Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The first week of December...

How many times did you visit the mall this week? This month? Or this year? This week with Christmas fast approaching, I could not help but remember a Christmas from my childhood. When I was 6 maybe 7 years old, I remember that we started an annual tradition. Dad's day off was Tuesday, my favorite day of the week. I think it still is...anyway. He and Mom came to our school in Washington, Michigan and picked us up after school let out for the day. There would be no long bus ride home today. They had a surprise for us. We piled into the station wagon and headed to the city. We sat in the back seat with our eyes glued to the windows. We lived in rural Macomb County. It was farm country so a trip to the city was a "big deal" for the country kids.

As we drove from one small town to the next, we saw wonderful holiday lights and decorations. Stores with their windows all decorated for Christmas. We drove past grocery stores, drug stores, schools, churches, factories, hospitals and some buildings that were so big I did not know what they were. The closer we got to the city, we saw more and more stores, more and more lights and decorations. The towns got closer together and eventually it seemed as if it was one BIG city. There were no empty farm fields, just houses, stores, parking lots and other big building one after another for as far as you could see.

We kept asking where we were going but Mom and Dad would just say "you'll see." She told us to think about what you want for Christmas. What do you want Santa to bring? It began to snow which made the moment even more magical, more like Christmas to me. I don't remember being concerned about the snow or riding/driving in it, like I am sometimes today. Fear is a learned behavior, don’t you just wish that you could unlearn it sometimes...

Eventually we turned into a large parking area which seemed full of parked cars. It did not seem like there would be room for us! Dad drove up and down the lanes looking for a place to park. It seemed as if it took forever to find one and three little voices kept asking, ”Where are we? Where are we? Where are we?”…”put your hat’s on, get your gloves”, is all Mom would tell us. We will get out of the car soon. And that is just what we did. “You gotta hold my hand now!”, we were told.

Soon we walked into a large building. We walked down a walk way and into a Christmas Wonderland. And there he was, it was Santa Claus! I was so scared, hiding behind my mother’s leg. I could hardly believe it was him. There was a long line of children with their parents waiting to see him. I had never seen him in person before. “ What would I say”, I thought. He was so big and I was so small. “Do I have to sit on his lap”, I asked. “Only if you want to,” Mom replied. As the line inched closer and closer to him, my heart raced and I did not know what to do.

Soon it was our turn, Pam got right up there like she was not afraid and told him what she wanted. Then Sue’s turn. She seemed timid but told Santa what she wanted. When it was my turn, I froze and stared. I touched the pant leg of his suit and it was soft as velvet. He spoke and tried to get me to come closer, “climb right up here on my lap” and I just could not do it. When he asked what I wanted, I could not speak. (now you all know the real me…who can’t be quiet…right?) He asked if I wanted a doll and I nodded my head yes, eyes as big as saucers and my mouth hanging open. I was in such awe and time stood still.

As we were leaving, Pam said, “ how come you didn’t tell him what you wanted?” but all I could say was, “I did not know”. We hurried back to the car. I did not know how Dad could find it with all the other cars in the parking lot. We made our way through the parking lot and back onto the busy roadway. It was a short distance later and Dad turned into another parking lot. When we asked Mom where we were going she said, “to get some dinner.” I thought that is odd, we never go “get dinner”, you make it. As we got out of the car, I could smell dinner! We entered the front door and it looked much like a place that I had seen on TV. They sat us at a round table with a vinyl bench which wrapped all the way around the table. It was one big seat that we all could sit in at once. I remember having the best fried chicken in the world last night. I thought I was in heaven. As we left, I asked “what’s the name of this place” … “Howard Johnsons”, my Mom replied.

This was the beginning of a tradition which we did annually…the first week of December on Tuesday evening. We would go to the mall / shopping center once a year....

I hope that you have a wonderful Christmas full of great memories old and new!

Merry Christmas!



Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday - December 21, 2010

Rock Fall Cemetery, Harbor Beach, Michigan

I believe this is Dorothy E. (Shobert) Sherrell‘s husband James. Unfortunately we did not have tools which would have allowed us to clean off this stone so we could read it. It could be done if needed at some point in the future. The sod has simple grown onto this stone. It was Thanksgiving and we have had very cold weather so the ground was frozen.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday - December 14, 2010

Dorothy E. Shobert born in Harbor Beach, Sand Beach Township, Huron County, Michigan in January 14, 1906.  Her parents were Leonard and Martha Shobert. Leonard was originally from New York and Martha was from Canada.  Martha was the second wife of Leonard Shobert.  His first wife was Celia and she was highlighted in last weeks Tombstone Tuesday. She died on Dec 22, 1996 in Southfield, Oakland County, Michigan and is buried in Rock Falls Cemetery in Harbor Beach with her husband James C Sherrell.

Dorothy's tombstone photo was requested through

Happy Family history hunting!


Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday – December 7, 2010

                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Celia Shobert was the wife of Leonard Shobert. She was born in New York on June 10, 1878, the daughter of Irish Immigrants according to the 1900 Michigan Census for Sand Beach, Michigan.  The Census also shows that Celia and Leonard have two sons, Lloyd and Burton. As you can see she dies a short 5 years later. Leonard would marry  Martha in 1907 and they would have a daughter, Dorothy, in 1909. 

