Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas now and in the past

I have had a very hectic few weeks with baking, shopping, wrapping, Christmas letters, cards and decorating. I don’t know about you but I did not get it all done. We have made Christmas much more complicated and commercialized than it ought to be. It is such a shame really. Everywhere you look you see Santa, Frosty and reindeer. 

Let’s take a step back and look at what Christmas was like 100 years ago. I am sure that it was so much simpler. Gifts were handmade, not bought. They might have been food, hand made shirt, a simple doll, or a peppermint stick. I remember my mother saying that they always got an orange and a peppermint stick in their Christmas stocking. She said that they only had oranges around the Holidays because they were just not available. I eat an orange almost every day. Sometimes she would get a new comb or a toothbrush. I change mine as often as I need to. So many items that we take for granted today, were gifts at Christmas time 100 years ago. A new pair of shoes or boots would be a likely gift 100 years ago. It would take many months of saving money so that the shoes could be bought in time to place under the Christmas tree. A new coat, scarf or mittens were also likely gifts.

Christmas was about singing songs like Silent Night and We Three Kings and Children’s Christmas Nativity programs at church. Christmas trees came from the woods in the back not a Christmas tree lot at Home Depot. A Turkey was shot in the field and prepared for dinner not bought at the Dominick store down the street and thawed in the sink. The best potatoes were saved from the garden in the fall and a few squash and mom opened that special jar of strawberry jam that she made this summer. Several generations of a families would gather together for a special meal remembering the true meaning of Christmas. Christmas is the celebration of God’s Love for us. He loved us so much that he gave us the birth of his son, Jesus, on Christmas day.

Remember the simpler days and the real reason for this season.....Merry Christmas !

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Tombstone Tuesday - December 22, 2009

Remembering Mom...

Last year at this time we experienced a heart wrenching ordeal watching my mother battle the last stages of Cancer. She was so sick that it was difficult for her to leave the nursing home at Christmas but she went to my brothers on Christmas Day. My Inlaws were celebrating their 74th Wedding Anniversary in Illinois on Christmas Eve so I was in Illinois.  It was hard because my heart was with my Mother, knowing that this was her last Christmas.  I was really torn.  We left for Michigan right after Christmas.  By New Years she could not leave the nursing home.  We did our best to bring the spirit of the season to her.  We tried to have someone with her most of the time that she was awake. She could not eat much so she was not interested in food. She just wanted our company. She has 6 kids and a hoard of Grandkids, so she had lots of company. It was the only good thing about being laid off last year for me, it meant that I could spend as much time with her as I wanted to.

We had her small Christmas tree decorated and took it to her. She had at times during her illness been known to wander and she had fallen while getting out of bed so the nursing home had installed an alarm on her bed so they knew when she got up. When we visited, there was always was a group of us it seemed and not enough chairs for us all to sit. She would always invite one of us to sit on the bed with her as we visited often not remembering about the alarm. Eventually you would want to get up and your movement would sound the alarm and the duty nurse would stick her head in the door to see what was going on. Sheepishly we would smile and tell her we were sorry… again…

She received a lot of Christmas cards and lots of attention from us which seemed to make her happy. If she knew that it was her last Christmas she never let on. She was bound and determined that she was going to get better. She took her last breath on January 4, 2009. We miss her dearly but she gets to spend Christmas with Dad and Jesus this year! Love you Mom and Dad!

Blogging time.....

Computer issues and Christmas have kept me very occupied so I have had very little Blog time lately but that will soon end here and I will Blog again

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Tombstone Tuesday - December 15 , 2009

Andrew Anderson was born in Tonsburg, Norway on September 16,1883. His Norse name was Andres Andersen. He was the first son born to Hans Henrik Andersen and Ingeborg Helene Lansrudatter. They would have two more sons, Hagbart (not known) and Haakon(1891). Until about the time of Andrew’s death, we really did not know much about our family in Norway. The year after his death we received a phone call from a man in Minnesota. He indicated that he was related to the wife of my mother’s cousin and that her cousin was planning to visit Minnesota the following year. “Your cousin and his wife would like to visit you in Michigan while they are here if that would be OK.” he stated. He gave Mom contact information and she wrote them a letter inviting them to Michigan for a visit.

As a child I remember that my Grandpa Anderson spent a lot of time with us.  Grandma died the year I was born, before I was born so with Grandpa retired he had a lot of time on his hands.  We lived 45 minutes to an hour away from him so regularly he would visit.  Every Birthday and every holiday that I can remember Grandpa would come and stay a day or two.  He slept on the rollaway in the living room or family room once we built it on the house.

When Grandpa came to visit, he always brought treats with him. He brought some sweet bread from the Marine City Bakery. The loaves were round like tubes instead of square and the bread was more yellow than white. I believe it may have been egg bread but I do not know for sure but we loved it. It was my favorite toast with cinnamon sugar on it.

Every afternoon in the summer at 3 in the afternoon, Grandpa would come out of the house and sit on the porch with a pocket full of 5 stick packs of fruit striped gum. The kids from all over the neighborhood would come running and he would give everyone a piece of gum. All the kids in the neighborhood called him Grandpa. He would remind us all not to swallow it, “Make sure you spit it out in the waste basket cause I don’t want to get in trouble from your Mom” he would tell us with a wink of his left eye. We would go off to play and he would sit on the porch and watch us!

I remember one time while on vacation to the Upper Peninsula we visited the Soo Locks. While we were walking along the locks and looking at the ships, Grandpa noticed a Norwegian ship. The ship had sailors on the deck, so my Grandfather yelled something to them. My Grandfather was very gentle and soft spoken. I had never heard him raise his voice. It scared me at first but I knew he was not angry but just talking loud. I could not understand him either but the sailors on the ship sure did! As we walked, he and the sailors yelled back and forth, laughing and musing. Grandpa smiled and seemed to come alive. It seemed that he was somehow a bit different but I did not understand how or why. Grandpa and I walked the full length of the lock and he conversed with his countrymen. It was so exciting to hear him speak a different language; I had never heard any one who spoke anything other than English. I was so proud walking along with him. Eventually we reached the end of the walkway, Grandpa yelled a couple more things to the sailor and wave his hand. I saw the twinkle begin to fade and he was my Grandpa again.

I asked him who that was, and he said that the man is a sailor from Norway. I asked him “well what did he say Grandpa , what did he say? “ Grandpa said, “Oh nothing….” I was so disappointed. I thought for sure that he would tell me something exciting but he didn’t. Grandpa was a sailor on the Great Lakes for many years as a young man. It could be that this was a sailor’s conversation not meant for my small ears like mine, as I think about it now. Grandpa never seemed to talk about it again.

More about Andres Andersen and how and why he came to America in a future blog.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Tombstone Tuesday - December 8, 2009

Addie Mae (Densmore) Anderson - Andrew Anderson
Born: 10/12/1890  Died: April 1955   -   Born: 12/16/1883 Died : 12/10/1970

These are my Anderson Grandparents. My mother’s parents, Grandma Addie died before I was born so unfortunately I never knew her. She had breast cancer. The cancer was in its advanced stages by the time saw a doctor about it. My mother told me that I was quite a bit like her. She quilted and loved to sew and so do I. Her favorite beverage was tea, green tea. So is mine. For years I tried to learn to drink coffee because that was what “everyone” drank but my stomach really did not like the acid it produced so eventually I gave up and started to carry tea bags with me. I was thrilled to discover that it is good for you! And on a not so good note, Mom always told me that “you have the Anderson tummy”. The larger than it should be waistline… She said “the Anderson woman, the Densmore woman and the Hayner woman, they all had it” and mom did too. So do I! It was hard to get rid of in my 40’s and seems impossible in my 50’s. I wish I had known my Grandmother.

I have a feeling that I was more like her than Mom would ever admit. I have the old family photos and in them I have found my Grandmother was not always the conventional “lady” of the 1920’s. I have several pictures of Grandma Addie with Grandpa and with her friends and she is smoking a pipe. I tend to think that my Grandmother did not necessarily “follow the rules”. You know the standard norms of society in 1920. Women did not smoke pipes in the 1920’s but Grandma did.

