Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Voting for Lincoln

I never met my father's grandparents on his mother's side. My father never met his grandparents on his mother's side either. Both had died several years before my father was born in 1914. In searching for information on my great-grandparents, I was fortunate enough to run across a few newspaper articles that gave a slight glimpse of who they were.

My great-grandfather, Thomas Wallington, was born in Northamptonshire, England in 1825. He married his first wife, Sarah Ann Archer, in England. About 1850, or shortly thereafter, Thomas and his family, including twin daughters, sailed for America. I still marvel at the fortitude our ancestors had to make a voyage to the unknown.

One of his obituaries states that he arrived in the United States with only a shilling in his pocket. Doing odd jobs, he worked his way from New York City to Elyria, Ohio. One of his first jobs was mowing the grass on the public square with a scythe. He went on to other jobs and earned enough money to buy his own farm. Thomas and his family lived in a log cabin not far from downtown.

The log cabin that this family lived in was less than a mile from where I grew up and went to school. The particular street that this cabin was on always seemed to have a "pull" on my feelings. It wasn't until just a few years ago that I found out why - this is where my great-grandfather had lived!

Thomas' first wife died. His children were all adults when she passed away. Thomas met and married my great-grandmother Elizabeth Celia Halliwill and they had 3 children, including my grandmother. They lived in Elyria, Ohio for awhile before moving to Spencer, Ohio. The farm they lived on is exactly one mile south of where my youngest daughter now lives.

Another news article states that he liked to challenge others to walk to Elyria from Spencer quicker than he could. It was a distance of about 12 miles.

There were two obituaries for Thomas - one for each of his families. The obituary shown here had the most information on him.

On this election day in 2012, I thought it appropriate to share that my great-grandfather, Thomas Wallington was the first at the polls in 1860 to cast his vote for Abraham Lincoln. He appreciated the fact that he could be a part of something so special.

I was voter 139 in my precinct this morning - not the first one...

From The Elyria Republican, Elyria, Ohio - 29 October 1908, Page 1

Thomas Wallington 1825-1908

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Memories In The Wind

I recently drove past my mother's parents farm near Sullivan, Ohio.  It was a bittersweet trip.

When we were young girls in the late 1940's and early 1950's, our greatest summer expectation was to go to Grandma's house for a week or two during the summer. Grandma and Grandpa had a working farm of about 90 acres with a nice stand of woods and the beginning of the Black River that would make it's way to Lake Erie.

Being city girls, the allure of the farm was always an adventure. There were cows and pigs, chickens, dogs and kittens. There was the big garden that had to be tended and the strawberries that needed to be picked.
There were family reunions both large and small. Tables were set up in the yard and all kinds of food weighed down the boards acting as table tops.

The farm did not have inside plumbing until the early 1950's. That was a big moment!

On Sundays, there was the trip to the farm - about a 45 minute ride. Always for holidays, there was a trip to the farm. Holidays were always a time of great feasts. My mother's sisters, both unmarried at the time, were always there as well. After dinner there was always a walk to the woods to look at birds or wildflowers. In the spring we'd sit in the shadow of the budding trees and make circles of Adder Tongue flowers to wear in our hair. Upon returning to the house, a jigsaw puzzle was generally set out on the card table. Once in awhile, somebody played the piano.

We made hollyhock flower ladies. We watched the steam trains go by on the tracks a quarter mile south of the farm. We WALKED around the 4 square mile block for something to do. Once in awhile we rode our bicycles. I didn't find out until just a couple of years ago that there was a cemetery on that route that had ancestors in it!

One summer, our parents allowed us to ride our bicycles from our home in the city to the farm. What a grand adventure that was. We practiced riding our bikes in town going up and down hills. There weren't that many hills on our trip, but it was endurance practice. We left home early in the morning. No cell phones. No communication along the way - just 3 young girls on their bicycles with a brown bag lunch in the basket and a change of clothes. (There was always clothes to wear at the farm).  Our trip was uneventful and we arrived in good shape. I was allowed to use the telephone (the old wood wall phone with a crank) to call the operator to call home. Our parents came a couple of days later and put the bikes in the trunk of the car to go back home with.

The farm was "the place" to go. It truly was a refuge from the city.