I was in this cemetery to obtain photos per requests from which is what lead me to the Shobert Family plot in the Rock Falls Cemetery.  So I took pictures of all the family members tombstones in the plot.  I'll show Dorothy gravestone in a future blog.  I was not able to find out too much more about Celia. I am not related to this family.

It was a beautiful day but very windy and cold!

Happy Family History Hunting!

Jan Smith

Monday, November 22, 2010

Teddy Bears by Dave....

After the week in Watseka we returned home. Greg went back to his work schedule and I have mountains of laundry from my trip to Denmark and the week in Watseka. Just as I settled in to my routine and I was notified that my former brother-in-law, Dave Showler had died. At age 52, he had a massive heart attack. It was such a shock. So I traveled to Michigan to attend his memorial service on the 23rd of October.

Dave was a great guy who happily played stay at home Dad for his daughters. He got them off to school each day and was home to meet them when their day was done. Amy works for Ford and Dave’s schedule was more flexible than hers. He was a great Dad and he loved the role.

Twenty five years ago when I was married Amy’s brother, Dave and Amy came to visit us in Arizona. Dave brought with him a set of bears that he had made for me. You see, Dave’s Mom had turned the family garage into a Fabric store. Mary Tietz and I had spent many hours in her store purchasing fabric for my kids clothes. We became quite close to Joyce, Dave’s mother. SO that is how I first met Dave. I would see him running out of the house and off to football practice, band practice or something at the school.

Then later he would start dating Amy, my sister-in-law. I had not realized that David had learned to sew. I should not have been surprised but I was when he told me that he had made the bears for me. “You did ?” I asked. “You mean your Mom did, right?” I said. “No I did!” Dave said. I was surprised. In our house all the girls learned to sew but the boys did not.

Through the years we found out that Dave was no ordinary man. He was an extraordinary man. He was a loving father and being that stay at home parent was the most important thing to him. He was a loving husband and companion to Amy. I have been divorce from Amy’s brother for 20 years now. I do not know my nieces very well and they do not know me at all. But what I saw of them at the service told me that Dave and Amy have done a great job of raising them and they are going to miss their Dad

Those bears spent twenty five years in my house and I thoroughly enjoyed them. I decided that it was time for them to go home where they belonged. So I took them to the memorial service and gave them back to Amy for her and the girls to enjoy.

Will miss you Dave. Rest in Peace.



Saturday, November 6, 2010

Where has the time gone....

Where has the time gone? It is now November and this weekend the snow has begun to fly in Indiana. I meant to get right back at my blog when I returned from my trip in September but so much has happened which was just more important! Family events we would rather not think about but when the day comes, you make the best of them.

The first event was the death of my father-in-law, James Henry Gerkin on the day after my return to the states from Denmark, September 22, 2010. He was failing while I was over seas and I knew the end was near. I sat in a cathedral in Copenhagen asking God to help him hang on until I could get home. You might think that it was selfish of me but I really did it for my husband. I did not want him to be alone when he got the news that his father had died. My husband supported me when my parents died and I want to do the same for him.

As I emptied my suitcase and started laundry from my vacation, I repacked a smaller suitcase with clothes for a wake and a funeral. We called the Razzano House Bed & Breakfast and reserved a room. The week was a busy one. All of the Gerkin family members were able to make it to Watseka for the wake and the funeral. The weather was still sunny and warm, beautiful early fall days. It was good to see everyone but we wished it had been for other reasons.

James was such a gentle man. I have only known him for 17 of his 96 years of life but in those 17 years, I never heard him raise his voice. I have seen him mildly irritated but never really mad. He treated everyone that he came in contact with gentle, tenderness. He was a faithful Christian man who had planned to make it to his 100th birthday if God had been willing. He is missed but he was blessed with 96 years of life. So be it!

James Gerkin at one years old in 1914

I am sure that as Jim entered into heaven he too probably asked, “ Where has the time gone?” 96 wonderful years of life - So be it!

Friday, October 15, 2010

October 15th and way overdue!!!!!

It’s October 15th and I am way over due! I put my genealogy stuff aside for abit. I was beating my head against my brick walls so I have taken a few months off. I have been really busy with some of my other passions (Quilting) and have done some traveling. I went on a trip of a life time with my siblings. We left September 9th , 2010 and flew to Denmark after meeting in Atlanta, Georgia.
Upon our arrival in Denmark, we were met at the airport by Bjarne and Ingrid. Bjarne is my mother first cousin and our cousin once removed. He and Ingrid visited us in July and now we have arrived to visit them.

Copenhagen’s airport did not look much different than any airport in the US…Many happy people were arriving and being met by friends and relatives. Ingrid had an American flag that she was waving vigorously with a HUGE smile on her face and Bjarne was looming over the crowd with a huge grin too. We never have to worry because we will always see Bjarne in any crowd. He is very tall and Ingrid is quite short so there she was with her flag. It was an awesome welcome for 6 American! After getting our bags, we exited the airport and everything changed….We are in Denmark!

All the cars are small. Compact small because the streets are narrow and Europeans/ Scandinavians’ live quite differently the we do. A family MAY have one car and some families do not own a car. They use trains, buses, ferries, they walk and ride bikes. People use bicyles to go everywhere. They take them on the trains, they have covered or underground parking for bikes! They have bike lanes and bicyclist have the right of way! The country's modes of transportation are much different than our in the US.

