Tuesday, October 13, 2015

A trip to see Mom and a reminder about why I bolg

Just recently, took a trip back east to see Mom, now 97, who lives in the tiny Western Maryland mountain  town of Frostburg. Mom's great, by the way and thanks for asking. We did a bunch of things "genealogy" and I'll get to all of that in later posts. But first, this.

Was sitting at breakfast with cousins Linda and JoAnn and we got to talking about the ancestors. I was playing around on Ancestry the night before because I realized that I didn't know much about their father, Uncle Harry. So I worked on his line for a while and discovered that he and his lovely wife and my own darling aunt Louise, Dad's sister, are 5th or 6th cousins! Had to do a proper Lol!

We were at the Princess Restaurant on Main Street, which is just as charming as you'd suspect and where they keeps the very booth President Truman and his wife Bess sat in on their way to the inauguration, and it's in perfect order and unchanged. After we ordered, I brought out two sheets of paper, one with Uncle Harry's lineage and the other with Aunt Louise's. And walked the cousins back to see how they connect at George Adam Eckhart, founder of the tiny town of Eckhart (now called Eckhart Mines, but that's another story).

They were amazed! Imagine being told out of the blue that your parents were cousins, if distant cousins. "Well, that explains a lot," one of them guffawed! I think all kids will at least half-believe that their parents are cousins!

One thing lead to another, we talked about a family mystery involving twins (we have a lot of them in the family, on both sides), and then, predictably, the graves. You see, we're a family that looks after graves and is pretty serious about it. I hadn't yet made it around to see Grandma and Grandpop Kelly's grave yet but had planned on it today. It's at St Michaels' Cemetery.

We knew Grandpop's own father was buried just down a couple of spots. Yes, we all knew that and that he's right there beside his wife Christiana Eckhart Kelly, and that's where the Kelly and Eckhart lines come together. What wasn't so well-known is that Grandpop Kelly's grandparents, John Kelly and Bridget Corcoran, who both came from Ireland, are buried in St. Mike's Cemetery as well.

I thought the table would explode! This was the second genea-hand grenade to hit the table! Where, they both questioned at once. I gave some general directions. Irish cross, to the left of the main entry lane that goes to the big cross in the middle, down a couple of rows.

We said our sad and heart-felt good-byes, and off we went. I swung down to the house to pick up Mom and some aluminum foil for a stone rubbing. Then we were off to visit that very memorial for John Kelly and Bridget.

Mom recalled how shocked with disbelief that Grandpop Kelly was when she told him that his own grandfather was buried in St Mike's. He too was a big tender of the graves and it was very important that his parents and all of them were looked after. So he practically couldn't come to terms with it to know that his own dear grandparents were buried there in the same cemetery with his parents... and he didn't know.

We went to see the nice Irish cross for old John Kelly who made his way from Shannonbridge Ireland to the mountains of Western Maryland, most likely to work on the railroad, as so many Irishmen of his day did. He found Bridget Corcoran and married in Cumberland and they raised eight fine children, the boys all strong and the girls beautiful, or so I imagine:)

Cousin Linda had left the Princess and beat a trail over to the cemetery to find Old John's gravestone. She even beat Mom and I there! By the time I'd texted her to say I was a couple of rows off, she texted back to say she'd already found it!!

At the end of our breakfast together one of the girls asked if I still keep up with this blog. No, I sheepishly said, been busy. Now I felt bad that I hadn't. What fabulous cousin bait this blog has been!! Ugh. Neglectful me.

So here I am back again. And I've got some wonderful new stories to tell, if I do say so my own self.

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Monday, April 27, 2015

Been busy

Well I haven't been here in a while!! True confession: just popped in to see if anyone is still finding this blog and whatta ya know, yes!

I've been very busy working on DAR prospective member applications. Just at the first of the year, I took the DAR online course and it was incredible. Oh, sure, there are other worthy courses out there but only the DAR GEP is slanted toward what needs to be done to prepare an application that will stand the test of scrutiny by the verifying genealogists at DAR HQ in Washington DC. The standards are high and you must submit a proof document for every fact you state on the application. Really, it's just genealogy the way it should be.

