Friday, August 30, 2013

Surname Saturday: Denning (Lesson: Rule Names OUT)

One goal of the recent Midwest/FGS trip was to trace the family of Benjamin McClure's wife, Sarah D. McClure. Was her maiden name Deming or Denning? I've seen it both ways in various places.
Sitting in the ACPL and reading histories of Adams County, OH, where they met and married, I saw NO mention of any Deming family. But there was one prominent Denning family, that of Job Denning. So now I ruled Deming out and concentrated on Denning, at least for investigative purposes.

The first thing I did was plug "Job Denning" into Ancestry as Sarah's father. That turned up a green hint leaf with family trees to check out. It also led me to a Find-a-grave site, right place and right time. Now I had a death year (1836) and an approximate birth year (1775) to check, as well.

Also, I used my trusty search engine to find hits for "Job Denning" "Adams County Ohio" and found more than one solid reference to Job and Sarah. Above, the clipping of Job Denning listed as an associate judge in Adams county, OH, in 1820 (thank you, Google Books). Earlier, he was a court "cryer" [sic] and a constable. He successfully applied for a tavern license in 1797. On and on, his story unfolded from a bit of Internet searching. Quite a busy man, was this pioneer ancestor Job Denning.

Now comes the hard part: Checking everything and connecting Sarah Denning McClure to Job Denning through some real evidence. Stay tuned!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Thriller Thursday: Researching Sideways Reveals "Burglariously" Charge

A few days after attending Debbie Parker Wayne's FGS talk about tax and land laws, I had a chance to apply her ideas while researching the Steiner family in Upper Sandusky, the county seat of Wynadot County, Ohio.

Visiting the Heritage Room of the Upper Sandusky library, I systematically checked each genealogy book on the shelf for any mention of a Steiner. One book listed names mentioned in early probate entries and court of common pleas law cases. There, to my surprise, I found hubby's great-grand uncle (the brother of his great-grandpa Edward G. Steiner) in an 1870 entry titled: "State of Ohio vs. Samuel D. Steiner."

Hubby scrambled off to the elegant Wyandot County Courthouse a few blocks away and came back with photos of this case's paperwork. It turns out that hubby's great-grandpa Edward G. Steiner was mentioned in the case after all! Most mysterious of all, this was a breaking and entering case, as you can see:
The State of Ohio, Wyandot County

To the keeper of the jail of the county aforesaid, greeting:
  Whereas Samuel D. Steiner late of said county has been arrested on a complaint signed and sworn to by John Price, that Elisha Holmes on the 30th day of October in the year of our Lord 1870, in the night season of the same day, to wit:

  About the hour of 8 o’clock p.m. in the county of Wyandot aforesaid, into a certain store-house of one Matthew Mitchell, is there situate and being, did willfully, maliciously, burglariously, feloniously, break and enter with intent then and there and thereby, feloniously, burglariously, to steal, take, and carry away the personal goods, chattels, and property of value of Matthew Mitchell and John B. Mitchell in the said store-house then and there being.

  And the deponent aforesaid being sworn as aforesaid further says that Samuel D. Steiner, Edward G. Steiner, and John Sheehy, before said felony was committed as aforesaid by the said Elisha Holmes, to wit:   On the 30th day of October in the year of our Lord 1870, in the county of Wyandot aforesaid, did unlawfully, feloniously, purposely, and of deliberate and premeditated purpose aid and abet and procure the aforesaid Elisha Holmes the said felony in manner and form aforesaid to commit.

  And whereas the said Samuel D. Steiner has been brought before me, to answer to said charge, and has by me required to give bail in the sum of $1,000, for his appearance before the court of common pleas in said county of Wyandot on the first day of the next term thereof, which requirement he has failed to comply with.

  I command you to receive the said Samuel D. Steiner into your custody in the jail of the county aforesaid, there to remain until he shall be discharge by due course of law.

  Given under my hand and seal this 9th day of November 1870. – M.W. Welsh, J.P.  
This is still a thriller because I don't yet know what happened--no other paperwork was in the folder or mentioned in the transcribed listing of names in lawsuits. But you know I will be digging deeper to find out. If I hadn't followed up on Samuel's name in the records, I wouldn't have known about Edward's involvement at all.

$1,000 bail was a ginormous amount in 1870. What could great-grand uncle Samuel and great-grandpa Edward have done to be accused of aiding and abetting so feloniously and burglariously a theft??

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Motivation Monday: FGS + ACPL = New Ideas and Info

Wrapping up the FGS experience, the various tracks really offered something for everyone: Records; Methodologies; Tech; Brit Isles; Writing/speaking/publishing; Military; Midwest Religious Communities; Online resources; Midwest; Migration; African-American; German; European; Transportation; Genetics; Ethnic origins; NARA.

