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."

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Southview Cemetery - Our Founder's Burial Ground

Richard L. Coffey, Judge and State Senator

I will try to explain Southview and my interest in the cemetery. When I first started going to the Archives at the Brown County Historical Society I kept coming across these stories about a neglected cemetery called Southview Cemetery at the north edge of Nashville in Brown County, Indiana. At that time I had never heard of the cemetery, let alone know the location. I checked the cemetery out in our Brown County Cemetery Book and realized this little “forgotten” cemetery was a wealth of information about Nashville’s early town history. I dubbed the cemetery, “the city cemetery” because it contains many of the historical graves of the founding fathers of Nashville.

It was unclear where the Southview Cemetery was actually located so I asked around and one of my cohorts at the Archives, Jeanette, had a friend in the Surveyor’s office and he gave her an aerial map of its location. He mentioned that it was really three cemeteries, but by this time the boundaries were no longer clear. The three names were the Southview, Oak Hill and the Calvin cemeteries. All three names fitted the location. It was facing South and west, there were several large Oak trees in the cemetery and one section contained several burials of the Calvin family.

I have one line of my family buried there – it was a side line so I never took it that seriously until now. I have a first cousin 4 times removed that is supposedly buried there, Martha Jane Gratton. She was born Nov. 30, 1831 and died Oct. 22, 1855. The only way I found her was from the cemetery readings from years ago. I have made one trip to look for her grave and didn’t find it. Next time I’ll try harder. Then I had the occasion to run across another story of someone buried there that I was doing research on. From the blog I wrote on Reverend William Crabb I had found that his parents were also buried there. Now I have a second reminder that I need to get back to this cemetery to have a good look around. Our genealogy group has been talking about getting back there to photograph the stones before they are lost. It is within walking distance of town but is on a secluded hill that has kept it more or less preserved by its seclusion.

The cemetery is a “Who’s Who” of Brown County history. My friend thinks it would be a wonderful project to restore the cemetery. She has a dream to make it so there could be walking tours so that more people could enjoy this bit of Nashville and Brown Countys history. She has made it her crusade. She started a Facebook page and has had many, many people join her. Look for her Facebook page at: Southview Cemetery, Nashville, Indiana.

I borrowed some of my friend's descriptions on Southview and hope she forgives me, I do it thinking of her crusade.

Monday, January 02, 2012

Followers of the Reverend William Crabb

I’ve come across many good stories since I started working as Archivist of our local Historical Society. This one was one of those that intrigued me, so I had to delve into it more. An article from the local newspaper, the Brown County Democrat, of Sept. 5, 1907 gave the report of an unconventional religious leader and his followers. Reverend William N. Crabb had quite a following in the early 1900s. His church was called the Church of the First Born and had many a strange belief. William Crabb was a man of little education, but a forceful and convincing speaker who seemed to have obtained a strong hold on his 300 followers. As a summer attraction in the wilds of Brown County the Crabbite service had proved very popular. Crabb himself asked no pay for his work, and even scorned to use a regular meeting house. He preached from a stump in the woods. Pastor Crabb asserted that he could handle snakes without danger to himself, and he had been giving free exhibitions to help draw in his audience.

The Church of the First Born began on Goose Creek in Morgan County when two men from Indianapolis came to teach the people marvelous things. Soon the people became wild with excitement and the little old log church was crowded day and night with seekers after the new faith. Sometime afterwards the church on Goose Creek was destroyed by vandals and the congregation scattered to other locations. The majority of the people transferred their membership to the Brown County leader, William Crabb, who had established an open air church in a grove on top of a hill near Nashville. “Reverend Crabb had become a zealot and carried his people with him. He is the father of thirteen children, twelve of them girls.”

This was an interesting article so I decided to see if there was any proof in it. The first and easiest thing to check would be for an obituary for him or any of his family. In the Brown County Democrat of Dec. 15, 1927 it states, “William Crabb - Died Saturday at his home near Mahalasville at age 70. A son of A. J. Crabb, he formerly lived near Nashville. His is the father of Mary A. Satters.” It was a very short obituary so I decided to check for one in Morgan County as well. That one read, “William Crabb, age 71, died at his home southwest of town Sunday, having suffered a paralytic stroke on Wednesday. Surviving are the wife and ten children. Funeral services were held at Mt. Zion church Tuesday morning at ten o’clock. Burial was in Mt. Zion Cemetery.”

From the first obit it affirmed he had lived near Nashville. It also gave his father’s name and a daughter’s married name. That could be helpful later on. The second obit affirmed that he had at least ten children that survived him, so he did have more children at one time. This one also gave his burial location and possibly the last church he was associated with. Neither one stated though that he had been a pastor.

While checking obituaries I decided to look for one for his daughter, Mrs. Mary A. Satters. One was found in the Morgan County dated July 18, 1959. Hers read, “Mrs. Satters was born in Brown County 68 years ago, the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. William Crab. She had lived in Morgantown community for the past 40 years and was a member of the Church of the First Born in Martinsville. She was married to Anthony Tony Satters who died a few years ago. Survivors include . . . [besides children] seven sisters and one brother . . . Burial will be in East Hill Cemetery.” This one held a lot of good information; it confirmed who her parents were and also that she was formerly from Brown County. It also confirmed she came from a large family mostly composed of sisters as stated in Reverend Crabb’s newspaper article. But most importantly it confirmed she indeed was a member of the same church, The Church of the First Born.

A lot of good information can be obtained from old newspapers. But you just need to use your own good judgment and make sure to look for other documentation to support it. From mine and others’ research William Crabb’s family data is below.

William Crabb was born 1858 in Barren Co., Kentucky and died Dec. 3, 1927 near Martinsville, Indiana. He was the son of Abraham J. Crabb and Mahala Tanner. He was married to Mary Ann Petro on Oct. 19, 1879, the daughter of Joseph Petro and Jane Hawkins. Not much is known of their 13 children, but by checking in the census one can get a list of names. In the 1900 census their children’s names were: Jemima, Martha, Anna, Liza, Minnie, Lillie, and Frank. We know he had one daughter from the obituary, Mary Ann Crabb (the Anna listed above). From the 1910 census we can add two more children: Tuchulia (not sure of the spelling) and Idela.

It is characters such as this that make Brown County history interesting. I’ll probably run this story in our little newsletter so I can share it with all our members. I’ve been trying to share stories of historical figures with a genealogical twist. After all, I am a genealogist first, but the stories intrigue me. After all my research I decided to add this information and start memorial pages on for this family.