So the first dilemma was how to get 8 adults to Bjarne and Ingrid’s home in Glostrup using one compact size car! Well, we had two options, shuttle everyone in shifts or catch a cab for half and Bjarne drive half. We decided on the later. Bjarne and three took the car and Ingrid and the rest of us took a cab. We were not more than 20 minutes from the airport.

More soon…

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Leaving on a jet plane....

I always like that song.  It has been a busy week. Am leaving tomorrow for Denmark to visit with relatives. I probably will not get much Genealogy Research done because we will not be in Norway very long but that is OK.  It will just mean that I will have to go back or get help remotely.  I'll take lots of Photos and if I find any interesting cemeteries, I'll get photos for Tombstone Tuesday blogs. So until I have time for blogging, see you later. Take care and stay tuned!


Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The priviledge of having siblings....

Lucille and Harold Smith

My father was Harold Smith. He was born on August 29th in 1929. He was the only son of Everett and Lillian Smith. He had an older sister Lucille who died when she was a child so he did not have the joy of having siblings. When he married my mother, Leah Anderson, I believe that it was his plan to have a large family right from the start. Leah had come from a family of eight children and very different upbringing then my father had as an only child.

They had my older two sisters and me in the first 5 years of their marriage and a pause for 5 years. He established himself in the retail business world, first working for J. C. Penneys in Lapeer and then worked for Egglestons in Lapeer and eventually in Romeo. In 1955, the year that I was born, we moved to the Fritz subdivision on 29 Mile Road in Romeo. He was a hard working man who had gotten his business degree and helped to build the Eggleston business before moving on to work with the Mitzeldfeld's Department store in Rochester, Michigan. During his years at Mitzeldfeld's the store grew exponentially and became a very large, highly regarded and well known business in a time of small family operations and decades before the "big box stores" of today. It was a busy time with a growing family.

The second half of our family came start ed to arrive in 1960 with another daughter. I think that Mom was beginning to think that she would have a house full of girls but Dad would coax her, “ Leah I would really like to have a son.” I remember the year that my brother Mark was born, Dad had bought a model train at Christmas time. It was a Christmas gift for the new baby coming in January according to Dad. If the baby turned out to be another girl, she was going to like trains! Mark was born on January 15th and was the boy that Dad wanted so badly. It wasn't long  and Dad was teasing mom “Mark really needs to have a brother! Every boy needs a brother!” And then their family was complete with the birth of Matt in July of 1964.

And then there were six of us. He gave us the opportunity that he himself did not have. We all grew up together and were able to enjoy family experiences time six. Some times it was chaotic and but it was always fun. There was always someone to play with. There was always someone fight with, wrestle with and cry with when you banged your knee. There was always someone else to blame; “I did not do it!” but you learned quickly to never squeal on each other either. If one got in trouble, we all did! There was always someone to try on your idea with and someone to conspire with. We taught each other things we should do and things we should not do.

My Dad had the sole responsibility of taking care of his parents as they aged. Grandpa Everett had MS and was confined to a wheel chair. Dad never complained as he assisted his mother and father in those years. He made certain that they were present for every holiday and every family occasion as we grew up. This was in the day before handicap parking and wheel chair lifts in vans. It was a huge undertaking to bring Grandma and Grandpa out to Romeo or Imlay City from Detroit to participate in all the holidays, family birthdays, weddings and important family events. We helped him when we could but we were kids.

There was always a friend willing to lend a hand. A man from Church or a neighbor from across the street.  I think that he knew what he had missed out of by not having a sibling and he made sure that his children would not miss out of the experience.
My Dad did not live long enough to give us the chance as adults to take care of him. He died quite suddenly the day after his 67th birthday, August 30th, 1996. That was 14 years ago. We miss him as much today as we did the day he died.

Every time that I gather with my siblings I am reminded how important it was to my Dad that I had the wonderful sisters and brothers that I have. I am reminded how important it was to him that we were not left alone when he and Mom died. I am reminded how much they loved us and all that they taught us and how much they allow us to learn from each other. I am reminded how important as a family we are to one another. I am reminded that we must as individuals walk the path that is our own life but we do not have to walk it alone. I am reminded that they also gave us the faith in God which will always pull us through every event in our lives.

Next week my siblings and I will travel to Denmark and Norway to visit family members of my Mother’s family. We know that Mom and Dad are with us in spirit. We know that they are happy that we are getting this opportunity to meet family members who live in far away places. We will think often of Mom and Dad in the coming days and how happy they would have been to take this trip with us if they had been here. We can thank Mom and Dad for giving these six children of theirs the opportunity and the privilege of having one another.

Tombstone Tuesday - August 31, 2010

Today’s Tombstone Tuesday come from Rest Lawn Memorial Park in Kent County, Michigan near Grand Rapids. This photo was taken by a very nice volunteer Photographer named Marni Turnbull Rose through the website. Marni took this photo for a friend of mine Anita Maijer – Schrot who lives in Germany. She and I met through Facebook because we shared a common interest, family history and genealogy research. I have helped her from time to time do research on some of her family members who came to the US and settled in Grand Rapids Michigan. It has been so nice to meet this lady and share with her the experience of discovering who her ancestors were and where they settle.

