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biography word cloud

In Extracting Data from a Biographical Sketch, I went through the steps I took in order to make the article found within a book easier to understand. In this post, I will focus on the data within the main paragraph of what I re-wrote complete with the sources of documentation.

 

Below is the paragraph to be analyzed:

JOHN GOUL was born in Union Township, Champaign County, Ohio in 1832 the second child of Christian Goul and Ruth Lawson. At the age of two or three, he moved with his parents to Mechanicsburg. He has lived in this township most of the time since then. Mr. Goul was reared as a farmer and remained at his parents’ home assisting with the duties of the farm until adulthood. In 1854 he married Susan F. Coffenbarger. During the Civil War, he was a soldier serving with the 134th Ohio Volunteer Infantry, most of the time on picket duty at the siege of Petersburg, Virginia. His pursuits include farming and stock-dealing and is a Republican. J. Goul is a member of the I.O.O.F. and for the last twenty years, a member of the M.E. Church. He has two farms under the best modern improvements. The farm that he lives on is of 150 acres and the other farm, located in Union Township, is 84 acres in size. John Goul’s wife, Susan, is a native of Maryland but has been a resident of Champaign County since she was nine years old. The couple had two sons and three daughters but two of the daughters have died.

 

In the first sentence, several pieces of information are given – name, birth place, birth year, and parents’ names. His name (John Goul) is documented in several records. There is a John Gowl (surname misspelled – but spelled phonetically) found living in the home of Christian and Ruth Gowl in Goshen Township, Champaign County, Ohio in the 1850 census. (1) On the State of Ohio death certificate John Goul’s father is listed as Christian Goul and his mother is listed as Ruth Lawson with Mrs. John Goul as the informant. John Goul’s birthdate reads February 6, 1832 with a birth place of Champaign County, Ohio. (2) The photograph of the headstone for John Goul on Find a Grave shows his date of birth as February 6, 1832. (3)

 

The second sentence tells the reader John Goul’s age when he moved with his parents from one township in Champaign County to another (Mechanicsburg). There isn’t any documentation for this; however, the following sentence indicating he lived primarily in Mechanicsburg for the rest of his life can be seen via the 1860/1870/1880/1900 censuses. (4,5,6,7)

 

No proof exists that John Goul remained at his parents home until he was an adult – or as the original biographical sketch says “until maturity” other than he was still living in his parents’ home in 1850 at the age of eighteen as indicated by the 1850 census.(1)

 

The next part concerns the date of marriage of John Goul and Susan Coffenbarger. In the Champaign County (Ohio) Marriage Records, Vol. E there is an entry that shows the couple was married in the Probate Court on September 26, 1834 by William C. Keller, JP. (8)

 

John Goul’s military service in the Civil War is documented in the United States Census of Union Veterans and Widows of the Civil War, 1890 showing that he served in the 134th Regiment Co. E of the Ohio Volunteer Infantry (National Guard). The census lists his length of service as 3 months and 25 days in the summer of 1864. (9) Even though Goul was not in the military very long, he did serve the entire time that the Regiment was active as Wikipedia states that it was “mustered in May 5, 1864 for 100 days service under the command of Colonel James B. Armstrong” and “mustered out of service at Camp Chase on August 31, 1864.” Furthermore, this reference notes that besides building roads early in the summer, the Regiment had “picket duty” in parts of Virginia which documents what was listed in the biography. (10) In the digital book found on Google, History of Champaign County, Ohio: Its People, Industries and Institutions, Volume 1 page 746, there is a reference to the action which reads, “The detail of one hundred and fifty men under Lieutenant-Colonel Todd moved back to camp on the night of June 14th. On that day General Grant had ordered General Butler to move against the rebels in front of Petersburg, and on June 15th and 16th, the One Hundred and Thirty Fourth Regiment was placed on picket duty along the breastworks.” (11) This lends credence to what Goul’s biography claims.

 

The next section lists John Goul’s interests and associations. The only documentation concerning his interest in farming is through the 1860/1870/1880 (4,5,6) censuses and his death certificate (2) which indicate his occupation was “farmer.”

 

The digitized book History of Champaign County, Ohio: Its People, Industries and Institutions, Volume 1 on page 644 mentions that the Wildly Lodge No. 271 of the I.O.O.F. in Mechanicsburg began in 1855 and also had stockholders. (12) So it is quite possible that John Goul was a member of the International Order of Odd Fellows as well as dabbled in stock-dealing although documentation to support that claim has not been located.

 

John Goul’s voting record as a Republican can only be found within this biography. He did not run for public office at any time so his political affiliation is not documented.

