David's Reformed Church Congregation

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

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday - Charles and Dora Isler

For today's Tombstone Tuesday post I want to share this beautiful gravesite that I discovered in Zion Cemetery in Kettering, Montgomery, County, Ohio.  This is the final resting place of Charles A. and Dora Isler.  The stone's inscription reads: 
Chas. A. Isler
Feb 16 1894
Aged 61 Y 8M
Dora Isler
May 12, 1912
Aged 68Y 9M

According to the 1880 United States Census, Charles and Dora were living in Miami Township, Montgomery County, where Charles was a farmer.  Living with them were their son, Charles, their daughters, Evaline and Lottie, and Charles 2nd cousin, Erin Magdalene.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Sentimental Sunday - In Memory of Clyde and Lillian Cole O'Dell

The above articles document the beginning of the story of the marriage between Delbert Clyde O'Dell, 22, farmer of Friendship, (Ohio) and  Miss Lillian May Cole, 19,  also of Friendship, whose marriage took place on 26 February, 1913  presided over by "Rev. Dillon". Afterwards they were serenaded by 75 persons, adult and youngsters, following their wedding on that Thursday evening, according to the Portsmouth Daily Herald.  A short time later, the same newspaper announced that Clyde and his bride had spent Wednesday evening at the Washington Hotel and were leaving on Thursday for a prospecting trip through the west. 

I can imagine their excitement and anticipation when, as newlyweds, they headed west in search of their fortune.  Two young people in love just starting their new life together.   What happened on their trip west is not now known, but Clyde and Lillian returned to Friendship and then lived for awhile in Dayton. On 31 October, 1913, Lillian gave birth to their daughter, Gwendolyn.  In early 1918, Clyde decided to relocate to Akron, Summit County, Ohio to work at the Firestone plant in that city.  It was on 26 June, 1918, that the love story of Clyde and Lillian took a tragic turn. 

After work that evening, Clyde, Lillian, and little Gwendolyn decided to go for a canoe ride on Summit Lake. According to some witnesses, the canoe was struck by a launch. This much is known, for some reason,  the boat capsized and all three occupants ended up in the water. There were some reports that their canoe was hit by a launch.  The Akron Press Journal of 27 June 1918 reported the story this way:   

Three Drown Here as Frail Boats Capsize
Mr. and Mrs. Delbert O'Dell Go to Their Death in Summit Lake
Little Girl is Saved
Rome Zimmerman, Tire Repairman, sinks in Turkeyfoot Lake
Three persons lost their lives here Wednesday night by drowning and three others had narrow escapes. One man is in People's Hospital in a serious condition. Two met their death in Summit Lake. One drowned in Turkeyfoot Lake. All were Akron residents.
The Dead:
Delbert O'Dell, 26 rubber worker, 1006 Snyder St.
Lillian O'Dell, 24 his wife, 1006 Snyder St.

Rome Zimmerman, 35, auto repairman, 325 W. Exchange St.

Mr. and Mrs. O'Dell went to their death in Summit Lake at 6 o'clock when the canoe in which they were riding capsized. Their little daughter, May, 4, was rescued by bathers who were a short distance away when the frail craft overturned. The accident happened 100 feet from the west shore of the lake.
O'Dell, who could not swim, sank immediately. Mrs. O'Dell, who was a good swimmer, struck out for shore as she came to the surface, but was hampered by her skirts and sank after swimming a short distance. The little girl suffered from shock and her plunge into the lake, but will recover.
D.V. Booth, in charge of one of the Summit Beach Park launches, was near the scene and dived repeatedly after both bodies. Both were recovered an hour later by the use of nets.
Mr. and Mrs. O'Dell came to Akron several months ago from Portsmouth, O. The bodies will be taken there for burial.
Scoutmaster, J.H. Melville and Scouts Charles Mears, Sidney Mulligan, Tom Mulligan, Richard Krum---, and William Scott of the Goodrich Unit, recovered the bodies.

Clyde and Lillian's gravesite in Friendship (Scioto) Cemetery. 