Yesterday a wonderful lady named Deb at the Rest Lawn Memorial Cemetery looked up Anita ancestor’s burial location for me. I had called on Saturday and spoke to very nice man who told me that if I called on Monday that “Deb would be glad to look up these people and their burial sites for you.” So on Monday I talked to Deb and she was able to tell us that Albert and his wife Rekka were buried at Rest Lawn and that they buried in Section 16, Lot 14, Graves 5 and Grave 6. Albert is in grave 5 and Rekka is in grave 6.

We were also looking for Albert’s father Douwes Maijer but we were not able to find him.

Marni was lucky enough to also find two fawns peacefully napping near the graves of Albert and Rekka Myer.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday - August 24, 2010

It’s Tombstone Tuesday time again. I have missed a couple cause I have been so darn busy…I have decided to take a break from my research to see if I can break through a brick wall. Or at least take a break until I get to Norway. Then maybe I can get some information on the Norwegian side of the family. So tonight I am going to show you tombstones which are for people who are not related in any way. I have found a met a new friend thru Facebook from Germany who is also interested in family history.  She has family who came to America and settled in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  So she had had me look up some information for her family research. Last week we entered some information in about her family members and requested photos of some tombstones.  A very nice researcher from the area immediately helped us out the very next day. Anita was thrilled.  So those are the tombstones for this week…

Bertha Meyer      James Meyer
1885 – 1959       1886- 1965

I am so glad that we could help my friend, Anita, find these tombstones of her family members in the Oakhill Cemetery near Grand Rapids.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Genealogy roadblock or brick wall.....

It just seems like no matter where I look, I find the same information and the same roadblock. It is time to concentrate on something else for a while but I just can’t seem to quit looking. There must be this bit of information right under my nose which I can not seem to make sense of.

Through my genealogy research I have noticed a couple of things about roadblocks or brick walls. You know how people say, “why don’t you sleep on it?” Well I need to follow that advice….and I know it! Deep down inside my heart, I know what to do. I know that the clue I am looking for is out there. I may have been looking at it for some time and not realizing that it is the key which will break the brick wall wide open. I have spent a great deal of time looking at the Smith Families from Darke County this year. And it is time for me to look at other families … OR NO Genealogy research at all.

I have learned that when I can totally separated myself from my research for a period of time, not one day, not one hour, more like weeks or even a couple of months, when I return to my search, I will always break down a brick wall. But as long as I keep looking the information stays murky at best and out of sight. Now if you are reading my blog, you have probably have experienced this as well.

Early in my research, there was so much information to be found that the bits came out of everywhere I looked. I learned something new every evening I did research and the more I found the more I wanted to know. Every piece of information brought more questions and the continued search for more people. Fifty people in my tree became one hundred and fifty which became one thousand and fifty and exponentially it has grown to near 4000 people. With that growth comes and yearning or a compulsive desire which builds on the “knowing” that the information is out there and it could be found with the next search that you make!

Then the search turn into another and another then you find another bit and the compulsion is fed and the search continues…on and on in the vast space we call the internet. Who would have guessed 150 years ago that a middle aged woman could sit in front of a piece of equipment and find the pension file for her GGGrandfather which the US government neatly packed away in the National Archives to preserve it for all time…Heck, I am sure that my Grandfather 25 years ago would never have believed it…He started all this by tell me that he born in Roanoke, Indiana when he was born in Uniondale, Indiana!

So I am going to TRY….to take the breather that I know that my search needs!!!!!

Ah…maybe next week…and for sure when I leave for Denmark on September 9th….because the PC is stay home…

Good night and good searching!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday - August 3, 2010

Willis “Ray” Smith (known as Ray Smith)was born on May 23, 1895 in Madison County, near Pendleton, Indiana. His parents were George Albert and Esta (Valentine) Smith. He was a farmer in the area all his life. He was a trustee for the Green Township for 16 years. He was on the Green township Advisor board for 12 years and during WWII sat on the selective Service board. He attended Pendleton Christian Church. He died on August 27, 1865 and was buried in Grove Lawn Cemetery in Madison County, Indiana.

He married Gertrude E. McCashland on February 27, 1918.  They had three children, Willis R, Bernard and Hugh Smith.

George Smith was the son of Branson and Emily (Kinnamon) Smith. Branson was the son of James and Susannah (Overly) Smith.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday - July 28,2010

 John Crites is my GGGGGrandfather. He was born in Pennsylvania  on January 6, 1797.  The Crites Family including Jacob, John's father, became some of the earliest settlers in the Dover, Ohio area some time prior to the 1820 death of Jacob Crites.  John was the 10th child of 11 children born to Jacob and Elizabeth Crites. John was a very prominent farmer in Tuscarawas County, Ohio.  In his later years he became very good at working with wood.  He made and sold many fine pieces of furniture and cabinets.  He married Mary Walters on March 19, 1822. John and Mary would also have 10 children.  He died on September 6, 1859. He is buried in Crooked Run Cemetery with his father, Jacob, who is my relative which connects me to the DAR organization.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Trying to wrap my mind around it….