 

That Goul was a farmer is known via the aforementioned censuses however it is unknown what – if any – modern improvements had been made. In 1874, a land survey map shows that John had 40 acres in Union Township. His father, Christian, owned 272 acres. In order to find out if Christian willed land to John after his death in September 1879, Christian’s will needs to be examined. The will states that John gets 40 of those acres making a total of 80 acres in Union Township, 4 acres less than what the biography states. (13,14) There isn’t any records found that details what type of modern conveniences or equipment John Goul employed on his land. Interestingly enough, on the 1860 Census, Goul lists his real estate value as $1500 and his personal estate value as $400. Today, those amounts would translate to almost $43,000 and $11,500. (15) By the 1870 Census those amounts had jumped to $6000 and $850 respectively – and this is prior to being willed land by his father, Christian. The 1880 and 1900 censuses did not require this information to be listed. Based on the real estate values given, John Goul was doing pretty well. (4,5)

 

The final section of the paragraph concerns John Goul’s wife, Susan, and their children. Mrs. Goul’s birth place is noted as Maryland and was listed in the 1880 and1900 censuses (16,17) as well as her death certificate (18)  that her son, Walter was the informant. In the 1840 census there is a female age 5 and under living in the Jacob Cofferberger household in Frederick, Dorchester county, Maryland (presumably this would be Susan but can not be verified). (19) On the 1850 census, she is found living with her widowed mother, Elizabeth, in Union twp, age 13 and her birth place is listed as Virginia; (20) just as it is in the 1860 and 1870 census. (21,22) However, on the 1910 census Susan is living with her son, Walter (the informant on her death certificate) and her place of birth is listed as Ohio. (23) Due to the close proximity of Virginia and Maryland, it is quite possible that the family was living in one state when she was born in the other or the confusion could be due to the boundary change over the years. As far as the inaccuracy of the 1910 census, Walter’s wife could have provided the information and not known Susan’s place of birth, the census taker got “Ohio” happy while marking it down, or Susan had been in Ohio for so long that she considered it her place of birth by that time.

 

The biography mentions that John and Susan Goul had five children – two sons and three daughters but that two of the daughters had died. Their children were Martha T. Goul, George Frederick “Fred” Goul, Isabelle Ruth Goul, Parthena Frances Goul, and Walter S. Goul. The only child not listed in any census records is Martha T. Goul as she was born on September 3, 1855 and died a month later on October 9, 1955. Her existence only came to light recently due to a memorial and photo of gravestone on Find a Grave. (24) The other daughter who had died prior to the completion of the book containing the biography was Parthena Frances born on November 7, 1861 and died on October 16, 1870. (25) Her gravestone found on Find a Grave reads “Parthena F. dau of J. & S.F. Goul died Oct. 16, 1870 aged 8 yrs 11 mos 9 ds.” (26) Parthena was only in the 1870 census before she died. (27) George Frederick (“Fred”) is found in his parents’ household in the 1860 census at age 3 years, the 1870 census age 13 years and 1880 census age 23 years. (28,29,30) Isabelle Ruth is found in living with her parents at age one year in the 1860 census, at 11 years in the 1870 census, and age 19 years in the 1880 census. (31,32,33) Isabelle died on August 21, 1881 in Goshen Township. (34,35) Youngest child, Walter, was born on February 18, 1868 in Goshen Township. (36) He is living in his parents’ household on the 1870 census at age 2 and the 1880 census at age 12. (37,38)

 

In conclusion, most of the information in the biographical sketch can be verified. A few items are still in question such as the place of Susan Coffenbarger’s birth and John Goul’s interests and type of equipment on his farm. Taken as a complete whole, the biography is a good source of information but only with the appropriate and correct sources for documentation.

Sources:

 