Well, like my Grandma, I did not exactly follow the rules of society 50 years later. I got pregnant at sixteen and got married. The last few weeks of my junior year, (and before I was married) the school confronted me about the rumors which were circulating around the school, the rumor that I was pregnant. I very defiantly stood my ground. They tried to throw me out of school. I told them that I would finish my school year I told them that I would come to school everyday and they would give me the credits for my classes. And I did finish my junior year. I told the school officials that I would follow their “rule” for the fall semester when I was big and pregnant but I warned them that I would be back for the winter semester. I did go back to school after my son was born. I finished school and graduated with my original senior class in the spring. It was the first time that a teen mother came back after giving birth and finished her senior year. It was one of the hardest things I have every done…Take care of a newborn and do home work but I had told the school I was going do it and I was going to do it. As it turned out, my younger sister was in Jr High school  and due to over crowding, the school implemented a split school schedule so the High school building could be used for Jr High and High School. She went in the afternoon and I went in the morning so she watch my son (with the assistance of Grandma), while I went to school. I could never have done it with out her. Let’s just say quite a few of my Mother and Dad’s gray hairs came from me…

I never took the easy path. I tested every rule and followed the path least traveled. I have come to believe that it was the way my Grandma did it too. My Grandpa sailed the Great Lakes and was gone for weeks on end. That meant that Grandma was left at home to raise 8 children and run a household by herself. It meant that she made many decisions because she could not wait until Grandpa came home to help her. That is no small feat for a lady in the 1920’s and 1930’s. So I think that we were very much alike, my Grandma and me. She gave me my “spunk” that I am very proud of. Thank–you Grandma!  We'll talk about Grandpa Anderson next time!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Kisiah, Kesiah, Kiziah, Kaziah......

Sometimes when you are looking for your ancestors, a unique given name can help you track a family with a common surname like Smith. Early in my search, I found a clue that James and Susannah may have come from Darke County because of a unique given name. Her name was Kisiah Smith and she married Daniel Overly in Darke County. Daniel is Susannah’s brother. Kisiah was not married to Daniel very long. I made an assumption that she died (maybe in child birth which was more common then) but I couldn’t be sure of that. I had first found James and Susannah in Allen County Indiana and I knew that they were the parents to James W, who was the father of Alvin, who was the father of Everett, my Grandfather. I knew they were from Ohio which lead me to search for a Marriage record for James Smith and Susannah whose last name was unknown. With that search I found the marriage record for James Smith and Susannah Overly. It was the only marriage record for a James Smith and Susannah. So with that information I decided to take a close look at the Overly family. As luck would have it they had been well researched and there was quite a lot of data on them.

When I searched on the Overly name, I found the marriage record for Daniel Overly and Kisiah Smith on October 12, 1824. The name Kisiah jumped off the page at me. James and Susannah had a daughter named Kisiah and it made me wonder if they were related. Did James have a sister Kisiah? Daniel Overly had two sons in the 1830 Federal Census, one under 3 and one between 5<10 and there are two women in the household between 20 <30. I assumed that this was Kisiah and maybe a sister of hers or of Daniel’s. Later I would find a marriage record which would indicate that Daniel had married Mary Ann Glasgow by 1840. They would have Samuel, their first son in 1840. They settled in Miami County, Indiana by the 1860 Federal Census. Mary Ann has died by the 1870 Census.

I would later find a Kesiah Overly living with Henry Smith in Darke County, Ohio in the 1870 Federal Census. Are Henry and Kesiah are siblings? Is the spelling different because the census taker wrote it wrong? Could this be the first wife of Daniel Overly? Kesiah is ten years older than Henry; she is listed as 70 in the census. If this is her, where has she been for the 1850 and 1860 census? What happened to the children listed in the 1830 Census? I find a William Overly living in Pleasant township, Allen County, Indiana near the other Overly families in the Nine Mile area. He was born in 1825. This could be Kisiah and Daniel’s child? My Smith family traveled in family groups when they moved from Ohio to Indiana. Siblings and their families moved together settling in close proximity of each other and in some cases on the same plot of land which they would develp together. Nephews are found working with Uncles.

I have spent many nights trying to answer these questions. So far I do not know. Hopefully with continued research someday I’ll find this “needle in the haystack”. So much for thinking a unique given name would help me with a common surname.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Tombstone Tuesday - December 1, 2009

Rock Fall Cemetery, Harbor Beach Michigan

 Leah M Smith    Harold A Smith

 1928-2009       1928 - 1996

And a cute little cemetery story......

When my Grandkids were small I took them for a ride one day. I had planned to visit the cemetery where my Grandparents were buried. I wanted pictures of their tombstones and ride. I could always find a cemetery to visit. I wanted a photo of their tombstone and that of several other relatives. The Grandkids seemed to enjoy themselves because of the wide open space a Cemetery presents. A game of tag ensued, while Grandma snapped a few photos. It did not take too long before they were wondering what I was doing. Then they wanted to be in photos too. As the photo above shows and I did not have the heart to tell “Biscuit” that I really had not planned on her being in the photo. I explained to them that I was taking pictures of tombstones of family members who had died. Death was not an easy concept to understand so before long I quit trying to explain. Once they realized that I was taking photos of these “rocks” which had names on them, they were curious about these people we should know. In their mind each tombstone represented “someone we should know”.

After trying to explain that we did not know everyone who was buried in the cemetery, I decided to give up and take them to McDonalds! Nothing like a Chicken McNuggets and a French fries to take their mind off of something they did not understand and an hour of playing in the play yard helped too!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thanksgiving 2009 - Let us give Thanks!

Lord, Could we talk for a few minutes?

I knew you would say yes!

You are such a good listener. Wish I knew how to listen as well as you. Feel free to jump in here anytime, in case I start to ramble!

Oh yah, I knew you would do that too. In any case, I just had a few important things to talk to you about today.

First things first, do you remember those explorers you sent out. You gave them the courage to sail all over the world. They were men who sailed day and night, day after day, month after month. They left their homes not knowing if they would ever return. I can not imagine the fear that must have built up in those brave souls, not knowing where they were or where they might end up. They had no flight plan or itinerary! Nor can I imagine the joy and excitement they must have felt the day that they finally did see land on the horizon. Thanks Lord, for them, their courage, their safe travel and their discoveries!

Remember all those brave people who left Europe and came to America when it was a wild settlement. They left their known world for an unknown world. Their courage to me is incredible. They left everything they knew with the hope of having something better in our “New World”, a world that they had never seen before a world that did not exist until they created it! Thanks Lord for their safe travels and their determination to make America the land of the free.

You gave them courage to stand tall and fight for the freedom of democracy that we have today. They thanked you on the first Thanksgiving and we thank you today on our Thanksgiving of 2009. You provided them with food for their first Thanksgiving and the first brutal winter in the New World and you do the same for us today. And we thank you for continuing with that tradition for all these years.

You provided us with people who are civic minded and focused on America and making it the Democratic country that we love. You gave us people who are courageous enough to become members of our military, leaders, governors, senators, congressmen and judges. You have guided their decisions and our country has most often flourished. The road is bumpy today and has been bumpy in the past but with your guidance you have always pulled us through. We, as a people, do not always agree but that freedom is a part of our Democracy and so we Thank You.

You gave me wonderful Grandparents who loved me and whom I loved as a child but I did not understand their importance or how much they taught me until much later in life. You gave me parents who loved me, encouraged me and had the courage to let me spread my wings and fly when the time came. They "cheered me on" when I flew and were there to help "pick me up" when I fell! It takes courage to let your child fly or fall. Thank you Lord!

You gave me the world’s best siblings with whom wonderful memories have been created. You taught us to love, to share, to encourage, to champion, to support, to listen, and to enjoy! Thank you Lord and incase you are wondering, we have just gotten started with a new bunch of memories. So stay tuned!

You gave me two sons, whom I love. You gave me the courage to raise them when I was just a child and to set them free when they became adults. You helped me through the smooth sailing and the rough seas and for that I am grateful. Thanks so much for teaching me balance, for knowing when my role in their lives should be in the foreground and when it should be in the background. Your guidance is most appreciated when the line is fine. I am still listening.