I just spent the last couple of hours watching the Deadliest Catch. It was the second to the last Episode for this season and a special show highlighting the life of Phil Harris. Watching TV is not unusual for most people but for me it is. I watch very little TV. An occasional “good” movie or a true story /Discovery channel or Learning channel program is about all I watch. I just can’t sit still that long not doing something…but I did tonight. I had seen an episode or two of the Deadliest Catch a few years back and I really liked it. Then we changed from satellite to cable trying to save some money after I got laid off and we did not seem to have it anymore on. But I did see bits and pieces of information about it on the internet and I had heard about Phil Harris.  He was the captain of the Cornelia Marie, a crab fishing vessel which operated out of the Bering Sea. He died on February 9, 2010 after having a stroke on January 29, 2010.

As I watched it tonight, there were a few things that I had trouble wrapping my mind around…He was born in 1956…I was born in 1955. He was younger than me. He was pretty hard on himself. He smoked a lot…I am so glad I conquered that habit. There was a time when I smoked too much too. Makes me wonder why some people can conquer it and others can not. It sounds like he had a lot of fun when he was young, so did I. One day I woke up and said, “We can’t do this anymore, it is going to kill me!” Well, it killed my first marriage but I got my act together in hopes that it was not too late for me. Why was my brain wire to make that connection? I have lost close friends from that time period who simply never woke up. Makes you wonder how people think and why. Is the brain prewired? Is it in your genes or the way you were raised or the life experiences you have?

I could not help but think of my Mom’s Dad, Andrew Anderson. Grandpa Anderson lost his Mom when he was eight years old too. His Dad, my Great Grandfather, Hans was a Norwegian fisherman who spend 8 months or more at sea. Hans fished the same sea that Captain Phil fished but more than 100 years before him. The ships were different, the tools of the trade were different but the sea was not. The sea was just as furious and deadly 100 years ago for a fisherman. I can not wrap my brain around having to face 30, 40 or 50 foot waves today in large steel highly powered fishing vessels. What must it have been like over 100 years ago?

When my Great Grandmother died Hans remarried soon after her death. I believe that it was very soon after she died. The youngest son, Hoakan was just three when she died. A fisherman can not work, no let’s make this very clear, he can not be a fisherman and take care of a three year old child much less two who are 6 and 8 years old. So he had to find someone who could care for his boys and he had to do it in a hurry. He did just that but for the two older boys, no one could replace their dear Mother. Two or three short years later, Andrew made a life altering decision. He left the relative safety of a warm home with food on the table and a warm bed and a woman who was not his mother and became a deck hand at 11 years old. He passed himself off as much older than he was and took to the ocean. Now imagine, an 11 years old boy working on a ship in the ocean 106 years ago. I simply can not wrap my mind around it!

How does a young boy at age 11 make such a decision?  Or did he make it and find that there was no turning back once he was in the middle of the ocean.  He must have liked it or after his first trip you would think that he would have just gone home.  Was his life so adversely changed with the death of his mother that he was compelled to make this decision?  I wish I could ask him these questions.

 Andrew never returned to his home land once he came to the US.  He had planned to but first it was a matter of money and children, eight of them to be exact.  Then when the children were all grown and gone, there was World War II and Norway was occupied by Germany.  Then shortly after the end of the War, Hans, Andrew's father died at the age of 87.  With the death of his father came the demise of Andrew's desire to retuen to Norway.  When anyone asked him why he never returned his reply was always the same, " Why would I go there, my home is here now."  What gives people the courage to make a life altering decisions like Andrew did?  I may never know....

(An update to the story to preserve it's accuracy.  I have learned through a relative that there are records to indicate that Grandfather did not leave Norway until after his school was completed in 1898.  That would have made hom 15 years old when he left Norwy. He is listed as a family member in the 1900 Census but his home is listed as London. Thanks Inger for the records!)

Friday, July 23, 2010

Summer heat and humidity....

It’s summer and it’s hot. The humidity is up and we are wishing for rain…but there does not seem to be any insight. So I am sitting in front of my computer. I have had quite a bit of contact in recent weeks with several other Smith researchers from Darke County. Was looking for information about…you guessed it…my Smith’s. Found a nice lady who works at the Garst Museum Library in Darke County. Her name is Nancy Stump. She has worked on researching the Smith families for her step-sister Pat for years. Pat descends from Joseph Smith who is the son of John Smith who is the son of William Smith. William Smith from Delaware, served in the Revolutionary War and was registered by someone to DAR. I really have been trying to find information about him for some time so this was a break through!

A researcher, named Nancy Stump, sent me a handful of documents about his family. Most of the document pertained to John Smith and his wife Laurana. John is the son of William Smith. There apparently was no will for William Smith. I am hoping she can find a will for Nancy, William's Wife. Am wondering if a trip to the National Achieves in Chicago might get me what I am looking for. 

Nancy sent me a petition presented to the Ohio Supreme Court by William Smith requesting compensation consideration from the government of the United States for time served in the Revolutionary War. William is 68 years old. He served in the 1st Delaware Regiment under Jonathan Caldwell and the 2nd Delaware Regiment. (did not state who the commander of this regiment was) He talks about a land certificate but the certificate number is not legible. He further state that he was a resident of the United Stated on the 18th day of March 1818. He state that he has not gifted, sale or disposed of the property granted to him. He goes on to describe what he currently owns and lists it as a schedule of property; One horse, one cow, two pots, one kettle, one chest . He further states that his occupation is as a farmer and that he is infirmed and unable to perform any work. He states that his wife Nancy lives with him and is about 67 years old and is not able to work either. William signed the document and the court certified that he presented it. It was sign by Eastin M. Clark. (Is what it looks like) The document is hand written and must be viewed with a magnifying glass…

Later looking on, I was able to find a filing record # S40460 which states that there are 17 pages in the filed record. I hope that I can obtain them at the National Archive. I can not be sure if we are related to this man but I can not be sure that we are not either so…I continue to hunt.