  1. “United States Census, 1850,” index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/MX3J-YPC : accessed 15 Oct 2014), John Gowl in household of Christian Gowl, Goshen, Champaign, Ohio, United States; citing family 223, NARA microfilm publication M432.
  2. “Ohio, Deaths, 1908-1953,” index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/X8ZZ-5ZG : accessed 19 Sep 2014), John Goul, 11 Feb 1909; citing Goshen Twp., Champaign, Ohio, reference fn 59187; FHL microfilm 1927275.
  3. Find A Grave, database and images (http://findagrave.com : accessed 19 September 2014), memorial created by Candy; 1 May 2012; memorial page for John Goul (1832-1909), Find A Grave Memorial no. 89393223, citing Maple Grove Cemetery, Mechanicsburg, Champaign County, Ohio; the accompanying photograph by Candy provides a legible image of the transcribed data.
  4. 1860 U.S. census, Champaign, Ohio, Goshen, p. 180, dwelling 1181/family 1181, John Goul; digital image, ProQuest, HeritageQuest Online (access through participating libraries: accessed 19 September 2014); citing National Archives Microfilm M653, roll 942.
  5. 1870 year U.S. census, Champaign, Ohio, Goshen, p. 239, dwelling 280/family 300, John Goul; digital image, ProQuest, HeritageQuest Online (access through participating libraries: accessed 19 September 2014); citing National Archives Microfilm M593, roll 1179.
  6. 1880 year U.S. census, Champaign, Ohio, Goshen, enumeration district (ED) 19, p. 219, dwelling 89/family 95, John Gowl; digital image, ProQuest, HeritageQuest Online (access through participating libraries: accessed 19 September 2014); citing National Archives Microfilm T9, roll 998.
  7. 1900 U.S. census, Champaign, Ohio, Goshen, enumeration district (ED) 3, p. 32, dwelling 139/family 140, John Goul; digital image, ProQuest, HeritageQuest Online (access through participating libraries: accessed 19 September 2014); citing National Archives Microfilm T623, roll 1245.
  8. “Ohio, County Marriages, 1789-1997,” index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/XZK7-N7X : accessed 19 Sep 2014), John Goul and Susan F. Coffinbarger, 26 Sep 1854; citing Champaign, Ohio, United States, reference p 319 cn 6029; FHL microfilm 295229.
  9. “United States Census of Union Veterans and Widows of the Civil War, 1890″, index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/K83V-9RQ : accessed 15 Oct 2014), John Goul, 1890.
  10. Wikipedia contributors. “134th Ohio Infantry.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 21 Jul. 2012. Web. 15 Oct. 2014.
  11. Evan P. Middleton, History of Champaign County, Ohio: Its People, Industries and Institutions, Volume 1 (1917); p. 176; digital, (http://books.google.com). 14 Oct 2014.
  12. Evan P. Middleton, History of Champaign County, Ohio: Its People, Industries and Institutions, Volume 1 (1917); p. 644; digital, (http://books.google.com). 14 Oct 2014
  13. Atlas of Champaign County 1874, Union Township, published by Starr & Headington, 1874. Digitized by Historic Map Works Genealogy, Item No. US21861. Accessed 17 Sep 2014.
  14. “Ohio, Probate Records, 1789-1996,” images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1942-27593-4386-2?cc=1992421&wc=9GML-K6N:266279201,266876501 : accessed 17 Sep 2014), Champaign > Wills 1870-1882 vol D > image 2 of 340.
  15. Dave Manuel, “Inflation Calculator.” DaveManuel.com, 2014. Web. 15 Oct 2014.
  16. “United States Census, 1880,” index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/MZ1N-WHC : accessed 20 Sep 2014), Susan F Gowl in household of John Gowl, Goshen, Champaign, Ohio, United States; citing sheet 219A, NARA microfilm publication T9.
  17. “United States Census, 1900,” index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/MMC6-1MB : accessed 20 Sep 2014), Susan F Goul in household of John Goal, Goshen Township (excl. Mechanicburg), Champaign, Ohio, United States; citing sheet 7A, family 140, NARA microfilm publication T623, FHL microfilm 1241245.
  18. “United States Census, 1900,” index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/MMC6-1MB : accessed 15 Oct 2014), Susan F Goul in household of John Goal, Goshen Township (excl. Mechanicburg), Champaign, Ohio, United States; citing sheet 7A, family 140, NARA microfilm publication T623, FHL microfilm 1241245.
  19. “United States Census, 1840,” index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/XHYS-GYS : accessed 15 Oct 2014), Jacob Cofferberger, Frederick, Dorchester, Maryland; citing p. 132, NARA microfilm publication M704, roll 165, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C.; FHL microfilm 0013185.
  20. “United States Census, 1850,” index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/MX3V-3M3 : accessed 20 Sep 2014), Susan F Ceffenburger in household of Elizabeth Ceffenburger, Union, Champaign, Ohio, United States; citing family 60, NARA microfilm publication M432.
  21. “United States Census, 1860,” index, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/MCGD-GLK : accessed 20 Sep 2014), Susannah F Goul in household of John Goul, Goshen Township, Champaign, Ohio, United States; citing “1860 U.S. Federal Census – Population,” Fold3.com; p. 171, household ID 1181, NARA microfilm publication M653; FHL microfilm 803942.
  22. “United States Census, 1870,” index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/M6KD-MFH : accessed 20 Sep 2014), Susan F Goul in household of John Goul, Ohio, United States; citing p. 34, family 300, NARA microfilm publication M593, FHL microfilm 000552678.
  23. “Ohio, Deaths, 1908-1953,” index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/X8VH-PPY : accessed 20 Sep 2014), Susan Frances Goul, 27 Dec 1917; citing Springfield, Clark, Ohio, reference fn 75612; FHL microfilm 1984223.
  24. Find A Grave, database and images (http://findagrave.com : accessed 19 September 2014), memorial created by Candy; 1 May 2012; memorial page for Martha T Goul (1855-1855), Find A Grave Memorial no. 89394361, citing Maple Grove Cemetery, Mechanicsburg, Champaign County, Ohio; the accompanying photograph by Candy provides a legible image of the transcribed data.
  25. “Ohio, Deaths and Burials, 1854-1997,” index, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/F66Z-YPF : accessed 20 Sep 2014), Parthena Frances Goul, 16 Oct 1870; citing Goshen Tp, Champaign, Ohio, reference p 16 #84; FHL microfilm 295234.
  26. Find A Grave, database and images (http://findagrave.com : accessed 19 September 2014), memorial created by Candy; 1 May 2012; memorial page for Parthena F Goul (1861-1870), Find A Grave Memorial no. 89394278, citing Maple Grove Cemetery, Mechanicsburg, Champaign County, Ohio; the accompanying photograph by Candy provides a legible image of the transcribed data.
  27. “United States Census, 1870,” index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/M6KD-MF8 : accessed 20 Sep 2014), Parthena F Goul in household of John Goul, Ohio, United States; citing p. 34, family 300, NARA microfilm publication M593, FHL microfilm 000552678.
  28. “United States Census, 1860,” index, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/MCGD-GL2 : accessed 20 Sep 2014), George F Goul in household of John Goul, Goshen Township, Champaign, Ohio, United States; citing “1860 U.S. Federal Census – Population,” Fold3.com; p. 171, household ID 1181, NARA microfilm publication M653; FHL microfilm 803942.
  29. “United States Census, 1870,” index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/M6KD-MFC : accessed 15 Oct 2014), George F Goul in household of John Goul, Ohio, United States; citing p. 34, family 300, NARA microfilm publication M593, FHL microfilm 000552678.
  30. “United States Census, 1880,” index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/MZ1N-WHZ : accessed 15 Oct 2014), George F Gowl in household of John Gowl, Goshen, Champaign, Ohio, United States; citing sheet 219A, NARA microfilm publication T9.
  31. “United States Census, 1860,” index, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/MCGD-GLL : accessed 15 Oct 2014), Isabel Goul in household of John Goul, Goshen Township, Champaign, Ohio, United States; citing “1860 U.S. Federal Census – Population,” Fold3.com; p. 171, household ID 1181, NARA microfilm publication M653; FHL microfilm 803942.
  32. “United States Census, 1870,” index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/M6KD-MFZ : accessed 20 Sep 2014), Isabelle R Goul in household of John Goul, Ohio, United States; citing p. 34, family 300, NARA microfilm publication M593, FHL microfilm 000552678.
  33. “United States Census, 1880,” index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/MZ1N-WH8 : accessed 15 Oct 2014), Isabel R Gowl in household of John Gowl, Goshen, Champaign, Ohio, United States; citing sheet 219A, NARA microfilm publication T9.
  34. “Ohio, Deaths and Burials, 1854-1997,” index, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/F66Z-KZC : accessed 22 Aug 2013), Isabelle R Goul, 21 Aug 1881.
  35. Find A Grave, database and images (http://findagrave.com : accessed 19 September 2014), memorial created by Candy; 1 May 2012; memorial page for Isabelle Ruth Goul (1859-1880), Find A Grave Memorial no. 89394102, citing Maple Grove Cemetery, Mechanicsburg, Champaign County, Ohio; the accompanying photograph by Candy provides a legible image of the transcribed data.
  36. “Ohio, Births and Christenings, 1821-1962,” index, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/XX47-L52 : accessed 22 Aug 2013), Walter F. Goul, 18 Feb 1868.
  37. “United States Census, 1870,” index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/M6KD-MFD : accessed 15 Oct 2014), Walter Goul in household of John Goul, Ohio, United States; citing p. 34, family 300, NARA microfilm publication M593, FHL microfilm 000552678.
  38. “United States Census, 1880,” index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/MZ1N-WHD : accessed 15 Oct 2014), Walter S Gowl in household of John Gowl, Goshen, Champaign, Ohio, United States; citing sheet 219A, NARA microfilm publication T9.

