land.

(Brown County Democrat, Feb. 8, 1906)

James M. Yoder

Being the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, I'm particularly looking for info on the Civil War soldiers mentioned in this article.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

1940 Census Index for Indiana is Done

I've been anxiously awaiting the time that I can actually use an index to find my family in the 1940 census. I did look for them before and found a few of my families in the places I knew they would be. Now I can look for those others that liked to move around a bit at least in Indiana. I heard that Family Search has now released their index at:

So I set to looking through my PAF for those family I wanted to look for. That was taking too long. I know I should have been preparing my list a long time ago. There has been family I've been wanting to find in the 1940 census soon after I found them all in the 1930 census ten years ago. Well, I went about to set up an Advanced Focus Filter in my PAF and put in the dates I wanted to look for, 1940+, and it gave me a list of Surnames. At least now I have something to start with. I've been trying not to get too excited, the waiting has been killing me.

My first find was my dad and his family. I've put a copy of the image above. His father, George Allen Dunn, and mother, Golda Edith(Roberts)Dunn were living in Brown County. This I suspected although they had been known to have lived in Johnson and Hamilton counties before. In Brown County, Indiana living in Hamblen township, Enumeration Dist. 7-1 on page 8B my dad's family is the 187th Household.
George and Golda Dunn and children are: Vonda, Jean, Doris, David, Ruth, Mahlon, Frances, Marcus, and Joel. My Aunt Doris made it on the Supplemental Question line 55, but I found no new information there that I didn't already know.

I did find out something new that I didn't know - the area they lived in at that time. Dad has told me some of the places they lived, but this one was new. So I did find something new to add to my family history. My dad's family were pretty poor and his father moved around quite a bit to get work wherever he could find it. He worked for farmers, gas stations, as a school janitor, and was a truck farmer himself. This was fun finding my first family in the 1940 census. Now I just have to wait for the rest of the states to be indexed so I can look for those families that moved out West.

Monday, June 04, 2012

New Info Found in Tax Lists for my Kentucky Ancestor, Henry Bolen

1816 Wayne County, KY Tax List

This spring I was able to find and rent a microfilm from the Family History Library for some early Tax Lists for Wayne County, Kentucky. I had a lot of gaps that I wanted to fill in on some of my mother's line. Most of my mom's side came from Wayne and Clinton County. On mom's side I have Guffeys, Smiths, Adams, Pierce, and Bell that I have been particularly interested in to get more info. Also, there are two lines from my father's side that went through Wayne County on their way from North Carolina to Indiana, the Lovells and the Bolens. Taking the advice I learned from the blogger, "Brickwall Protocol," I made my timelines and have been trying to fill in some of the gaps on my dad's Bolens. (See my blog post on Henry Bolen for background.) The only evidence that I had on Henry Bolen in Wayne County was from my previous data collection. He had signed as Bondsman on his two daughters' marriage bonds. There were no land transactions in his name. Other than that I wasn't even sure he actually stayed any time at all in Wayne County. I was convinced that getting these tax lists I could at least prove to myself that he actually existed.

I was right. I was actually able to find Henry Bolen in Wayne county as a poll tax payer. It showed that he only paid tax as a 'male over 21' for the years 1816 to 1821. I just knew he had to be there, but why didn't he show up in the 1820 census. I'll probably never know the answer to that one. Then I found another curious entry, in one of the years he was listed with an Ezekial Bolen - a new name! This might be worth pursuing, he could be a son or a brother or a cousin. That's why I just love these tax lists, I always find some little tidbit of information that could prove very valuable. At least I was able to fill in five years of Henry Bolen's life. In the 1820 census both daughters were married by then and had moved into Pulaski County. I still need to fill in several years in between 1821 until his wife is found living in Jefferson County, Indiana in 1830 next to her two married daughters. Somewhere along the timeline we lost Henry Bolen between 1821 to 1830. It could be a long, winding road, but I'm going to keep plugging away at Henry Bolen, my brickwall!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Another Episode of House Genealogy

The last couple of weeks I’ve had a couple of different requests to find something on some old houses in Brown County. Both from different perspectives and for different reasons, but in both I needed to find an age for a house.