And then for my second chance in marriage, thanks so much for sending my husband across my path first as a friend and then as my companion for life. Help us to learn to sail through the still waters and the rough seas enjoying the adventures which each brings.

Thanks for my Grandchildren, help me to know what they need to learn from me as my Grandparents knew what I needed to learn. Please give me the right time and place to teach them the lessons. They are so very special and carry our family on into the future.

Then there are nieces, nephews, cousins and friends who you orchestrate into our lives at the exact times they should be there. Some remain in your life for ever and others come in and out of your life but you are better for their friendship! They bless us with their gifts and we thank you for these blessings.

You have given me the opportunity to peak into the lives of my family members who have come and gone long before me and I am Grateful. You have blessed me with the ability to get to know wonderful people who I never met or who are related to me through these early settlers and for that I thanks you.

On this Thanksgiving, and each day of our lives, we are blessed! Thank You, Lord

Love, Jan

PS. You let me ramble, you have this listening thing down to a science! Have a Great Day!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Tombstone Tuesday – November 24, 2009

Charles Densmore
 December 23, 1864 – January 4, 1943

Charles Densmore was sexton for the Woodlawn Cemetery in Marine City , Michigan for 18 years. I believe that I have acquired my love for cemeteries from my Great Grandpa Charles Densmore. He loved them and I love them!

When I was a little girl, I often visited our local rural Cemetery in Washington, Michigan. As you can see from the Photo there are now house built all around it but when I was a girl it was surrounded by farm fields and 29 mile road was still a gravel road. You would see cows or sheep grazing with an occasional deer tossed in the mix. It was a peaceful place. I did not know anyone who was buried there. It was an old pioneer cemetery and I was fascinated by it. I can still recall riding my bike down the gravel road as fast as I could. I would ride up the sloping entrance of the cemetery into the center of the graveyard, jumping off my bike and dropping it in the middle of the grass.

For the next 30 minutes or so I would wander the cemetery reading the names and dates on the gravestones. In my mind I would create thrilling stories about these people and their lives. There was a Frost Family buried in the cemetery and I was sure that they could all write poetry like there famous relative, Robert Frost. (not really related that I know of but in my imagination they were...) When I found a child, they would become my playmate. One day we might play marbles and the next it might be tag or hide and seek, hiding behind the tombstones. A young woman would transform into a mother or a local farmer’s wife helping to milk cows, gathering eggs in her apron or hauling water to the kitchen. When I saw a military stone, I would imagine soldiers in their uniforms marching off to war and fighting in battles. Old men became like Grandpas letting you sit on their lap while they tell you about the old days, the really old days….Old woman became Grandmas that let you help make cookies and pies and a little mess once in a while. I wish I had written some of the stories down now. I came from a fairly large family and this was something I always did when I wanted to be alone. It was not a conscious thing as I recall but in a large busy family each member needs some alone time and this was mine. 

Some times it was fun to lie in the grass and watch the clouds as they formed and dissolved and reformed.  I would lay there with my friends who had been laying there long before me.... and have remained there long after I am gone...You might think that I am strange and that is OK... but there are very few places on earth that I like better than a cemetery!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The decade of 1860 to 1870...

The decade between 1860 and 1870 was very hard on this Smith Family. In 1861 Kisiah, the 19 year old daughter of James and Susannah died. In the 1860 Pickway County census shows, Mary Ann and her husband Jonathan have 4 children. In 1863, Mary Ann and her daughter, Susanna die and are buried in the Nine Mile Cemetery. By the 1870 Census, Jonathan and their son James W, are the only surviving members of the Kimble Family. What happened to the other children? Their names were Jacob and Mary Ann Kimble. Jacob was the oldest son born in 1854 and Mary Ann was born in 1859. They are not buried with Mary Ann and Susannah Kimble in the Nine Mile Cemetery according to the cemetery records. I assume that they must have died in Ohio prior to Mary Ann but I can find no evidence of it so far. If they had died in Indiana, then they would have been buried in Nine Mile with the rest of the family members. I have not been able to find them anywhere.

Again in 1863, James and Susanna would lose one of their children. This time it is Charles Smith. The month is not listed on the tomb stone but he is buried at the Nine Mile Cemetery. I have not found a death record but a Charles Smith from the Fort Wayne area died in 1863 in the Civil War. I suspect that it maybe our Charles. James W Smith and Joseph J Smith both enlist in the Indiana 142nd Infantry in 1864 and serve in the Civil War until they both muster out in 1865 with no reported injuries. James Smith, father and patriarch of this family would die in March of 1868. He is buried with his children in the Nine Mile Cemetery.

 It is after this very difficult decade that I search in earnest for Susannah wondering where she has gone. After looking for her with her daughters and not finding her, I started to look closer for her with her son’s and their families. Joseph was one of the easier boys to locate. When I located him, I found her too in the 1870 Census. Joseph, his new wife, Mary Catherine and one year old twin sons are living with Susannah, John, and Martha in Lafayette Township, Allen County. Near by James W. and Oella are living with their new son, William F. and a teenage Henry C Smith who now seems to be called Charles Smith. Has he taken his brothers name to honor Charles after his untimely death in 1863? I suspect that Henry's middle initial "C" stands for Charles.

In 1870, John F Smith is of age, 21 years old and working on a farm. Is he working the Smith Farm or someone else’s, I wonder?  Martha is as 13 years old and Henry C is 17 years old… though the census worker listed him as 7 years. Neither Charles nor Martha is listed as being in school either. When did "young men and young women" finish their schooling? I would guess around 12 or 13 years of age. Martha will be married four short years later when she is 17 years old. At the time of this census, Susannah Smith still has two children who are not of age yet. Next door in 1870 is Jonathan Kimble and James, Susannah’s son-in-law, husband to the deceased MaryAnn and her Grandson.

James Kimble is 11 in the 1870 census.  Jonathan has remarried and his new wife is also listed in the census but is listed above the Jonathan Kimble household almost as if she was a member of the household before Jonathan’s. I had over looked her several times in the early days of my research.

I spent quite a bit of time this week trying to untangle the Kimble Family. Wish I knew who Jonathan’s parents were or where he is buried. There are many Kimble families in Ohio in the 1850's and 1860. After the 1870 Census, I lose track of Jonathan and James again. Don’t know if they go back to Ohio or if they move further west. I keep looking for more needles in my haystack.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Tombstone Tuesday - November 17, 2009

Our Family Civil War Veteran’s Tombstones

The following are tombstone photos which I have of Civil War Veterans in our family.  We have other Veterans from the Civil War but I currently do not have photos of their tombstones.  Getting the new photo's will gives me an opportunities for future Veteran's Day blogs.

This is my Great Great Grandfather Austin Boyer from Rose Township, Oakland County, Michigan. Lillian Losee’s Grandfather on her maternal side of the family.  This stone was place by Mary Florence, Austin's wife,  to honer her husband.  It is in the Boyer Plot in Thetford Cemetery in Genesee County, Michigan. No government stone was requested.

Austin L Boyer

Born: February, 19, 1848
Died: May 27, 1908
Service: 10th Michigan Calvary, Company L

James W Smith is our GGGGrandfather from Nine Mile Indiana. This is Everett Smith’s Grandfather on his paternal side.  He is buried in the Uniontown Cemetery in Wells County, Indiana.
James W Smith
Born : July 26, 1843
Died : Jan 28, 1913
Service: 142nd Indiana Infantry,
Company D

This tombstone was provided by the government for James W's grave.  There is no tombstone with James and Oella's birth and death information.

Joseph J Smith is the brother of James W. Smith. Everett’s Great Great Uncle on the paternal line. This tombstone was place by the family no government stone was requested to honor Joseph as a veteran.

Joseph J Smith

Born : 1845
Died : December 18, 1923
Service: 142nd Indiana Infantry, Company D

Friday, November 13, 2009

Family Veterans

In honor of Veteran’s Day this week, here is a list of the American Veterans which have been identified in our family search so far.