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biography word cloud
County histories that include biographical sketches can provide a wealth of information; however, caution must be taken. These biographies were generally provided by the subject so any information, especially about their parents or grandparents, may not be accurate especially if the person being interviewed didn’t know the facts. Generally, the location is listed as part of the book’s title. The date of first publication is also needed in order to put a biography in a historical context. Many of the biographical sketches in my files contain data about previous generations within the text of their own story. If I had not been meticulous in extracting data, I could have become quite confused. Below I have provided a biographical sketch and shown my steps for extracting the information.

John Goul Biography

At first glance, this entire piece seems to be related to the subject at the very beginning of the paragraph: John Goul. Let’s take this step by step.

John Goul Biography names highlighted

First, call out each person’s name. In my example above I made each name bold with a different font color. On paper or on in word processing software, you can do this by highlighting or underlining each name. The names within this biography are: John Goul, Christian Goul, Ruth (Lawson) Goul, J.R. Ware, Thomas Lawson, Adam Goul, Elizabeth Leetz, and Susan F. Coffenbarger – a total of eight!

John Goul Biography colored

Then, keeping the paragraph intact, I highlighted the part that pertained to each person. On a portion that was about a person listed before but did not include a name, I entered the name in red bold faced font enclosed in parenthesis.

john goul biography bulleted

Next, I took each highlighted section and made it into a bulleted list for each subject named within that paragraph.

john goul biography bulleted color

Now it’s time to combine each person’s facts together so they aren’t spread out over more than one bulleted list. I did this in the example above. I took all the facts relating to John Goul (subject of the sketch) and combined them into one bulleted list. In areas where the name of person wouldn’t be clear, I added that in red bold italics and underlined it.

Finally, it is time to create an easier to read biography from the facts culled out in the previous examples. The book’s name is The History of Champaign County, Ohio by W.H. Beers & Co.; Chicago; 1881. This is how a restructured biography about John Goul would read:

JOHN GOUL was born in Union Township, Champaign County, Ohio in 1832 the second child of Christian Goul and Ruth Lawson. At the age of two or three, he moved with his parents to Mechanicsburg. He has lived in this township most of the time since then. Mr. Goul was reared as a farmer and remained at his parents’ home assisting with the duties of the farm until adulthood. In 1854 he married Susan F. Coffenbarger. During the Civil War, he was a soldier serving with the 134th Ohio Volunteer Infantry, most of the time on picket duty at the siege of Petersburg, Virginia. His pursuits include farming and stock-dealing, and in politics he is a Republican. J. Goul is a member of the I.O.O.F. and for the last twenty years, a member of the M.E. Church. He has two farms under the best modern improvements. The farm that he lives on is of 150 acres and the other farm, located in Union Township, is 84 acres in size. John Goul’s wife, Susan, is a native of Maryland but has been a resident of Champaign County since she was nine years old. The couple had two sons and three daughters but two of the daughters have died.