The first one was a typical genealogy query of a sort. A gentleman contacted me to help him find his great grandparent’s ancestral home. He had been researching on the internet and had been looking at Brown County history hoping to find something on his ancestors, David and Emma Phegley. The phone call was a little confusing, something was said about one of the oldest homes in the state of Indiana was in Brown County, and somehow he got that connected to his ancestor. Maybe it was just wishful thinking on his part, but I agreed to look into it.

David Phegley owned land on the eastern edge of Brown County in Section 28, Township 9, Range 4. He at one time owned the whole section in the late 1890s up until his wife’s death in 1910. Making a trip to the County Recorder’s office I was able to find where part of his land went up for Sheriff’s sale. And several sales later the land was split up among several buyers. He died in 1921 and no Probate or Will was to be found. Looking on the county map I was surprised because I knew right where the area was, or at least I knew who owned part of it now. I pulled out my copy of the Brown County Interim Report - Indiana Historic Sites and Structures Inventory. It was prepared by the Historic Landmarks Foundation of Indiana. There was nothing in it for any houses in this area. I found no mention of a house in any of this. This has become a pretty useful book and most Indiana counties have one.

Next, someone advised me to go to the Assessor’s office and get a copy of the current owner’s property card. I was expecting to pay out some kind of fee for the service, but was instead directed to their website. I was able to view and download any property I needed to see. I looked up the current owner’s property card and it gave the age of the house as being built in 1930. I then checked every piece of property in this section and couldn’t find any older house. So it appears that the Phegley house didn’t survive. This was bad news for my client, but the whole process was very educational for me.

My next step for my client if he wished I can deduce what was the last few acres David Phegley lived on before he died. A possible trip to the area with questions for the residents maybe someone will remember seeing an old homesite on their property at sometime in the past. Going back to the house there now built in 1930 has me intrigued. I went by once to talk to the one of my friends. She says her father bought it in 1948-49 so I still would like to find out who built the house in 1930. I’ll be checking the Deed books and Tax Records to see if I can find a mention of a house or some taxable improvements on this land. The reason being I want to add this one to my Historic Homes database I’ve been working on for a couple of months. I stopped by to photograph the house which was a log cabin which has now been mostly covered up with stone. Log cabins here in Brown County are not too rare, but it is one of our biggest requests from house history hunters. Every new resident wants to know how old their log cabin is!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Displaced Families of Brown County

Weed Patch Hill - Parade

Last year I wrote about how my grandparents, Alonzo and Millie Conner, and their families where forced to moved from their ancestral homes for the good of the rest of mankind and progress. Today here in Brown County this has been run over and over again like a broken record. Today, a couple of my genealogy girlfriends and me made a visit to Brown County State Park to view their historical records. One of these friends wrangled a visit for us to see what types of records they carried and if any of it was worth our getting copies for our Archives. We’ve always had a good working relationship with the State Park management from time to time. They’ve given us the Scrapbook of the CCC and info on the history of the State Park.

Reflecting on the history of the State Park brought to mind the instances that has had an effect in our county. After all, besides the State Park, we have the Camp Atterbury Military installation, Yellowood State Forest, Hoosier National Forest, Morgan-Monroe State Forest, and Monroe Reservoir all bounding our county. Brown County is full of beautiful and useful natural resources. Our county has never grown to be a major metropolis. Of all this beautiful wilderness the one natural resource that has never been studied much is the people. This is just now coming about due to the efforts of the Historical and Genealogical Societies.

So what about all these families that have been displaced from their homes? Entire communities have disappeared. Some have made a good effort to keep their history alive by the former residents mostly because their families never moved much farther away. In the southwest corner of the County Lake Monroe reservoir cut off communities such as Elkinsville, Youno, and Cooper. The former Elkinsville residents hold an annual community reunion every year and have written several books on the community and the families. The State Animal Preserve, which is now called Brown County State Park, swallowed up the communities of Kelp and Weed Patch Hill. There is a lot of interested genealogy research done on the families of Kelp, but not much in the way of a published history. Camp Atterbury Military reserve took over land in the northeast part of the county and small communities like Mt. Moriah and Kansas have disappeared. A lot of good history was lost about these communities and their people. There is one published history written many years ago on the coming of the Camp and the process of moving the people. There is some history of the communities and what remains of their passing – mostly their cemeteries.