This story is important to me personally because Clyde O'Dell is my husband's great uncle, brother of his maternal grandmother, Carrie O'Dell Zimmerman.   For many years, we didn't know the whole story of the deaths of Clyde and Lillian.  Carrie spoke of Clyde trying to save Lillian and her believe was that Lillian had  panicked and with a "death grip" had pulled Clyde under, drowning them both.  Most distressing was the fact that nobody seemed to know what happened to Clyde and Lillian's daughter.  Carrie lived in Dayton away from most of the O'Dell family in Scioto County so we had little information about their status. 
That's where the internet comes in. 

My sister in law and I were both searching for information about the O'Dells and we amazingly discovered Clyde and Lillian's grandson, Chapin.  He told us about his search for information about his grandparents and sent copies of an Akron Beacon Journal article about what happened that night and about his quest to discover the true story. From the research he had done, he felt that Clyde and Lillian were both very strong swimmers and Lillian's family's version of the story seemed to suggest that Lillian had tried to save Clyde and that possibly her hair became tangled in weeds under the water. However, no one knows exactly what happened.   He shared photographs of Clyde and Lillian and he had copies of some of the original articles from The Akron Beacon Journal. One of the most significant things he could share with us was the information about his mother, Gwendolyn.  After the death of her parents, she had been adopted by a gentleman in Dayton.  She had graduated in 1931 from Fairmont High School, so she had grown up close to many of her family members. She had become a professional singer and an interior designer.  She had married twice and had  four children. Sadly, she had died in 1980.   After receiving this information from Chapin, I contacted the library in Scioto County and ordered copies of the newspaper articles that were printed in the Portsmouth newspapers at the time of Clyde and Lillian's deaths.  When we made our trip to Scioto County, their gravesite was one of the first I sought. 
Clyde and Lillian's story is so tragic, but I believe it is a great love story.  I choose to believe they died trying to save one another and I'm so thankful that because of  all the resources now available for family research, we have a better insight of what happened on the June night so many years ago.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Sabina High School Basketball Champions

In keeping with the spirit of the madness of  March wall to wall basketball, today I am sharing two photographs of the Sabina (Clinton County, Ohio) High School basketball team when they won the County Championship.  I am not sure of the exact year, but since my father graduated in 1948, it would have to have been between 1946-1948.  My dad is standing, top row, far left in the bottom portrait.  In the top portrait, you can see him peeking out from behind the boy holding the smaller trophy. Unfortunately, I can't name all the others in the photograph, but I'm sure someone else might be able to.  About the only thing I know of my father's basketball career is the fact that he used to "foul out" often. 
What I really love about these pictures is the expression of sheer joy on their faces.  What a great memory this must have been for all of them.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday - Jacob Routsong/Henry Routzong

This is the final resting place of my 3rd great grandfather, Jacob Routsong. Jacob is buried in David's Cemetery in Kettering, Montgomery County, Ohio.
The stone reads, " Jacob Routsog  Died February the 2nd AD 1851 at 56 yrs 5mths 15 Ds  "Therefore be ye also ready for in such a time as ye know not, the Son of Man cometh"

Jacob Routsong is the great grandson of Johann Ludwig Rauenzahner, who arrived in Philadelphia from Beerfelden, Germany,  in August, 1750.  Johann Ludwig's son, Johann Adam, chose to use the last name "Routzahn", while his son Henry chose to use the name "Routzong".  Most of Henry's sons chose to use this same spelling and pronunciation, but for some reason Jacob chose to use the "Routsong" name as his descendants still do to this day. 
  I believe that most persons with any of these last names could probably trace their ancestry back to Johann Ludwig Rauenzahner in some way.  One of the best resources I have found for research on these names is the book "From Rauenzahner to Routson A Family on the Move" by John P. Dern and M. Marjorie Waidner (Picton Press, 1993).  

Above is the tombstone of Henry Routzong, Sr., Jacob's father.  His final resting place is in the Byron Cemetery, Greene County, Ohio. 