Next I need to see when the National Archieve in Chicago is open and take time to visit it withe the information that I now have.  Happy family history hunting!


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday - July 20, 2010

It has been a busy summer so I got a bit off track but I will try to get going again. I have made new contacts with the Darke County Smiths so maybe we will get this untangled yet! I received this Photo from a fellow Smith researcher. It is of William Smith’s tombstone. She had taken this photo some time ago. When I visited Smith Cemetery in May of 2010, I did not see this tombstone. It may be broken off or hidden in tall grass along the fence line. I will look again when I return later this summer or in early fall. I now have many other graves that I will be looking for in this cemetery.

This is William Smith he died Dec 26, 1842. He is one of the three Smith brothers who came to the area in 1836. James Smith, his brother, died shortly after their arrival in 1836 and is the first person buried in this cemetery.

I find Catherine Smith at 78 years old  living with he daughter and  son-in-law, Elizabeth and Daniel Crawn in Japser County, Indiana in the 1850 Federal Census.  If my James Smith is related to this family, I think this would most likely be his parents.  I do not have the supporting documents to support this assumption so I continue to search.  I will be looking for a will for Catherine.This stone is Catharine's stone which from the Photo is hard to read.  I will verify that she is the same Catherine and should find that she died between the 1850 census and the 1860 census where I no longer find her.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday - June 22, 2010

For the next few weeks there will be mores Smith’s from Smith Cemetery. This stone is for Mary Ann, wife of Joseph Smith. The stone is difficult to read. I believe that the years is 185? but it could have been earlier. Cleaning the sod away from this stone will help us to determine what the dates are on it I hope.

The next time we go to the cemetery, I plan to take some tools so I can clean up some of these gravesites and we will be able to get more information about this family. Searching through the 1850 census data does not help me find Joseph and MaryAnn. There was a Joseph listed in Jasper County who may have been a brother to James. He was born in 1797. I can not be certain at this point where he is buried. There are empty spaces between grave stones at the Smith cemetery which tells me that stones have either been moved, broken, buried under sod or just carted off.

There is a Joseph in Fowler, Indiana listed in the 1860 census. He was most likely a son of James Smith but I can not be certain just yet. I will continue the research this family to try to help sort the "haystack" out.

The second photo is a tombstone for Josephene Smith who was the daughter of Joseph and Mary Ann. We should be able to clean this stone up too and get more information from it.

More Smith's from Benton County to follow!

Have a great Tuesday!


Mommy and Bambi - June 2010

It has been an interesting week last week. We came home from a weekend camping trip to find a baby deer had been born in our back yard. Oh he was so sweet. I know that this has nothing to do with Genealogy but I could not help blogging about it because it was fun to watch the interaction between the mother and the baby.

The baby stayed in the back yard for the week as Mommy came and went during the day. Our neighborhood is very quiet during the week with most of the residence working our side of the home. The baby found many plant to sleep under when he wanted to hide.  It is a good thing that I never got around to getting the weeding done in the back yard because it gave him lots of places to hide.

By the end of the week, Bambi was no longer hiding! By Saturday morning, mommy and baby were really comfortable in the back yard. They spent the morning playing. Mid morning the neighbors began to start their weekend projects and Mommy decided that there was too much going on in the neighborhood so she urged the baby to leave the safety of the back yard through a gap between the gate and the fence so off they fled! Good Bye Mommy and Bambi! It was fun watching you grow!

While I know that this has nothing to do with my family,  It has everything to do with family.  A mother and a baby and what can be mre special that that!

Hope you enjoy!


Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday - June 15, 2010

Smith Cemetery near Boswell, Indiana in Benton County.

William Smith - Born: Dec 14, 1809
          Died: July 28, 1884
Hannah Smith  - Born:  1811    
Died: April 15, 1873                                                 

William Smith is the son of James Smith who was one of the original Smith brothers from Darke County, Ohio.  James, his sons and daughters with their families immigrated to Benton County, Indiana area about 1836.  The elder James died almost immediately after arriving in Benton County and is the first to be buried in the cemetery.  This William Smith is likely a first cousin to our James Smith who left Darke county for the Fort Wayne area in about 1844 or 1845.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

The Artisans….Haplogroup R1B

“So Matt, will you do a DNA test for me if I pay for it?” I asked him. I think he thinks I’m nuts sometimes…but you can blame it all on Grandma Smith with her dusty old box of photos. I did explain to him that it was for our family history search. I explained that I had been stuck in 1809 with James Smith for years. I explained that maybe this would help us to isolate whether we were descend from Smith’s in the Northeast / New England area or Smith’s from the Maryland/ Virginia area. I have wanted to do this for some time.

I needed a Smith male volunteer and Matt seemed the most logical. After all he is the father to Nolan, our last remaining male Smith from our immediate lineage of the family. He agreed with a grin, “Sure I’ll do it!” he replied. I did the maternal test. I ordered the kits online through I got a little break on the price because I bought them both at the same time. It is a 47 marker test which I hope will give us a bit more information that the 25 marker test offered from some of the other DNA projects which are available online.

