Wednesday, December 31, 2014

My Top 10 Genealogy Finds in 2014

2014 has been an amazing year for me and my genealogy research. With increased knowledge, time, and resources available, I've uncovered some amazing discoveries! I had thought about making a "top 10" booklet for my family as Christmas gifts, but didn't get around to it. Maybe I will still do that but give it to them for Valentine's Day. But, for now, I thought I'd highlight my top 10 finds of the year.

1839 Marriage Record - Parish of Prestwich, Lancaster County, England from

#10 - I didn't start blogging until March of this year, so my first "find" is actually from the end of 2013. It was huge! In November, I made my first "jump across the pond" when I found my 3rd great grandparent's (James Eastwood & Sarah Hall) 1839 marriage record from Lancaster, England! After finding this location, I was able to find birth, marriage, and death records and go back another generation.

Gov. LaFollette of Wisconsin addressing Chautauqua assembly, Decatur, Ill. c.1905
(image from Wikipedia)

#9 - This is a more distant relative and I didn't blog about it, but I found out my 2nd cousin, 5 times removed was Bishop John Heyl Vincent. Bishop J. H. Vincent was one of the two founders of Chautauqua - an adult education movement in the late 1800's & early 1900's. I found many newspaper articles about him including one that starts with this... "General Grant once introduced Bishop J. H. Vincent to President Lincoln and said: 'Dr. Vincent was my pastor at Galena, Ill., and I do not think that I missed one of his sermons while I lived there.'" The next paragraph said, "This same Bishop Vincent, of good old Pennsylvania stock and for many years a resident of Pennsylvania, was the founder of the Chautauqua assembly, next only to the public school system in bringing to the masses of the people some share of their inheritance in the world's great creations in art and literature." [Today in Pennsylvania History, Altoona Mirror, Altoona, Pennsylvania, 09 May 1924, page 11, column 1, digital image, accessed 08 Dec 2014.]

Barbara Grozinger's 1616 baptism record found on FHL film

#8 - After finding my English ancestors, I made another huge discovery when I found the place of origin of one of my German families: the Kaechle's. I first found a marriage record (index only) of my 3rd great grandparents (Thaddeus Kaechle & Katharina Kern) which gave the names of Thaddeus' parents (Anton Koechle/Kaechle & Anna Diringer). From there, I found a site where someone had indexed hundreds of years of church records (Ortsfamilienbuch fur Grissheim) at the church where Thaddeus was born! His ancestors had attended that church for centuries. The oldest record I found was the 1616 baptism of my 8th great grandmother, Barbara Grozinger. That's almost 400 years old! (The location was Grissheim in Baden-Wurttemberg.)

U.S., Dutch Reformed Church Records from Selected States, 1660-1926
Marriage record; date: Aug 12, 1710
found on
#7 - Several years ago I discovered I had French Huguenot ancestors (surnames Doremus & Vincent/Van Sant) who had escaped to The Netherlands before coming to America in the late 1600's. But, just recently I found my first document that shows my 8th great grandfather, Cornelis Cornelisse Doremus, was born in The Netherlands! The record is his 1710 marriage record to my 8th great grandmother, Rachel Pietersen. It says he was born in Middleburg, Zeeland, which is part of The Netherlands!

1847 marriage record of Anton Kehrbach & Maria Anna Reuter
#6 - I traced another family back to Germany this year (so, my 3rd location in Europe!) when I located a distant cousin on My Heritage. He had an 1847 marriage record for my 3rd great grandparents, Anton Kehrbach (Korback) & Maria Anna Reuter. Not only did this record show where this family had come from (Ediger which is a small village in present-day Rhineland-Palatinate), but it also gave the names of both of their parents!

#5 - I busted through a brick wall by uncovering my 4th great grandfather's father! Andrew McClintock/McClintic was born in August of 1804 in Pennsylvania. I'd been stuck at this generation for many years. This information came from a researcher I'd hired in Pennsylvania. (The same one who helped me with the Stiver's in #9.) She had transcribed some church records and had the baptism of Andrew McClintock listing his father, John McClintock.

