Friday, August 28, 2009

I'm from Roanoke, Indiana

When I was a teenager, I remember asking my Grandpa Everett where he was born. I no longer remember the details around why we had the conversation but just that we did. Grandpa replied that he was from Roanoke, Indiana. I remember making some very immature teenage type judgment about where he had come from. My first thought was “OH, why would you want to live there?” (Indiana, I mean) as if he had made this conscious choice to be born there. This thought was due to a memory I had of riding home from a recent vacation in Minnesota thru Northern Indiana. We were stuck in traffic on the expressway. (I80/I94) It was overcast and I was seated, facing backwards in the third seat of a black station wagon with the hatch window open. The air was still, stagnate and thick with pollution. It stunk, to be honest. The air was full of fumes from the cars sitting idle on the expressway and the plumes of pollutants spewing into the air from the nearby steel mills. The gray sky was streaked with a brown haze. As I looked into the back yards of the houses along the freeway, I wondered why any one would want to live in Indiana. Fast forward 30 years or so and now, I travel the expressways from the northwest suburbs of Chicago to Michigan regularly. I chuckle at my self often when I travel the distance now. Some things never change, I am stuck in traffic often but thanks goodness for air conditioning and government regulated pollution controls. The sky is no longer brown but unfortunately the steel mills are closed.

So I began my research for my family in Roanoke, Indiana. Grandma and Grandpa’s bible told me that Grandpa’s parents were Alvin and Cora Smith. I sent an inquiry letter to the Huntington County Library. A very nice lady did a bit of research for me and found a marriage record for Alvin and Cora Smith. The record told me that Alvin’s parents were James W. Smith and Celia Dennie and Cora’s parents were John Crites and Amanda McGoogan. They were married on December 24, 1892. Cora and her family were from Uniondale, Indiana which was in nearby Wells County. John and Amanda (Emma) Crites are the couple in the picture in the previous post. The house in the picture is Emma's house in Uniondale, I would later learn from a fellow Uniondale researcher. James W. Smith was not to be found. Alvin’s parents blended into the Haystack of Smith families in northeastern Indiana. It would take me a year or more to find them about 10 miles away in Allen County. Eventually I also found out from Grandpa birth certificate that he was born in Uniondale, Indiana at the home of his Grandparents, John and Emma Crites. This was the first of my wild goose chases.

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