Browning Mountain - Root cellar remnants

Of the other three government acquisitions there is not much know about the history of the communities and families that were displaced from the areas of Yellowood State Forest, Morgan-Monroe State Forest, and Hoosier National Forest. Not much of the histories of these areas have been published. Most likely it is because they were located in more remote areas of the county with little or no usable farm land. You can bet though that there are stories out there that need to be written or told so these people and their communities won’t be forgotten. All that is left testifies to the fact that there are communities lost to time with names like Scarce-o-Fat Ridge in Yellowood and Browning Mountain in Hoosier National Forest. Sometimes the only evidence left behind are from remote cemeteries miles from civilization that was left after their families moved out.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Circuit Riders in Indiana

Oak Ridge Church - 1941

I recently received a request from a young man that was looking for a special boarding school/mission where his grandmother was sent when she was a child. From looking through our Archives and sending out this question to some of our native Brown Countians I’m afraid we came up with very little to help him find his answer. The only thing I could do was refer him to the Methodist Church Archives at DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana. A group of us visited there last year to do some research on some our local Methodist churches here in Brown County. We came back from our visit with tons of new information. This reminded me of the history I had learned about the church and how education was brought to Brown County.

At the time of the westward movement in the U. S., many settlements were without schools or churches. Many early pioneers could not read or write. In the year 1817 a group of Philadelphia men organized the Sunday and Adult School Union. In 1824 the name was changed to the American Sunday School Union. Its purpose being to locate and help maintain Sunday Schools in communities where there were none and to provide literature for these schools. A number of missionaries were sent out with Christian literature, lessons, and books for the children. The Union was non-denominational. After the school was established the residents were left to choose their own denomination. Both laymen and clergy were involved in this mission. Churches from Catholic to Methodist were involved with the mission. Many of these traveling missionaries came to be called Circuit Riders. If you can find records of these Circuit Riders then you’ve found a treasure of information. Two of these Circuit Riders played a big role in our county at different times in our history, the Reverend Eli Farmer and Reverend Warren C. Chafin.

In 1840 the Union published story books for children to help them develop good values and morals. Often children in disadvantaged areas of the country first learned to read from these books. With the coming of the American Sunday School Union to Brown County this was the only education these remote areas would see for many years to come. At one point in our county’s history these Sunday Schools were the only schools established in our county. The Methodist church was the biggest supporter of schools in Brown County. If a child wanted to learn to read then they went to Sunday school.

I didn’t realize how important the church was to the local community. The church was the center of the whole community. Everyone gathered there for everything from religious services to social events to schooling. This might be the only time a family would leave their home and farm to meet with their neighbors or learn of news from the outside world. The church was indeed the absolute center of the community.

This has always amazed me especially when reading through these old church records. They contain a world of information. We’ve been compiling church histories for our local genealogical society to be put in print for researchers. This visit to the Methodist Archives was just a beginning. We have plans to go back with so much more information to bring back with us.

Saturday, April 07, 2012

House History - Mackey Log Cabin

Some of the requests that come into the Archives are to help someone find how old their log cabin is. Many of them have the information right under their noses but just don’t know how to go about finding it. Most of the time if a homeowner still holds their abstract the information is right there. They just need help in deciphering it. There are other methods though that can be used to find the age of a home or at least get an estimated age. The first thing we always check at the Archives are the Tax Records. We start going back from the last known owner. It is best thing to study how the tax records are set up.

In Brown County and probably in many other states tax payers are listed in the Tax Duplicates book. The column headings can be varied having anything that the county might want to tax for that year. I’ve seen taxes charged for buggies, pocket watches, horses, cattle, hogs, wagons, or barns. There are two useful columns though for our purposes that are taxed. The first item we look for is land which will usually have the acreage and the location of the land with a physical description of some sort. The second is a column titled Improvements. If tracked backward you can watch when a change occurs in value in this column. It may not spell out what the improvement was, but you may see quite a jump in value when a house or a barn is built that year. If possible find out what items were taxed that year such as houses but maybe not barns. And as always it is best to corroborate this with personal accounts or county histories when trying to date a house or even an area of the county.