A few years ago, long after my grandparents had left the farm, the house caught on fire on a cold, wintery day in January. The house was occupied but everyone got out safely. The whole top floor of the house was gone, and the house was a shell with the memories blowing in the wind.  The shell of the house has sat there for several years now. However, this trip, the house was completely gone and there is a stand of weeds where it once stood.

The farm of many happy memories

My grandparents
Edward A. Werner and Viola Barbara Pfeiffer

Sunday, September 30, 2012

What Not to Submit for a Lineage Application

In most lineage society guidelines and rules there are definite do's and don'ts included.  Some are a bit obscure, but overall they are definitive.

What should you submit:
Actual documentation of the fact you are stating. This would include as many original documents that you can find.

What you shouldn't submit:
Abstracted indexes, written biographies (unless proving dates), personal family histories, published family histories, and internet information (unless it is an original record and it is sourced).

The purpose of a lineage application is to document and prove your relationship to your ancestor's. As genealogists, we want the best proof argument we can provide.

With the addition of so many records on different websites today, it is very easy to succumb to that abstracted index of information we find.  However, that abstracted information should lead us back to the original record. The original record is always the best proof document. Remember, an abstract may not always retrieve all of the information found in that document.

If you live far away from your research area, try using local genealogical societies for research assistance. Local libraries in the area may also help you.

When I receive an application to review that only has three original documents in a stack of paper one inch thick, I'm not sure if our organization is expressing our wants clearly to potential applicants, or if the applicant is taking the "easy" route and using the quickest and easiest methods that they feel will accomplish their goal.

Joining a lineage society means that you are documenting your lineage through the best documents and resources that you can find to do that. It is always amazing to me that so many records exist pre-1800 that allow applicants to really put together an interesting and complete application.

In effect, you are documenting your research skills. You are leaving behind a lasting legacy for future generations to know their individual pasts as well. You want that legacy to be the best resource for those in the future.

The judges of lineage societies are usually willing to answer questions of applicants and help point them in the right direction. If you have a question, please don't hesitate to ask.

Monday, September 3, 2012

A Lasting Memorial

A few years ago, I attended the 50th wedding anniversary celebration of a cousin and her husband at the Belden Methodist Church in Belden, Ohio.  During the course of conversation, she happened to ask me if I had seen the stained glass window in the sanctuary that honored our ancestors.  At that point in time, I had no idea that this window even existed.  Of course, I had to go see the window.

The window faces north, so only indirect light shines through.

Seeing the names of my great-great grandparents in a stained glass window was a very warming experience for me.

Charles William (Karl Wilhelm) Pfeiffer came to the United States about 1850 with a sister, Barbara from Germany. While there were several brothers and sisters, it is believed that only these two, from this particular family, dared to venture to the new world.  They settled in Cleveland, Ohio for a few years. Barbara married a Joseph Kerble (I would find out 150 years after she came to the U.S and is another story), while Charles married Sophia Ruegger in Medina County Ohio.  Sophia and her family had come to the United States when Sophia was about 5 years old in 1847. 

Charles and Sophia had eight children. Their son, Henry, my great-grandfather, also had eight children.  Henry married Cora Benton, the daughter of William S. Benton and Allice Killmer/Kilmer.

Charles Pfeiffer learned the art of brick making with his father in Germany. Charles developed his own brickyard in Belden, Ohio and shipped his brick all over the United States. His brickyard burned as the result of sparks from a passing steam locomotive. It totally devastated him and he really never recovered from the loss of his income.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun ~ Ancestor Roulette


From Randy Seaver: “Here is your assignment if you choose to play along (cue the Mission Impossible music, please!):

1) What year was one of your great-grandfathers born?  Divide this number by 50 and round the number off to a whole number. This is your “roulette number.”
2) Use your pedigree charts or your family tree genealogy software program to find the person with that number in your ancestral name list (some people call it an “ahnentafel”). Who is that person, and what are his/her vital information?
3) Tell us three facts about that person in your ancestral name list with the “roulette number.”
4) Write about it in a blog post on your own blog, in a Facebook status or a Google Stream post, or as a comment on this blog post.
5) If you do not have a person’s name for your “roulette number” then spin the wheel again – pick a great-grandmother, a grandparent, a parent, a favorite aunt or cousin, yourself, or even your children!”

