Sunday, August 28, 2011

Preserving the History of our Immediate Family

Dick Eastman posted a comment in his online Genealogy Newsletter on Monday August 22, 2011 about, " Where is Your Family Photo Album?" Every day I look forward to reading his newsletter. It helps me stay current in the genealogy world and provides food for thought as I process the day's events. I took this topic one step further and would like to discuss how we can preserve the history of our immediate family.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Genealogy Serendipity Moment - Grandma Tessie and The Truth of the Matter

Grandma Tessie's information has often been fairly accurate. As a skeptical genealogist I often question the reliability of something she relates in her books.
In the moment I shared last week I included the following statement about John Hau:
"He landed in Baltimore, Maryland. Lived in Kersey and lived with relatives, one Andrew Hau. He later moved to Chicago, and went with a wagon train to Kentucky." This small piece of personal knowledge is an important connection. It totally changes the course of his travel in the United States after his arrival.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Genealogy Highlight of the Week

The number one highlight of this week was lunch on Saturday with the great granddaughter of my grandmother's cousin. We met through member trees and she lives only about thirty minutes away. This was the first she had heard of my grandmother and our family. She was a little cautious about meeting me, but by the time we went our separate ways two hours later we were fast friends.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Genealogy Serendipity Moment - Grandma Tessie's Books

Before my trip to Utah I mentioned in the blog that we hoped to retrieve a copy of a book written by Grandma Tessie during our overnight stay in Idaho. We got to the motel late in the evening and then played phone tag with our connecting person. The person still in Portland was trying to facilitate the exchange, but it was just not working out. Even though we were stopping over at the same place a week later, on our way home, the family was reluctant to provide access to the book. Finally it was agreed that another family member would make a copy and deliver it to Portland.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Pioneer Women - Are there any in your family tree?

Last week I was helping on a book project for our Family History Center and on Tuesday a staff member brought in some books to share. I looked through the books and was intriqued by the book, Pioneer Women, Voices From the Kansas Frontier by Joann l. Stratton. It was published in 1982, so some of you may have run across it. The author's story is also fascinating, as her great grandmother Lilla Day Monroe collected eight hundred stories of pioneer women who settled in Kansas. The author discovered them in filing cabinets in her mother's attic. I am not sure where the manuscripts of this collection are today, but they would be a genealogist's gold mine.

My attraction to the book is anchored in the story of the wife of my Civil War ancestor. She is not in the collection, but the book will help me to place her in a time and locality of predictable circumstances. Caroline Shuey married Samuel Reed on December 13, 1855 in Sasona, Carroll County, Illinois. She was seventeen and he was thirty-two. Her husband appears in the voter registration in Kansas on March 30, 1855, so it appears that he visited there before his marriage. Caroline gave birth to her first child Barbara Elmira Reed on November 4, 1856 in Brookville, Ogle County, Illinois, where her parents lived. The midwife was Christine Bouman.

In the 1860 US Census taken on July 11,  Samuel, Caroline and Elmira are living with another family in Owl Creek, Neosho Falls, Woodson County, Kansas. It would seem that they had not been there long. There are thirty-nine families living there at this time. By September 28, 1861 Samuel was enlisting in the US Army in Humboldt, Allen County, Kansas. Samuel enlisted again on January 16, 1862. He must have returned home for visits during this time as his second daughter was conceived about February 1863. Almira Louise Reed was born on October 14, 1863 in Humboldt. Her birth was overseen by Dr. George A. Miller, and was recorded in his record book that was in the possession of his estate. There are two unknown children based on the 1900 census and they could have born between the births of these two children. On October 6, 1864 Samuel died of dysentery at Little Rock, Arkansas and is buried there in the national cemetery. Caroline remarried to John Solomon Straw on May 27, 1869. He assumed guardianship of the two girls.

There is so much history to this time and locality. I am left in awe when I picture a young wife age twenty-seven, with two young daughters in a place like Humboldt. The drought of 1860 when thirty thousand people left Kansas and the remaining sixty thousand survived by miraculous intervention would have been enough for me. The town site of Humboldt was established on November 16, 1860 and there were about three hundred people and fifty buildings. At the outbreak of the Civil War most of the men went off to fight. In September 1861 the town was robbed and in October rebels burned it. Not much was left of the town and there was little protection for the inhabitants. So, what became of Caroline and her two little girls while Samuel was gone fighting?