I've helped about a dozen or more ladies get their application ready, including my Mom. I'm sure the day will come when we'll get a Have Written or letter asking to prove something that was left unproven. But so far, so good! I've learned a lot about things and I'd like to share a few of them here.

The big lesson for me, and maybe you too, was that I need to slow the heck down and look into a document. I know that I rush things too much. Life is busy and on some days I don't feel as though I can slow down due to the pressure of a long To-Do list. Silly me! I found that out while taking the GEP course online. I'd think I was doing a thorough job of it but when it came to the quizzes the only ones I missed were when I rushed through and didn't pay the utmost attention. In the forums, it was a common complaint so I know that I'm not alone. The thing is that I now wonder how much really good stuff I've missed because I just wasn't paying attention! UGH! Always work to do, not only on the tree but on ourselves.

Speaking of trees, no one is "finished" with their tree. Quite often, when working with a prospective member, and after they've given me a link or invite to their tree online, they'll offer that "it's not done". Well of course! Never seen one that was! There's always more to find, and good stuff too, really fascinating stuff. And that, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, is why we are addicted to doing it! No surprise there. So maybe we all should stop feeling guilty and get over feeling like our trees should be "done", and just go get a cuppa and enjoy the process. It will never be DONE. And good for that thought!

Here's a tip: look in old books online. The last three applications I've worked on got to generation 7, usually the child of the patriot ancestor who fought in the Revolutionary War, and because vital records are few and far between, it's all but impossible to connect them to their parents. So there I am temptingly close to proving her direct line all the way from her back to her patriot ancestor, but missing one connection! I can't tell you how frustrating that is! What I learned from a DAR friend is that the best place to look is in old books documenting the history of a town or family.

When I first ran into this I looked on it with skepticism. I'd heard about the so-called vanity books of old written to prove some person's connection to a royal or famous ancestor and had been taught to be very skeptical of those. And I am. But as they say, don't throw the baby out with the bathwater! Look for books published in the later part of the 1800s, and look for those that have a narrow focus such as a town history. Then judge them based on the number of years between the death of the person being written about and the document being written. Is it likely that the subject and the writer knew each other? And lastly, how detailed is the story?

As an example, here a passage from one of the books found online in its entirety. You can see the detail in every sentence. This is from "The History of Edgar County, Illinois, etc." published in 1879.

Rev. William J. Mayo, the father of Col. Mayo, came here in the fall of 1825. He arrived on the 30th of November; the fall had been one of almost unprecedented loveliness, without a drop of rain for weeks, but on that night it set in to rain and continued a day or two. He located near the line between Hunter and Stratton Townships, where he died August 1, 1849, lacking but a few days of being eighty years of age. He had eaten his dinner, shaved himself, chopped some fire-wood at his woodpile, walked to the house, and was scraping his feet at the door, when he dropped dead. Col. Mayo and Mrs. Driskell, wife of Joseph Driskell, are the only survivors of twelve children. Mr. Mayo was a local preacher of the M. E. Church. Joseph Driskell, a son-in-law of his, is from Kentucky, and settled here in 1829, but is living at present in the city of Paris. Rev. John W. McReynolds was from Allen County, Ky., and came here in 1822. He was a brother-in-law of Col. Mayo--having married a sister of Mrs. Mayo.

See what I mean about detail?!

The URL for this post is: http://nutsfromthefamilytree.blogspot.com/2015/04/been-busy.html

Friday, January 30, 2015

I'm "stealing" this. But I just have to share it!!

I get Randy Seaver's excellent blog Genea-Musings by subscription in my morning email. The other day he posted about a hilarious cartoon that comes out three times a week all about genealogy. It's called Geneapalooza and is by genius guy, Esto Frigus. Check it out here.

So here's the thing. There's no link offered or info on how to contact Esto Frigus so I can't contact him to get his permission to share one of his cartoons, so I'm just going ahead and violating copyright and "stealing" it. Actually, I kinda doubt that Esto would pursue this "crime" through legal channels because I'm only saying very flattering stuff about him and his work:) It's super funny... if you're an avid genealogist! If you're the spouse, family or partner of an avid genealogist then maybe you'll not see it as quite so hilarious. Here's an example.