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Sentimental Sunday - The Monument at the Triangle Park Bridge

Anyone who knows me could tell you that am a victim of gephyrophobia, which in layman's terms in the fear of crossing bridges. So, it would be very unusual for me to feel sentimental about a bridge, but this one is a little different.  If you live or have visited Dayton and have crossed the Ridge Avenue Bridge over the Stillwater River to get to Triangle Park, you will know the bridge of which I speak.  This one is special because it was dedicated to Battery D, 134th Field Artillery, 37th Division, my grandfather's unit during his World War I service.

In 1927, when it became obvious that the previous bridge was no longer safe, the city began building a new bridge and a committee was formed that decided this bridge should be dedicated to Battery D. It might seem like an unusual decision, but Triangle Park was the temporary home to about 200 men  who arrived on July 15, 1917 to be trained for service to their country.   It was here that they stayed for about a month, preparing for their eventual move to Camp Sheridan in Alabama and more intense training before being sent to France and the War. 

I first read about this bridge dedication in a series of articles about Battery D by the late Dayton Daily News writer, Roz Young.  My mother had taken a great interest in the articles and Roz sent her a handwritten letter with copies of pages of the book she had referenced in the article.  I didn't see this letter or the articles until many years after they had been written.  When I saw a photograph of the memorial, I had to visit the park and the bridge and see them for myself.  I wasn't disappointed.

At the exit of the bridge on Ridge Ave., located on the right side of the road, is located the granite marker; listing all 200 names of the men of Battery D. 

A list of all the relevant dates of service and engagements of Battery D are included on the monument.
On the opposite side of Ridge Avenue sits this cannon, captured from the German army by the men of Battery D.

Of course the first thing I did was to find the name of my grandfather, Leland V. Norris.

It gave me a great sense of pride to see his name engraved on that memorial.

Dayton is a city of many rivers and numerous bridges. Many are older and unsafe and during the last couple of years bridge replacement has become a priority.   I would be lying if I said I wasn't concerned about the taking down of the Ridge Avenue Bridge and it's dedication to the men of Battery D.  For most of those in the younger generations, World War I is something they see a little about in the history books and it doesn't have much meaning to them now.   A few years ago, something hit the monument and severely damaged it.  At the time, the city repaired it and placed it back on it's base.  I sincerely hope that it will be kept in it's place if and when a new bridge is installed, but if recent history is any indication, that may not be the case.

So, today, I am being sentimental about a bridge and about the men who camped by the Stillwater river so many years ago.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Surname Saturday - NORRIS - Uncle Junior and the NIT Championship

My Uncle, Leland "Junior" Norris  ready to shoot in this UD Yearbook photo.

Last Wednesday evening, as I was seated in the University of Dayton arena waiting for the beginning of the N.I.T. first round game between the Flyers and the Illinois State Redbirds, I couldn't help but think about my uncle, Leland "Junior" Norris.   For three seasons in the early 1950's my Uncle Junior played guard for the University of Dayton. He scored 1,009 points and was known for his two-hand set shot.  In 1951 and 1952, the Flyers played in the championship game of the NIT in Madison Square Garden in New York City.  The press in New York loved my uncle and gave him the name "Humphrey" because they thought he resembled the  character "Humphrey Pennyworth" from the cartoon "Joe Palooka". 

 Unfortunately, the University of Dayton did not taste victory either year; defeat coming at the hands of BYU in 1951 and LaSalle in 1952.  But, that didn't stop Dayton from being a basketball town and in 1962 and 1968, they were the NIT Champions.  Ask just about anybody associated with college basketball and they will tell you that Daytonians love their basketball and the University of Dayton Arena is a great place to play.  When Uncle Junior played basketball, they didn't play in a large arena. It was a much more intimate game then and I'm sure it felt like the team was carrying the whole town on their backs when they made those trips to Madison Square Garden.  I wasn't born then, but I wish I had some type of time machine to go back and experience the excitement there must have been in this city at that time.  Growing up with Uncle Junior I always knew that something special had happened back then.  There were pictures on the wall at his home of his playing days and when I visited the arena I could see his face on the Flyers "Hall of Fame" wall. 
Another yearbook photo, Junior being interviewed on WHIO Radio

As Thursday's game went on and the crowd cheered each basket and booed every botched call, I watched the faces of our current players and thought about Uncle Junior and how those men might not be there in that arena if not for him and those great teammates of his that helped to make the University of Dayton basketball program what it is today.