I rather like this idea, so here are my game players:

1.  My great-grandfather, Thomas Wallington was born in England in 1825 and died in 1883.  1825 divided by 50 equals 36.5 rounded up to 37.

2.  Ancestor #37 in my ahnentafel chart is Sarah Boyer my 3rd great-grandmother. She was the daughter of John Boyer and Agnes (last name unknown).

3.  Sarah was born about 1784 in Union Co., PA.  She married Isaac Hestand, date and place unknown, and they had 9 children, including my 2nd great-grandfather, Andrew Hestand. Sarah died in 1835 and is buried in Reading Cemetery in Columbiana County, OH. I have honored Sarah in Settlers and Builders of Ohio.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

National Conferences

In the summer of 2011, my dearest friend, Susan, convinced me that I absolutely, positively, no questions asked, HAD to attend the 2011 FGS Conference with her in Springfield, Illinois. Ohhhh, am I so glad I went with her!  She introduced me to so many new people in the world of genealogy.  One evening, we had dinner with two very well-known speakers on the genealogy conference circuit.  I was the outsider going in to dinner, and came out a contemporary!  How awesome was that!  It was definitely one of the defining moments on my genealogy yellow-brick-road.

This year, my dearest friend, Susan, has convinced me that I absolutely, positively, no questions asked, HAD to attend the 2012 NGS Conference with her in Cincinnati, OH. On Tuesday morning, I will leave to go pick up my friend, Susan, and then head to Cincinnati.  I am so looking forward to this event.

The Ohio Genealogical Society, and the Hamilton County Chapter of the Ohio Genealogical Society are co-hosting the NGS Conference this year. As I am now on the executive committee of OGS, I feel honor bound to participate in this conference.  I quickly and graciously volunteered to be a room monitor for several sessions.  As a member of the Genealogical Speakers Guild, I will also introduce several of the speakers. I know that it takes an army of volunteers to make a conference work. I will do my part as well.

I am looking forward to renewing friendships made in Springfield last fall.  Conferences are a way to meet our friends in person that we follow on other social media arenas.  I am also looking forward to meeting new "friends".

The world of genealogy has me following my own yellow-brick-road and it seems to take several twists and turns on me. I am loving every minute of it.  I would have never dreamed I would be "where" I am and doing "what" I am at this point in my life.  It is totally awesome.

The OGS booth will be a beehive of activity.  Stop by our booth (#201, 300) to see what OGS has to offer, along with some great giveaways and prizes. Be among the first 400 attendees to visit our booth and win a nifty OGS coin purse, perfect for those trips to the library. Take a guess at how many candy buckeyes are in a jar and possibly win either a $100 Amazon.com gift card, a $50 iTunes gift card, or the candy-filled jar. And if those prizes aren’t tempting enough to make a guess, how about this: Guess the exact amount of buckeyes in the candy jar and you get to take home ALL the prizes! Need a new ride? Well, we have that covered too. Purchase a book of five car raffle tickets for $25 and be entered into a drawing for an OGS life membership. Forget your flash drive at home? No worries. Just donate $10 or more to our Isaly Matching Fund Campaign and receive an ultra slim, ultra cool 4 GB flash drive.
Enjoy your conference experience, as I will mine. 

And don’t forget, when you are in need of finding your Ohio ancestors, OGS is here to help.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Family Recipe Friday - Rhubarb Pie

My mother's mother, Viola Pfeiffer Werner, loved to work in the kitchen.  Whenever we visited the farm for a Sunday afternoon, there was always an abundance of food and always there were cookies or desserts.  My mother's parents' farm was the one place we all liked to go.  Grandpa had cows, pigs, chickens and over 60 acres of land with woods and a river.  As children, my 2 sisters and I often spent weeks at the farm in the summer.

My grandma was very active in her church, the First Congregational Church of Sullivan, OH.  Sullivan, OH is one of those small crossroad communities where the church was a major gathering place.  Actually, Sullivan had two churches and my dad's parents went to the other church in town, the First Christian Church.