Ohio Revolutionary War Veteran  - GGGGGrandfather Jacob Crites

Jacob Crites – 1740 – 1821 Buried in Crooked Run Cemetery in Dover Ohio. Jacob was born in Berks County, Pennsylvania.


Our GGGrandfather James Smith and his brother Joseph Smith

James W. Smith – Nine Mile, Indiana – Indiana 142nd Infantry Company C - October 20, 1864 mustered out July 14,1865 in Nashville Tennessee – Promoted from a Private to a Full Corporal.

Joseph Smith - Nine Mile, Indiana – Indiana 142nd Infantry Company C - October 14, 1864 mustered out July 14, 1865 in Nashville Tennessee

Susannah Overly Smith's nephews and cousins

David Overly - Indiana 142nd Infantry Company C – October 25, 1864 mustered out July 14, 1865 in Nashville Tennessee

Thomas Overly – Fort Wayne, Indiana – Indiana 142nd Infantry Company D –  Mustered out July 14, 1865 in Nashville, Tennessee

Samuel Overly – Nine Mile, Indiana – Indiana 5th Calvary Company D - October 31, 1862

Thomas Overly – Nine Mile, Indiana - Indiana 5th Calvary Company D - October 31, 1862, mustered out June 15, 1865 Pulaski, Tennesse 

Daniel Overly – Nine Mile, Indiana – Indiana 5th Calvary Company D  - November 29, 1864 mustered out June 15, 1865 Pulaski, Tennesse 

James Overly Sr. - Nine Mile, Indiana – Indiana 5th Calvary Company D  - November 29, 1864 mustered out June 15, 1865 Pulaski, Tennesse


GGGrandfather Austin Boyer and his brother Dennison

Austin Boyer – Milford, Michigan – Company L, Michigan 19th Calvary –  Enlisted at the age of 18 on October 14th 1863 and mustered out on November 11, 1865 in Memphis, Tennessee 

Dennison Boyer – Rose, Michigan – Company L, Michigan 19th Calvary –  Enlisted at the age of 18 on September 18th 1863, promoted to Full Corporal on 1 Jun 1865 and mustered out on November 11, 1865 in Memphis, Tennessee.

Our GGGrandfather on Leah Anderson Smith side. 
John Densmore – St Clair, Michigan – Company K, Michigan 11th Infantry 

For Tombstone Tuesday this week I will highlight the tombstones that I have for these Veterans from the Civil War.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Tombstone Tuesday - November 10, 2009

Nicholas Murray son of John and Alice Murray
died June 27, 1868 age 28 years old.

This is another beautiful metal “White Granite” tombstone at Transfiguration Catholic Cemetery in Lake County, Illinois. The Murray family was a large family in the area during the Civil War time period. I am not sure if there are other family members buried there too. I took this picture because I like the stone. I did a small amount of research once I got home.  Next time I am in the area I will stop again to see.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Hidden in plain view …

I have searched and I searched, I just can not find Susannah after 1870! In the federal census that year, she lived in Lafayette County with Joseph and Catherine, her children, Martha and John is listed with them too. Henry Charles is with William and Oella Smith, who live next door. While I was search for Susannah, I did find that Martha had married Henry Hause on June 14, 1874 though the name is spelled Hauss in the marriage records. She is 18 years old when she married. There is little information available about her because she is dead 3 short years later. I am looking for an Obit for her but so far I have not found one.

Margaret is also pretty elusive. Since Susannah counted all of her children in 1860, I spent years looking for Margaret in the decade of 1860-1870. Every Margaret in Allen and surrounding counties was a suspect but I just could not find her. During one of my visits to the Nine Mile area, I decided to check out two older cemeteries which were very close to the Nine Mile Church. It was out of curiosity more than anything that I chose to visit them. Maybe, just maybe, I would find Susannah buried there and if not her maybe someone else!

The first cemetery was West on Winter Rd. I found it the first time I visited Nine Mile because I turned left to find the church when I should have turned right. I had stopped and looked during my first visit but I had no idea who I was even looking for. The cemetery is called Albright Cemetery and has about 25 graves. The names are familiar and all of the people buried there are from early Allen County family names that I recognize from early census records.

The second cemetery was called Brenton Chapel Cemetery. It is located on Cloverdale Road, around the corner from the two cemeteries on Winter Road. Many of the names on the tombstones there are familiar old Allen County names too. I found that Letisha Davis was buried there. She is the wife of Benjamin C Davis and died on November 15, 1851. I recognize the “Davis” name because Benjamin was one of the founding members of the Nine Mile Church. And 1851 was about the time that they started the church, I had thought. I took a mental note to check this out when I got home.

When I arrived home, I went in search of Benjamin Davis. It took some time because he was not listed as Benjamin, eventually I found him listed as Ben C. Davis and he is remarried. His new wife is Margaret! “Could it be her?” I thought. With further research, I found that Margaret Smith had married Benjamin C. Davis in 1851, one year after the 1850 census and a few months after his first wife’s death. Benjamin and Latisha had 6 children and Margaret would be the one to finish raising them. Benjamin and Letisha’s children were; William (1831), Mahala (1832), Sarah Ann (1833), Adaline (1835), Columbus (1838), and Betsey( 1843).

Margaret would have her first son, James in 1853. Margaret and Benjamin would have six children in all: James (1853), Joseph H. (1856), Martha (1857), Mary Davis (1860), Lucinda Margaret (1863) and Elnora Davis (1866). It is no wonder that I could not find Margaret. First Susannah made me think that she had not gotten married until after 1860 and she appears to have died by 1867, I say “appears to have” because I can not find where she is buried either. Her last daughter Elnora was born and that is the “last known” event I can find in her life. I am thinking that she may have died giving birth to her. By the 1870 Federal Census, Benjamin is listed with his third wife Hannah E. Davis. Hannah would raise Margaret’s children and have a couple of her own.

After finding Margaret and her children, I was able to find that Martha Davis married William Putt. The Putt Family was three doors down from the Davis’s in the 1860 census. Martha, her husband and two of their children are buried in the Nine Mile Cemetery and the Putt family members were long standing members of the Nine Mile Church. Martha Putt and her children are named on the Quilt which hangs in the lower level of the Church.

I have spent time the last few days trying to find out where any of the Davis children were buried in Indiana assuming that Margaret would be with them but I still can not find her.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Tombstone Tuesday - Door County Tombstones

Northeast Wisconsin is the largest settlement of Walloon speaking Belgians in the United States. Walloon is a French dialect from southern Belgium and Flemish, a Dutch dialect from northern Belgium and is Belgium’s other official Language. In the late 1840’s the economic conditions in Northern Europe took a downturn. With this economic downturn coupled with the potato famine which intensified food shortages, families were forced to leave the Belgium country side for the city in hopes of finding work. But upon their arrival, they were to find that factories had no jobs.

Across the Atlantic conditions were very different, so the Belgians crossed the ocean and settled in Wisconsin. They would arrive in Sheboygan area near the end of July in 1853. Soon after their arrival it would become clear that they would need to go further north to find available land to settle on. In the early months of being in America while the men were looking for land to purchase, one of the children in the Phillip Hannon family died.

This child’s death caused the settlers to seek out a French Catholic Church for a funeral. They would go to Green Bay where Father Edouard Daems was visiting the St. John’s priest at the time of the funeral. Father Daems was a Crozier priest who had been born and raised in Belgium. He spoke Walloon and he was also the priest of a new Catholic church at Bay Settlement, a small community just northeast of Green Bay. Since practically all the pioneers were followers of that faith, they followed Father Daems and settled near by.

They settled in the counties of Brown, Kewaunee and Door counties near the water of Green Bay. Land would be purchased for $1.25 and acre as promised when they were still in Belgium. For the next ten years many Belgium immigrants would settle in the area of Door County which is known as Namur, Wisconsin today. Many of the original wooden structures of the Belgian Americans were destroyed by a firestorm which swept through the area in 1871. A few of the stone houses remain but you will see the more common red brick house built in the 1880’s. This cemetery is located on State Highway 57 , 0.2 of a mile east of county Highway N. It is known as Our Lady of the Snows Cemetery which is located adjacent to the red Brick Church of the same name.