One such case I’m working on now was one where I was asked about a log house that used to be owned by a descendent of the Mackey family. The house is no longer there, but there were stories about the house and the family that this person could recollect. The original owner was Henry Mackey and was a very good carpenter. He was an immigrant from Germany and when he settled in Brown County he laid his hand and hammer to many structures in southern Brown County. He was said to have built one of the first bridges to cross Salt Creek helping to open a vital life line from southern Brown County to the rest of the county. According to family lore it was named the Mackey Bridge.

He also built a very fine log home for that day and time. This description comes from our local newspaper, The Brown County Democrat of May 30, 1990. “At the end of Brand Hollow lane in Van Buren Township was a log house built in the mid 1800s. The house was 27 ft. by 17 ft. The main room on the first floor had corner stairs which led to a full room on the second floor. The interior was paneled throughout with poplar. It was decked with tongue and groove poplar board. The house had two front doors and a huge front porch. The house was part of a self-sustaining farm which also ran a sorghum mill.” Another column written by another reporter in connection to the same house reports a little different story. “The 1830s log cabin from Brand Hollow Road in Van Buren Township has become the elegant, two-story addition to a 1940s log cabin in Hamblen Township. The entire project, disassembling and moving the log home, was done by the Brown County High School’s building trades class.”

So which one is right? Was it built in the mid 1800s or in the 1830s? There could be quite a bit of difference there. It’s time to start checking records. Doing a check on land grants could help. John Henry Macka received his three land grants on September 27, 1854. The earliest land grant of any of his neighbors was in 1849. So the likelihood of this house being built in the 1830s is unlikely. The later estimate of the log house being built in the mid 1800s is the better guess, which would be more in line with when Henry Mackey got his land grant. Unfortunately our tax records are not complete for this period, but the ones we do have it may be helpful to check. The years we do have are 1848, 1849, 1851, 1858, and 1859. The next one jumps to 1864. We may be able to narrow down a closer date from these few tax records still in existence. We can do this by checking the column in the Tax Duplicates book under Improvements. Even with very little information you can get a good estimate of how old a very old home is. There are many more avenues that can be checked also. We just use the same principles as doing genealogical research on a person and apply it as if we are researching that elusive ancestor that we all have been trying to find.

Monday, March 26, 2012

House History Research - Developing Research Parameters

Main Street in Nashville - Abe Martin Restaurant & Genolin Pharmacy

Since I've taken over the helm as Head Archivist I've been doing a lot of thinking on this subject of bringing our Archive up to the present technology. There have been many good archivists over the years that were very diligent in organizing the collections, compiling information, and indexing what they thought needed to be indexed. They have done a lot of good work. Now it is time to lend my hand to it and see what else I can do to make it better. I've spent the first year just familiarizing myself with our collections. I know there is so much more there that I haven't even laid eyes on yet. I came into this job as a genealogist and that has helped me to see the human side of Brown County history. We've got a good start on a Surname file for genealogical research that we can constantly add to. Most of our research requests to date pertains to family genealogy. So this side has been easy for me to get to work on right away, also my volunteers are genealogists.

Now I have come upon a popular subject that doesn't directly relate to genealogy - house history. In a way one can use genealogical research methods. This being a popular subject I need to develop a better system to better organize and search this collection. We started with one drawer in a filing cabinet. The first organizational division is by location and most of the homes that are covered are only located in the county seat, the town of Nashville. There is one other file named Cabins - pretty generic huh? What would be a better way to organize this so the common person can look for their home? So we need to sit down and go over all the perimeters that might be used to locate a house/building. We need to apply these parameters in our filing system and possibly a database.

I went through a learning situation when I was asked to find where an old store used to be located in Nashville. The query was to find a photo of the building and where in town it was located. We had to know the timeframe this particular store would have went by this name - the Genolin Pharmacy. From the two photos that we had on this store you can see stores that are on either side of it. From the above photo: looking west the Abe Martin Restaurant was on the left side of the pharmacy. Both were located on the south side of the street across from the courthouse. The courthouse is one of the oldest buildings in Nashville. That made it a good point of reference.