The test itself was interesting…and really quite quick and easy. The direction said to wipe the inside or you right cheek with one swab for 30 seconds and place it in the envelope provided fro mailing the test back. Then repeat with swab 2 on your left check and around your gums for swab 3. Place them in the envelope and leave it open for 30 minutes. Then seal it and mail it… We did them in May and I sent them off right away. About two weeks later I received notification that Matt’s results were in. So I went out to look at them.

We are from the Paternal Haplogroup R1b, “the Artisans”! Great…..What the heck does that mean? Well, the report stated that our ancestors were likely responsible for the first cave drawings and probably lived in the areas of what is present day England, France, Spain or Portugal! The report goes on to say that “the Artisans” first arrived in Europe about 35000 – 40000 years ago at the dawning of the Aurgnacian Culture. This culture was remarkable for its subtle, yet significant, technological progress. Aurignacian People collected and shaped flint into tools which they learned to use in their everyday life. They were also the first people known to have made beads and jewelry. They were the culture to exhibit this first sign of the uniquely human quality of self-awareness and adornment.

Well heck, I was hoping for a bit more current data…Like maybe around the time of the Pilgrims or Columbus….That goes back a bit too far. On the ancestry site, there are no other close matches…as a matter of fact; our closet match is not even a SMITH! It is a Musgrave from 5 generations or at least 250 years ago. Can you believe it! I am glad that we are now in the database so when other Smith’s get their DNA tests done, we will be there for possible matches.

So my blog, the “Needle in the Haystack" and my search continues….. I think I’ll stick to searching for wills, obits and death records next time…they are cheaper!

Happy Smith Hunting! 


Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday – June 7, 2010

The Smith Cemetery is located south of the town of Boswell in Benton County, Indiana.
These are the tombstones of James and Mary Smith. James is the son of James and Sarah Smith.

James was born in 1819 in Ohio. Mary was born in 1825 in Indiana.

James Smith                                                                Mary Wife of James
born December 31, 1818                                            born February 1823   
 Died Mar 2, 1896                                                      died October 1, 1882                      

Monday, June 7, 2010

Our Smith line….

I am stuck on our Smith family in Ohio on our GGG-Grandfather, James Smith born around 1809 and I really have been for years. Occasionally, there is a new bit of information but I am having trouble going any further back . I have so many questions and no answers right now!

Who is James’s Father?

Where did this family come from?

Are they Smith’s who came from the Maryland / Virginia area?

Or did they come from the New England?

Last winter I decided to take a real close look at all the Smith Families in Darke County in an effort to determine where we come from!  I have confirmed the location of my GGG-Grandfather, there were two brothers who both have a son named James. These two brothers probably had other brothers in the area, namely Thomas, Stephen and John. These brothers with son’s named James are James and William Smith. The fact that both brothers have son’s named James came from “last will and testament” transcripts which I have received from other area researchers. It is my belief that we are connected to these Smith brothers and I am attempting to make this connection.

One of the brother’s, James and his family, I am able to follow to Benton County Indiana in 1836. It is James’s brother, William, who I think is our James’ father. (I know that was confusing huh?) I had been told previously that William was a Revolutionary War Vet and that he was buried in Auglaize County, Ohio. I have not found his burial in Ohio or any evidence to support this claim. While investigating the brother James, I found the burial for James in the Smith Cemetery which I referred to in my previous post. Interestingly enough, the Cemetery sign refers to his brother William and Thomas! It is stated that they too settled in this area. So that leads me to ask, "did my GGG-Grandfather James’ father William, leave Darke County prior to son’s departure in 1844?"  Maybe he did!

Upon searching this cemetery, I was able to locate the burial of the James and his wife but did not find the burial of the brother Thomas and William. We will be returning to the Cemetery some time this summer to continue our search. James’s stone was located in tall weeds along a fence line and there seems to be stones missing and broken which we will continue to look for. These stone are very old and difficult to read. We have some special paper that we can use to lift the images off the face of the stone which should allow us to have correct dates from these stone.

We plan to bring our garden tools so we can remove weeds and see if we are able to locate other early burial in this cemetery. A trip to the county seat may be necessary to check for burial records and death records.
Til Next Time!


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Tombestone Tuesday - May 18, 2010

Smith Cemetery is located in Benton County Indiana a few miles south of Boswell Indiana off of Route 41. It is located on a narrow gravel county road called W 850 S. These Smith brother migrated here from Darke County, Ohio. James Smith was the first to die at the age of 60 in 1836. Sarah his wife, died in 1840 four years later. They were buried here in this rural cemetery located along the Mud Creek. There are many other early Smith settlers buried in the cemetery.

James Smith             
Born : 1776
Died: 1836

Sarah Smith
Born:  1782
Died : 1840

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Been too long...

It has been too long since I wrote a genealogical blog.  Things have really gotten away from me but I am glad to be back and want to try writing regularly again. I have been exploring the Smith's from Darke County who emigrated to the Benton County, Indiana area.  I am trying to determine how they are related to us.  It seems that they are first cousins to our James Smith who settled in the Fort Wayne area.  I am working on trying to confirm that.  There appeared  to be as many as four Smith brothers in Darke County.  They included James Smith, William Smith, John Smith and Thomas Smith.  Once again we have very common given name which go along with the Smith surname which means the "Needles in the Haystack" saga continues. 