After his graduation, Uncle Junior became a teacher and a coach and in later years, he ran for and was elected Clerk of Courts of Montgomery County, where he served the people from 1976-1888. 

The following years took their toll on my dear uncle and he battled heart trouble and other illnesses and on 27 December, 2006, Uncle Junior passed away. 
I sure do miss him.

On Wednesday night the Flyers won that opening game of the National Invitation Tournament.  With any luck, the University of Dayton will go to Madison Square Garden one more time.  
And I'll be thinking of Uncle Junior. 

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Wordless Wednesday - D.L. Barnes School - Kettering Board of Education

The above photograph is the Kettering Board of Education building. It was originally Fairmont High School and for many years it was the D.L. Barnes Junior High School.  Dwight Leland Barnes was my grandfather's cousin, a teacher, and one of the first Kettering School superintendants. I will be writing more about Dwight and his wife, Mabel Creager Barnes in a later post.

Tombstone Tuesday - George Gall, Revolutionary War Veteran

While visiting Old Dutch Cemetery in Highland, County  during our Ohio "cemetery road trip" of which I  previously wrote,  we discovered this beautiful, modern tombstone among all the old stones in the graveyard.  It is the final resting place of George Gall and his two wives, Susannah Nicholas and Catherine Roads.  The stone reads "George Gall, June 28, 1766 Oct. 1851.   A Soldier in the War of the American Revolution.  He took part in the Siege of Yorktown, and witnessed the surrender of Cornwallis.  This monument was erected August 26, 1905 by his descendants, as a tribute to his patriotic services."
How wonderful that his descendants were able to provide such a fitting tribute to their ancestor.  My husband and I have several ancestors who lie in unmarked graves.  One of my greatest wishes would be to provide them with even a small stone of remembrance.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Sentimental Sunday - "Aunt" Mo and "Grandma" Dot

For today's "Sentimental Sunday" post I would like to share a story about the business card pictured and the lady in the photograph above,  Mildred Hamilton Ryberg. I recently found this business card, tucked carefully into my family Bible.  It advertises "The Reading Nook", a Christian bookstore that once sat on a corner on Orchard Island at Russell's Point, Indian Lake, Ohio.  It lists the proprietors names as "Mo" and "Dot".  Dot is Dorothy Stiles, a lady I called "Grandma Dot" and "Mo" is her sister, Mildred. They were two wonderful ladies who had a profound influence on my life.   Although she was not my real aunt, I called her "Aunt" Mo and she was one of my mom's dearest friends. When I was young, she and her husband and their children lived right across the street from us.  My parents and "Aunt Mo" and her husband, "Uncle Les" spent a great deal of time together, back when neighbors knew each other well and shared cook-outs and evenings out on the town.  Their children were the same age as my brothers and luckily for me,  for awhile, they raised a foster son that became my buddy.  It was quite a bonus when Aunt Mo's niece married my Uncle Don.  We all became a part of a loving and large extended family.   There was always something going on at their home and everyone was welcomed.  A child couldn't ask for a better place to grow up than my neighborhood. We knew we could count on one another to be there if needed.  My mother told me many times that if she told Mo something that she wanted to be kept just between them, she knew she could trust her completely and those conversations took place often over cups and cups of coffee!

But the years passed, and when I was about 10 years old,  Aunt Mo and Uncle Les decided to move out of the neighborhood and at the same time, we also put our house up for sale to find a larger home.  It was the end of an era.  While we moved relatively close by, Aunt Mo moved about an hour away to live at Russell's Point, Ohio on Indian Lake.  We did visit once in a while, but, of course, it was never the same as those days when we were neighbors.   She and "Grandma" Dot decided to open a Christian book store in a small building attached to their home.  I thought it was the "coolest" thing in the world to have a store in your house!  I loved browsing through all the books and novelties they sold.  I still have a couple of bookmarks in my family Bible, along with this copy of the business card to remind me of those days.

