David's Reformed Church Congregation

David's Reformed Church Congregation
Congregation of David's Reformed Church, Montgomery Co, Ohio, Circa, 1900

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Sentimental Sunday - The Letter of Recommendation

If there was one thing I could change about my childhood, it would be that I would have had the opportunity to know my Grandpa Shoemaker. My dad's father died one year before my parents were married, so I never got to meet him. Most of his family lived a few hours away from us so we never were able to get to know any of his brothers or sisters very well. We did have a few precious photographs of him. The portrait above of my grandparents, Estel and Imo Huffman Shoemaker, and my father, Estel Shoemaker, Jr. is one of my favorites.

When I began seriously researching my family history, I enlisted the help of my Aunt Joyce to round up and scan whatever she could find for me. The letter above was one of the treasured items she sent to me.

It is a referral letter written by my grandfather's boss, George Horton, who was a foreman at The Wilmington Casting Company in Wilmington, Clinton County, Ohio. The fact that the letter tells the reader what job my grandfather performed and that "his work has been a very high type" is fantastic. But, what makes this letter so meaningful to me is the statement that he was of "exemplery character". It isn't often that we can discover how others viewed our ancestors, so I consider myself very lucky that I have been able to "know" my Grandpa Shoemaker in this way.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Van Buren Township School Photos

I received so many positive comments about the photograph of my great grandmother's Van Buren Township school students I posted a few days ago, I thought I would post a few more

These photographs are also from a Van Buren Township School in an area that is now the west side of Kettering, Montgomery County, Ohio.

In the first photograph, (circa 1905) my grandfather, Leland Norris is seated, front row, second from the left with his arms folded.

In the second photograph, (circa 1909) my grandfather is in the middle row, smack dab in the middle with the hat and a lighter colored shirt. His dear friend, Vera, is seated, second from the left.

In the last photo, (circa 1910) my grandfather is standing, far right. You can see a little "x" that is written on his shoulder.

I wish I could identify some of the other children or the teacher, but so far, I cannot. I love these pictures; not only because I can see my grandfather as we was, but also because they are part of the rich history of my city.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Treasure Chest Thursday - Gladys Marling Norris and the Genealogy Community

This is my favorite photograph of my maternal grandmother, Gladys Margaret Marling Norris. I chose this as my "Treasure Chest Thursday" item for several reasons. First of all, it is a beautiful portrait of a very special person in my life. Secondly, it stands out in my mind because it was not originally "colorized". At the beginning of my internet research, I uploaded several family photos, including this one in black and white, to the Ancient Faces website. Not long after I had done that, I received an email from a gentleman, including this colorized photograph of my grandmother. He went on to tell me how nice he thought it was that I had remembered my family members by adding them to the website. Because of that, he had added color to the portrait for me. What an incredible gift from a stranger. During the time I have been researching my family history, I have come into contact with many people who have volunteered to photograph burial sites, copy records, and various other kind gestures with no expectation of monetary reward. They, like I, get joy out of sharing the experience of learning more about our family history experience.
That is why I love the genealogy community so much. So, my grandmother is my treasure today; along with the community of family history researchers!

Moonshiners Part Two - Whiskey Affects the Memory

Portsmouth Daily Times, Tuesday, January 25, 1921

Fines of $800 Each Given to Moonshiners
Squire Veasey Gives No Mercy To Still Operators

Stiff Fines of $800 and costs were imposed by Squire Olin - Veasey at Nile Township, against each of the five defendants, Thurman Thompson, Charles Odle, Luther Odle, Charles Clifford, and Harry Beckman, charged with unlawfully manufacturing liquor at a session of court held at the county jail office Tuesday forenoon. The men were ordered held in jail in default of payment of the fines assessed.

The men, except Luther Odle, aged 21 years, of 976 Gay Street, were taken in a raid on a huge moonshine still outfit at Turkey Creek, West Side, by officers early Monday morning, and Luther Odle surrendered to Sheriff Rickey this morning.

All the defendants, except Harry Beckman, young man of 1220 Tenth St., pleaded guilty, but young Beckman strenuously denied having any interest in the whiskey making outfit or of participating in the making of liquor, although he admitted being at the still Sunday night. He told the court that he accompanied Luther Odle to the country in the latter’s auto just for the ride, and asserted he did not know where he was going beforehand. He declared that it was the first time he had ever been down that way and claimed he never before saw a still. He stated he was a mere looker-on and that he did not even taste the liquor.

The testimony of the arresting officers was the only evidence introduced by the state and at the conclusion of the hearing the magistrate made a finding that Beckman was equally as guilty as the others.

Judge A.Z. Blair represented the state and he questioned the defendants at some length concerning their whiskey making operations.

It was established by the questioning that Luther Odle and Thurman Thompson, who lives at ---- Lindell Avenue, were the joint owners of the still and that they had secured it only a short time ago although confessing having another outfit last summer which they declared was stolen from them. Both men said a miner living in this city constructed the still confiscated Monday morning, for them but they had poor memories and were unable to tell the name of the man, declaring they never learned his name. They said they had made but one “run” of liquor from this still.

Charles Odle, who lives near where the still was found, said the others came by his home and invited him to go coon hunting and Clifford, whose home is at Dry Run, denied any connection with the still or of taking any part in making the liquor Sunday night, declaring it was the first time he had been there. He explained his presence at Turkey Creek by saying that he was there visiting his mother and went up to the still on invitation.

The Luther Odle Buick automobile, which was seized by the officers Monday, was turned over to R.S. Prichard by Sheriff Rickey today. Prichard holds a mortgage on the car.