Abe Martin Restaurant, Genolin Pharmacy, and a Shoe & Harness Repair Shop

Several search parameters that we came across is what we will probably use to develop a database of homes/buildings. From our research we learned that the Genolin Pharmacy later became the Rustic Inn. This later name is what helped us locate the building in Nashville. So we come up with some search terms we may use which are: popular name, other names used, original owner, builder, current address, GPS coordinates, year built. These are just a few that might need to be column headings in our database. Should we develop our database with major divisions with county locations such as townships and cities or should we treat it like a Surname file and organize it by 'Popular name'? The first question we ask of the customer "what part of the county is your house located?" Maybe that should be our first major subdivision. What other search parameters should we use - type of structure, outbuildings if any, location in relation to property lines or roads? Setting up the database and inputting information I'm sure we'll find other items that might be helpful and items that we might not need. First some research on other databases of this type should be our first step.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Finding Records in Brown County, Indiana

Brown County Public Library

This is a short description of where in Brown County certain records/documents can be found. Many counties in Indiana will be similar, but it will give you a sense of where to look when in another county. There are three main locations for Brown County's records - Public Library, County offices, Historical Society.

When beginning any genealogical search one is always best advised to start at the Public Library. Many county records can be found there on microfilm or on the book shelves. There are published family histories that other researchers have donated. These could save you a lot of time if you find one of your families in one of these. Then in the genealogical section you will find many indexes in book form for many of the most used county records. These can save you time also, because some county records are not indexed. The local newspaper is here also on microfilm to look up articles/obits. But don't look here first for an obit because most of our obits have been put in book form from 1918 to 1999 which will be in the genealogy section. The marriage records, deaths, births, court records, wills, guardianships, etc. are all indexed or abstracted in books at the library. It is best to start here, find your document in the index, write it down, and then pay a visit to the other two repositories.

The County offices still hold most of the old records from the county's beginnings in 1837. Located in two buildings the Brown County Courthouse and the County building you can can take the next step in your search. The Clerk's office holds the Marriage records, Will books, Court order books, etc. In the courthouse fire of 1873 only a few records were lost from 1873 in the Clerk's office. The Recorder's office holds the miscellaneous books and the deed books, although the courthouse fire of 1873 destroyed all the earlier books prior to 1873. Some of the earlier deeds have been re-recorded though depending on who was willing to come back to the Recorder's office to add their deeds back to their files. For records on early land transactions though you can still find most all of those at the Auditor's office in the Land Transfers books and Tract books which all survived the fire. The Birth and Death Records are located in the Health Dept. Although their collection is spotty especially in the earliest records when they were required to start recording births and deaths in 1882.

The last leg of your trip should include the Historical Society's Archives. That's where I come in. Our Archives contain a lot more detailed information for family researchers. Our collection includes special collections on historical subjects which is anything to do with the history of our county - railroads, festivals, military, etc. We have special collections donated by individuals that may contain some genealogy and some history which pertains to the individual's role in our county history. These may be artists, politicians, business owners. We also house the Circuit court and Probate court packets. These are envelopes with all the loose paperwork that pertains to each case. In these you might find warrants, receipts, copies of filed paperwork, legal documents, etc. If you are interested in visiting our county to do research it is best to contact either the library or the historical society. Either one can give you an idea of what our hours of operation are and our location. See our websites below.

Brown County Public Library

Brown County Historical Society

Sunday, March 04, 2012

The Death of Young John Cullen - Conclusion

A trip to the courthouse was needed to look at any final documents on the case of State of Indiana vs. George Fleener, Joseph McClung, and Nathan Fritch. The clerk's office was very helpful in helping me find any other information on this case. Unfortunately from the fire of 1873 part of the documents must have been lost. Two different documents was all that was left that pertained to this case.

In the Order Book in the Clerk's office on June 22, 1885 a warrant was issued for the arrest of George Fleener. The warrant was postponed 2 more times. The last one was for July 10, 1886. No other documentation was found after that date. George Fleener must not have showed up or was not found by the authorities so he could be brought before the court. The only other document found was for the November term 1873 where Joseph McClung was appointed an attorney for his part in the case. Nathan Fritch must not have been charged in the death of John Cullen. From the witness testimony he played a very small part in the fight.