Given my focus on hubby's midwest ancestors, I stuck to the Midwest track for most of my sessions, enjoying talks by Melissa Shimkus, Elizabeth Plummer, Kris Rzepczynski, Harold Henderson, and Amy Johnson Crow. Two great lunch speakers: Josh Taylor on Saturday and Audrey Collins on Thursday, both motivational and entertaining.

As tempting as it was to go to sessions all the time, I devoted two afternoons and one evening to the Allen County Public Library. (No, no costume for the dance, just research.)

Who said libraries are going away? Not anyone who's ever been to ACPL. Its printed materials are genealogy gems, its librarians and volunteers are experts and friendly to boot. In one place I could consult books about Indiana and Ohio, the two main areas where Steiners, Rineharts, McClures, and other ancestors of hubby lived. I'm coming home with about 300 photos (not photocopies) of pages from history books, genealogies, old directories, cemetery listings, etc. That's enough raw material to keep me busy for many weeks. Some bull's eyes, some clues, lots to evaluate and check.

Also I networked with FGS attendees as well as with people in other areas (Wabash, Upper Sandusky, Wyandot) to further the research effort. More about this in future posts. So many ancestors, so little time!

Blogoversary #5 and Going Strong!

Thank you, dear relatives and readers, for following along on the genealogical journey I've been documenting here for the past five years. And thank you to the many dozens of Geneabloggers whose posts and comments have encouraged and inspired me to try new things, like the ancestor landing pages just below my masthead and using Facebook for genealogy.

Some of the high points since Blogoversary #4: 
  • Being "found" by Philly Cuz, a second cousin from my Schwartz side. She's been kind enough to share photos and stories. Quite a trip down memory lane on both sides, and of course, an in-person visit is in our future. Thank you!
  • Finally seeing the all-important McClure book to confirm the Scots-Irish connection. And while at Allen County Public Library, locating more records of the McClure fam in Adams County books on the open shelves. Thank you to ACPL staff and volunteers! 
  • Teaming up with a long-time Bentley researcher to try to fill in the blanks on William Tyler Bentley's life and family. We have a ways to go but have been making progress together. And it's wonderful to have connected with an actual Bentley cousin (hi Elizabeth) who's tracing her tree also. Thank you all!
  • Being "found" by the son of a woman who sailed across the Atlantic with my Auntie Dorothy Schwartz, the WAC, on the oceanliner that defied the German subs. I never would have known about the magazine article describing that tense ocean crossing if not for him. Thank you!
  • Scanning and indexing 31 years of notes and historians' reports from meetings of the Farkas Family Tree, my maternal grandma's family. One fabulous cousin retyped many barely readable documents for this project, and a number of cousins very patiently answered questions about who's who, so we can get this book into shape for the next generation to browse and keep (I hope!). Thank you!
Now for some of the big questions I'm still trying to answer:
  • Are any descendants of Paula Schwartz and her daughter, Viola, still alive? Answered...Yes! I'm now in touch with these cousins! (updated 2022)
  • Where oh where in Ireland do hubby's ancestors hail from? Yes, I'm talking about you, SmithShehen, and Larimer ancestors. Stop hiding in plain sight!
  • Where did the Steiners and Rineharts come from in the Old World? Thanks to the kindness of FindaGrave volunteers who've photographed graves and clarified family connections on our behalf, we expect to make progress. 
  • Where in Lithuania did Isaac Burk/Birk come from and who else was in his family (parents and siblings)? Updated 2022: Their birthplace was Gargzdai.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Friday FGS and ACPL Discoveries: The McClures of Donegal

After a morning with the Ohio Historical Society and then a tutorial on the Allen County Public Library, today was RESEARCH day.

And a gen book I've tried to get my hands on for a year is here in the ACPL's collection..."Following the McClures, Donegal to Botetourt." Second edition, the latest and greatest.

It confirms that Alexander McClure is almost certainly hubby's 4th great-granddad (Alex's dad, Halbert, the patriarch, is hubby's 5th g-great).

The McClures were originally from Scotland but (the book explains) they left for Ireland to exercise religious freedom. Halbert McClure was born in Parish Raphoe in County Donegal in 1684, according to LDS records cited in the book. Halbert married Agnes (probably a Scots woman) and they had 6 kids, including our ancestor Alex, b. 1717. One of Alex's sons, John, married Ann McFall and their son Benjamin became a pioneer and civic leader in Wabash, IN.

Oh, the book has lots of detail about the McClure fam's situation in Donegal, then their voyage to the new world. They landed in PA and then walked, yes walked through Maryland and down to Virginia. What a saga, well worth the wait.