It is understood that no charge will be pressed against Dallas Odle, 17 year old son of Charles Odle, who escaped at the time of the raid.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

New Discovery! Moonshiners in the Family

For many years, I have heard stories about the family of my husband's grandmother, Carrie Retsel O'Dell (Odle) Zimmerman. She was born in Turkey Creek, Scioto County, Ohio, on the banks of the Ohio River. We made a trip down there a couple of years ago, and even today, it still has quite a bit of wild country. Much of the land where she grew up is now contained within the confines of the Shawnee State Forest and Resort. She came from a large family and she was one of only two daughters. Her extended family was also quite large and I have been told that they had plenty of time and space to get into various kinds of trouble.
Today, I confirmed at least one of these stories. Luther and Charles Odle, both cousins of Carrie, were arrested for moonshining on January 24, 1921.
This story appeared in the Portsmouth Daily Times later that day:

Portsmouth Daily Times – January 24, 1921

Sheriff Swoops Down on Still – Four Moonshiners Caught

Two Make Getaway But Officers Say They Were Identified; Plant is Seized

Four men, giving their names as Thurman Thompson, Charles Odle, Charles Clifford, and Harry Beckman were arrested, and two others, said by officers to be Luther Odle and his son, Dallas, Odle, aged 17 years, escaped early Monday morning when Sheriff E.E. Rickey and a squad of officers swooped down on a moonshine liquor plant by a hollow on the Labold land in the wilds of Turkey Creek, West Side.

The raid also resulted in the capture of an immense copper still of 90 gallons capacity, in addition to more than 600 gallons of mash and about six gallons of high proof distilled liquor. The mash was destroyed and the still and liquor were seized, together with a Buick touring car belonging to Luther Odle and brought to the city along with the quartet of prisoners, who were landed in the county jail where they are held to meet charges of unlawfully manufacturing intoxicating liquor.

The still was in operation and the six men were huddled around a fire in the furnace under the cooker when the officers arrived on the scene about two o’clock and took the whiskey makers by surprise. When Sheriff Rickey suddenly slid down a hillside landing right in the midst of the distillers, there was a wild scramble of members of the gang to escape, but officers had been stationed at various points in an effort to cut off all avenue of escape and four of the men were caught.

When searched it developed none of the prisoners were armed except Charles Odle, on whose person a .38 caliber revolver, fully loaded, was found, but in a search of the premises a rifle and a discarded pistol holster were discovered.

From information received by the sheriff, the still had been in operation but a short time, as he visited the place only a few days ago and from all indications then it had been used little, if any, at that time. No one was about at the time and the officer did not disturb the outfit but waited for a more opportune time, which came this morning. It is by far the most complete outfit for the making of liquor which has been taken by local officers since the prohibition law went into effect. The still was equipped with a 30 foot copper coil and a perfect cooling system, fed from a small stream of water.

Thompson, Charles, and Luther Odle are the reputed owners of the still. Clifford and Beckman, who are Dry Run young men, claiming they have no interest in the outfit and just chanced to accompany the others to the camp Sunday night.

Besides Sheriff Rickey and Deputy Harry Dunham, railroad detectives Lee Einspander, Andy Leslie, Robert Reno, and Ehner Pratt participated in the raid.

Tomorrow: The trial of Luther and Charles Odle

Wordless Wednesday - Libby Routsong's School Photo

Photograph of my great grandmother, Elizabeth "Libby" Routsong Norris (back row, 6th from left in the middle of the row). Circa 1898 Van Buren Township, Mont. Co., Ohio

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday - Samuel and Caroline Routsong Swadner

This is the gravesite of Samuel and Caroline Routsong Swadner, located in David's Cemetery, Kettering, Montgomery County, Ohio. Samuel was the brother of my great great grandmother, Clarinda Swadner Routsong. Samuel's wife, Caroline, was the sister of my great great grandfather, Henry Mathias Routsong. Brother and sister married sister and brother.

The following short biography of Samuel Swadner appears in the book, "The Centennial History and Biographical Report of the City of Dayton and of Montgomery County, Ohio" published by A.C. Bowen and Company, 1897. It appears on page 1309.

SAMUEL SWADENER, one of the successful farmers of Montgomery county, Ohio, was born in Van Buren township, this county, October 23, 1821, his farm lying in section 4, of the township. He is a son of Henry and Ellen (Suman) Swadener, the former of whom was a native of Maryland. Henry and Ellen Swadener were the parents of nine children, three sons and six daughters, six of whom are still living, as follows: Daniel; Samuel; Sarah, widow of Joseph Brown; Henry; Clarinda, wife of Henry Roussong; and Lavina, wife of Riley Shank.
Henry Swadener was a mechanic, and while yet a young man located in Montgomery county in its early pioneer days, and bought a small farm in Van Buren township. Here he died in 1858, at sixty-nine years of age. His father died in Maryland, The maternal grandfather of Samuel Swadener, Mr. Suman, located in Van Buren township as one of the earliest of the pioneers, and lived here all his life.
Samuel Swadener lived with his parents in Van Buren township until he was twenty-two years of age. He was married, February 11, 1847, to Miss Caroline Roussong, daughter of Jacob and Catherine (Flook) Roussong. To this marriage there have been born seven children, three sons and four daughters, five of whom are now living, as follows: Michael J., Frances G., Ida Belle, Margaret A., and Samuel C. Those that died were named William H. and Julia A. Michael J. married Miss Joanna Miller, by whom he has one child living, Royal. Frances G. married William Cress; they have two children, Clarence E. and Edna May. Ida Belle married Perry Saylor; they also have two children, Goldie May and Samuel Roscoe. Margaret A. married Joseph Saylor, and they have two children Otho and Clifford. Samuel C. married Miss Elnora Michaels, and they have one child, Harry LeRoy.
Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Swadener are members of the German Reformed church, and in politics Mr. Swadener is a democrat. He is a most industrious and prosperous man, owning a farm of 100 acres, which is well improved. He has lived in Van Buren township during his entire life, a period of seventy-five years. His wife’s people came to Montgomery county from Maryland in the early pioneer days, and settled in Van Buren township, where they have always been held in high esteem. They have contributed largely to the growth and prosperity of the county, and have done well their part in life. Too much cannot be said in honor of the pioneer settlers of Ohio, who laid well the foundations of the commonwealth, which now deservedly claims so proud a place in the long list of great states of the Union