In January of 1977, we lost Aunt Mo suddenly, just a few days after she had stopped by our home to deliver some crystal candle holders I had purchased from a "home" party my mother and I had attended.  It would be the last time I would see her.  I still keep the candle holders in the cardboard box they came in because Aunt Mo had written my name on it.  I just can't throw the box away.  So, I guess that is being sentimental, isn't it?

Friday, March 12, 2010

Treasure Chest Thursday - Norris Dahlia Gardens

Last week, Family Stories author Caroline shared a newspaper photograph of her grandfather holding a rose with 63 inch stem. It reminded me a an article that I have about my own grandfather, Leland Norris.   This photograph appeared in the "John Montgomery, Farmer" supplement of The Dayton Journal on Tuesday 6 October, 1936.   The caption underneath the photo reads, "In the above photo Leland Norris of the Norris dahlia gardens is shown working with his plants.  The particular variety he is inspecting is the Jane Cowl.  In the lower picture is shown the Full Moon, a yellow variety."  (click on the pictures to see a larger version)

My maternal grandparents lived on the west side of what is now Kettering, Ohio.  Though not a farm, they had enough land to raise a nice garden to help sustain the family through the depression.  While he worked at the National Cash Register Company, my grandfather also found it necessary to devise other ways of making money to help feed his family of 6 children, his wife, and his mother.   One of these ideas was to raise dahlias for sale. One would think that during the depression, you wouldn't be able to find anyone who could afford to spend their money on flowers, but luckily, my grandparents lived quite close to the "affluent" area of Oakwood, which was located just a few miles from their home.  Many of his customers seemed to be residents of that area.
Growing up I had heard talk of his "dahlia" fields, but when I found this newspaper article, I could see for myself how extensive the business was.  I had never heard the term "Norris dahlia gardens" until I read the caption on the article, but it must have been known as that at the time.  I don't know how long he had the gardens, but I do know that he had quite a "green thumb" and in his yard grew vegetables, grape vines, and flowers of just about every type imaginable.  Unfortunately, the "green thumb" is one family trait that wasn't passed along to me.  But, isn't it nice that when I see something beautiful, like dahlias, I think of my grandpa?  I think that is one of the nicest legacies he could left me.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday - Catherine Bennett Doan Jacks

Today I am sharing the gravesite of my paternal 4th great grandmother, Catherine Bennett Doan Jacks.  The tombstone is located in the Sabina Cemetery, Sabina, Clinton County, Ohio.   The poem on the bottom of the stone reads, "Mother, thou art gone to rest. We must not weep for thee, For now thou art where oft on earth Thy spirit longed to be."

Catherine was the daughter of Timothy and Elizabeth Hoblit Bennett. She was born in Woodford County Kentucky on 15 March, 1795, but in 1800 the family moved to Warren County, Ohio.  In 1801, the Bennett's became the first settlers in Union Township, Clinton County, Ohio.  On 23 September, 1813, she was married to Joseph Doan and they lived for awhile in Indiana before settling on the "McClintock Farm in Richland Township, Clinton County, Ohio and before Joseph's untimely death on 2 September, 1825, she had given birth to 5 children.  On 7 May, 1829, she was married to my 4th great grandfather, Elkanah Jacks, in Clinton County.  They had 4 children, Eli, (my 3rd great grandfather) Silas, Phoebe, and Isaac. 

Monday, March 8, 2010

Madness Monday - Who are these Routsong's?

I honestly can't complain too much.  I have just a few brick walls that I keep running into, but for the most part I have been blessed and fortunate enough to find the information I need when I look for it.  The most troubling aspect of family history research for me, as I know it is to many others, is the photograph with a secret identity.  Among the many photos found in my Great Aunt Grace's albums were these portraits of men we know belong to the Routsong family in some way, but we don't know who they are.  These photos have made trips to various places around the internet hoping that someone would be able to say, "Oh yeah. That's so and so!"  But, as far as these images go, my luck has run out.  I hope that someday maybe I will come into contact with someone that will have some pictures of their own that we can match faces with, but until that day comes, these photos will be a large component of my madness!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Sentimental Sunday - Martha Corinne Walton