One final thing I wanted to get cleared up was an exact date for John Cullen's death. There were no death records required in Indiana until 1882 and there was no burial information that could be found for John Cullen. There were Coroner's reports that did go back to 1866 in Brown County but these were spotty at best. John Cullen was listed in the index but the records could not be found. I've found this before. Usually if you check the court records the Coroner's report turns up in the court case files. One final attempt was made to go back through the doctor's testimony. It being tedious and the details pretty grueling it was worth it in the end.

The fight occurred on April 12, 1873. Using the date calculator on my genealogy program and the doctor's testimony of the events of that week the exact date could be calculated. According to the doctor's testimony, Cullen came to see him on Saturday, which turned out to be the same day of the fight. The doctor said he stayed with him until his death which was the following Thursday. That made John Cullen's death date April 17, 1873. This is probably the only place this young man's date of death was ever documented. No other documentation could be found except maybe if a family bible was kept. As best as could be done these drastic events could be put together. Nothing of George Fleener was ever turned up again.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Death of Young John Cullen - Investigation

Brown County Courthouse

The query of this investigation: what happened to George Fleener after he killed Cullen?
The case: The State of Indiana vs. George Fleener, Joseph McClung, and Nathan Fritch.
(Please read the last post of this name if you haven't already to catch up on details.)

In researching any topic thoroughly one must look at every aspect involved. The area that this event, the death of John Cullen, took place in was hilly country. Farms spotted the hills and valleys. Travel might have taken a day to get to the gathering places such as the country store, the church gathering, or the country school, but all in all it was a community. Looking in the 1870 and 1880 census during this time of Cullen's death in 1873 tells a lot. Cullens, Robertsons, Fleeners, Fritchs, and McClungs were relatively close neighbors. The area was situated in Jackson township which is in the northwest corner of the county close to Monroe County. A lot of families went to Monroe County to do business so both counties needed to be checked.

The two main characters in this event were John Cullen and George Fleener. It might be good to check on their family lines. John Cullen was born abt. 1851 in Noble County, Ohio, the son of James Cullen and Rosanna Haeffer. His father born in Ireland and mother born in Pennsylvania. He had brothers and sisters: Peter Wilson, Mary A., Harriet, Samuel, Elizabeth, Hester A., Catherine, Rhoda Dora, Susan M., James H., and Rosea. All of this was taken from census records and family histories.

The accused, George Fleener, was born abt. 1854 and his parents were Abraham Fleener and Sarah Jane Alexander. His siblings were: Nancy Jane, James A., Alexander, William Thomas, Mary Eliz., Sarah Ann Marie, Andrew Jackson, Fleming Valandingham, Catherine, and Martha Ellen.

To begin with we tried to find any other information on George so all of his siblings and his parents were researched. None of the obituaries that we were able to obtain from the brothers or married sisters mentioned George as a brother or his whereabouts. We hit a dead end here. Next we needed to look at family histories so a trip to the library was the next destination.

In the book, "History and Families - Brown County, Indiana" under a family history of the Fleener family one line at the bottom on this family read, "George married Gabriella Robertson and moved west early in life." So this gave us another clue, at least he lived to marry and moved away. Looking for a marriage record for George and Gabriella proved fruitless in both Brown and Monroe Counties. It was decided then to do some more checking on Gabriella Robertson's family. Digging further in another family history on the Claiborn Robertson family Gabriella was listed as a daughter. Her mother was Mary Stephens and she had 8 other siblings: Jacob, George Winfield, Lazarus, Agnes, James H., Della Jane, Amanda, and Louisa Robertson.

At the bottom of their family group sheet was a few lines on Gabriella.
"There is a mystery about what happend to Gabriella. Her name was never mentioned in the family. It was as if she had never lived. Her sister, Amanda, wrote: Gabriella did not go west with that man, Fleener, involved in the stabbing of John Cullen. It seems that Gabriella was considered his girlfriend. The last time anyone seen her was when she was leaving for Taintor, Iowa. It is believed she went west in the year 1873."

The previous quote suggests they did go west together. Looks like some of the family still denied it and others just preferred not to talk about it.
John Cullen's death was in 1873, so why would Gabriella go west in 1873 except to go with Fleener. But we can't determine this for certain not just yet.