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Sentimental Sunday - Uncle Floyd

The headline of the Dayton Daily News article said, "Baby Girl Saved from Fiery Home" with the sub-headline "One fireman injured when trapped by flames in North Dayton Apartment." There were two photographs, one was of my Uncle, Floyd Crago. The story went on to say, " A baby girl was snatched yesterday from a smoke-filled second story bedroom of a North Dayton apartment during a frantic search by firemen in which one was momentarily trapped by flames and injured while escaping. Lt. Floyd Crago was released from Grandview Hospital after being treated for a back injury. District Chief Dale O'Neal said Lt. Crago was the first man to enter the burning apartment after it was learned a baby was inside. He was injured when he was trapped by flames and broke a window to escape. "I was feeling around on the beds and the floors in the bedroom looking for the baby. The smoke was so think you couldn't see a anthing." Crago said."

I found the article when I started searching through anything I could find around my mom's house in order to find interesting things to scan for my family history notebooks. I had never seen the article before, but I knew that Uncle Floyd was a fireman and I wasn't surprised that he was a hero.

He was married to my mother's sister, Jeanne. When I was little, I was scared to death of him. Well over 6 feet tall, with a booming voice and a gruff manner, he used to love giving us kids a hard time. He had a habit of making nicknames for us and sometimes it hurt my feelings! I didn't have an appreciation for Uncle Floyd until much later on in my life. When my father was dying of pancreatic cancer, Uncle Floyd came with my Aunt from Florida to be with my mother. He stayed with us at the hospital, always keeping a eye on things for my dad. After dad passed away, Uncle Floyd amazed me. Once we were back at home, he took control of all the little things that we were too dazed to even think about. People began dropping food and drinks off at the house and he grabbed paper and pencil to write down who was bringing what. He was very protective of my mother and made sure that she had whatever she might need. For the first time, I was able to get to know my uncle and I knew what made him so good at his job. Beneath his gruff exterior, was a man full of compassion and understanding for people who were hurting. He wasn't big physical displays of affection, but he was showing his love for my mother and for our family by stepping in to help in any way that he could.

He had retired from the Dayton Fire Department as a Captain. He and my aunt have two sons, one who followed his father into the fire department as well.

When Uncle Floyd passed away, there was an honor guard from the department by his casket for the visitation and the funeral. My aunt followed him to heaven a few years later. I miss them both very much. One of my favorite memories of Uncle Floyd is one of him sitting in our big old easy chair in his robe and slippers watching "Home Alone" and laughing out loud. It's a sound I will cherish forever.
Just a side note: I received a note from Uncle Floyd's son who told me that the child that was saved from the fire was the daughter of Larry Flynt, the man who became the publisher of Hustler Magazine.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Start Your Search Engines!

Not long after I got married, about 28 years ago, I found a bound "family history" book at a discount store here in town. I thought it was one of the greatest things I had ever seen. It started with a record of our marriage, and then it took my husband and me through each of our family trees. I was pretty lucky. I knew the names of my parents, grandparents, and great grandparents. For many people, that is a lot of information. But, after I filled out those names and what dates I knew, I still had quite a few blank spots to fill. Back then, my resources were pretty limited as to where I could find further information. I remember asking my paternal grandmother about her lineage and she told me her grandmother was a "Jacks". She couldn't remember much more.

Fast forward to 2002 and the availability of a myriad of resources on the internet and genealogy CD-rom programs.

I don't enjoy driving and I'm limited to the amount of time I can actually research outside my home, so the internet has been my lifeline to my family history research.

I was able to find out from my aunt that my 2nd great grandmother's first name was "Ella". So, armed with the knowledge that I had an ancestor named "Ella Jacks" I headed for my free trial membership at one of the first genealogy websites. Lo and behold, I found her with her husband , Eli, and her father and mother in law, Elkanah and Catherine Jacks. They were living in Sabina, Clinton County, Ohio, so I knew for sure it was them. Now, I had more names to search, but the census records gave me only so much info.

I headed for the message boards, trying to link up with distant "Jacks" cousins. In short order, I began to discover the entire "Jacks" family tree.

At that point, search engines became even more valuable. Searching for an uncommon name like "Elkanah" seemed like it had some very good potential for return. I wasn't disappointed. I discovered that Heritage Pursuit had several vintage history books, printed, in full, online. In The History of Clinton County, Ohio, by Beers, 1882, I found a particularly interesting story.

from the History of Clinton County, 1882
Mrs. Catharine Jacks came into the township in 1818. She was born in Woodford County, Ky., March 15, 1795, and died in Richland Township June 25, 1880. She was the daughter of Timothy and Betsey (Hoblit) Bennett, who moved to Warren County in 1800, and to Clinton County in 1801, where they located on a farm east of Wilmington. Catharine married Joseph Doan in September, 1813, and moved with him to Indiana, where they remained until 1818, when they came to Richland Township, settling on the McClintock farm where Mr. Doan died September 2, 1825, leaving seven children. On the 7th of May, 1826, Mrs. Doan married Elkanah Jacks, by whom she had five children. Her first husband came to Richland Township from North Carolina in 1810.