In 1950, the women of the First Congregational Church decided to create a cookbook of their favorite dishes.  It wasn't until the 1990's that I was aware of this.  When my mother passed away in 1999, I was going through some of her cookbooks to take home to my daughter.  (My mother was a collector of recipes in any form and would often jot them down on the back of an envelope.)  I ran across a small red-covered spiral-bound cookbook of recipes called Cook Book - Compiled by Sullivan Congregational Church Sullivan, Ohio and dated 1950.  When I opened the book, I was totally swept away by the fact that all of the recipes were presented in the handwriting of the submitter.

Naturally, I started looking for my grandma's handwriting.  I would know it if I saw it.  And, I found it!  I found her handwriting on pages 20 and 21.  One recipe was for a rhubarb pie and the other was for chocolate cookies.  Now, I remember very well those chocolate cookies sitting in the cookie jar on the counter in the big kitchen.  But, I didn't remember the rhubarb pie.

One of my mother's sister had made this rhubarb pie for a family gathering.  I asked her about the recipe for it.  She said it was her mother's recipe! It all came together when I found the cookbook with the recipe in my grandma's handwriting.  This pie has become a family favorite and we all can't wait until rhubarb is in season.

This pie is not the tart taste that is associated with rhubarb pie.  The topping on this pie gives a certain sweetness to counteract the tartness.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Catching up....

Well, the last two months have certainly been busy. In addition to being an integral part of my two local county chapters, I was honored to be a part of the conference committee for the Ohio Genealogical Society's annual conference recently held in Cleveland, OH. My duties were to be the Banquet Chair. This meant that I had to be in touch with the hotel about a year in advance to plan the meals that would be served. While it is difficult to please everyone, I think that overall everyone enjoyed the meals at conference. 

As the chair of Century Families of Ohio, I also had to prepare the program for our induction ceremonies. I had asked the applicant's to send me pictures of their ancestors that were being honored. I wanted to do something special. I was able to produce a wonderful slide show of all the ancestors with the Glenn Miller band playing "Beautiful Ohio" in the background. 

Our speaker was Sunny Morton who talked to us about "The Challenge of Channeling Their Stories". It is the little stories that can be so meaningful about our ancestors. Thank you, Sunny, for giving us so much food for thought. 

Conferences are such a wonderful venue for renewing friendships made at these events. My cousin from Michigan was there, distant genealogy friends were there, and of course local genealogy friends as well.

How fun it was to sit at the computers at the FamilySearch booth in the vendor's hall and learn how to index the 1940 Census. Being the state administrator for the Ohio Genealogical Society, I was also learning lots of other little tricks and things to do. Is there ever enough time to do everything you'd like to do at a conference?

Of course, no conference can take place without an army of volunteers. I would like to personally thank all of those that volunteered as room monitors and ticket takers. The coordinators did a fabulous job of pulling it all together.

At the conference, I was also installed as the 1st Vice President of Administration for the Ohio Genealogical Society. What an honor. I am so proud to serve in this capacity. My wish is that I CAN help to make a difference.

I was also elevated to the chair and head judge for First Families of Ohio.  It hardly seems possible that in 2005 I became a member of First Families of Ohio and Settlers & Builders of Ohio.  I have learned so much and am so grateful to all who have helped show me the way.

I am still traveling a path of what I call genealogy wonders.  I wonder where it will take me next.  I have been asked to be a part of a committee for a well known organization and did not hesitate to say yes, I'll try it.  I am so looking forward to being a part of that community.

My next grand adventure will be traveling to Cincinnati for the NGS conference.  I have volunteered to be a room monitor and introduce a couple of speakers. I am looking forward to making yet more new friends.

What new genealogy path will present itself?

Sunday, February 12, 2012

A Lost Postcard from 1922

A few months ago, I received a phone call from a gentleman who lives in our neighborhood.  He had seen an article in the local newspaper in which I was featured.  He called to say that he thought he had some letters I would be interested in.  He had obtained them through an auction or estate sale he said.  We later determined that the letters had to have been obtained at the estate/auction sale of my husband's uncle.

It turned out the letters were family related on my husband's side.  They were letters from the late 1880's between family members in Avon, Ohio and Coldwater, Michigan.  What a great thing to find that these letters existed!  I still have not transcribed them all, but they are full of small newsy items between the families.