These tombstones are grave markers from the early settlers in Namur, Wisconsin. Namur is named after an area of Belgium similar to a state or province near the French border which these settlers originated from. Upon investigation, I learned that some of the buildings in this settlement were moved to allow additional lanes to be built in the highway. I am not certain if this is the original location of the burial grounds or if it was moved here. I found it interesting how they placed these stones. When ever I have seen them like this before, it usually meant that the remains where moved. Most of the stones are written in what at first looked like French to me. Having taken French in High School, I was able to translate some of it. It would be through my investigation that I would learn what the language really was.

I just knew the first time I saw this cemetery that there had to be a story behind it. It has been fun investigating it. My husband and I like to go camping in Door County in the fall. We have not driven by this cemetery for a few years because we have been taking a different route. We will have to go visit the cemetery again. Now that I have learned so much about the Belgian’s who settled in this area, I will need to be more observant. Eighty percent of the land originally settled by these Belgian families’, remains in these same families today. They were known to build small chapels on their property. These chapels are never locked and open to all. Many of these Chapels are lovingly maintained by descendents of the families who built them. The Belgian Wayside Chapels are evidence of the historic faith of these Belgian settlers and the determination of their modern descendents to preserve the culture of their families.

Sources of information are:
“ Door County Living” by Katie Lott Schnorr

“ Belgian Settlement in Wisconsin Marker “ from or the Historical Marker Database.

“Aux Premiers Belges : Remembering Northeast Wisconsin’s First Belgian Settlers”

written by Cletus Delvaux

Monday, November 2, 2009

Still looking for Susannah

For the longest time, I poked through census trying to find Margaret. She was Susannah and James’s oldest daughter and seemed to me like the most logical one that Susannah could be living with after James died. I looked at all the Margaret’s who were born in Ohio in 1831. All the Margaret’s in Allen County, Wells County, Huntington County, Whitley County and Steuben and Adams Counties in 1870’s and 1880’s wondering where she could have disappeared.

Eventually I moved on to the next daughter, Sarah Elizabeth. It took some time but using the same technique I had used to look for Margaret, I found Sarah Elizabeth. First I looked at all the marriage records and then looked for those families in census records. Sure enough there she was in the 1870 census.  She had married Robert F Hood on March 26, 1861 just after the 1860 census. She would settle in Whitley County with Robert and they would begin their family.

Robert Hood came from England with his family on October 14th, 1848 arriving in New York on November 4th, 1848. Robert became an American Citizen in 1852 along with his father and several of his older siblings. He lived in the Fort Wayne area until 1858 when he moved to Columbia City, Indiana.  He studied as a journeyman in a wagon shop own by the local Blacksmith and his family. He would eventually own his own Wagon shop where he faithfully conducted business for forty five years.

Robert and Sarah Hood had three sons. Robert Hood was born in 1862. James A Hood was born in June 20, 1863 but he died in August of 1863. John William Hood was born in 1869. In the 1870 Federal Census, I am able to locate Robert, Sarah and the two surviving children. Sarah Elizabeth died on Jan 13, 1875.

The inscription at the base of Susan's Stone is for James A Hood who died as an infant. Susan inscription is on the oval plaque.

By 1880, Robert has remarried. He married Mary J. Hilderbrand on January 12, 1876 according to the marriage records for Columbia City, Whitley County, Indiana. In the 1880 Federal Census, we find that he is listed with his new wife Mary J and the two surviving son’s, Robert and John William.

Susannah was not found living with Sarah Elizabeth at any time. Nor did I find her nearby. So my search was productive because I found Sarah but I am still searching for Susannah. We will have more to come on this family in the furture.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Tombstone Tuesday - On Thursday - October 29, 2009

Tuesday got away from me so we have Tuesday’s Tombstone …on Thursday this week.

I found some more Metal tombstones last week. They were found at a Transfiguration Catholic Cemetery in Lake County, Illinois. This is the grave of Daniel Whalen. He died November 21, 1855 at the age of 52 years old. I was hoping to find more information about this couple but I do not find anything. I will continue to investigate. The original stone indicated that he was born in Wexford, Ireland in 1803. Many of the people buried in the cemetery are from Ireland. These metal tombstones were not manufactured until the 1870’s so I can assume that his wife, Mary had this monument placed after his death or at the time of her death. She was Mary Wadding who died at age 60 on March 10, 1881. These are such beautiful monuments.

Daniel Whalen orginal tombstone from 1855

Daniel Whalen metal monument placed some time later - on the right

The back side of monument has Mary Wadding listed as Daniel's wife.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Where, oh where has Susannah gone?

I have looked for her everywhere. Susannah was born the seventh child and the third daughter of Martin and Polly (Welch) Overly in around 1811. I say that because in Census records I would find a different birth year for each record. So I decided to settle on the year that the Overly / Oberlin researchers show for her birth year. Thankfully, there was extensive Overly / Oberlin research done prior to my family history project. Some time I will do a blog on the Overly Oberlin family and the brothers who arrived here from Germany.

It is believed that Susannah was born in Ohio. She married James Smith in Darke County, Ohio on December 9, 1830. They would remain in Darke County until about 1847. They would leave Ohio heading northwest to Fort Wayne Indiana with several other young adventurous families from Ohio. It is likely that they we in search of land new opportunities. A previous Blog “Branching out from here…” cover the move to Fort Wayne with the other Ohio Families.

James Smith and several of the Smith children are buried in the Cemetery at Nine Mile Indiana. Susannah’s name is listed on the tombstone but there is no record of her death or burial with the cemetery. I just can not find her. She is listed in the 1870 census and she is living with several of her children with others living near by. By the 1880 census, she is no where to be found.

So I decided to search for her daughters and there families in hopes of finding her living with them. Up to this point I had not found many of the daughters because Susannah had mislead me to believe that the daughters’ were still living at home in 1860. The first daughter I found was Mary Ann. She had married Jonathan Kimble on October 20, 1853 according to the marriage records for Allen County Indiana. Mary Ann and her family would settle near Camp Charlotte, in Pickaway County Ohio by the 1860 census. She has had four children by 1860. Listed in the Federal Census are the following children; Jacob (1854), Susannah (1855), James (1858) and Mary Ann born in 1859. Also listed with them is Amos Kimble (age 20) and Margaret Waters (age 16). By the 1870 Census, Jonathan Kimble and his new wife Sarah Jane (Maples) Kimble are living next to the newly widowed Susannah Smith with one son, James Kimble. By 1880, Susannah is gone and so is Jonathan Kimble. I do find Smith children who are in the area. I would assume that if Susannah were still alive she would be living with one of them.

Mary Ann, the first wife of Jonathan, is one of the Smith children buried at Nine Mile, Indiana with her dad. She died in 1863 five years before James. Mary Ann and her daughter, Susannah are buried together. Mary Ann’s daughter is named after her Grandmother. Jacob and Mary Ann Kimble, children of Jonathan and Mary Ann seemed to have died prior to the death of their mother but so far I am unable to find them also. I keep looking for them in Ohio.

And I keep looking for Susannah. I looked to see if she remarried. I looked for her with her children. I looked for her in Indiana and in Ohio. I looked for her with Overlys', with Kimbles’ and with Smiths’. I keep the search going because I know that she is patiently waiting for me to find her. I am certain that she is giving me clues that I have just not found yet. She remains a "needle in my haystack".

Friday, October 23, 2009

A family historian’s gold mine……..

As I left the restroom of the Nine Mile United Methodist church it took a few minutes for my eyes to adjust to the darkness. I could see the light from the stairway, leading to the exit I would use, but in the shadow to the right of the exit way I could see something else. Something hanging on the wall it seemed. As I got closer, I could see that a beautiful blend of fabrics were used to create a wonderful hand made quilt. I was simply astonished to find it here of all places. I just had to find the light so I could get a closer look.

My father had encouraged me to learn to sew when I was a child. He had 6 kids and it was not easy to keep us in clothes especially the 4 girls! So he promised us that he would provide us with fabric if we learned how to sew. And we did, all of us. The sewing machine was rarely quiet.  And he kept his promise and kept us in fabric until the day he died.  In recent years I had started to quilt so to find this quilt made me really get excited.