Okay. So Martha Corinne Walton is not a member of my family, nor is she a real person, but she is somebody I feel very sentimental about today.  She is also a character that I would consider a "Fearless Female", so this post follows along with both of the prompts we have been given this month.   Martha Corinne Walton, sister in law of Zebulon "Grandpa" Walton on one of my favorite television series, "The Waltons" plays a significant role in what has to be one of the most memorable and well written episodes of the show's entire run.  She is brilliantly portrayed by Beulah Bondi, who also played Jimmy Stewart's mother (Ma Bailey) in "It's a Wonderful Life". The episode originally aired on 2 December, 1976 and was written by Jack Miller.  I don't think I had a real appreciation for this particular episode until recently.  I bought the entire fifth season dvd set and started watching from the beginning.   This particular show revolves around the visit of Martha Corinne. She is quite elderly and has been living alone in a place far away from her mountain home.  Her arrival at first brings excitement as she presents each family member with special gifts she has brought for them.  In the days to come, however, she begins to intrude on their daily activites with her own opinions and stubbornness.  Finally, tired of putting up with her, Olivia gently lets her know that the time for her visit has come to an end.  John Boy is asked to take her home, but on the way she asks if he will take her to her old home on top of the mountain. While she is there, she remembers what it was like being there as a young bride with her husband as they built their home piece by piece with their own hands.  She tells John Boy about his pioneer history and she says what has become one of my favorite quotes, "Roots. That's a good word for it. Everybody's got a family tree and just to know how those roots grew...well, that gives you a sense of who you are".  
It soon becomes obvious to John Boy that his great aunt is not well and she finally has to admit that she is dying.  When he realizes that she had come to be with the family so she would not be alone when she died, he demands that she come home with him. She makes him promise not to tell the family about her condition, but after he is pressed by Olivia, he must tell the truth, making Martha Corinne very angry.  I won't give away the entire show in case you haven't seen it, but this particular episode deeply touches my heart.  It's commuicates the importance of family roots and history in a way that few shows do, and today, it made me feel awfully sentimental.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Treasure Chest Thursday - Imagination in Brass

My Grandma and Grandpa Norris didn't have too many toys at their house for us to play with when I was growing up.  It certainly wasn't the way it was for my kids when they visited my parents. My mom and dad's house had nearly as many cars, blocks, and action heroes as my boys had at home so boredom was not a problem during their visits.  But, when I would visit my grandparent's home, especially in the winter when I couldn't ride on the tree swing or play with one of the hula hoops that hung in the garage, my only real toy choice was a box of crayons and one or two coloring books that were kept in the hallway closet.  That was fine for about the first 15 or 20 minutes, but soon I had to start looking for something else to keep me occupied.  That's where this little brass item comes into play.  This used to sit on one of the tables in the living room, near the brass-covered family Bible.  I loved it.  I used to pretend it was a teapot and I was serving tea to all my friends at the table.  Sometimes, I would go upstairs to the tiny bedroom that my mother used to share with her older sister and pretend it was my apartment.  Grandma and Grandpa had those beautiful glass doorknobs that my cousin and I would make believe were diamonds.  It was a great place for using your imagination; something so many children miss out on today.  My husband tells me he thinks my brass "teapot" was actually meant to be used to fill oil lamps.  There are no identifying marks on it so I don't know who made it or where it came from.  If anyone has any clues, I would love to hear them! 
It doesn't really matter to me what it is though. It reminds me of my grandma and grandpa's home and that is enough!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Wordless Wednesday - Gladys, Jeanne, and Don

I am a litle late on my Wordless Wednesday post, and it's not going to be completely wordless, but here goes!  This is a photograph of my maternal grandmother, Gladys Marling Norris, and two of her children, Beatrice Jean and Donald Leroy.  As far as I know, my aunt never went by the name Beatrice and was always called Jean.  For most of her life, she spelled it Jeanne.  My grandmother doesn't look very happy with whomever is taking this picture. 