Mrs. Doan married Elkanah Jacks. Okay. Catherine was married once before she married Elkanah. Check. And she was the daughter of Timothy Bennett and Betsey Hoblit. HOME RUN! Two more names, two more ancestors.

The next thing I found, IN THE SAME BOOK was this paragraph:

Union Township-Timothy Bennet is credited with being the first to locate a home within the limits of what is now Union Township, having settled east of the site of Wilmington in the month of March, 1801. No other family arrived for over two years, or until the fall of 1803, when George Haworth became the second settler in the township.

What? My 5th great grandfather was the FIRST settler in Union Township, Clinton County, Ohio. Hey, doesn't that qualify me to be a member of The First Families of Clinton County?

Guess I had better join the genealogical society there. (Which I soon did!)

I found Timothy and Betsey's children in history books in Tazewell County, IL, which led me to finding their gravesites on findagrave.com.

You see how it works? Sometimes, you have to get creative in the manner in which you search, but you won't find anything unless you look for it! Seek and Ye Shall Find!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Presenting my "A Blogger's Best Friend Awards"

Today I have an important thing I want to do. When I started this blog, I thought "Who will really care to read about what I have to say?" Over the past two months, I have been touched, amazed, and blessed by so many special and talented people who have encouraged and supported my little adventure into the world of the "geneabloggers". For that reason, I decided to take a look around to find a way to thank those people who have taken the time to share their comments and to push me to continue to type something on that blank page.

Thanks to Robin at My Two Blessings I discovered the "A Blogger's Best Friend" award created by "Bandit" at the world from down here . According to Bandit, the "A Blogger's Best Friend Award" shall be given to your most loyal blog readers. Thus, the award should be given to a follower of yours who takes the time to comment regularly on many of your posts. In addition his or her blog should be creative, funny and always entertaining. Upon receiving this award, pass it along to two fellow bloggers who fit this criteria.
It was absolutely impossible for me to narrow my selection down to just two people, so listed below are the Blogger Buddies upon whom I wish to bestow the title of "Bloggers Best Friend".

Thank you all!

2. Cheryl at Heritage Happens
3. Regina at Kinfolknews
6. Caroline at Family Stories
7. Kelly at Herstoryan
8. Thomas at Geneabloggers.com
10. Sharon at Kindred Footprints
11. Amy at We Tree

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Treasure Chest Thursday - The Norris Girls

Today's post for Treasure Chest Thursday is a photograph of my mother, Marilyn Norris Shoemaker, (on the left) and her sister, Jean Norris Crago. They were the only girls in a family of 6 children. You can tell how much my mother looked up to her "big sister". The picture is kept framed at my mother's home.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Wordless Wednesday - John Huffman, Sr.

My great great grandfather, John Huffman, Sr.
Civil War Veteran, lived in Highland and Clinton Counties, Ohio

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Ernest Hellmund - German Immigrant

When I began my history research, I did exactly what the experts tell you "not" to do. I started looking for everything I could find about every branch of my family and my husband's as well. When you can only afford "trial" or very short term memberships to websites, you have to pull out what you can as quickly as you can and then hopefully, go back and sort through it all when the dust settles! My husband knew very little about his "Hellmund" branch, so I was eager to discover anything I could. (And thereby, maybe, hopefully, get him interested in my new venture as well!) Amazingly enough, I discovered his great grandfather almost immediately in the 1860 and 1880 census records and things begin to fall into place. Here is what I have learned:
Ernest Hellmund was born in Saxony in 1826. We do not know a great deal about his life before he landed on the United States shore sometime around September, 1860.
When he arrived in his new country, he and his wife, Maria, had two children, Caroline Christine, and August Ernest. For some reason, they chose to settle in Scales Mound, Jo Daviess County, Illinois. During the period between 1860 and the year of her death in 1872, Maria gave birth to five more children, Mariah (also known as Mella or Mollie), Joseph, twins Henreich (Henry) and Othilda (Matilda) and Eliza.
On November 20, 1861, Ernest joined the Union Army and according to the Muster and Descriptive Roll of Company C, 45th Illinois Infantry, he was 5 ft 7 3/4 inches tall, had dark hair and blue eyes and was of a fair complexion.
He was discharged from the service on April 4, 1862 due to tuberculosis. He also served in the Union Infantry 12th regiment for a 3 month period of time in 1861.

As I wrote about in my previous post, Ernest and Maria's daughter, Eliza died on August 29, 1872, at the tender age of only 3 months. Maria followed her daughter in death on September 12, 1872. Ernest then lost his son, Joseph Frederick on November 28, 1872 at 9 years of age. It seems that his grief along with possibly his own illness, may have caused Ernest to begin drinking.
Joann Schultz, historian for Jo Daviess County, Illinois, sent me the following information from the Scales Mound, Illinois newspaper: (Note the differing spellings of the last name and also that in one of the articles, Ernest is referred to as "Dr. Ernest Hellmund")

8/21/1874: People vs. George Anschutz on complaint of Ernest Hellmund, assault and battery. Defendant discharged and case dismissed at complaintants cost.
8/23/1877: Married at SM by John Moore at the residence of the bride's father, Dr. Ernest Hellmund, David G. Boyer to Carrie A. Hellmund. Dr. Hellmund was one of the first volunteers of the 75,000 under Lincoln and was wounded in the late rebellion.

8/7/1878: Almost a tragedy in Scales Mound. On Saturday evening last, a shoemaker by the name of Klenke, residing at S M, while under the influence of liquor, fired a revolver at Dr. Heiman, of that village, who was seated on a beer keg in from of Henry Wigley's saloon, directly opposite Klenke's house, in front of which the latter was standing at the time of the firing. The ball fortunately missed Heiman, and breaking a hole in the window, but a few inches from his head, passed through the building and lodged in the back door. Klenke was arrested and brought to Galena, remaining in the custody of Sheriff Barner over Sunday. On Monday morning he was taken back to SM and was examined before Esquire Moore who fined the defendant $10. and costs.