I felt my way around the room until I found a switch and I flipped it on. Turning to look at the quilt, I was truly amazing. Chills ran up and down my spine and the hair stood on the back of my neck as I moved closer to the quilt so I could get a better look at it. It was just a few years shy of 100 years old and in very good condition considering its age. It is a Crazy Quilt pattern made by the Ladies Aid society in 1906.

Suddenly I realized that this might be the most important clue that I could have found today. The most amazing thing is that each piece of fabric had a church member’s name embroidered on it. “Could this tell me if I had family members here?” I thought. I could barely contain myself. I really need to get back on the road toward Chicago but some how I had to capture these names, just in case there was a Smith on it! I grabbed my camera and started to snap pictures.

I very carefully zoomed in and photographed each block starting at the top row and worked my way from left to right. Twenty blocks later I reluctantly had to leave but I knew that I would be back, I just knew it!

I was so excited on my drive home. I thought I would never get there all I could think about was the names on the quilt. How many were there? How are they related to me if at all? As I drive and sorted this out in my head I decided, even if there was not a single relative on the quilt it was still a huge find for the Nine Mile Area. Just think of how many people this actually places in the area in 1906. Even though I had only been doing my family history for a short year or two, I knew that this was a huge find.

When I got home, I raced into the house and powered up my PC. I would work until the wee hours of the morning uploading pictures and looking at all the names. It would take me most of the week to transcribe them. Some of the names were difficult to read but that is OK because it just means that I will need to return for a visit again in the future. There are 295 names on the quilt. I have in the years since this discovery spent many winter nights investigating the people whose names appear on this quilt. It will be a few more years before I will have gathered all the information that I need to put the story on paper. While I am not related to most of them, because of my investigation I feel like I know them. These people have continued to build the church which my family and 8 other families started in 1853.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Tombstone Tuesday - October 20, 2009

While these people have no connection to my family I thought I would add it anyway as an interesting side note.  Yesterday was one of our few Indian summer days of this fall so I stopped on my way home from my PMP Study Group session at two interesting cemeteries along Illinois Route 176 and took some pictures of some interesting tombstones.  I have not added them to yet but I will.  The first cemetery was Ivanhoe which dates back to 1852.

As you can see there are many old stones and this is a very well mantained cemetery.  It is beautiful on a fall day.  I found some interesting tombstone style which I have never seen before. 

These are metal tombstone monuments for the wives of John Ragan.  Hannah Ragan died at the age of 32 in 1847 and Hepsibah died in 1884 at the age of 80. These monuments are beautiful  and so well preserved.  Granite stones which date back to 1870's may not be legible.

 In all of my years of investigating cemeteries, I had never seen a metal monument.  So I got on the internet and did a bit of reserach.  These metal stones are cast from zinc.  Zinc forms a coating of zinc carbonate which when exposed to the weather, is rust resistent but turns to this light blue hue.  Two men were creditied with the perfecting of casting these types of monuments in 1873, they were M.A. Richardson and C.J. Willard.  They did not have the capital to start a factory so they contracted with W.W. Evans.   Evans eventually gave up on the idea and sold the rights off to Wilson, Parsons & Company of Bridgeport, Connecticut. 

These monuments were available from 1874-1914. The government took over the factory during WW1 for the manufacturing of munitions.  After the war the demand for the metal monuments was never revived. The company was dissolved in 1939.  Several subsidiaries operated the midwest, one opened in Detriot in 1881, called Detroit Bronze which operated for 4 years before closing.  In 1886 in Chicago, American Bronze opened. It operated for 23 years before closing in 1908. In Des Moines, Western White Bronze Company operated for twenty two years, closing in 1908.  Thanks to Mark Culver for his article on "Metal Monuments of Greenwood Cemetery"  which helped me to learn about the origins of these beautiful monuments.

This is also a metal monument from the same Ragan family plot. The next Photo is of rounded top stones which I thought were unique too.  I do not recall seeing stones that were this thick with rounded tops before.

This is the Traut Family Plot.  The first stone is for Catherine Ann Traut who died at the age of 90 years old on January 13, 1904.  The middle stone was for Michael Traut who died November 26, 1880.  The last stone is for John H. Traut, son of Catherine and Michael Traut who died in 1871 at the age of 25 years and 10 months.  These stones a very hard to read as compared to the metal ones which we looked at earlier.  I hope you enjoyed your fall tour of the Ivanhoe cemetery as much as I did.

Many of the Genealogy Blogs do a article on Tuesdays called Tombstone Tuesday so I thought I would join them since I am so interested in cemeteries.  Northern Illinois has some interesting old, unique cemeteries which I like to visit so I will take you along!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

The Church that it has become…

Early in my family history search I came across a gold mine for a family historian. I was visiting the Nine Mile Church for the first time to try to verify that the James Smith buried in the cemetery was our “James Smith”. I had knocked on the door of the parsonage in hopes of being able to talk to the Minister of the church. I wasn’t even sure that this house was the parsonage but it looked like it was. It was a nice brick home much like the homes that my Grandparents had lived in while Grandpa Everett was a minister. The brick looked like the same as the bricks the church had been built with.

Eventually a middle aged woman answered the door. She was dressed in a nice pair of dress slacks with a very pretty blouse. I sensed that she was on her way out of the door for a very important meeting. I explained who I was and what had brought me to Nine Mile Indiana. The reaction on her face was a bit of surprise followed by a large warm smile. She offered her hand to me in a warm welcome. We chatted about the church a bit but she did not know much about its history. At this point in my search I could not be certain if this was my family or not. I had hoped the find out that the church had lots of old records and they would be able to answer all my questions! For a Family historian this is the equivalent of hitting the lottery! No such luck for me this day!

She was a very nice lady and as it turned out she was the minister. It bought a smile to my face. Oh much had changed since the days that Grandpa Everett was a minister. In their day, Grandma Lillian would have been answering the door. She would have had a dress on with her apron wrapped around her waist careful to wipe her hands before opening the door and inviting you in. The parsonage door was always open to visitors.

My sense that she was on her way out the door turned out to be true; she was headed to the hospital to visit with a church member. She asked if I wanted to see the church. “I’ll unlock it for you and when I return in an hour or so I’ll close it up then.” I told her that would be wonderful. We walked across the street chatting about the church and the quaint cemetery which surrounds it. She unlocked the door and opened it for me. Inviting me in, she said “enjoy your visit and I hope you find what you are looking for.” “I’ll be back in an hour or so to lock up”, she said. I went into the church and she walked back to the parsonage getting in her car and driving away. I thought to myself that it is a shame that we must lock our church doors these days. In Grandpa’s day, the church was always open. You never knew when someone would need to have a few minutes with God.

The church looked very much like the churches of my childhood. In the vestibule there were stairs leading up to the sanctuary or down to what I imagines were Sunday school rooms and a nursery. As I walked into the sanctuary, my thoughts turn to Grandpa Everett, wondering if he had ever been here. Could this have been his church? As I sat in the back of the church in the pew, I took in the beauty of this sanctuary. It is arrange much like a Theater, the pews fanned out with the focal point being the alter. It was not large but very warm and inviting.

It felt good to sit here. It felt as if I belonged. The windows allowed the warm sun shine to bath the room in a rainbow of brilliant color. It is a beautiful room. As I sat there I couldn’t help but wonder if family members who I had not met had sat in these seats. I just knew this was a place that I was supposed to have found. So many baptisms, marriages and funerals were conducted here. Families have begun, flourished and been returned to their maker within the comfort of the walls of this sanctuary.

I sat there in the peace and stillness of this beautiful church, with God, Grandpa Everett and other family members who I had not met yet but was certain that I would meet them soon.

I was disappointed to find out that there were no Church records to speak of. “Oh we have a dusty old box in the corner of the Office downstairs which might have a few things in it” the minister had stated, “but probably nothing that will help you much.”

I decided that a trip to the wash room downstairs would be necessary before I got back in the car and headed to Chicago. The basement was dark. They had a nice fellowship hall, a kitchen, a nursery and restrooms. When I came out of the rest room, I was thinking about the church as I walked toward the stair way to leave. To the left of the stairway hanging on the wall, was a quilt. I was at first startled but soon intrigued by it. It has become the most exciting find for me in my family history search so far. It was my winning lottery ticket!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Who's your Daddy?