Headstone of Jacob T Dickson, Confederate soldier
#4 - The Civil War Questionnaire of Jacob Tipton Dickson, my great, great grandfather's younger brother. The questionnaire was sent out to Civil War soldiers who were still alive in 1920.  Besides verifying their mother's maiden name, Sally McCage, I love the language of this man from Tennessee and can only imagine that my great, great grandfather would have talked (& spelled words!) the same way. Here are a few of the questions:
...Remarks on Ancestry... my grate parance was from Orolan [?]  and they Died while I were small and I dident never know them
...If you owned land... Now I diden owen any thing I were stayen at home
...Did you parents own slaves?... My father Owen 6 Slaves

I will definitely blog more about this document as I think it is priceless and a wonderful 'find'!

Her Death is Cause for Four Being Held, Springfield Republican, Springfield, Missouri, 01 Nov 1911,
page 1, column 4, digital image accessed 30 Oct 2014

#3 - I uncovered not one, but two MURDERS in my family this year! That's just crazy! This first one was the murder of my 3rd great grandfather's granddaughter. Her name was Ollie Werther and she married Roy Crockett in about 1909 or 1910. The marriage lasted maybe a year and then, after quarreling, Ollie went home to her dad and told him she had proof that her husband had committed arson on one of their houses to collect the insurance money. They turned this information over to the authorities and Roy was arrested. Allegedly, Roy's sister, brother, cousin & a friend poisoned Ollie with morphine to keep her from testifying against Roy! I found articles acquitting the two females of their murder charges, but have yet to find anything about the two males. As for Roy, he was "surrendered to his bondsman" a few years later, but also started another family, an oil business, and became both a judge and  mayor in Texas!

Ephraim P Bennett's Missouri State Penitentiary Records from the Missouri State Archives
#2 - The other murder I uncovered was actually one that had been passed down in my family, though I hadn't heard the story. I first discovered it after finding my great, great grandmother's brother in the state penitentiary in the 1900 census. From there, I ordered prison records and then found newspaper articles about the murder. 

Ephraim Bennett's brother-in-law, Nathan L Buchanan, was physically abusing his wife, Louisa Jane, Ephraim's sister. At one point, Nathan hit her on the head with a log from the fire and she ended up having to go to an asylum for awhile. Ephraim loaned Nathan the money he needed to commit her, but then one day came out into the field where Nathan was working and shot and killed him. He then turned himself in to the authorities. There most be more to the story as, that night, a lynch mob of somewhere between 50 to 200 men came to hang Ephraim! The family story that was passed down made Ephraim sound like a hero. But, the lynch mob makes me wonder what really happened. I hope to find out more! (I wrote quite a few posts about this murder as I uncovered the story.)

My grandmother & her best friend, circa 1925 (original at my aunt & uncle's in Kansas)
#1 - My biggest "find" of 2014 was the absolutely amazing amount of family photos & memorabilia that my aunt & uncle have at their house. Not only do they have at least 100 old photos, they have baby books, report cards, journals, poems written by family members, land records, newspaper clippings, and so much more! They inherited the work of my Grand Aunt, Beulah Brewer, who started me on this journey back in 1998. Their friend, Cheryl, is a retired librarian who has spent several years putting all of the records both in binders and in a genealogy program. I visited them in Kansas back in October and came home with over 900 images! Wow!!! Some of my favorite photos are those of my grandmother as a young girl.

Do we share common ancestors? I'd love to talk! Please write me at

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

You'll Shoot Your Eye Out! (A Letter to Santa Claus)

My husband's favorite Christmas movie is A Christmas Story in which  Ralphie wants a BB gun but the adults all tell him, "You'll shoot your eye out!" It's taken me years to appreciate this movie, but now I look forward to seeing it every year.

A few months ago, I found a newspaper clipping at which was a "Dear Santa" letter from my husband's grand uncle (his grandmother's brother). I was amused to see that this 7-year-old was also asking for a BB gun. But, he was also asking for things my husband's other grandparents talked about getting at Christmas: fruit & candy. Frank also seems concerned that Santa might not be able to find them since they are moving, which is a great genealogical find!