See more from Geneapalooza at http://geneapalooza.blogspot.com/

Thank you Esto, wherever you are!!  

The URL for this post is: http://nutsfromthefamilytree.blogspot.com/2015/01/im-stealing-this-but-i-just-have-to.html

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Couldn't you say that more directly?

OK, so this is probably old information and I'm the last girl on the block to "get it" but I have to make a confession: I've not been very good at those designations for evidence such as primary and secondary, direct and indirect, original or derivative. Just not thought about them much. But while taking the DAR Genealogy Education Program (GEP) course online, I finally understood and could see how designating a record or a piece of evidence on that record as one of those just listed would really help. When I'm digging for ancestors and  looking at some piece of paper or image on Ancestry or Family Search, I can know in a moment how helpful that item is going to be for me by using those designations. And if the document or info on it is not "good enough" then I know what I need to do to find better. And we want the very best when we look for records, don't we? Sure we do!

I get the difference between original and derivative. It has to do with whether the record is the original, in its original form, or some other version. An example is the Declaration of Independence. If you're looking at the original Declaration of Independence, unless you're in the National Archives in D.C. than you're probably looking at a copy, a derivative version. Is it a transcript that you're looking at? Did someone transcribe it and type it up? That's one example of a derivative version. It's legit alright, but it's not the original so it's derivative. Or maybe you're looking at a short write up version, a synopsis or abstract. That's another version and it's going to give you less information so maybe you'll miss the very bit you really wanted to see. Get it? If you had the original of the Declaration of Independence you'd have a national treasure. If you have an abstract, what do you have? A derivative version.

Same with the records we look at. Take wills for example. I love to look at original wills online. Love to see the handwriting, the X or signature telling me if the person who wrote the will could read or write. Transcripts are OK but they can be full of errors. And of course we can label them derivative. Will abstracts are the worst for me! You just know when you look at one it's leaving out the good stuff you want to know! Derivative.

Direct and indirect were terms that I have to admit I didn't really understand or see how they could be helpful. Let me elaborate on that. When someone explained them I understood for a little while but then in a few minutes I'd forget again because I couldn't see the helpfulness of the terms. Well, I get it now! If you ask someone how to get to First and Elm they can tell you, go straight two blocks, then left for five more blocks and you'll be at First and Elm, that's pretty direct information, don't you think? And if you asked another guy how to get to the same place and he rattled on and on describing landmarks and building that were there 40 years ago, maybe you could figure out how to get there, but maybe you couldn't. That's indirect information. Yuck. Give us direct information, please!

Indirect evidence leads you to a conclusion only by stringing together a series of pieces of evidence. Why can't it be stated directly, we ask ourselves along the way? Because there's no direct evidence available, only indirect evidence. It's a puzzle that needs to be put together... by you.

That only leaves primary and secondary to be sorted out. This one is pretty easy and I thought I understood how to use the two terms. But then I dug into a simple death certificate and -- bam! -- a big light went off that showed me the very heart of the matter and why it's important to know and use this type of evidence analysis. Who was that informant and what did they really know anyhow? The date and place of death was a sure bet. It was most likely to be correct (and was primary evidence) because it was very close in time (primary) to the event. The informant had usually been witness to the death and so probably knew exactly when and where it happened. But what of the birth place? Or the subjects parents, or get ready, the subject's parents place of birth! See how that could go all wrong and lead to incorrect information?

So now I'm not too surprised when I think about my 4th GGF's death certificate and how the informant, his undoubtedly upset and grieving wife, mixed up his parents surnames. It showed me just how easy it was to get incorrect secondary info on a vital record. Wow!

Primary and secondary. (Think death certificate.)
Direct and indirect. (Think driving directions.)
Original or derivative. (Think Declaration of Independence.)

There are more complex ways to sort documents and evidence. Elizabeth Shown Mills has a good one here and there's more info on her method here.

Now wasn't that fun?