As best could be done the obituaries of her siblings were checked for a mention of their sister, Gabriella. None gave any more clues. The Criminal Court books still need to be checked to see if a verdict was given in the case. Since I didn't get to go last week now it is definitely on my to do list for this coming week. Stay tuned for Part 3.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

The Death of Young John Cullen

Old Log Jail in Nashville, Indiana

I've been going through our collection of old newspapers in the Historical Society Archives trying to pick out items of interest for our genealogy newsletter. Recently transcribing one of our oldest newspaper, the Jacksonian, of Brown county in 1873 I ran across something interesting on the back page. It was an account of the days testimony in a court case on the death of a young man, John Cullen. The case was the State of Indiana vs. George Fleener, Joseph McClung, and Nathan Fritch.

In the account several witnesses testified about a fight that had occurred between these three young men with another young man, John Cullen. The testimonies all seemed to agree for the most part on the happenings in the fight. Allegedly John Cullen and George Fleener had been having a disagreement for some time. On this day all these young men had been traveling down the road on horses when they came upon Mr. Cullen and his riding companion, Oscar Warford. Cullen and Fleener started exchanging words again and all jumped from their horses and started pushing the two to come to a fight. Cullen and Fleener started coming to blows when Fleener pulled a knife and young Mr. Cullen was cut several times. He fell back against Joseph McClung and according to the testimonies it was unsure if McClung had pushed Cullen off of him or if he had pushed him back into the fight with Fleener. By the time it was all over Cullen was bleeding badly and Fritch told him to get to a doctor.

One of the doctors gave testimony of Cullen's condition and also had him give an affidavit of what had happened to him on the day of the fight, April 12, 1873. Several other witnesses testified to various happenings that had been going on before and after the death of Cullen. There were some witness accounts that contradicted what the boys had testified to. It was a most interesting article. Newspaper articles of today don't do coverage in their newspapers in this much detail anymore. And this was most unusual coming from an 1873 newspaper.

So reading all this made me want to find out what happened in the case. I know there are no longer any newspapers that remain from this period. Where could I go next to find out more about it? Our Historical Society Archives houses the court document packets from all the Civil and Criminal Court cases. So my next step was to look for this case: State vs. Fleener, McClung, & Fritch. Going through the file I found a lot of slips of papers: warrants for witnesses to appear, a dissertation on the differences of the various degrees of Murder that can be charged.

Most of the remaining documents pertained to Joseph McClung as an accessory in the fight. McClung was eventually charged with Manslaughter and sentenced to 25 years. There was also another slip of paper saying he had taken his case to the Supreme Court and his sentence was thrown out after 10 years. But that's all that was in the packet. There was nothing more on Fritch even though he seemed to play a small part in the fight. And what was even more surprising there was nothing on George Fleener, one of the principals in the fight. So what happened? Surely Fleener must have been charged in the death of Cullen if McClung was charged with Manslaughter for just being involved? Where should I go next? This is going to require some digging. I think my next trip should be to the courthouse to check out the Criminal court books. If anyone has any other suggestions, let me know. The investigation continues! I'll let you know what I find.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Mabe Family of Brown County

I'm featuring a family from my area in Brown County. I like to look at other family genealogies in my township to help me get to know the people and the community. For our featured family I picked a photo from our Archives of three children: Mary, Harriet, and Lemmon Mabe. The photo of the children is above. There is some family history that has been done on this family. So I was able to find out a little more information on the family. I went on Heritage Quest and found the family in the 1860 census in Van Buren township, Brown County, Indiana. There on page 31 was the family: William, wife Elizabeth, Mary, Harriet, and Lemmon Mabe. Lemmon/Leamon being an unusual name as well as Mabe it was easy to find the family.

From our known family histories I found William Franklin Mabe was born Dec. 8, 1825 in Stokes Co., NC. He died July 25, 1911. His wife was Elizabeth M. Clark, born Aug. 19, 1825 in Ohio. She died July 25, 1904. They're both buried at Mt. Zion Cemetery. They were married Aug. 10, 1848 in Brown County. Their children were: Mary, James Herod, Harriet Jane, and Leamon Martin Mabe.