8/7/1878: The Scales Mound Shooting Affair. Mr. Henry Klenke was not the offending party in the SM shooting affray, as inadvertently stated in our report of the affair in yesterday's Gazette. Dr. Helmunt was the man who did the shooting, firing his revolver, while in a state of intoxication, at Mr. Klenke, who was lying on the ground in his front yard on the opposite side of the street. The ball passed through a window and out of the open door in the back part of the house, grazing the casing somewhat in making its exit. Helmunt was arrested and taken before Esquire Adams, who fined him $10. and costs, in default of which he was lodged in the jail at this city. He was released at noon today, and was immediately rearrested on a peace warrant sworn out by Mr. Klenke. The case comes up before Esquire Metzger at 2 o'clock this afternoon, and after hearing the witnesses on both sides, his honor placed the defendant under bonds to the amount of $200, to keep the peace for three months. Mr. Klenke is a quiet, temperate citizen of SM, while the defendant, Helmunt is said to be quarrlesome and reckless under the influence of liquor. The latter had been drinking hard of late, having come into the possession of considerable money through the death of a nearer relative in Germany. He is a well educated, intelligent man, and when sober, is said to be a peacable citizen.

It is interesting to note that the final article describes Ernest as a "well-educated, intelligent man" and also that he had come into a considerable amount of money through the death of a relative in Germany.
Sometime after these incidents, Ernest and all of his children except August, moved to the Miami County, Ohio area. Ernest died on 19 March, 1890 and his will was probated on 22 March, 1890. His will was probated on March 22, 1890 in the Miami County court. His son-in- law, Job Laird, TC Bon, and J.W. Means were the administrators. They posted a bond of two hundred dollars to administer the estate. His survivors were listed as the following: Carrie Boyer, August Hellmund, Moley Shellenbarger, Henry Hellmund, and Tillie Laird. Ernest's personal estate was listed as amounting to $200.00. The Application for Letters of Administration was signed by Henry Hellmund, Mollie Shellenbarger, and Tilda Laird.
Ernest was buried in Riverside Cemetery, Troy, Ohio in the Civil War Veterans section. His daughters, Mariah and Caroline rest nearby.
I'm happy with all that I have found....but I know there is more to discover!

Tombstone Tuesday - Maria, Joseph and Eliza Hellmund

The tombstone pictured today is that of Maria Friderick Phillipine Smith Hellmund and that of her children Joseph Frederick and Eliza. I have learned very little about Maria, other than the fact that she was either pregnant with or gave birth to her son, August, while on the sea voyage to the United States in September, 1860. I don't know where they landed or how they came to settle in Scales Mound, Jo Daviess County, Illinois. On one of my early ventures using a message board, I discovered a listing for Maria in the Citizens Cemetery, or the Scales Mound Cemetery as it is now called. Thanks to a wonderful volunteer, I was given several pictures of the tombstone and the surrounding cemetery. According to the stone and the cemetery record, Ernest and Maria's daughter, Eliza, died on August 29, 1872 at the age of only 3 months old. Maria soon followed her in death on September 12, 1872. The family must have been grieving terribly already and then Joseph Frederick died on November 28, 1872. I have been unable to discover the cause of any of their deaths, but it is possible there was some type of epidemic in the area at that time. Records for the Scales Mound area for this time period are difficult to come by.

I will share more about the Ernest Hellmund family story in my next post.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Madness Monday - McBride Mystery

Margaret E. McBride was born on 4 April, 1871 in Pennsylvania to William M. McBride and Martha A. (maiden name unknown). She married Ralph Elliott Marling on 4 July, 1895 in Columbus, Ohio. She was beautiful. She had two children, Chester Wilson, born on 17 December, 1896 and Gladys Margaret (my maternal grandmother), born 2 December, 1900.
According to the 1880 US Census she was living with her parents and her brother, William, in Steubenville, Ohio. In 1900, she was living in Columbus, Ohio with her husband, son, and her parents.
She died on her birthday, 4 April, 1908. The death record states that the cause of death was heart failure. My grandmother told me that she died in childbirth. She is buried in Greenlawn Cemetery in Columbus, Ohio. She has no gravestone. It breaks my heart and someday, I hope to remedy that situation.
That is all I know of my great grandmother and her parents.
After her death, her parents do not appear on any Ohio census records. Her brother married and according to the 1910 US Census records, he was living in Braddock Borough, Allegheny County, PA with his wife, Frances, and their daughter, Edrice. He was an accounting clerk with the railroad. By 1920, his wife and two daughters were living in Columbus and Frances was a widow. Luckily, the name Edrice McBride was not a common one, and I have been able to discover information about the life of my first cousin twice removed. She married a gentleman by the name of Theodore Byrle Taylor and they had two children, both now deceased. I have been unable to contact any of her grandchildren, although I do know their names. I have photographs (thanks to findagrave.com) of her gravesite and that of her mother, Frances.
I do not know the exact date of William McBride's death, nor do I know where he is buried.
The real frustration comes in finding my great great grandparents, William and Martha McBride. A Martha McBride does appear in the Ohio census after 1900, but it is not "my" Martha. I believe they may have gone back to Pennsylvania with their son, but they did not appear to be living with him. They also may have died before the 1910 census, but I have been unable to discover them in any Ohio death records.
My grandmother knew little about them. She did know she had an "Uncle Bill" who "died young". I don't believe she knew either of her cousins, Edrice or Martha Madeline. Her father, Ralph, having two young children to raise, remarried twice. Neither woman treated my grandmother kindly, but she was quite close to her father. Her father left Columbus to work as a moulder making train wheels in Elkhart, Indiana, so she had little, if any, contact with her mother's family after her death.
Of all the "brick walls" I have run into in the past 6 years, this is the most painful. I haven't given up. I continue to try to contact my distant cousins and hopefully, someday, I will at least know where William and Martha took their final rest.