Samuel Albert House (1832 - 1917) and
Mary Elizabeth Farrell House (1835 - 1919)

His death certificate, the Informant his wife. Notice the surnames of his parents! They were mixed and his parents were Rebecca House and Isaac Biggerstaff. He did not take his fathers surname for a big reason. More on that later, of just search on Biggerstaff in the search box on the top, right.
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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

And now something I saw on Facebook...

I've been away from my little blog for a while. Been distracted by the holidays and then taking the DAR's GEP courses, that's Genealogy Education Program. There are three courses and you take them online. Only open to DAR members, and really don't think anyone else would be interested due to the heavy DAR slant. But it was worth it. It took a month out of my life and saturated a lot of time. It culminated in a writing assignment in which we wrote a Service Study that used direct evidence only to differentiate between four men by the same name living in Lancaster County during the Revolutionary War. I was so overwhelmed that I finally made an Excel spreadsheet and then figured it out! Got 100%, I did, I did:) And as a bonus, the Geni at HQ even gave me a tip on how to make it even better. How's that for delivering?
Now it's back to the Nut Tree here and post with some regularity on an irregular schedule. You know how it goes:) Really, I do not know how Randy Seaver over at Genea-Musings does it, posting a couple of times a day!!
The plan is to share with you some of the stuff I learned or was reminded about while taking the GEP course. I won't deal with all the info that's DAR specific, just the tools we all use everyday. The process will help me remember what I learned and who knows, maybe it will tickle your fancy too.
Here's one for instance. On one of the DAR Facebook pages a woman and a prospective member lamented that her "Revolutionary War" ancestor turned out to be a Loyalist! No problem, the members assured her. Did she know that in her 7th generation back she had 256 ancestors to choose from. And in her 8th generation she had 512 ancestors. If she was young enough, she might even find that one of her 1024 ancestors in her 8th generation could have served. The general consensus was that if some of her ancestors were here during the Revolution and she had found a Loyalist she was highly likely to find a Patriot too!!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Facebook delivers a family story detail that I didn't know!

The Zeller Barbershop,
Frostburg, Allegany County, Maryland.
Before 1917.
See that fine barbering emporium on Main Street in the Western Maryland mountain town of Frostburg, above? That was my great grandfather's shop. He was Gus Zeller (1884 - 1927). As best I know he had a business here first and then across the street. Why did he move across the street? Because the shop you see here burned to the ground in a large fire on 14 December, 1917, and that's 97 years ago today as I write this.
I was on Facebook this morning and happened to see a post about this fire that destroyed a big chunk of the downtown business area. Wow, I thought, it happened just three years short of 100 on this day! But then I went on to read all that had been posted and it was the full text of an article that ran in the Cumberland Times newspaper, a larger town that was close by Frostburg. I'm posting the full text of the article here, copied from that Facebook post, in the chance that someone whose ancestor was also the victim of the fire might search and stumble upon this. I learned a thing or two about the events of the day from this article so if it helps someone else, more the better.
A reprint from the Cumberland Times Friday, December 14, 1917

Seven Buildings Totaling Loss Of $150,000 Destroyed – Stiff Gale Balks Firemen Who Fought For Four Hours – Frostburg Department Handicapped, New Auto engine of Cumberland And Coney Firefighters Save Town From Devastation.

FROSTBURG, Dec. 14 – A fire, doing an estimated damage of $150,000, broke out this morning about 5 o’clock from the Shea building, this place, and before it was extinguished burned seven buildings to the ground. The destroyed buildings were: Shea building and a double block residence and average on same lot; the building occupied as store and residence by the Frostburg Furniture Co. and a warehouse and stable on the same lot; a building owned by Mrs. D. J. Betz and occupied on the ground floor by Jeffries Bros., jewelers; Zeller’s barber shop and C. F. Betz’s grocery store; a garage and storehouse on First street owned by the Frostburg Furniture and Undertaking Co.

Burns Four Hours
Fanned by a stiff gale the fire burned furiously for four hours and it was not until 9 a.m. that it was under complete control. For some time it looked as if the Lyric building would also burn, and all its occupants moved their furniture and fixtures to places of safety. The Lyric Theatre suffered considerable damage from the blazes which leaped across from the Betz building, all the east windows being broken and the sash and frames burned.