Mr. Goul’s father, Christian Goul, was born on September 6, 1804 in Rockbridge County, Virginia to Adam Goul and Elizabeth Leetz. He moved from Virginia to Champaign County with his parents when he was thirteen years old. Christian Goul was a shoemaker by trade and a farmer by occupation and contributed his life’s labors to the development and improvement of Champaign County. C. Goul was married Ruth Lawson in March 1828 by J.R. Ware who officiated their wedding. They celebrated their golden wedding anniversary in March 1878. John Goul’s father, Christian, died on his 75th birthday, September 6, 1879. John had two brothers and four sisters, all off whom are still living.

Mr. Goul’s mother, Ruth Lawson, was the daughter of Thomas Lawson, who came from Pennsylvania to Ohio in an early day and two years following the move, became a pioneer of Champaign County. Mr. Lawson located on the same land where John Goul now lives.

Mr. Goul’s grandfather, Adam Goul, was a native of Germany and came to America in an early day. He and Elizabeth Leetz were married in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. During the Revolutionary War, Adam Goul was a teamster. He was a shoemaker by trade and was careful to teach each of his four sons, including Mr. Goul’s father, Christian, the same trade.

Mr. Goul’s grandmother, Elizabeth Leetz, was a native of Germany, just as her husband.

In the next installment, I’ll pick this biography apart even more in order to determine the facts when it comes to research.

 

(In some of the examples, the date of Christian and Ruth Goul’s golden wedding anniversary is listed at 1879 – erroneously – instead of 1878 – that was an error on my part but after creating images, I wasn’t going to go back and fix all the images!)

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train

Not too long ago, I read a Facebook status (and I’m sorry but I don’t remember who it was) that mentioned their ancestors had traveled less than 50 miles over several generations. The revelation prompted me to think about how many miles my ancestors traveled before landing at the place they called home until they died.

Instead of going back many, many generations, I will begin with my maternal 2nd great-grandparents.

emanuelstern_nancy

Emanuel Bushong Stern b. 7 Oct 1834 in Montgomery county, Ohio. Nancy Caylor b. 10 May 1840 in Wayne county, Indiana.  Emanuel had traveled approximately 105 miles from his birthplace in Ohio. Nancy had traveled about 68 miles from her birthplace. The family remained in Hamilton county. After my 2nd great-grandparents divorced, Emanuel traveled to Yale, Nebraska to visit one of their children and was found living there in the 1910 census. He traveled (probably by train) about 787 miles.  Nancy died (21 Dec 1900) in the same county that she had lived with her husband. Emanuel was buried (after 10 Sep 1911)  in Hamilton county so he (or his remains) had to travel back from 787 miles to Hamilton county, Indiana.

isrealwilt

Israel Isaac Wilt b. 20 Jan 1823 in Rockingham county, Virginia was in Prairie township, Henry county, Indiana by the time of his marriage to Christena Nash on 2 Feb 1857. He had traveled about 503 miles traveling through Pennsylvania and Ohio. Christena was b. 1837 in (probably) Beaver county, Pennsylvania. She had traveled with her family 316 miles.  They lived in Henry county the rest of their lives. Israel died 11 Sep 1919 and Chrstena died 18 Aug 1876.

joewiltfamily

The Stern’s daughter, Martha Jane Stern, b. 9 Feb 1872 in Clarksville, Hamilton county, Indiana married Joseph Napolean Wilt (b. 21 Jan 1868) on 10 Sep 1890 in the same county both were born. By the 1910 census, Martha and Joseph were divorced and she was remarried and living in Anderson, Madison county, Indiana – 29 miles away. By 1923, Martha and her second husband, William Frank Clawson, moved 2,257 miles away to Lane county, Oregon. Both of them died in Oregon and were buried in Leaburg. Joseph Wilt. By 9 Jan 1944, when Joseph died, he was living near Nabb, Indiana – about 102 miles from his birthplace.

My other sets of great-great-grandparents (ancestors of my grandfather) were James Wilson Johnson b. 16 Aug 1829 and Amanda Evaline Mullis b. 1833 and Franklin Blazer b. 2 Jun 1836 and Malissa Goul b. 17 Oct 1832.

James Wilson Johnson, I think

 

James W. Johnson was born in Brown county, Ohio and by the 1850 census, he had moved to 137 miles away to Rush county, Indiana. Amanda was born in Wilkes county, North Carolina and had traveled with her parents and family to Rush county, Indiana – 519 miles. Amanda d. 21 Mar 1868 in Rush county. After her death, James moved around, reportedly through Howard county, Indiana and finally settling in Anderson, Indiana – a little over 40 miles away. 

malissa_blazer

Franklin Blazer was probably born in Madison county, Indiana and stayed in that county until he passed away on 27 Aug 1873. Malissa was born in Union, Champaign county, Ohio and by the time she married Franklin before 1859, she was living in Pendleton, Madison county, Indiana – a little over 125 miles away.