Last Saturday, my husband and I spent several hours taking photo's of gravestone in two Benton County cemeteries.  The first cemetery was located just east of Boswell, Indiana and is called Boswell Cemetery.  I have not counted the number of photo's I took but there was 97 Smith tombstones on this cemetery.  It was windy and bitter cold.  As you can see from the photo we were out in the open and the wind whipped across the open fields which the local farmers are getting ready for this year's crops. We kept retreating to the car to add another layer of clothing in an effort to keep warm. We have had such a nice sunny and warm spring and the first cemetery photo trip and it turn really cold and windy. Wouldn't you just know it!

   I love to visit this county in Indiana. A few years ago, before I knew there was a possible family connection to this county, my husband and I would ocassionally go to Kentland Indiana to buy a powerball ticket when visiting his folks in nearby, Watseka, Illinois. We discovered the Benton County Wind Farm and have been watching it grow ever since. This county has really jumped on the Green Energy bandwagon and have installed several large wind farms. I just love to see the windmills in action. They just fascinate me! You can see them on the horizon if you look closely to the cemetery photo. I can't help but wonder what these family members who settled here 150 years ago would think about this new industry which is popping up the the rural farms of Indiana. The land is still farmed and the farmers lease the land to the wind farm.

Ok, so I got a bit side tracked with my other passion...I'll blog tomorrow about the second Cemetery visit which proved to be very different from the Boswell Cemetery visit......

Happy Haystack Hunting!

Jan Smith

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday - May 4, 2010

Our next stop in the freedom trail was the King's Chapel, located on the corner of Tremont and School streets. When the Puritans settled Boston in 1630, they fled England's Anglican Church. Fifty years later, King James II ordered that an Anglican parish be established in Boston. Angry Puritans would not sell any of their land for this purpose so the Royal Governor seized a section of the town's burying ground and a small wood chapel was built there to house the first Anglican congregation in North America. Membership in the church grew, and the building was enlarged in 1710. By 1741, plans were being made to replace the wood chapel with one built of stone. Once the funds had been raised, construction began on the granite version of King's Chapel in 1749 and it was completed in 1754.

In 1785, the remaining congregation adopted a new theology and became the first Unitarian Church in America. On October 27, 1789, President George Washington attended a concert here and sat in the Governor's Pew, pictured below. In 1790, a front portico with columns was added, and the building soon resembled the King's Chapel that Bostonians recognize today. In 1816 a bell for the church, weighing more than one ton, was cast at the Revere Foundry. Paul Revere called it "the sweetest bell we ever made." Today, the bell is rung by hand for all church services and special occasions. The interior of the church is elegant and one of the most beautiful in New England. The pulpit and its sounding board date from 1717 and were once used in the original wood chapel.
Located on Tremont Street next to King's Chapel, this is Boston's oldest burying place. It occupies land that was once the vegetable garden of Isaac Johnson who was the first person buried here in 1630. Johnson's marker has been lost to time but many old stones survive, including one from 1658. Many of Boston's early English settlers were buried on this small piece of land. The exact number of those who rest here is not known, but it is estimated that there were 10-20 burials for each stone you see today. The stones themselves have been moved several times so even they are not accurate markers for the people they honor.
In King's Chapel Burying Ground you will spot some famous names and some of the most intricately carved markers. Just inside the gate is a beautiful stone carved in painstaking detail by an early Charlestown stonecutter whose name was Joseph Tapping who died in 1678. In the middle of the burying ground, to your left, is the table tomb of John Winthrop, the first governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. In the exact center is the marker for Mary Chilton, who arrived on the Mayflower. Behind the Chilton marker is the tomb of William Dawes, the Son of Liberty and messenger rider who (along with Paul Revere) delivered the news of the Regulars' march to Lexington and Concord on the evening of April 18-19, 1775.  Ironically we are walking this trial on the evening of April 19, 2010, 235 years after that famous night. The street was quiet and we were enjoying our freedom to walk the "Freedom Trail"!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday - April 27, 2010

Last week I had the opportunity to go to Boston with other family members to see my youngest brother run in the Boston Marathon! It was so much fun and he did a great job finishing in 3 hours and 41minutes.
While I was there we did some sight seeing. Boston is a great place for old, old cemeteries. While I was unable to walk through them, I did get some nice pictures. This cemetery in Boston Commons has tombstone that are so worn by time that you are unable to read the information on the stone. It is called Central Burial Grounds. There are 255 grave in this cemetery. Five of these graves are of famous people.

James Sullivan was a Continental Congressman and a Massachusetts Governor. He served as a Delegate to the Continental Congress from Massachusetts from 1782 to 1783. James also served as a State Court Judge in 1776, Massachusetts State Attorney General from 1790 to 1807, and Governor of Massachusetts from 1807 to 1808.
Stephen Higginson was a Continental Congressman and served as a Delegate to the Continental Congress from Massachusetts in 1783.

Charles Sprague was one of the first American born poet. Many of his odes and prologues were delivered at historical Boston events and his works were first published in 1841. He is the son of Boston Tea Party participant Samuel Sprague, and a descendent of Mayflower passenger, Richard Warren. He is the grandfather of American painters, Charles Sprague Pearce and William Houghton Sprague Pearce.