Saturday, January 31, 2015

Ancestry Saturday: My Own Genealogy Memories

One of the first Genealogy 101 suggestions is to quiz your oldest relatives about what they know about past generations. I've done that, and it's worked to give some depth to the family tree.

I am that relative too.

I'm just a few weeks removed from being the oldest of my generation on my mom's side of our family. As such, I'm the only one among my first cousins who can recall meeting our still-living great grandparents. Three of my eight great grandparents were still alive when I was born.

We had to drive under the railroad to get to his place. His retirement home had a lion drinking fountain. As he sat up in his bed, he had a bunch of young women around him in a bedroom not much bigger than mine.

Those were my memories of Great Grandpa Elmer Armstrong. He died March 4, 1971 when I was only four years old so the memories are, understandably, sketchy.

Today, I can piece the sketchy memories into a narrative. One would drive under the CSX line underpass to get from I-71 to Wesley Glen in the Clintonville neighborhood of Columbus. The view approaching that underpass hasn't changed in 45 years. I don't know if the Lion drinking fountain is still there (road trip kids?), but the young ladies must have been health care workers helping him prepare for our visit. He had a one-room retirement center suite.

I wrote about General Armstrong (he was actually an Army Colonel, which I learned after showing it to my grandparents) in the fifth grade. I inherited his bedroom furniture and still use it in my house today. I have some old photos and personal documents in my possession too.

Future generations can come to me to ask about Great Grandpa Armstrong. I'm ready to talk.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Ancestry Saturday: Happy 169th!

The Ancestry App reminded me of a birthday. Today is the 169th anniversary of the birth of Charles Bosworth Bernard who was born January 17, 1846. He was my great great grandfather.

A write-up about his birth said, "He was born in a log cabin in the Fairview Community on what has been known as the Elijah M. Bernard farm and more recently known as the Gumly farm on St. Rt. 729, near Lees Creek, Clinton, Ohio."

He lived his whole life in Green Township in Clinton County. I've been to the farm where he was born.

I've also been to his adult-life home and farm a couple of times because it passed down generations. His youngest daughter, my great grandmother Sallie Bernard, was born in that house in 1884.

Happy Birthday!

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Sunday Review: Ohio Ancestors 2014 Year in Review

A full 11 days into 2015, I'm still looking back at 2014 to help set the stage for my family history research going forward in 2015.  There's a lot more to get done.

I now list 35 Revolutionary War patriots in my kids' bloodline.  That's a growth of eight in 2014.  I don't expect a 20% growth in that list for 2015 though.  Confirming a few more might be nice.

I attended the wedding of my third cousin in December and met some living family members, including a convergence story that's borderline creepy.  Who would think that my third cousin from New York would marry someone who once lived just two doors away from where we live now in Ohio?

I count finding my fourth great grandmother Phebe's house a great find of 2014.  It will be made greater if I can schmooze an invite to see the inside in 2015.

We'll make a point to visit the Catholic church in Somerset, Ohio again in 2015 where my fourth great grand uncle was a priest more than a century and a half ago.  Richard Pius Miles would later become the first bishop of the Diocese of Nashville.  If a family trip takes us near Nashville, we'll even visit his burial location in the basement of the church. 

Whatever our 2015 Summer Vacation destination turns out to be, it will certainly include some family history stopovers.

2014 would have been a less-productive family history research year but for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania releasing their death certificates archive to  That lifted Pennsylvania way up on the list of states where family history research is friendly.  These death certificates helped solve some family mysteries and confirm some others.  My sister-in-law and Aunt, by marriage, are two families with Ohio and Pennsylvania roots that have been made easier to research thanks to this action.  Showing them my findings are on my list in 2015.

Not everything was merely electronic in 2014.  I visited the clothing store my great great grandfather owned in Meadville, PA.  It's now a coffee shop and bakery.

There are some regrets. 

I still haven't seen or gotten a copy of the marriage certificate for Andrew Alfred Baker and Beatrice Merz my Aunt mentioned in an email a year ago.  That information sparked a breakthrough that helped me complete my five-generation family tree.  I may have to send her a digital camera with a return envelope to get a copy.  Would that be too direct?

Figuring out once and for all whether the George Platt on the Brig Niagara at the Battle of Lake Erie in September 1813 is the same George F. Platt, my third great grandfather, who served at Lake Erie with the Pennsylvania Militia is a still-unfulfilled quest.  I just recently obtained the National Archives military file for George F. Platt and there's no mention of his service to the Navy in the file.  I'm still searching though.

I'm still waiting for some more photos from cousins.  The Bernard Family Reunion yielded one great find, but the promise of more is on my list to get fulfilled in 2015.  I'm really hoping my Cleveland second cousin once removed finds that missing box of photos with my great great grandmother's photo(s) in it too.
With my five-generation family tree now complete, the never-ending quest is to go deeper into the family tree.  With less records, less headstones, and less photographs from that sixth generation and backward, that's going to be tougher to accomplish.  That's 2015 in a nutshell.