Saturday, November 14, 2015

Ancestry Saturday: He Hewed The Timber Into Central Ohio History

Columbus, Ohio at a time when the Broad Street Bridge (at middle right) is made of wood.
Charles Harper's 1911 obituary reads, "He hewed the timber for the first Broad street bridge in Columbus, and a part of the timber is still in use. He hewed the timber and was a contractor for a large part of the material in the old state penitentiary."

These two sentences give my kids' fourth great grandfather on their mom's side a lasting place in Central Ohio's history. There are ironic tie-ins to family history too.

The Broad Street Bridge is not made of wood today, but it's a landmark and a vital artery in Columbus' economic past, present, and future.  Ironically, in the 1990's, their grandfather on their dad's side, John Platt, had his offices in Columbus overlooking that same bridge.

Today, the site of the "old state penitentiary" is a high-end retail and housing district.  The district's place in Ohio's history, though, is more owed to a horrific fire April 21, 1930 in which 322 prisoners perished. 

Ironically, a 1930 Census record taken two days before the fire, showed Richard Harper was there.  Richard Harper, convicted for petty theft, died in that 1930 fire in the building built by his great grandfather.

Charles Harper's memorial stands an hour northwest of Columbus near Richwood, but his lasting impact is still right there in the heart of the Capitol City.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Ancestry Saturday: Baptismal Record Wall Opens, Family Brick Wall DoesToo

A few years ago they sent my check back uncashed.  The Catholic Archdiocese of Cincinnati was in limbo about whether they would start making their registry available for family history researchers.

I was elated to recently find they had opened the record books again.  And I sought out some family records in birth, marriage, and death.

My great great grandfather Eugene Merz's Emmaneul Catholic Church  baptismal registry line was among the finds.  With that came his mother's maiden name--Schoenfelder.

A proverbial family brick wall has opened!

This surname was elusive to researchers before.  Now, one single record has opened the door to potential others and more familial links.

I'm glad for the decision the Archdiocese made to open their records to the World.  Here's hoping they set an example for others and church records are made increasingly more available to family researchers.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Ancestry Saturday: 202 Years, And Still Looking

It's been my goal to settle the facts enough to reach a conclusion whether the George Platt who was wounded on the Brig Niagara at the Battle of Lake Erie was the same George F. Platt who served with the 132nd Pennsylvania Militia in the War of 1812.

George F. Platt was my third great grandfather.  It would be interesting to make a link.  I wrote my first piece on this in August 2014 and a follow up piece in September 2014.

The 202nd anniversary of the September 10, 1813 battle will come to pass next week, however, and it will remain unsolved.  I'm not done looking though.

The latest evidence came from a War of 1812 expert who responded to my inquiry with a "no" and a "maybe."

The "No" Scenario comes from the muster rolls of the Navy that showed George Platt, the one aboard the Brig Niagara, had mustered into the Navy by June 1813.  One cannot be both mustered in the Navy and mustered in the PA militia at the same time.

Excerpted from "A Description of the Medals of Washington."
Also, the expert concluded that no George Platt shows up on the list of medal recipients from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania for those Pennsylvanians who served during the Battle of Lake Erie. 

However, a conversation later, the answer shifted a bit to "maybe."

The "Maybe" Scenario goes something like this:  That George Platt served in the Navy from June 1813 until he was wounded at the Battle of Lake Erie.  He could have mustered out of the Navy after being wounded and, if still able-bodied, was obligated to serve in the Pennsylvania Militia afterward. 

His military record shows his wife indicating he didn't join the Pennsylvania Militia until October 1813.  Plus, the records show him on the muster rolls in January 1814.  

He could have been omitted from the medal winners for service at the Battle of Lake Erie because he wasn't a member of a Pennsylvania Militia at the battle but, instead, with the United States Navy.

In fact, given that we know he was in the Pennsylvania Militia, the fact he didn't receive a medal from the Commonwealth confirms that he was not part of the Militia troops that were at Lake Erie. That could tend to support the idea that he didn't join the Militia until later.

So, there we go.  No firm answer, up or down, yet.