Lose Everything
The occupants of the Shea building lost everything, as the fire was so far advanced when discovered that nothing could be saved. The building was occupied on the first floor by the Shea’s drug store and McCrorey’s five and ten cent store, on the second floor by offices of Clayton Purnell, attorney; Frostburg Building and Loan Association; Thomas Elias’ tailor shop and offices of Parker-George’s Creek Coal Co., the Gleason Coal and Coke Co. and Sullivan Bros. Coal Co; the third floor of the building was occupied by the local aerie Fraternal Order of Eagles.

Furniture Stock Ruined
The Frostburg Furniture and Undertaking Co. lost their entire stock and almost all the household furniture of Jonas J. Durst, president of the company, who with his family, resided on the second floor. All that this concern was able to save out of an estate valued at $30,000 was two horses, a motor ambulance, a National touring car, two hearses and some embalming instruments.

Groceries Burned Up
C. F. Betz, grocer, lost almost his entire stock, while the entire stock of the Jeffries Bros., jeweler’s was saved. G. W. M. Zeller lost heavily although some of his barber chairs and fixtures were saved. Nearly all the household furniture of Robert Cook and James Durst, who occupied apartments on the second floor of the Betz building was saved. The second floor of the Beatz building was occupied by the offices of the City Clerk J. S. Metzger, Attorney Charles G. Watson and City Engineer William Harvey. City Clerk Metzger saved all the town’s records and the most valuable of his own papers. William Harvey saved most of his equipment and papers. Attorney Watson lost practically everything. Some damage by water was done to the Lyric cafĂ© and the Hosken and Gunter’s pool room. These two concessions moved all their stock and some of their furnishings when the fire appeared most threatening. The second floor of the Lyric building, which is occupied as a residence by Mrs. L.R. Ash and J. C. Youngerman, was emptied, the goods being carried to the houses of friends and stores on the opposite side of the street.

Save Draft Records
The furnishings of the third floor of the Lyric building, occupied by the local draft board, were also carried to places of safety, and scores of men worked untiringly carrying out the immense stock of goods Stanton’s hardware store. Most of these goods were packed in the Catholic church yard. Mrs. Truman Thorpe and Mrs. Isabel Campbell occupied the burned double block house in the rear of the Shea building. The Thorpe family saved much of their household goods; Mrs. Campbell saved nothing but a watch, which belonged to her deceased husband.

Save Hotel
The Gladstone Hotel was in great danger for a long while, but owing to the direction of the wind and persistent efforts of the firemen the damage to this building was slight. The residence of Wm. J. Daily and a house owned by Mrs. John Brady were in great danger for a while and so much fear was entertained for their safety that all the contents were removed to neighboring houses.

Nearby Cities Aid
This was the most extensive and damaging fire experienced in Frostburg since 1874 and had it not been for help from Cumberland, Lonaconing and Midland the disaster would have been probably the worst in the history of the town. Between 75 and 100 men of Good Will Fire Company, Lonaconing, arrived at 7 o’clock with much needed equipment and they worked heroically with the Frostburg Fire Department until the blaze was under control. The new motor truck of the Cumberland Fire Department arrived on scene at 8 o’clock and the strong stream this engine produced, after being attached to the fire plug in front of St. Michael’s Church, was all that prevented the fire from eating its way down Welsh street and First street. The Midland firemen were also on the scene and worked hard until all anger had passed.

New Truck Broken Down
Had it not been for a combination of adverse circumstances the Frostburg Fire Department could undoubtedly have kept the fire confined to the Shea building. The men never worked harder, but they had to work without the new motor truck – their best piece of equipment, which was in Cumberland undergoing repairs. Another handicap resulted from the recent gas failure, which caused a freezing temperature in the hose house and the hose, used only a few days ago at another fire, were found to be frozen when put in use this morning.

Hose Burst
It was not long this morning after the fire bell rang until four of the hoses were connected to as many water plugs, but when the pressure was turned in, three of the lines burst, causing a loss of time for repairs. Add to this, annoyance of a high wind and for some reason an unusually low water pressure and one can easily understand that it required almost superhuman effort on the part of the men of the fire departments to save from destruction a larger area than is now laid in waste.