Lately I have felt a need to pursue this puzzle. The piece I most want to know is when and where was Samuel born. In ordering Caroline's Civil War Widow's Pension File I learned much of what I have shared above. His birth was listed only as Northumberland, Pennsylvania. His Military Service File also did not provide any further information about his birth or parents. So, now I am looking for other records that may solve this question.

Recently I stumbled on the record of what appears to be his service in the Mexican War in which he enlisted on May 10, 1847 and mustered out on June 24, 1848. The physical descriptions of the two men are identical and they were both listed as carpenters. This man is listed as being born in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania.

Today I worked on land records from the website and found a land record for Caroline Reed and the heirs of Samuel Reed dated February 20, 1868, four years after he died. Does this mean she stayed in Kansas until this time or was the paperwork filed to settle the estate of Samuel? The bounty land warrant of Thomas Reeves for his service in the War of 1812 and his heirs is released to Samuel's heirs, seeming to indicate that this was finalizing the deed to the land ownership. It would seem that they occupied this land for several years prior to this date.

The work in glo records included the land in Ogle County, Illinois, with deeds for Samuel Reed. It appears that there is more than one Samuel Reed and this needs further study. As you can see it has been a full day of work on this family. I even did some sideways research on Caroline's sister Louisa. The last great discovery of the day was locating someone working on the family in the ancestry world tree project. Her latest entry was yesterday. I sent off an email in hopes of sharing our information.

My last piece of work was finding three microfilms from the Family History Library catalog on land and probate records in Allen County, Kansas. Maybe they will provide some of the further clues that I need. I think I should read the sixty-two page pension file and military service record again. New insight might help me understand things I previously overlooked.

This turned out much longer than I anticipated and I have veered off track some. That is the life of a genealogy researcher. I hope you are having as much fun as I am.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Genealogy Serendipity Moment - The Cole Family Violin

In 2005 my husband and I went on an east coast history trip. We had a stop over in Kansas City, Missouri and I have some Cole family relatives who live in South Sioux City, Nebraska, about a five-hour drive away. One of these relatives is a cousin to my mother and he had some family artifacts he wanted to share. My husband agreed to make this side trip to pick up the item we had been offered. We even stopped at the halfway point in Omaha to visit another relative. For some reason the drive always seems longer than one anticipates. We finally made it to South Sioux City and checked into a motel for the night. After calling the relatives to let them know we had arrived safely, we made plans to meet early the next morning.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Local Family History and Genealogy Learning Opportunities

Last Saturday I attended the Tualatin, Oregon Family History and Genealogy Fair focused on "Do You Know Who You Really Are?."  The featured speaker was Anastasia Sutherland Harmon. In her keynote address she discussed, "The Real Story of You." She also presented two classes on "Getting Started on" and "Family History & DNA 101." For syllabus material on all conference classes see the website at

Friday, August 5, 2011

Genealogy Serendipity Moment - The Tidd Family Violin

Today I would like to share with you the story of the Tidd family violin. My aunt by marriage, who is no longer married to my father's brother, has remained very close to our family. She has generously shared with me several of the Tidd family keepsakes, which my uncle received from my grandmother Zella Alice Straw Olsen whose mother was Lucy Cordila Tidd Straw. I am not sure why she did not pass them on to her own children, but she knows I have a love for family history.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

BYU Conference on Family History & Genealogy 2011

The 43rd Annual BYU Conference on Family History and Genealogy was a delightful experience for me. Now that I have been back in Oregon for two days I have somewhat recovered from the intense brain overload of so many classes in so many days. Even though I was exhausted when it was over, there was nothing that I would change. As I read through almost 400 emails (I took ten days off from my computer), I reflected back on the experiences and the renewal I feel from attending a conference with so many like minded genealogists. Susan Farrell Bankhead and James Tanner shared their gleanings from attending the conference in their blogs, and I enjoyed reading their comments. It was nice to read about the classes I could not attend. We all came away with a heightened sense of the rapid change of family history research and the tools that we work with.