One day this last week, this same gentleman called back to say he had found a postcard dated in 1922 and we confirmed that it was addressed to my husband's aunt.  So, our guardian angel of lost letters dropped it off on his way to do errands.  He didn't know who it was from, and at first, neither did my husband. As soon as I read the postcard, I knew who it was from.

Here is the postcard:

 This postcard was written by my husband's grandfather to his daughter Bernice. Bobbie was my husband's father.  We're not quite sure what "Daddy" was doing in Frewsburg, NY, but we do know that "Daddy" had a twin sister who's daughter lived in Frewsburg, NY.  We can only suppose that a good uncle went to help his niece in a time of need.  This postcard was written on February 25, 1922.  It came back into the family on February 8, 2012 - almost exactly 80 years later.

"Daddy"  was Charles Edward Cheney born in Coldwater, MI in 1865.  His twin sister was Ida Blanche Cheney who married Alva C. McNitt in Coldwater, MI.  Ida and Alva had 4 children;  Harry born in 1889, Ethel Alice born in 1892, Flora Elizabeth born in March 1894 and Charles Wallace born in 1896. 

Ethel Alice McNitt married Calvin McNell in Coldwater, MI.  Sight unseen they bought a dairy farm in Frewsburg, NY and moved to a new life.  They had 2 children.  Juanita born in 1920 and Calvin B born January 23, 1922.

That last statement tells us why the uncle was in New York.  His niece had just given birth to her son and was unable to help with the duties of the dairy farm.  Being a good uncle, he went to help.

Serendipity has played a huge part in my genealogy experiences.  This is just another chapter in the story to be told.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Are My Ancestors Better than Yours?

OK, you missed the deadline for the 2011 Lineage Society applications for the Ohio Genealogical Society.  Now, you have all year to procrastinate again.  Start now and you can submit your application for the 2012 deadline of December 31.  The 2013 OGS Conference will be held in Cincinnati, OH.

Let me ask a question.  How do you perceive the concept of a Lineage Society?
Do you see a lineage society as a "my ancestor is better than yours" society?  Or, do you see a lineage society as an "honoring my ancestor" society?  I would like your feedback on your concept of a lineage society.

Any time you apply to a lineage society, of any kind, you must first understand the principle and intent behind that organization.  You have some societies that are extremely difficult to be accepted to, and you have some societies that are very easy to be accepted to.

Does joining a  lineage society make you a different person? No, I don't think it makes you any different.  If anything, it should make you appreciate the sacrifices and hardships your ancestors endured in order for you to even become a member of a lineage society.

Does the fact that you may receive physical recognition of your research efforts make you a different person?  It is tangible evidence that you have researched and documented and spent hours of time putting together your lineage application in the first place. 

The Ohio Genealogical Society has four different lineage groups to honor your ancestors.  We have First Families of Ohio (your ancestor had to have lived in Ohio prior to the end of 1820); Settlers and Builders of Ohio (your ancestor had to have lived in Ohio between 1821 and the end of 1860); Century Families of Ohio (your ancestor had to have lived in Ohio between 1861 and 100 years prior to the current year); and the Society of Civil War Families of Ohio (SCWFO).  SCWFO is one of the few lineage societies that allows you to submit a collateral relative.  Upon application and acceptance to these groups you receive a certificate and a medal.  If your ancestor lived in Ohio prior to 1803 when Ohio became a state, you receive another special pin.

Wear do you wear these medals?  What do you do with them?  I wear mine to conferences and to special events related to the organizations that I am a member of.  How do I wear them?  Sometimes, I simply pin them on the clothes I am wearing.  For the OGS conference, my pins are on my name badge holder.  I also wear my pins when I am doing a program on lineage societies. The medals and pins could eventually go in to a shadow box for display. 

The certificates are currently in a notebook.  They could be framed and put on a wall.  (I don't have a lot of wall space in my home)

Joining a lineage society is NOT  meant to proclaim "my ancestor is better than yours."  It should be for the simple reason that you are honoring your ancestors and leaving a legacy of their contributions and lives for future generations and researchers.  Your ancestors do not have to be rich and famous to honor them.