Have you ever looked at an early Census record? Looks a bit like chicken scratching. The early Census records were used to count the population in the US and it was done every ten years as it is today. In the Early years, the free persons and slaves were not counted together. For the 1790 and 1800, the census listed the male head of household and a count for each of the male children from 0 to 10 years old in column one of the record. In column 2, a count was entered for the male children from 10 – 20 years old. A count is entered for each of the males for each ten year increment after that until age 100. The second half of the form was for listing all the females in the household and each column was 10 year increments too.

As the population grew, the government decided to break down the children into smaller groups so beginning in 1820 the male head of household was listed and the first column was for males under the age of five years old or 0-5years, then 5-10 years, 10-15years and then 15-20 years and from there it incremented every 10 years until the age of 100 years old. I have seen very few persons listed after the 70 to 80 year column in the early census records.

So in the early census it was difficult to determine a person’s parentage. It was a bit of a guessing game. I would write down the children’s names and year of birth and tally them up in 5 year increments. Then find the father’s names and look at each of the column and see if they matched. Some times it was accurate and sometimes it was a little off. Sometimes a child would die from one census to then next and there would be no real way to know that. Some times you wondered if they could count. Was it the parent’s lack of education or was it the person doing the recording.

Looks like chicken scratching to me….

Some Churches were very good about keeping baptism records in larger cities but not in the small farming communities which dotted the American landscape. As families migrated westward, early churches services were often conducted in person’s homes by lay leaders. A Circuit Minister would come around on a regular interval to conduct a Church service and that was when a child or several children would be baptized. Records were rarely kept until there was a formal Church building in which the families gathered.

Starting in 1850, the US Federal Census required that all of the names of the household members be listed on the Census. Hurray! Now we don’t have to guess who is in the family. As a result, the 1850 census helped me early in my family history research.

In the 1850 and the 1860 federal census all the Smith children were listed in the Allen County Census. The oldest Smith children are in their late teens in 1850 and by 1860 they are in their late 20’s. I really had expect they would have been married and raising their own families by then. So as I searched for marriage records I looked for them after 1860. For years I looked for them, when I did not find them I began to think that there must be a mistake. Eventually I decided that the 1860 Federal Census must have been inaccurate. I suspect that Susannah did not understand what the Census taker wanted. I suspect that she thought that the census recorder ask how many children do you have. Instead of how many children live in your household.

 I would find that Margaret married Benjamin C Davis in 1851 and Mary Ann married Jonathan Kimble in 1853. Eventually I would find that Sarah would marry Robert Hood in 1861. William had moved on to Madison County, Indiana by the 1860 Census and he was counted in both Allen County and Madison Counties. Branson would be found in Madison County a short time after William. I had spent years looking for these children and their marriages in the wrong decades.

James Smith died in 1868 and is buried in the Nine Mile Cemetery with two daughters, a grandchild and two sons who died before him. By the 1870 Census, Susannah, and some of the younger Smith children, John F, Susan and Martha, are found living with Joseph, his wife Mary Catharine and their twin sons, Ashley and Ashland.  Henry C is now listed as Charles H. and he is counted with James W Smith and his wife, Oella and their son William F who live next door to Susanna and the other family members.

So now you know a bit about Census records. They are as accurate as they can be considering that so many woman did not receive and education. They are a tool to be used with other records.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

It's Time for a church - 1853

The families living near Nine Mile are prospering. They are settling on the land, growing crops and families. James and Susannah Smith have added two children to their family, John Francis in 1849 and Susanna M in 1852 while two of the oldest daughter would marry and leave home to begin their own families. In 1851, their daughter Margaret became the 2nd Wife of Benjamin Davis, a family friend who came to Fort Wayne from Darke County with the Smith’s, the Miller’s and the Overly’s. Their 2nd daughter Mary Ann married Jonathan Kimble in 1853. Several of the children of John and Hannah Miller’s children have married and began their families too. Charles married to Sarah Dilley and they have 2 children, George and Hannah Jane. Gabriel had married Anna in Ohio prior to leaving for Indiana and Catherine married John W. Maddux. Growing families need a church to assist them in raising their children.

The following is taken from the historical records from The Nine Mile United Methodist church which has a flourish congregation to this day.

James Smith was one of sixteen founding member of the United Brethren Evangelical Church in Nine Mile, Indiana in 1853. The church is presently known as Nine Mile United Methodist Church. Interesting details emerge about James Smith and other founding members in a historical overview written for the churches 100th anniversary which reads as follows: “THE HISTORY OF THE NINE MILE Evangelical U. B. CHURCH” This church was organized at the home of John Miller by Rev. Casey with 16 charter members. Daniel and Lucy Ann Buskirk, sold one acre of ground for $ 10.00 to the trustees of the United Brethren Church, who were Gabriel Miller, Benjamin C. Davis, James Smith, Thomas Overly and Charles Miller, on January 3, 1853. For a period of five years, the meetings were held at the home of the John and Hannah Miller and at the homes of other church members, but in 1859, they erected a log church on the present grounds in section 7, Pleasant Township.”

Rev. P. Landen was then the pastor and dedicated the church. The membership continued to increase but the little log church was still their place of worship until 1868. In that year a frame building was erected. The new place of worship was called "Liberty Chapel". For a few years the church had been served through the Ossian circuit, but in 1869 it was changed to the Zanesville circuit.

In 1879 the 27th annual session of the Auglaize Conference, of which this church was a member, was held at the Liberty Chapel Church. In 1891 Liberty was again placed in the Ossian Circuit which included Ossian, Bethel, Zanesville, Prairie Grove and Liberty Chapel It remained with Ossian until 1906 when it was changed back to the Zanesville circuit along with Bethel.

As it would turn out, our Smith family would play a large role in the beginning of this church.  All the families listed in the historical doument are related to our Smith's in one way or another.  My husband and I visited it in 2003 on the 150th Anniversary.  I am sure that the congregation must have thought I was nuts because I had tears rolling down my face for most of the service.  I was very moved to be able to sit in a church which had such a rich connection to my family history.  Later the congregation would learn that I was the Great, Great, Great Granddaughter of James Smith one of the 16 founding members of the Nine Mile United Methodist Church.  My Grandfather, Rev. Everett A. Smith, himself a Methodist Minister, would have been proud to have known that his family , our family, played such a large role in this church.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Branching out from here.....

It’s 1850 in Pleasant township, Allen County, Indiana  in a small town called Nine Nile.  It’s nine miles from Fort Wayne so what else would you call it? There a Smith Family who lives there and they have 10 children. They came from Darke County, Ohio a few years back along with other Ohio families.  They traveled with the Millers, John, Hannah (Smith) and their children, the Davis', Benjamin C, Letishia and their children and the Overly's, Thomas, Emeline and their children. It was a hard trip in wagons to cover the 80 distance miles to get here but James and Susannah Smith have been married for twenty years now.  They have known hardship before and knew that they would experience it again.  It is a part of living in this time and place. Susanna was the daughter of Martin and Polly Overly of Darke County Ohio when they married on December 9, 1830.  She is the sister to Thomas Overly.  James Smith and Hannah (Smith) Miller are siblings too.

Much has changed in those twenty years since the Smith's were married.  Many people were settling in Ohio and it was getting hard to find a place where you belonged.  Land was being gobbled up and there were not too many opportunities left.  So families were moving further west. Now they live on a plot of land that they are improving. It is in Pleasant Township, in Allen County in the state of Indiana. They must remove the trees and clear fields so they can grow crops on the land. In time the government will make it their land. It is hard work but there will be a reward in the end. Susanna’s brother Thomas and his wife and their family live with the Smiths as do James’s nephew Charles and his new wife Sarah (Dilley).  All the men and family members who are able, work hard to clear the land and get the first crop in with hopes of bright new beginnings.