johnson_john_katie

The Johnson’s son, John Lafayette Johnson, and the Blazer’s daughter, Katie J. Blazer married on 4 Jul 1883. John was b. 2 Mar 1861 in Rush county, Indiana. Katie was b. 27 Sep 1864 in Stony Creek, Madison county, Indiana. By the time of their marriage, John was living close to her. They remained in Anderson, Indiana – 40 miles from John’s birth and 9 miles from Katie’s birth until 1930 when they moved to Greene county, Ohio to live with their son (my grandfather). That move took them 109 miles from their home. Following each of their deaths, they were buried back in Anderson, Indiana.

glen_vesta_friends

My grandparents, Glen Roy Johnson b. 21 Nov 1898 and Vesta Christena Wilt b. 7 May 1898, were both born in Indiana. He was born in Anderson, and she was born in Noblesville. When her mother and stepfather moved 29 miles away to Anderson, she was still young.  After they were married on 24 Dec 1916, the couple moved 109 miles away to Fairfield, Ohio (the town merged with Osborn and became Fairborn many years later). As my grandfather was in the military, he was at Ft. Omaha in Nebraska; Kelly Field in San Antonio, France during WWI; Wiesbaden, Germany during the early 1950s; and by the time they returned to the states and my grandfather retired from the US Air Force, they lived on Devonshire in Dayton, Ohio. So even though they had traveled over 4200 miles and then some, they moved 18 miles away from Fairborn. When I was a baby and small child, they had moved to a home on Rahn Road in Kettering – 14 miles away. Before my grandmother died 19 Jan 1984 they had spent many years living 9 miles away at the Park Layne Apartments at 531 Belmonte Park in Dayton. After my grandmother’s death, my grandfather moved almost 13 miles away to the Trinity Home on Indian Ripple Road in Beavercreek, Ohio. He was there at the time of his death on 18 Jan 1985.

mom

My mom, Mary Helen Johnson, was born in Anderson, Indiana and moved with her parents 109 miles away to Fairfield, Ohio when she was very young. She remained there until she married my dad in 1943. They moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin (close to 400 miles away) before moving to Great Falls, Montana – about 1300 miles away. My dad was in the military, and they moved to Japan and back twice – over 6500 miles from Columbus, Ohio. In fact my mom drove my brother and sister from Dayton to Washington to catch the ship for Japan the first time they moved to Japan – a trip of over 2300 miles – very lengthy for a young woman with two little kids in 1953. By the time they returned to the states for the final time, they moved to Panama City, Florida – about 780 miles from Dayton. In 1960, they moved back to Ohio and bought a house in Beavercreek. This was the same house my mom lived in until 1977 when she moved a little over 5 miles away to the town home she lived in for the remainder of her life. (My father is still living so I will not disclose all the places he has lived.)

Below is a list of how far my ancestors traveled in order from who lived (and/or) died at a location farthest from their birthplace to the shortest distance:

  • Martha Jane Stern – 2246 miles
  • Amanda Evaline Mullis - 519 miles
  • Israel Isaac Wilt – 503 miles
  • Christena Nash – 316 miles
  • James Wilson Johnson – 190 miles
  • Malissa Goul - 125 miles
  • Glen Roy Johnson - 115 miles
  • Mary Helen Johnson - 115 miles
  • Vesta Christena Wilt - 113 miles
  • Katie J Blazer - 113 miles
  • Emanuel Bushong Stern – about 105 miles
  • Joseph Napolean Wilt – 102 miles
  • John Lafayette Johnson - 95 miles
  • Nancy Caylor – 68 miles
  • Franklin Blazer - less than 5 miles

According to Wikipedia, History of Indiana, the “state’s population grew to exceed one million” by the 1850s, and several of my ancestors had either made their way to Indiana or were born there. My Wilt/Nash great-great-grandparents likely traveled over the National Road in their westward migration from Virginia and Pennsylvania to Indiana. The Mullis family would have likely traveled by wagon through the wilderness to either the Cumberland Gap/Wilderness Road or to the National Road to get to Indiana.

There were probably several reasons for my ancestors to move north and west – better economy, more fertile farming land, more opportunities, and different political and social climates.

Though my maternal roots run deep in Indiana, I am partial to the state of my birth – Ohio. Even then, I didn’t stay there to live, work, marry and raise a family. I moved over 1000 miles away! Just as my ancestors left the places of their birth in search of something better, that is what I did. I moved (and stayed) due to job opportunities and warmer climate.

Have you tracked your ancestors?

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52ancestors

Amy Johnson Crow, of No Story Too Small issued a challenge to the geneablogging world recently: to write a blog post weekly on one ancestor. This could be a photo, a story, biography, etc. To read her challenge please go to Challenge: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks.  As I had mentioned in my previous post, I’m hoping to write about one ancestor a month; however, I want to start now while I have a moment.

Franklin Blazer is my second great-grandfather on my maternal side. He was born on June 2, 1836. The only source I have for this is his gravestone. When he died he was 33 years old 2 months 23 days. He died on August 25, 1869 and once again, the only source is the date on his gravestone. Some reports indicate he was born in Ohio and others in Indiana. I believe he was born in Indiana to parents John Blazer and Mary Ann Nelson. He was the oldest of five. Following him in the family were Elizabeth born in 1837; John P. born in 1840; Mary Jane born in 1842; and George W. born in 1844. Franklin’s siblings were all born in Indiana.