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday - Cemetery Road Trip

Old Dutch Cemetery, Highland County, Ohio

A couple of years ago, I got inspired to take a cemetery road trip.  Both my husband and I have family members who were early settlers in several southern Ohio counties and I got the brilliant idea that we could take a drive down to visit four cemeteries where we would most likely find the gravesites of some of our ancestors.   Beginning with my Shoemaker ancestors in Old Dutch Cemetery in Highland County, Ohio, following up with Locust Grove Cemetery near Peebles in Adams County, Ohio and finishing up with my husband's Odle-O'Dell family at Friendship and Odle-Piatt Cemeteries in Turkey Creek, Scioto County, Ohio.  With the use of Google Maps and good advice from some helpful online friends, I created an itinerary that I thought would make for trip of great discovery.  Now, I just had to convince my family this would be fun.  My husband wasn't hard to convince.  Even though he really didn't have a clue which of his relatives I was really looking for, he was ready for some time away from his job. job.  The kids were going to be a harder sell.  Two teenaged and one "tween" boy were not going to be enamoured by the thought of driving for several hours and stopping only to visit cemeteries where they were going to be put to work looking for names.   So, I decided I would make this a getaway weekend and we would find a motel with a pool for a night.  I figured if they knew there was a pool and some in room movies waiting for them, I could get them through the 6 or 8 hours of sheer agony they were going to have to endure.   So I presented them with the agenda, and even though they weren't thrilled, they decided it might not be torture.
With their acceptance, I began to check out the cemeteries a little more closely so I would be prepared when I arrived.  The one that most concerned me was Old Dutch.  It looked as though it was located in the middle of a cornfield and according to some accounts I read, it was surrounded by a locked gate. Oh great.  How was I going to get someone to unlock the gate for me.  I emailed the Highland County Sheriff's Dept.  and asked if someone could unlock the gate for me when I arrived. They must have thought I was completely daft because I never received an answer.   So, I decided I would take a small ladder along; just in case!
The day arrived and we loaded the car with all the essentials. Maps, notebooks, pens, and camera for my husband and me and snacks and games for the boys.  We headed out and made it to Highland County in a little over an hour.   Sure enough, Old Dutch was located off the road, behind a cornfield.  We had to drive through a little cleared area of grass next to the field.  I kept thinking the farmer wasn't going to be happy with us!  When we arrived at the cemetery I was pleasantly surprised by how well kept it was and how beautiful and serene the area around it was.   Purple wildflowers bloomed throughout the grass and the stones were in very good condition.  Some that had broken had been meticulously repaired.  It was here that I found the gravesites of Samuel and Julia Ann Weaver Shoemaker, my paternal 4th great grandparents, as well as those of several of my distant Shoemaker cousins.

 Since the cemetery was small, my sons didn't have to look too hard for names, so they decided they would busy themselves with bothering the ground spiders that were plentiful throughout Old Dutch.  They discovered if they took a stick and moved it anywhere near the hole of the spider's den, they could get the spider to jump out at them.  As a future science teacher, my oldest son found that fascinating.  So far, so good!

The next stop was Locust Grove Cemetery in Adams County, a little farther southeast.  It was about another hours drive to reach our destination and further into the country.  I couldn't help but wonder how much the land had changed since my relatives had lived there.   When we reached the cemetery, I was surprised at it's size.  I knew I would be putting the kids to work there.  We didn't see any type of cemetery office, although since it is a working cemetery, I know there must have been one around somewhere.  It was here that I found the gravesite of my great grandparents, Thomas and Roseanna Varvel Shoemaker and  those of many of my great aunts and uncles, as well as that of  my great great grandfather, Jacob Shoemaker. 