Friday, January 15, 2010

The Name in the Bible - Rev. David Winters

When I was young, my grandparents had a small Bible that sat on a table in their living room. It was, and still remains, one of the most unusual Bibles I have ever seen. It had a gold-colored, metal cover with raised lettering. Inside, my grandmother had lovingly filled in the names and birthdates of her children and grandchildren. There were a few other pages filled in, one of those being the "Marriages" page. In pencil was written, "Henry M. Routsong and Clerinda Swadner was married March 27, 1851 by Reverend D. Winters." I have no idea in whose handwriting the words were written, but I remember seeing it time and time again. It was to help me immensely when I began my research. As a matter of fact, it took me directly to the Montgomery County Archives where I easily found the marriage license record for my great great grandparents. But, the name of "Reverend D. Winters" excited me. I knew that the church which I attended until the age of nine was named in his honor. David's United Church of Christ, originally, David's German Reformed Church, is located in Kettering, Montgomery County, Ohio. It is almost surrounded by David's Cemetery, now a privately owned entity, but one that is forever linked to the church and to it's history. Who was this man that had performed the marriage of these two people and, I was to learn, about 5000 other couples during his lifetime?
In what has become somewhat a routine occurence for me, while researching for something else, I stumbled upon a very unexpected find. On the website of the Montgomery County Genealogical Society, I discovered a copy of a newspaper article about Rev. Winters. Not only was it an in-depth article about the man and his life as a minister, it contained many photographs of Rev. Winters, including a sketch of him on horseback. I also remembered a church directory we had had from 1966 which included a small history of the church as well as the portrait I have included at the top of this post.

The article was titled "The Gospel in Horseback Days" and it was written by Howard Burba for The Dayton Daily News magazine section. It began by spelling out that Rev. Winters had baptized 2400 people and had given Holy Communion to over 22,000. It was also believed that he had performed more than 5000 marriages. (One of those being that of my great grandparents. ) His father, Rev. Thomas Winters, was obviously his role model. When David was only 8 years old, (he was born 9 May, 1885) his family began the voyage west from Martinsburg, WV. They settled here in Montgomery County, Ohio, near the Mad River in what was to become known as Mad River Township and in 1815 Rev. Thomas became the pastor of the Germantown Reformed Church. During this period of time, services were often preached in both English and German.

It wasn't long before David felt the call to the ministry of the Lord and he began studying with his father as his mentor. There was certainly not a shortage of souls to be led in the Dayton area and after his ordination, Rev. David was instrumental in the formation of the German Reformed Church. This little church in the middle of Dayton grew rapidly and on 18 April, 1837 an attractive church was built on Ludlow Street.
At the same time, other German Reformed churches were being built in outlying areas of Montgomery and Greene Counties. Rev. Thomas Winters helped create the Zion Reformed Church, which is located in what is now Moraine, Ohio at the corner of W Stroop Rd. and S. Dixie Drive.

Farther east, on what was then the Lebanon Pike and what is now Far Hills Ave., a group of German settlers who found it difficult to travel to the previously established churches hoped to have one of their own and Rev. Winters helped to establish one here. They named it David's Reformed Church in his honor. It still stands as well, surrounded by a spacious and beautiful cemetery which also shares his name.

Rev. Winters served these multiple congregations well. On horseback, he would travel back and forth for services and he visited homes seeing to the needs of his flock, both spiritual and physical.

Even with all his duties, he felt that the portion of the county then called "Beavertown" needed a place to worship. It was then that the Mt Zion Reformed Church was created. This congregation is still in existence as well, although they recently moved to a newer building. The original Mt. Zion church building still stands, however. It is located on Indian Ripple Road in Beavercreek and it also is surrounded by a lovely cemetery.

The final church Rev. Winters ministered to was the Hawker Reformed Church farther southeast in the county.

Three out of four Sundays every month, Rev. Winters traveled to one of the outlying churches to preach. He also often preached in the homes of members of the congregations. He must have gotten weary at times, but he remained faithful to his flock. One of his closest friends was Christian Creager. Mr. Creager donated much of his land for the burial grounds that became David's Cemetery. Many Creager descendants remain in the David's United Church of Christ congregation.
It eventually became too difficult for Rev. Winters to continue preaching at all four churches he helped to form. He stayed very involved with the Zion and Mt. Zion congregations up until his death. He was still performing marriage ceremonies a month before his death. He loved not only his own congregation, but he believed in bringing different denominations together in worship. So loved and respected was Rev. Winters that Heidelberg College bestowed upon him the degree of Doctor of Divinity. He had served so many people for the 61 years in which he had preached that it was difficult for the German Reformed Church downtown to hold all those who wished to pay their respects. During his funeral on May 13, 1885, the church was packed, as were the sidewalks from Second St. to Third St..

Rev. Winters truly left his mark upon this city. As my husband and I traveled to the churches you see photographed here, I couldn't help but feel Rev. Winters presence.

Now, he is so much more to me than just a name in the Bible. I can almost see him, sitting atop his horse, his Bible in his hand, ready to share the gospel with all those searching.