James and Susanna would have their first child in 1831 in Ohio, her name is Margaret. Then Mary Ann came in 1833, Sarah Elizabeth in 1834 who was followed by William in 1835 and Branson in 1838. They finally had two sons! Branson would be followed by Charles in 1840 and by a daughter named Kisiah in 1842. The next child born would be James W. Smith in 1843. He would be the last of the children born in Darke County Ohio. Between 1843 and 1847 the Smith family left Ohio and settled in Nine Mile, Indiana. Joseph J Smith would be the first Smith child was born in 1847 in Indiana. The next child born in 1849 was John F. Smith.

Listed is the 1850 Federal Census for the state of Indiana, Allen County, Pleasant Township. The last Family listed on this page is James Smith and the remaining Smith children are on the next page.

James, Joseph and John Francis are listed on the top of the next page. The family listed in the Census following James and Susanna is James’s nephew Charles Miller and his new bride, Sarah. The next family is Thomas and Emeline Overly and their children. Thomas is Susannah Smith’s brother.

The time has come for us to give "Thanks".  To Unite as a family and show God how grateful we are for all the blessing that he has bestowed on us.

Friday, October 2, 2009

….and a visit with a local historian…

The road trip continues ….and a visit with a local historian…

From the cemetery at Nine mile, I would travel south three miles or so looking for the Hoverstock, Cemetery at Zanesville, Indiana. I noticed that there was a man smoking out in front of a small local market. Since I did not have a map and I was quickly running out of time, I decided I would ask for directions to the cemetery. I spoke to the butcher and he explained that Hoverstock was just down the road a half a mile or so. He said that the oldest graves would be on the east side of the road and the main cemetery is now on the west side. He told me that I should stop to see the local town historian who lived in the house at the end of the street. Her name was Melba. I thought to myself that would visit her after going to the cemetery IF I had time. I was able to locate Oella Smith’s parent’s graves, Walter and Mary Denney. I also located the graves of Cora Crites’ Grandparents, Jesse and Elizabeth (Meyer) Crites but not Cora parents, John and Emma (McGoogan) Crites. I found other McGoogan graves and wonder if they were related.

After leaving the cemetery, I decided that I would visit Melba Edwards but I would need to keep it short. So I located the house. She lived in an old home which I would later learn was originally her Grandfather home, it reminded me of my house in Fox River Grove which was built in 1902. It had an old fashion doorbell which I rang. As I waited I thought, “This is crazy you are just dropping in on the woman. You don’t know her from Adam.” She was a round faced woman with a colorful character. She greeted me warmly as if she had known me for ever and had expected me to visit her that day. As you walked into her home it was like walking back in time. It was a bit dark at first but once your eyes adjusted it became obvious that the home was full of the all the original furniture and much, much more. I would learn that her Grandfather had been the local doctor in the area between 1890 until around 1940. She was the local historian. I explained that the man down the street had insisted that I stop by and that I hoped I was not interrupting her. She said “Of course you are not, dear…” My time with Melba became the fastest two hours of my life.

This woman lived and breathed the history of Zanesville, Indiana and the neighboring communities. She has the medical ledgers of her Grandfather’s practice and other doctor’s records from in the area. She was able to provide me with a peek into the medical history of my GG Grandparents, John and Emma Crites as well as some of the Denney family members. Grandma Emma was very sick for several years in the late 1890’s while we could not know for sure what she was sick from she had accumulated some large bills and the Dr visited her everyday for several weeks with what appeared to have been rebounds of the same illness which happened several times over the course of many years. Grandpa John would end up with a bill of over 57.00 which was a lot when the cost of having a baby was 50 cents and an Office call or home visit was 5 cents. Grandpa John spent a long time paying off Emma’s medical bill by providing cords of wood to the DR, Melba’s Grandfather and some of his patients and family members. He also fixed a roof and did some general repairs for him on a house that he owned that a relative lived in when ever the Dr needed them. It is at this point in these two hours when a close loving bond formed for me with my GG Grandparents. I saw the hard working Americans that I came from and I was overwhelmed.

Melba had book cases full of old books and ledgers. She had the ledger for the local mercantile who showed that Grandpa John has a sweet tooth and Emma sewed frequently. She made the dusty old documents come to life reviling the sweet characters who were my GG Grandparents. I could have stayed in her house for days learning all I could about these people but I had a small tiny baby waiting to meet me too so I had to leave. Oh was I ever late, I had figured that I had about three or four hours that I could spend in the area before I needed to get on the road again… I had been there almost six hours. I called Sue, my sister to let her know that I was OK and on the road again but I would be late.

I got to meet several people that wonderful fall day. A brand new tiny baby, named Elizabeth and my elderly GG Grandparents who were long gone from this world but who had waited a long time for me to discover them….and a local historian who is passionate about one small town in Indiana.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Fall road trip.....

My granddaughter Elizabeth Mae Tietz was October 13, 1999.  A few days later, Grandma Jan took a couple of days off from work and decided a road trip was in order. I love fall, I probably never told you that but I LOVE the colorful leaves, the crisp morning and evening air and a new crop of apples! There is an aroma in the air on a prefect Indian summer day that reminds me of heaven. I know it instantly and I want it to last for ever. I close my eyes and bask in the warmth of the sun and take very deep breaths of this wonderful aroma. I do not know if it is the smell of leave changing but it is an aroma that only happens on a perfect fall day.

My road trip to see Elizabeth began on such a day. I live in Chicago and she lives in Capac, Michigan. I decided to take the long way to Capac, Michigan by way of Fort Wayne, Indiana. Yes. I know what you are thinking! I left first thing Friday morning figuring I would have a few hours to check out a cemetery or two.

I love cemeteries, I always have. I remember as a school girl, I would ride my bike to a small country cemetery down the road from our house. This was a very old cemetery and I visited it often. As I read the names and dates on the tombstones, I would make up stories in my head about the people in the cemetery. Some of my made up stories were about rich people, some were about poor people, some were old people and some were about very young people. I always pondered why they died and how they had lived.

I decided to take a more rural route to Fort Wayne to get away from traffic. I took a US Highway 30 through northern Indiana from the south east suburbs of Chicago to Fort Wayne. The fall leaves were beautiful. The sun was shining and I traveled the whole distance with the window rolled down absorbing every second of the fall ride. My first stop was at the Methodist church at Nine Mile Indiana. I had found records which indicated that my Smith Family had likely lived nearby and that the father James and some of the children may be buried in the cemetery at this church.

I found a section of the cemetery in the northwest corner which had the oldest stones. There did not seem to be Smith family stones anywhere.  Eventually I would find a pile of stone carefully placed on a worn base.  When I moved them, I was thrilled to discover that they were the Smith stones I was searching for.

All these pieces are actually one stone. The church burial records which I would later obtain from a cemetery trustee would show that James, Charles, Kisiah and a baby named Barberry are all buried in this plot and listed on this stone. Susannah is also on the stone but the church has no record of her being buried here.

James Smith died on March 24, 1868. Charles Smith died in 1863. I believe he died while serving in the Civil War. I have been unable to obtain his records but there is a Charles Smith listed as killed from Indiana in 1863. I will continue to work to verifying this information. I believe that the loss of Charles was a contributing factor to the enlistment of Charles brother’s James W. Smith (my GGGrandfather) and Joseph J. Smith in 1864. Kisiah died in 1861. She was 19 years old. I do not why she died. I do not know an exact date which will make it difficult to obtain a death record. Barberry died as an infant and no date is listed. To date I do not know when Susannah died either. She was alive and counted in the 1870 census after the death of James but I do not find her in the 1880 Census ten years later. She continues to be a needle in my haystack.

The remaining Smiths' buried in the Nine Mile Cemetery are in the plot to the south of this worn base stone. I noticed the stone that day but I did not record it.  I noticed it because the stone looks like it is growing out of a tree.  I thought to myself, "what a shame".  A tree has grown in that woman's grave. I read the name on the stone but thought nothing of it.  After returning home and obtaining burial records from the trustee of the cemetery, I realized that Mary Ann Kimble and her daughter Susanna, who are buried in this grave are the daughter and grandaughter of James and Susannah Smith.  I have made many visits to this cemetery and will like return many times more....Soon fall road trip will continue in the next segment of my blog...