Franklin married Melissa Goul between 1855 and 1859. I have not located a marriage record in Indiana or Ohio. Melissa was born in Ohio and moved to Indiana after the census of 1850. Melissa’s oldest son (of which she was a single mother in an age when that wasn’t at all common) was born in 1855 in Indiana. Franklin and Melissa’s oldest child, John F., was born September 17, 1859. The couple went on to have several more children: Martha Ann born in 1860, Philip Wesley born in 1862, Katie J (my great-grandmother) born in 1864, and Rachel born in 1867.

By the time Rachel was not quite two, Franklin passed away from unknown causes. I can not find the family in the 1860 Census so I don’t know where they were living. Franklin is buried in Grovelawn Cemetery in Pendleton, Indiana.

My research challenges for Franklin Blazer include gathering source information on his place of birth, finding a marriage record for him and Melissa, making an exhaustive search of the 1860 Census in order to make sure I’m just not “seeing” them, locating any news articles surrounding Franklin or Melissa, locating any land records or deeds for Franklin, and locating any documents concerning his death – especially a will.

My relationship to Franklin: Franklin & Melissa (Goul) Blazer > Katie J (Blazer) & John Lafayette Johnson > Glen Roy & Vesta Christena (Wilt) Johnson > my mom who married my dad > me.

Image from Amy Johnson Crow at No Story Too Small

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The USA Today article, Orphan Train Riders, Offspring Seek Answers About Heritage, (posted 25 Jan 2012) by Judy Keen, describes the search that descendents of those who rode the Orphan Trains in the early 20th century find themselves on. They want to find out more about those train riders, their parents, siblings, and heritage. Even some of the Orphan Train riders themselves are searching.

While researching my own family history, I came across two brothers who rode the train from New York until they arrived in Columbus, Kansas and were adopted by James William Goul (my maternal grandfather’s relatives). J.W. Goul was born in Ohio about 1839 to John and Martha (McManaway) Goul.  James William was the 2nd to youngest brother of my 2nd great-grandmother (Malissa Goul). He married Mary McAdams (b. 16 Sep 1840) and they had Martha E. and George Edward Goul. Before 1894, the family moved to Cherokee County, Kansas.

The Star-Courier newspaper of Columbus, Kansas of June 21, 1894 mentioned that two young brothers who did not want to be separated from each other were taken by “one kind hearted man.”  These two brothers were Matthew and Clarence Brown of New York.  Matthew was born about 1887 and Clarence was about 3 years younger.  Both reported on the 1910 Census that their parents were born in Italy.    

Discovering there were Orphan Train riders in the family history, led me to find out more about these children and the reasons they were sent from New York to other parts of the country.  The short version of the “why?” includes the fact that these children were abandoned or orphaned so the Children’s Aid Society and New York Foundling Hospital decided these children needed homes somewhere else.  Children were sent to Canada and the other 47 states. Some were adopted while others were foster children. Others were made to be “servants” to whomever chose them.  Children were picked the same way that slaves had been a century earlier – checking their muscles, sturdiness, and temperament. Some were loved dearly while others were beat constantly.

There are many places on the internet to read the history and stories of the Orphan Train movement including: Orphan Train History (has many links included), Children’s Aid Society, PBS Documentary, Iowa GenWeb Orphan Train project, Orphan Trains of Kansas, and Adoption History: Orphan Trains. There are some videos: Orphan Train in Michigan and Orphan Train Movie (1979).

With all of the newly digitized records on free and subscription databases, I sincerely hope that the descendents of the “riders” will find the answers they so desperately seek.  Perhaps they will be the recipients of Genealogical Acts of Kindness!

Do you have Orphan Train riders in your family? Have you learned about where they came from? Did they remember their background and parents? Were they treated like members of the family upon their “adoption” or was their life very difficult?  And what about the family they left behind or were torn from? What is their story?

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Roma Goul – that is!  I wrote this post on December 8, 2008 about my search for her. She was a cousin of my maternal grandfather. My information about her was very limited – approximate birth year and place, siblings and parents. After the 1910 census, when she was 6 years old, I couldn’t locate her.

Thanks to new records added to the Family Search Labs, I found her in the Illinois Deaths and Stillbirths, 1916-1947.  Roma Dell Goul was listed as having died in Chenoa, McLean County, Illinois on December 7, 1938 as the wife of Raymond Herman.  Her residence was listed as Jackson County, Michigan so she must have been in Illinois for some reason – perhaps visiting someone.  Her birthdate is listed as January 15, 1904. 

From that record I searched for Raymond Herman in any of the other databases and found their marriage record in Michigan Marriages, 1868-1925.  They were married on September 4, 1920 in Jackson County, Michigan.  Roma’s birthdate is listed as 1900 and her age as 20, however the 1910 Census and her death record is in disagreement with this.  I believe Roma’s birthdate and age were “fudged” so that she could marry 25 year old Raymond.  She would only have been 16 years old on her wedding day.

I have yet to discover if there were any children born to the couple or why Roma went to Michigan from Ohio.  I do know her older sister, Geraldine, lived in Jackson, Michigan at one time.

I will keep searching for more information on Roma and Raymond!

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Last fall while I was looking at and for headstone photos and entries on Find A Grave, I decided to put in a request for photos of my great-grandparents’ graves in Pendleton, Indiana. A very kind lady answered my request immediately. Not only did she take photos of the graves of Melissa (Goul) and Frank Blazer but several of Melissa Goul’s family members. She also went to the library and dug up some information to send to me.