After hours FGS dance party at ACPL

Thursday, August 22, 2013

FGS Fun and Wabash Adventures

Today was my day to learn about Wolverine State research (with Kris Rzepczynski), Brit ancestors on the move (Audrey Collins), Swiss research (Michael Lacopo), Buckeye State gen (Amy Crow), and Hoosier gen (Harold Henderson).

All well-attended, engaging and informative sessions. Lots of good ideas for finding elusive ancestors and tapping new sources. Plus between-session conversations about surnames, techniques, and more.

Meanwhile hubby had Wabash on his mind. The town historian agreed that Wally's 3d great-grandpa Benjamin McClure and family would have watched as the new-fangled electric arch lamps were turned on in the city in the 1800s, or at least could see the incredibly bright lamps from his farm 3 miles out of town.

And hubby located an oral history given by his cousin (Benjamin's great-grandson) about growing up in Wabash at the turn of the 20th century. If he's lucky, he'll also see (and photograph) his great-great uncle's Civil War bible too. Stay tuned.*

*Bible wasn't where it should have been. Disappointing! Oh, well...

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Hubby Meets MLK

While bearded hubby Wally Wood was editor of the Columbia Owl at New York's Columbia University, the newspaper worked with other college newspapers and civil rights groups to organize an appearance by Martin Luther King Jr. (circa 1962).

Student leaders from area colleges were represented on stage as Wally introduced the vice-president of Columbia, who then introduced Dr. King.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Matrilineal Monday: Saluting Marian McClure Wood

Marian McClure, age 4
My late mom-in-law, Marian Jane McClure Wood, was the only child of Brice Larimer McClure and Floyda Mabel Steiner McClure.
Marian McClure, age 14

These are some photos of Marian as a youngster, a young lady, and finally a Mom.

Wood family

At left, in Cleveland Heights, Marian McClure Wood, her father Brice Larimer McClure, and her husband Edgar James Wood. The kids are my hubby and his siblings.

Jane is the traditional middle name passed down through many generations (on both sides of the family).

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Society Saturday: The Kossuth Society's Cemetery Plot

My Farkas family in New York City was deeply involved in the Kossuth Ferencz Hungarian Literary Sick and Benevolent Society . . . serving as founders, officers, and committee heads over the years.

The "literary" part of the title was represented by a lending library. The "sick and benevolent" part of the title included the group purchase of plots at Mount Hebron Cemetery in Flushing, NY.

When I visited Mt. Hebron, I took a close look at the society's pillars and gates. The left gate reads: "Kossuth Ferencz" and the right gate reads: "H.L.S. & B. Ass'n."

See the small plaque in the center of the right gate? It's dedicated to my great-uncle Alex Farkas, Chairman of the Cemetery committee, August 1929. He was one of the society's organizers in 1904.

One more thing I learned from visiting the Kossuth plot: My great-aunt Jennie Katz Farkas, who met her husband Alex Farkas through Kossuth, was enough of a mover and shaker to get her name listed on the pillars of the plot gate--separate from her husband. Way to go, Aunt Jennie! She also thought up the idea of the Farkas Family Tree--thank you, Aunt Jennie.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Friday's Faces from the Past: Mary and Edward in Coney Island

My pretty great-aunt Mary Schwartz eloped in New York City on Christmas Eve, 1913 with Edward Wirtschafter, a dapper furrier who reportedly swept her off her feet.

This photo is obviously from a different season--a season for going to the boardwalk.

Great-aunt Mary is shown at left in the front row. (Years ago, my mother identified Mary and my sis wrote a note below the photo.) Philly Cuz has positively identified Edward as the lucky man with the two gals. Alas, we don't know the other lady.

Because Philly Cuz wondered where and when the photo was taken, I dug it out and turned it over. And guess what?

It was taken at the Elite Studio in Steeplechase Park, Coney Island, NY. (Click on the link to read about the park's fascinating past.) Judging by what people are wearing, we suspect this was taken before 1920.

In searching for Mr. Goldberg, who owned the Elite Studio, I stumbled upon a post from a gentleman whose father owned the first studio on the Coney Island boardwalk. We've had an e-mail conversation and he says his dad's studio was not in Steeplechase. I'll keep looking!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Tuesday's Tip: More Ten-Minute Genealogist Ideas

Two months ago, I posted a few ideas on what I can accomplish when I have 10 minutes to spare for genealogy. Here are three more thoughts on doing research in bite-size periods in between real life:

  • Search Find-a-Grave or post extra info there. Find-a-Grave is frequently my go-to source for "possible" birth and death dates, as well as "hints" on family relationships. I double-check everything, especially info that isn't accompanied by a photo of the gravestone, because after all, anybody can transcribe incorrectly. But this is good jumping-off info for other searches and has helped me connect relatives in several cases. I also give back by posting extra info when I locate a family member on the site. See my extra info for James Edgar Wood, above. The write-up and photo took me more than 10 min but less than 15, but if cousins go looking for our ancestor, they'll find him and me!
  • Search for brick-wall ancestors in new or updated Family Search collections. So many updates are being posted to Family Search that it pays to check back every now and again. Also, being occasionally less than methodical, I've discovered document images on Family Search that I never noticed were there before, like marriage records or death certs. 
  • Check my "to do list" on my personalized home page of Ancestry to see what I'm still trying to find out after all these years. Once I learned how to personalize the home page, I immediately posted a listing of "most wanted" ancestors for myself, along with what I want to know. If I have a spare few minutes, I check this list and challenge myself to be creative in doing a search I've never done before. These are very elusive ancestors, however, so no luck just yet. Oh, it helps to personalize some frequently-used links on the home page, too, so I can skip directly to those databases.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

"Almost Strangers" and "Shooting the Past"--Entertainment for Genealogists

British writer/director Stephen Poliakoff has a thing about families and the past--just like genealogists.

If you haven't seen his work, let me recommend Almost Strangers (a 3-part miniseries that ran in England under the title Perfect Strangers). It takes place at a noisy, jam-packed family reunion. As you might imagine, secrets are exposed and complications ensure as several touching and surprising family stories emerge. With a cast including Michael Gambon and Michael Macfadyen, the acting is fantastic. Poliakoff was inspired to write this after attending his own family's reunion (read about it here).

I just finished watching another Poliakoff miniseries, Shooting the Past. On the surface, it's about the fate of a sprawling archive containing 10 million photos spanning the 20th century--and the dedicated but quirky staff that has been taking care of this collection for years. However, family stories are at the very core of the plot and these tales unfold slowly and in unexpected ways. Stick with it: you'll be rewarded in the final episode with a masterful family tale told entirely through photos. Read more about the background here.

Both of these Poliakoff works are available via Netflix, Amazon, and other sources. Click and enjoy!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Travel Tuesday: Elkhart's Island Park Hosts Fam Reunion, 1902

From the Elkhart Truth
In August of 1902, hubby's 2d great-grandpa Brice S. Larimer (1819-1906) was the oldest person to attend a reunion of three families united by marriage for many decades: The Larimers, the Works, and the Shorts.

Relatives traveled from as far as South Dakota and Michigan to attend this reunion at Island Park in Elkhart, Indiana. Island Park is, today, home to events such as music festivals. These ancestors were trend-setters!

The 1902 event wasn't the first reunion of the three families. The 2d annual reunion was held in June, 1901, and again Brice Larimer was mentioned as "the dean of the party" because of his age as the reigning patriarch.

Many years later, John Clarence Work* wrote a definitive history of the Larimer family, 1740-1959, based in part on the genealogical research of Aaron Work (1837-1924) of Elkhart, Indiana. This book is now downloadable from the Family History Library here.

* John Clarence Work's grandmother was Cynthia Hanley Larimer Work. See the family connection?!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Genealogy by the States: The Bentley California Land Rush!

William Tyler Bentley, hubby's 3rd great-grandpa, seemed to be drawn west throughout his life. Born in New York in 1795, he moved his family to what became Elkhart county, Indiana, in 1835. Though they were early settlers, most of the family didn't put down permanent roots in Indiana.

Tulare County, CA
During the 1850s, William and his grown children* (except two of his married daughters, Lucy E. Bentley Larimer and Lucinda H. Bentley Shank) moved to California in search of fertile farm and ranching land. Remember that California only became a state in 1850, and Visalia was the county seat of Tulare in the early days. By 1858, Visalia was being served by the overland stage coach from St. Louis to San Francisco. The Bentleys were part of this exciting time in California history!

The 1867 voters' records of Visalia (Tulare county) list William Tyler Bentley as a farmer. His son Elisha Morgan Bentley (married to Charlotte Raymond) was raising livestock on 320 acres in Visalia (according to the 1870 non-population Census).

William's daughter Elizabeth E. Bentley Light and her husband Emanuel were farmers in Tulare county. Another daughter, Abbie Eliza Bentley Curtis and her blacksmith husband, Leonard Curtis, lived in Santa Cruz, CA.

William's obit from the Visalia Times Delta of April 3, 1873 reads: "Died on South Tule River, March 29, 1873, Wm. T. Bentley, aged 77 yrs, 7 months, father of E.M. Bentley, of this place."

To learn more about the Bentleys' lives in California, I'm sending for the obits of Elisha Morgan Bentley and his wife, Charlotte (see below, right). *According to Lucinda H. Bentley Shank's obit, Wm Tyler Bentley left for California in 1848 and five of his seven children followed to California in 1851.

Special note to "Cousin Elizabeth"--please get in touch again re William A. Bradford.


Genealogy by the States was started by Jim Sanders of Hidden Genealogy Nuggets.