This Saturday I will be attending my very first genealogy seminar! I’m looking forward to being with other genealogists and experiencing what several of my genea-friends have experienced. There are some in the field who are considered “rock stars” – the ones who speak at conferences all over the country and have a wealth of knowledge to share. One such “rock star” is Judy G. Russell. She is known as the Legal Genealogist. Judy’s blog of the same name (Legal Geanealogist) is full of useful information on copyrights, laws from year’s past, and other helpful hints. If you are a family historian, you must read Judy’s blog. I’ve also been Facebook friends with Judy for several years. Finally, on Saturday I will get to hear her presentations and meet her in person at the Midwest Genealogy Center Spring Seminar.
Today’s #GenealogyPhotoaDay theme is “Cousins.” This is my maternal grandmother’s side of the family. The Wilt cousins met in Indiana on April 29, 1977 (where most of them lived) for this photo.
Left to right standing: the caption says “Eva” but I believe it is Dortha Zirkle McDonnell, Helen Zirkle Lynam, Russell Weiss, Glen R Johnson (my maternal grandfather); seated beginning in center moving clockwise: Edith Pierce Taylor, Eva Zirkle Weiss, Freda Pierce Franklin, Nellie Wilt Lilly (my great-aunt), Vesta C Wilt Johnson (my maternal grandmother), and Hurchell McDonnell.
Eva May Zirkle was a first cousin to my grandmother – Vesta C (Wilt) Johnson. Eva was the daughter of Mary Lou Wilt and Dillman Zirkle. She was born May 10, 1904 in Henry county, Indiana; married Russell Weiss on April 27, 1929 and died December 2, 1999. Helen Zirkle was Eva Zirkle’s younger sister. She was born December 20, 1910 in Middletown, Indiana; married Carl Lynam on January 12, 1935, and died January 22, 2004. Freda Elizabeth Pierce was my grandmother’s 1c1r (1st cousin one time removed). She was the daughter of Bertha Hofherr and Kenneth Pierce and granddaughter of Sarah C Wilt and John Hofherr. Freda was born Oct 23, 1918 in Salem, Indiana; married Harley Franklin on Oct 23, 1937, and died on July 16, 2013. Edith Ethel Pierce was Freda’s older sister. She was born on September 7, 1916 in Salem, Indiana; married Henry Arnold Taylor on September 12, 1936, and died February 6, 1994. My grandmother’s sister, Nellie M (Wilt) Lilly was also in town from Olympia, Washington for this event. The man listed as “Hurschul” – I believe was the husband of Dortha Zirkle (sister of Eva and Helen). (I am not positive but I believe the woman standing at the left was really Dortha and not “Eva” as marked.) Dortha was born on June 12, 1891; married Lawrence Pittsford on April 20, 1912. After he died in 1964, Dortha married Hurchell McDonnell on September 2, 1965. Dortha died on January 24, 1979.
The Wilt cousins had a reunion once a year and for many years it was held in Noblesville, Indiana. In the 1980s, the reunion was once held at my grandparents’ Dayton, Ohio apartment building in the party room and pool and once at my brother’s home outside of Dayton, Ohio. At least one other time during the year, my grandparents would travel from Dayton to Indiana to visit Wilt cousins or some of them even came to Dayton. I am thankful that I remember the reunions – even though I wasn’t old enough or appreciative enough to want to listen to stories then!
If you are on Instagram, you can follow genealogyphoto to participate in the Genealogy Photo a Day challenge (#genealogyphotoaday). My genealogy Facebook friend, Susan Peterson, also has her’s posted on Facebook. Recently, she posted a list of daily themes. Since I don’t have instagram anymore on my phone (due to storage space), I thought I would post the photos here on the blog.
Today’s theme is “Siblings” – so I will start with my dad’s side. The photo above is my paternal grandparents – Lloyd and Ella (House) Amore – with all seven of their living children (the youngest daughter was stillborn). Left to right standing: Norman, Gail, Bervil, Paul, Eugene (my dad); seated: Gertrude, Lloyd, Ella, and Marie. Even though my grandparents died before I was born, I was fortunate to know all of my paternal aunts and uncles.