Stocks were Heavy
Owing to the holiday season, all stores were heavily stocked and consequently the loss is greater than it would have been at any other season of the year. Mr. Shea alone places loss at $60,000, while that of the Frostburg Furniture Co. is estimated at between $30,000 and $35,000. These two are the heaviest losers. A conservative estimate places the loss of the others at $60,00, making the entire value of the property destroyed $150,000. The blaze occurred in the heart of the town and the destructive work of the four hours’ fire this morning has changed that section from a block of brilliant stores attired in holiday dress to a blackened area of ruins, which will make the town poorer in many ways until this section is rebuilt.

To Resume Business
Several stores have arranged to resume business at once. Jeffries Bros., who saved all their stock will be open for business tomorrow morning in the vacant room next to the Palace Theatre. This firm had a huge iron safe in the fire, which was filled with valuable jewelry. It was forced opened after cooling off and everything was in perfect condition including the most delicate watches, which were keeping perfect time. The Frostburg Furniture Co. will probably occupy the Gladstone’s annex. The undertaking business portion of this firm will be carried on without interruption, their office being in the Gladstone Hotel until further notice.

My great grandfather went on to build out a bigger and better barbering establishment across Main Street. He stayed on there until he retired and turned the business over to one of his sons. Gus Zeller died in Frostburg, in his home on Main Street and just up the hill from the thriving business he built.

Gustav William Zeller
(1881 - 1927)

The URL for this post is: http://nutsfromthefamilytree.blogspot.com/2014/12/facebook-delivers-family-story-detail.html 

Friday, December 5, 2014

Greetings to all my Workman and Troutman peeps!

You know how you go along and work on one of your family lines and then all of a sudden, you start hearing form new-to-you cousins? That happens to me a lot, and I like it. Recently I've been working on the Workman and Troutman lines of my Western Maryland ancestors. These two lines connect up right where Nancy Ann Troutman married Elisha Workman. Here's what that junction looks like on Mom's Big Tree on Ancestry, which I'm always happy to share with any new-to-me cousins. Just send an email and I'll invite you:)

To me, this is a fascinating line of ancestors. Both lines contain Revolutionary War ancestors who fought or paid taxes in support of the effort and took loyalty oaths. They were prosperous in amazing measures leaving large estates for wives, children, and beneficiaries. And the probate files! Oh the sumptuous probate files! And best of all, this bunch of Troutman and Workman ancestors stayed right where they were and all the records are in Allegany County, Maryland. Lucky me!
And because I have this dandy blog here, one of my cousins picked up on the photo of Nancy Ann Troutman, second below, and obviously a studio portrait, and sent me the one on top! Now this was probably taken at the same sitting as the full body portrait already in my possession due to the kindness of someone on Ancestry. Look, the clothing is the same.
But this image is different, isn't it? Look, it appears to have been reworked somehow, at a later date perhaps. Almost looks airbrushed to me but perhaps other techniques were used. Maybe traditional art materials such as paint or pastels. See how smooth her face is and how uniform the background is? Did the original studio photographer re-work his photo to give the effect of a painting? Was that something photographers did then? Wish I knew.

Image sent to me due to the kindness of Cousin Brenda!! Thank you so very much! What a treasure this is.
Her head looks to be at a slightly different angle. And of course that top image is without her glorious hat. Would she, being a proper lady, have consented to having her image made without her hat? What were the customs then?

Nancy Ann (Troutman) Workman 1826 - 1882.
So greetings and hello to any cousins from the Troutman or Workman line! I'm super glad that you stopped by and please send an email (you'll find it at the top to the right) and let's chat.
And please let me know what you think about this photo! Also, a question for those of you who know about such things, what year do you think this was taken? We'd sure like to know.
Late Breaking News! Cousin Brenda just emailed and said that the top portrait is a charcoal drawing! Excellent. And a real nice one too. Thanks, Cousin Brenda:)
Now if we can figure out the approximate time the photo was done based on the clothing, we'd be golden.