A Side note: Rev. David Winters is a relative of comedian, Jonathan Winters.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Treasure Chest Thursday - The Old Notebook

A few years ago, my uncle gave my mother a large envelope full of items that had belonged to my Great Aunt Grace Norris Bailey. It is well known within her family that my mother is a lover of family photographs, so it was no surprise that my uncle decided to bestow this bounty upon my mother. Inside the envelope, we discovered an old photo album full of pictures from my great aunt's youth and her days at Otterbein College, newspaper articles, the guestbook full of signatures from my great uncle Red's funeral, and various other articles that my uncle had thought my mother would be interested. I borrowed several items to scan for my family history records and gave the envelope back to my mother for safekeeping.

A little while before Christmas, I revisted the envelope. This time I also found a small box that I hadn't noticed before. When I opened the box, I discovered a small, raggedy brown book. The pages were yellow with age and upon further inspection, I realized I had found a true gem of family history. Among the "practice" letters that Aunt Grace had written, along with a list of boys and girls she was inviting to a party, there were two written estate/probates records. One was for the estate of my 3rd great grandfather, Jacob Routsong and the other was for my 3rd great grandfather, Henry Sweadner. Each includes legal language pertaining to the executors, a list of the valuation of all property belonging to each man and a list of who bought what possessions and at what cost during the sale of the estates. As I read the list of what my ancestors owned and as I recognized the names of people who were early settlers here in what was then called Van Buren Township, I realized that I was holding a treasure. This book had been held by my ancestors. They had placed their signatures inside and left me a piece of their lives. I had previously purchased from the county a xeroxed copy of the actual "legal" copies of the estates that had been filed at the courthouse, but to have these original copies of the information means more to me than words can express. And I found it AFTER I had been through the envelope the first time. So let it be the lesson to you that it was for me. Never give up seeking your history. Even if you have been through the records before, check just one more time. You might find something you weren't expecting, and it could be fantastic!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday - John Aring

For today's Tombstone Tuesday post, I have chosen to tell the story of John Aring, my husband's great grandfather.

When my husband and I were first married, he told me that his grandmother had been adopted when she was a baby and the story was very confusing. It was something that wasn't discussed among the family members, and as a matter of fact, until I did some research, the story wasn't completely known. John and Lillian Aring adopted a little girl, the daughter of one of John's coworkers. Her birth name was Dorothea Marie, but they changed her name to Ruth. They were a happy family until the 22 day of December, 1916. For whatever reason, John had placed his .32 caliber revolver on a table in the family's living room. Little Ruth was curious as to how the gun worked. Lillian, thinking the gun was not loaded, picked up the revolver, put Ruth's hands on the gun and placed her hands on top of Ruth's. The gun went off and the bullet hit John in the stomach. Critically injured, he was taken to the hospital and emergency surgery was performed. His spleen was removed and he was expected to survive for at least a year. (At the time, it was thought that someone could not live without their spleen, according to the newspaper article about the shooting) On January 4, 1917, John took a turn for the worse and slipped into unconsciousness. He died at 3:47 pm. His death certificate states that the cause of death was acute dialation of the heart with contributory peritonitis caused by a penetrating bullet wound to the spleen. The certificate incorrectly states that he was buried in Woodland Cemetery, but he was instead laid to rest at Zion Cemetery in Kettering. Sadly, Lillian suffered a nervous breakdown after John's death and Ruth was placed in the Children's home off and on for several years. Ruth was somehow able to rise above all the pain of her childhood and she became a very strong woman and Lillian helped her raise her three children. They are both buried next to John at Zion Cemetery.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Surname Saturday The Branches of my Tree

The family of John Austin and Margaret Susan Armstrong Marling
(My great great grandparents, my great grandfather, Ralph, is seated, first from left)
6 years ago when I began my research, the only names I knew from my family tree were Shoemaker, Norris, Marling, McBride, Routsong, Huffman, Adams, and Jacks. In the years since, I have added Grimes, Johnson, Flook, Armstrong, Oldham, Bratton, Hoblit, Bennett, Stultz, Suman, Swadner, and Templin. In my husband's family I have learned of Hellmund, Zimmerman, Gregory, Welty, Odle-O'Dell, Cox, Piatt, and Hoerner. I currently have over 6000 names in my family tree program, so there are countless names of other branches off my tree. I have discovered that friends I known for many years are in fact, very distant relatives. It never ceases to amaze and fascinate me how the family trees intertwine in so many different ways and how the paths of migration led families from one location to another. It is one of the reasons why I believe that genealogy is a journey to be taken and savored. If you have never tried to trace your roots, take that first step. You will find it's hard to stop!

Happy 101 Award from Cheryl at Heritage Happens

Wow! I was so surprised to discover that Cheryl from Heritage Happens awarded me a Happy 101 Award on her comment for my post about my Dad's Thank you note. I have been overwhelmed by the kind words that have been left for me about my blog and I am so grateful! As with all good things, this award comes with responsibilities. The first is to list 10 things that make me happy and the second is to list 10 other bloggers to whom I would like to give this award.

10 Things that Make Me Happy

1. Having the assurance of eternal life in Jesus
2. Being with my husband and family
3. Watching classic old movies
4. Playing with my dogs
5. The sound of my sons playing or helping each other with homework
6. Running into an old friend
7. Sitting in front of a fireplace
8. Listening to good music
9. Losing weight
10. Giving someone a gift they really love

It's so difficult to choose only 10 of my favorite blogs. During the short period of time that I have been reading the geneabloggers, I have discovered so many wonderful sites and met the most gracious people. These are but a few that have touched my heart.

1. Kinfolk News
2. In My Life
3. Into the Light
4. Little Bytes of Life
5. Branching Out Through the Years
6. My Genealogy Pondering
7. My Ancestors and Me

8. Before My Time
9. Portals to the Past
10. Ernie's Journeys

If you haven't visited these sites yet, I highly encourage you to do so. Make sure you leave a comment to let them know you stopped by!

Thanks again for all the kind words of encouragement you have all given me and keep them coming!