A Pendleton newspaper account from October 1873 mentioned that my 2nd g-grandfather, John Blazer (father of the Franklin Blazer from above), died on August 27, 1873 being between 69 and 70 years old. Remarks by family members that were overheard by John’s brother, Samuel Blazer, caused him to approach the coroner, G.W. Maynard, with his suspicions that John was poisoned. The newspaper did not reveal the first name of the Blazer who Samuel accused. That accusation led the coroner to request an exhumation of John’s remains. After which the contents of the stomach were sent away for testing. At some point later, another Pendleton newspaper account mentioned that no poison had been found. The officials did have a problem though – who was going to pay the $350 for the doctor’s bill?

Analysis: The information giving the name of Samuel as the brother of John Blazer was one more piece of corroboration that I had been researching the “correct” Blazer family.

Another Pendleton newspaper article dated September 25, 1903 reported that Franklin’s brother, George Blazer, committed suicide by ingesting poison.  (Note: the article has misspelled the surname as “Blazier” – however, even my maternal grandfather, whose mother’s maiden name was Blazer, often spelled her relatives’ names with an “i”.)  This article gave several pertinent pieces of information:

  • George’s residence: 610 West 12th Street in Pendleton, Indiana.
  • Past occupation: Drayman.
  • Character: he had taken to drinking “hard” and become despondent.
  • He was married and had “several” children.

Apparently, as reported, George had purchased 10 cents’ worth of carbolic acid from a drug store after he had gone to the meat market for steaks.  It was also mentioned that he had threatened suicide a number of times due to his despondency.  On the day of the suicide, he and his son had an argument while his wife went to cook the steaks.  It was during the disagreement that he took out the bottle and “threw the acid down his throat before he could be prevented.”  The dr. was called right away but George could not be saved.

Documented information about George:

  • George is 5 years old, living in his parents’ household (John and Mary Ann Blazer) in the 1850 US Census.  They are residing in Fall Creek, Madison County, Indiana.  The record shows that George attended school within the year.
  • In the 1860 US Census he is found at age 14 living in his parents’ household (John and Mary A. Blazer) in Fall Creek Twp, Madison County, Indiana and had been in school within the past year.
  • The 1870 US Census shows G.W. Blazer living in Anderson Twp, Madison County, Indiana.  He is age 26, a Farmer, lists a value of real estate as $1200 but nothing for personal estate, born in Indiana, and a male citizen age 21 years or over.  Living in the household are wife Amanda, daughters E.J. and M.M., son J.W., and three other people (M. Judd, A.M. Judd, and Jas Webb).
  • Two headstones in Grovelawn Cemetery in Madison County, Indiana list sons of G.W. and Amanda Blazer.  One is for John W. Blazer who died on December 24, 1874 age 4 years, 10 months, 6 days.  The other is for James Albert Blazer who died on June 3, 1876.
  • The family is still residing in Anderson, Madison County, Indiana for the 1880 US Census.  George W. Blazer is 35 and married.  His listed occupation is Teamster.  Also in the household is wife, Amanda, daughters Estella and Margaret, and a boarder, William Caton. 
  • In the 1900 US Census, George Blazer continues to reside in Anderson, Madison County, Indiana.  He is 55 years old and lists his birth as Sep 1844 in Indiana.  He has been married 37 years.  His occupation is Day Laborer but he has been unemployed for 2 months.  His wife Amanda lists her birth as March 1845, age 55, mother of 4 with only one surviving.  Also in their household is their grandson, Willie, age 15 born June 1884 in Indiana.  He is also a day laborer but had been unemployed for 3 months.
  • His headstone is located in Grovelawn Cemetery in Pendleton, Madison County, Indiana.

A Pendleton newspaper (handwritten on the copy was 7-30-97) lists the account of the suicide of John Blazer.  He was the oldest son of Franklin and Melissa, born on September 17, 1859.  He married Sarah Manis on January 2, 1897 in Madison County, Indiana.  The newspaper account states that his wife sent a telegram from Knighstown, Indiana – where they resided – to a family named “Lawson” that “Johnny shot and killed himself” that morning.  The short article concludes with the information that he was “well known.  He was an erratic fellow” and had “considerable trouble in court.”

Documented evidence for John Blazer:

  • He was listed in the 1870 US Census living in his mother’s household (who was a widow by then), in Fall Creek Township, Madison County, Indiana at age 11.  He was listed as born in Indiana.
  • At age 21 he is still living in Melissa’s household in the 1880 US Census in Stony Creek Township, Madison County, Indiana with his birth listed as Indiana.  His occupation is a farmer.
  • The index to the Marriage Record of Madison County for the years 1880-1920 lists the marriage of John F. Blazier (notice the “i” in the surname again) to Sarah E. Manis as January 2, 1897 on page 352 of book 6.
  • His headstone is located in Grovelawn Cemetery in Pendleton, Madison County, Indiana.

Observation: John and Sarah were married not quite 7 months when he committed suicide.  No children were born of this union.

It is very sad that two members of this family chose to end their lives rather than face whatever caused them such turmoil and despair and a third member was thought to have been poisoned by another family member.  I often wonder what circumstances surrounded this branch of the Blazer family that created such suspicions and desperation.

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