We spent quite a bit of time at Locust Grove.  I really hated to leave; fearing I would miss someone.  But, the day was getting late and we still had a drive ahead. 
Time to head toward Friendship Cemetery in Turkey Creek, Scioto County. 
I didn't know a lot about where we were headed, except for the fact that it was close to the banks of the Ohio River and very near the Shawnee State Forest and Resort.  Some of the land that was once owned by the Odle's was sold to the state of Ohio when the forest was being created.  As we drew nearer to the area, the geography was becoming even more rural.  If you have ever been through the southern and southeastern portion of my state, you will know what I am talking about.   I thought how difficult it must have been to farm in this area because of all the hills.   We had some trouble finding just where we were going. This was before GPS devices had come into vogue and we certainly didn't have one!  Up until this point, even though the weather was threatening, we had had no rain.  The kids were getting a little tired and I have to admit, I was getting kind of cranky myself.  We finally found the cemetery and the church it surrounded was one of the prettiest country churches I have ever seen.

And, of course, it was just then that it began to rain, the kids started to complain and they became a huge pain!
Luckily, my husband took it in stride, determined that we were not going to come all this way and not discover his family.  The cemetery is medium sized, so it wasn't too difficult to find our way around.  It was here that we found the gravesites of my husband's maternal great grandparents, Andrew Jackson and Bertha Welty O'Dell.

We also found the burial place of  his great great grandparents, William and Angeline Piatt Welty and  those of several  of his great aunts and uncles.  It was quickly becoming a very good trip for us!
With one last stop to make, the rain began to slow down.  The next cemetery was a little more difficult to find. 
The Odle-Piatt Cemetery is very small and quite overgrown with weeds, but we did finally locate it.  After the spider episode, the boys were a little less inclined to enter an area that looked like such a wonderful home for other creepy crawlers, so my husband and I let them wait in the car.  It was here that we located the gravesite of  my husband's great great grandparents, Nelson and Sarah Walker Odle, and several of their children.  
By this time, we were all worn out, but feeling like we had done a good day's worth of research.  With the final pictures taken we headed to Portsmouth and that promised swimming pool.

It's been a couple of years since we headed out on our Southern Ohio Cemetery Road Trip and I sure am ready to head out again.  Didn't they say it was going to be 50 degrees this weekend?    Hey kids.........

Monday, March 1, 2010

Fearless Females - Grace Norris Bailey

Today's prompt from Geneabloggers suggests we celebrate Women's History Month by sharing information about our Fearless Female relatives.   Today, I have chosen my maternal great aunt, Grace Naomi Norris Bailey.  My Aunt Grace was a true lady and a career woman at a time when that wasn't too common.  Born 9 February, 1906 to Harry and Elizabeth Routsong Norris, she was the only daughter and the youngest of their two children.  After graduating from high school, she went to college and received her degree in education. After college, she married Harrison "Red" Bailey on 23 September, 1938 in Kettering.  She continued teaching and she taught in the Van Buren Township/Kettering, Ohio school district until her retirement.  It wasn't long after her retirement that she was inducted into the Kettering Teacher Hall of Fame. 
Aunt Grace and Uncle Red did not have any children of their own, but instead shared their love with my aunts, uncles, and cousins and especially with the bulldogs they cherished so much. They always had at least one bulldog and usually there were two. I used to be scared of them because they would tend to "slobber" all over me whenever we would visit!  Their home was situated next to my grandparents property, so we could just walk up the hill to get to their house.  They had an outdoor pond long before it was popular to have one and we would delight in seeing the goldfish swimming around the lily pads. If were were lucky, there would be a couple of frogs hiding in the greenery too!
 Aunt Grace loved to play bridge and she was involved in many organizations around the Dayton area.   She even got into politics when the city wanted to widen the street in front of her house and take away several feet of her property.  She and her neighbors began a small group that protested the action and her they appeared on the news and in the newspaper, but sadly they weren't successfull at stopping "progress".

Several years before she passed away, she asked me if there was anything in her home that I would want someday.  I told her about a cedar chest I had seen in her attic on one occasion. She said "Oh, that old thing?" and she gave it to me then.  I posted a picture of it on one of my Treasure Chest Thursday posts.   Everytime I see that chest, I think about Aunt Grace.  She wasn't the kind of Aunt that smothers you with hugs and kisses, but I never doubted that she loved me.  When Aunt Grace died, many of her former students, some elderly then themselves, came to her funeral and told us what a wonderful teacher she had been.  When you can touch lives like that, I think it's the best legacy you can have.