Thursday, January 7, 2010

Treasure Chest Thursday - Note from Daddy

Today's Treasure Chest Thursday post is a very personal one and I sincerely debated about whether or not I wanted to share it. If you have view my previous "treasures" you will see that my treasures are mostly photographs or trinkets; memories of my loved ones. Today's post is no exception. The card pictured is a thank you note from my daddy. When he was turning 60 years old, we talked about throwing a surprise party for him. A few people thought it would be better to wait until his retirement at 65, but we decided we wanted to go ahead and do it for his birthday. I am so thankful we did, because 3 years later, we lost him to pancreatic cancer and he never got to have the retirement he so richly deserved. Surprisingly enough, we actually were able to surprise him and we all had a wonderful time. Thankfully, we have it all on video so my children, who were 3, newborn, and unborn at the time, can see how many people loved their grandpa and what a special man he was. A few days after the party, my husband and I received this card in the mail from my dad. I always recognized his handwriting, so I knew right away it was from him. It was highly unsual for dad to send us anything because mom was the person in the family that did all the "card sending", but dad wanted us to know how much the party had meant to him. Everytime I read his note, I feel the tears filling my eyes and I thank God that we decided not to wait for his party. It was a night that Daddy loved and that we will never forget!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Wordless Wednesday Huffman Sisters

Lavonne Huffman Jackson (l) and Imogene Huffman Shoemaker (r), my grandmother. Sabina, Clinton County, Ohio circa 1908

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday Extra - Johnny Morehouse and his Dog

At Dayton's historic Woodland Cemetery is found this beautiful and unusual tombstone. It's the resting place of Johnny Morehouse and it's one of the most visited sites in Woodland. According to the story, Johnny's father, John, owned a shoe repair shop and Johnny and his family made their home in the back of the shop. They lived very near the Miami and Erie Canal that ran through downtown Dayton. If you are familiar with the Dayton area, the canal ran where Patterson Blvd. is now located. One day, Johnny fell into the canal while playing. His dog jumped into the canal to save him and actually pulled him from the water, but Johnny had already drowned. He was laid to rest here at Woodland Cemetery and the legend states that several days after his burial, his dog appeared at his gravesite and refused to leave. People began bringing him food and water. People are so touched by the story of Johnny and his dog that they still bring little gifts to the gravesite. On the day that we were there, we found that someone had placed an Ohio State sweatshirt on the dog figure and there were many stuffed animals and tiny kid's meal toys that had been left. Sometimes people leave money here and there is a woman who gathers the money and uses it to buy items for the gravesite. If you would like to read more and see an additional photo see the Woodland Cemetery website here:http://www.woodlandcemetery.org/GravestoneStories.htm

Tombstone Tuesday - Greenlawn Cemetery Rules

Photo is of an "admit" ticket for my great grandfather to visit my great grandmother's burial site at Greenlawn Cemetery in Columbus, Ohio. This would have been issued in 1908. Note how you could not travel more than four miles per hour and any horses left standing had to be securely hitched to posts.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Sentimental Sunday - Retti Routsong's Broken Heart

From the time I was little, I remember being told the story of Alfaretta (Retti) Routsong. Retti was my maternal grandfather's aunt. She was born 31 August, 1865, the 7th child of Henry and Clarinda Swadner Routsong. She was one of three girls, just two years older than my great grandmother, Elizabeth, or Libby, as she was called. For most of my life, all I knew of Retti was the family lore that she had "died of a broken heart" after she was "jilted" by the man she loved. As a young girl, I was always fascinated by the thought that someone could actually die from the grief sustained from such an event. However, other than the knowlege of that story, I knew little else about Retti. After the death of my great aunt Grace, my grandfather's younger sister, we were given a box of old family photographs that had been in her possession. Within the box, we found many pictures of my great grandmother and some of my grandfather, but we also found a picture of a beautiful young woman, who, by process of elimination, we discovered was Retti. I was excited to actually see the face of the woman of whom I had heard about. This, and the broken heart story remained all I knew of Retti until my family research began in earnest about 6 years ago. One of the first resources I discovered in my search regarding the Routsong family was a book written by John P. Doan and M. Marjorie Waidner, entitled "From Rauenzahner to Routson; A Family on the Move", (Published by Picton Press). It was truly one of the most thoroughly researched and comprehensive books about the genealogical history of a family that I have ever read. The source citations are extremely thorough, and the information found about my particular branch of the Routsong family was almost perfect. I turned immediately to Retti's name in the book to see to what they had attributed her death. According to Doan and Waidner, "Alfaretta died in Van Buren Township on May 14, 1887, age 21-8-14 of consumption. Sadly, just three months earlier a Montgomery County marriage license which had been issued February 19, 1887 to George O. Martin, was not returned" So, the official cause of her death was consumption, but the sentence following the diagnosis told me that the family lore may not have been completely incorrect. Just three months before her death, an issued marriage license had not been returned. If the grief from her rejection did not directly cause Retti's death, it certainly may have contributed to the fact that she was not able to fight the battle with the disease. Did she simply lose the will to live? When I read those words and saw the name George O. Martin, I wondered who he was and what happened to cause the marriage to not take place. I will probably never know the answer. Retti was buried in the cemetery of David's Reformed Church cemetery, now David's Cemetery. She lies next to the gravesite of her parents and very near the gravesites of her grandparents. Regardless of what actually caused her death; disease or broken heart, Retti's story is still one of the saddest I have ever known.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Treasure Chest Thursday......On Saturday! :)

These are the newspaper accounts of my maternal grandparents 50th wedding anniversary. Their actual anniversary was April 30, but the dinner for the family was held on May 2 and the reception for friends was held at David's United Church of Christ on May 3.