About twice a month I'm asked to help contribute a photo from the Archives for our local newspaper. Another member does the write up for the article. Our newspaper, the Brown County Democrat, has given us about a 1/4 page to devote to Historical Society news. We have a great little local newspaper - lots of community news. Since I'm a member also of our Genealogical Society this month I'm trying to promote our subscription to Heritage Quest that we provide for our community through our local library. We've compared usage information from 2007 to last year and found that the numbers are almost half what they used to be. I don't know if the economy has made people cut back on doing their genealogy, but I want them to know that this is a free resource that they can use. As long as our Genealogical Society can afford to keep providing this to our community we want our county residents to know that it is there for them to use at no charge.

Whenever you use a free resource consider all the volunteers or organizations that have donated their time to provide these free resources for your use. If it is a local organization please thank them. Better yet, get involved and help out.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Honoring a WWII Veteran - My Father

I'm dedicating this blog to my father, Vonda, a veteran of World War II. I've heard that about 1000 WWII veterans are dying every day. So I want to dedicate a little space to one of those everyday heroes. I recently paid a visit to my dad in his nursing home, he has final stage Alzeimers. Everytime I see him I think of the once vibrant man and father he used to be, now stricken by this awful disease. So now I want to celebrate his life and service to his country.

He served in the U.S. Army from 1943 to 1945 and was stationed throughout the Pacific theater. I only remember his story of serving in the Phillipines. He didn't talk of it much, he was always a man of here and now and never much talked about the past. I tried to ask him questions about it one time, and he gave me the impression he didn't like talking about it. He was a mechanic and a chaffeur and a soldier during his enlistment. He left us a few photos of his time overseas. He was stationed at Fort Lee, Virginia at one time from a postcard I have kept from him to his sister. His favorite stories he did like to share was of his time he spent stationed in Montana during a winter and all the snow he had to deal with. He also had a story of having a pet bear on the base. I'm including this one below because there are several of his buddies in the photo and he took the time to name them on the back.

From L to R: Holcombe - Georgia, Morphew - Tennessee, Vonda, Gave, and Bytner - Michigan. Their bear in the foreground.

I want to share some websites for WWII veterans. I put my dad on it only to find out, my brother had him listed on there too. You can register your WWII soldier on this one at the National WWII Memorial at:
NARA also has an archive you can search for WWII enlistments at:
Here is a good general index to search for on all wars at:

I'll remember him as the big outdoorsman, the fisherman, the hunter, the farmer, and the biggest man I ever knew. He never left his little girls out of any of it. Love ya, dad!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

What is a Professional Genealogist?

Reading the blogs of some of my fellow genealogy bloggers on the 'Genealogy Paradigm Shift' was very enlightening, but I put it aside a few weeks ago and went about my own business. Read about "The Genealogy Paradigm Shift" at:

What makes a professional? Is is someone that goes to school, gets a degree, gets a license or certification, and practices in their profession for several years. Being a student of history I know being a professional 100 years or so ago just entailed being in your profession for many years and experience made you the professional. I've never pretended to be a professional anything. I've wondered how I could become a professional genealogist, I've looked at the requirements and the application process. I've dismissed it for now as being too much work for me at this time - maybe when I retire. But since I've become a blogger I've learned about a lot of new ideas from the genealogy blogging community. And lately I've come to a realization - I've been going to school all my life. I've been using my experience all my life. I've practiced family history all my life, maybe not genealogy, but 'family history' from my family.

From the school of life I've learned from my parents and grandparents about my family history and how important it is to carry this down to our descendants. Maybe that's what sparked my interest in anything to do with history. I've taken classes on history of cultures (anthropology), history of the earth (geology), history of the solar system (astronomy), art history, world history, U. S. history, and even a class on political history (third world politics). Not realizing it, all these have helped me as a genealogist, or family historian, one way or another. I have been told by other genealogists that I must be a professional genealogist. Politely I say "no, just a genealogist." But now these blogs, on what it takes to be a professional or expert genealogist, have gotten me to thinking about reconsidering this new label. I don't think I'll ever truly label myself as a professional, but when I come across a newbie I automatically take on the role - I want to help educate them, teach them what things they have to do to become a good genealogist.

Now I've taken on a job as an Archivist in a small local historical society with absolutely no training in archival practices. Oh well, I'll have to fall back on the old 'school of life' lessons to get me through. From this realization - I've learned how to teach myself from the lessons of life - "physician, heal thyself."