Here's the clipping from Haskell News dated the 18th of December, 1919:

Dear Santa Claus, Haskell News, Haskell, Oklahoma, 18 Dec 1919,
page 12, column 3, digital image, (, accessed 13 Sep 2014)
Do we share common ancestors? I'd love to talk! Please email me at

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Great Gift Idea: A Newspaper Clipping Mug

I was 'making' mugs on Shutterfly this morning while thinking about last minute gift ideas. (You can still order them today and get them in time for Christmas with 2-day shipping!) I decided to use some of my heritage photos to see how they looked.

I accidentally clicked on an obituary for my 2nd great grandmother's brother, Emil Werther. While it's kind of creepy to have a mug with an obituary, I think it looks really neat!

Mug sample created with Shutterfly

So, while you probably don't want to order an obituary mug for your loved one, how about using another clipping? I think a wedding announcement mug for a 50th anniversary would be wonderful! Or, in honor of the Christmas season, do you have an old "Dear Santa" clipping? Or even a present day birth announcement mug for new parents?

The mugs also come in black so you might play with both and see which works better. Please let me know if you end up making a newspaper clipping mug!

Do we share common ancestors? I'd love to talk! Please write me at

Saturday, December 13, 2014

SNGF - Make a Surname Christmas Tree

Oops! Somehow I ended up on one of Randy's challenges from last December on Genea-Musings. Oh, well! I'm going to go ahead and post it. It was fun!

So, the challenge was to create a surname genealogy tree and share how you did it. I went to my RootsMagic and created a surname list based on frequency. I then started typing the names in Word while creating a tree shape. I added a star from the 'drawing' tools and then my husband helped me to save it in PowerPoint as I was lost as how to get the image on my blog. Here's the result of some of my most common surnames!

Do we share common ancestors? I'd love to talk! Please write me at

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Proof My 8th Great Grandfather was Born in The Netherlands! (& a question)

I had read multiple times that my 8th great grandfather, Cornelis Cornelisse Doremus, was born in The Netherlands. His family were supposedly French Huguenots who escaped religious persecution of protestants in France by moving to Holland in the mid 1600's. His father, Cornelis, brought his young family to New Amsterdam in the New World in about 1685 or 1686. Cornelis Doremus, my 9th great grandfather, is listed on The National Huguenot Society's list of qualified Huguenot ancestors. But, I'd never seen any proof that Cornelis Cornelisse Doremus was born in The Netherlands. Until this week.

In January of this year, Ancestry added a collection titled "U.S., Dutch Reformed Church Records from Selected States, 1660-1926." I just stumbled across it a few days ago. And, I've been absolutely amazed at the records I've found from the 1600 & 1700's!

U.S., Dutch Reformed Church Records from Selected States, 1660-1926
Marriage record; date: Aug 12, 1710
found on

Above is a marriage record for my 8th great grandparents, Cornelis Cornelisse Doremus and Rachel Pietersen. It shows Cornelis was born at Middleburg, Zeeland [which is in The Netherlands] and lives at Ackquackanonk. His bride, Rachel, was born in and lives at Bergen, which is in current day Hudson County, New Jersey.

I love finding a record showing that Cornelis was born in The Netherlands! The only other places I've trace back to have been Germany and England. (I'm also glad to have found that Rachel was born in Bergen. I don't know anything about her family, so this is a great place to start.)

My next steps with the Doremus family are to see if I can track down some of their records in both Holland and in France! And, I want to find out more about joining The National Huguenot Society!

Oh! And, I have a question...does anyone know what the "Y.M." following the groom & the "Y.D." following the bride mean? Everyone on the page has the same marking except for one marked "widow." Thanks!

Do we share common ancestors? I'd love to talk! Please write me at

The 1828 Will of Peter Close's Relict: Catharine Elizabeth Close

Yesterday, I shared the 1810 will of my 5th great grandfather , Peter Close of Armagh, Mifflin County, Pennsylvania. Peter's wife, Catha...