This photo was taken in 1939 and is of my maternal grandparents, Glen and Vesta (Wilt) Johnson, and their three surviving children. Left to right: Glen Roy Jr, Genevieve, Vesta, Mary (my mom), and Glen Roy Sr. My mother had a baby sister, Lois Evelyn, who was born premature and died at about 6 weeks of age. My Aunt Genevieve died three years before I was born yet through the stories of my grandparents, my mom, and my cousins, I feel that I do know her.
Tomorrow’s theme: Cousins
Happy New Year to you, my readers! Our family has entered 2017 with several wonderful things happening! The first I can share – our oldest daughter and her husband moved closer to us! Instead of 9-11 hours away, they are now only 90 minutes away! I will wait awhile to share with you our other exciting news.
This past year was a very good one in terms of research. I took the AncestryDNA test and connected with several close and distant cousins. I also uploaded my DNA to FamilyTreeDNA, GedMatch, MyHeritage, Geni.com and DNA Land. Then via documents and DNA I knocked down a couple of brick walls. I completed all the forms and gathered the documentation in order to join my local tent for Daughters of Union Veterans, 1861-1865! The highlight of 2016 was my two week genealogy road trip (which I blogged about previously).
Do you make goals or resolutions as the New Year begins? I think I stopped making resolutions when I was a teenager. As a genealogist, I do make goals related to my family history research. This year, I want to focus on making sure I have clear documentation for information entered into my Family Tree database. I also want to list my sources so I’ll know exactly where the information came from.
My grandson and I finished gathering everything together in order to check out of the motel in Anderson, Indiana on the morning of July 18. He went to get a rolling cart so we wouldn’t have to make more than one trip from the room to the car and back. One final look around, and we were out the door to complete the final day of our trip before reaching home later that evening. I pushed open the door to get to the car and stopped – it was pouring down rain! Several things ran through my mind: I have to get gas in the rain; it is still dark and won’t be daylight for awhile; and I don’t know what drivers are like in the rain in Indiana. It really didn’t matter – we had to get back on the road if we wanted to be in Springfield, Illinois as early as we could.
By daylight, the rain had dwindled to sprinkles. We moved right along into Illinois. At one point, the rain came down so hard and fast that the wind blew it sideways. I was having a difficult time seeing the lanes of the highway plus so much water on the road made it difficult to navigate. I kept telling my grandson that I needed to get off the road. Finally, I saw an exit with a sign reading “Gas.” If you have ever heard my story about finding a gas station in Illinois, you know where this is going already! (Many years ago when my youngest daughter was about 4, we needed to find a restroom quickly and followed a sign reading “Gas” for about 10 miles before realizing it was a joke – not really, but we never found a gas station. My husband always said it was the only way for Illinois to get people to live there – to confuse them enough until they stay!) Anyhow – I made sure I followed the directions to where “gas” would be located and drove at least five miles or more down a narrow road off the highway. In the distance, I saw a water tower and knew a town would be there. Sure enough, itty bitty town with its lone gas station was right there. With no parking, I just pulled beside a gas pump. Time for restroom break and then to get snacks and something to drink. By the time we walked back outside, the rain was gone!
Onward toward Springfield! That place has been on my list for quite awhile and even more so after our stop there in the summer of 2008. We missed the tour of Lincoln’s home, and the tomb at Oak Ridge Cemetery was closed in order to make ready for Lincoln’s bicentennial birthday celebration. This time, I wanted to get to the home tour early enough in order to get on the list before the day grew late.
If you have been to Springfield, you are aware that you must pay for parking before entering the visitor center. Unfortunately, it isn’t easy to predict how long the tour or the wait will be so that is like fortune-telling. I decided that we wouldn’t be there longer than two hours no matter what and paid for parking. Luckily, we arrived five minutes before we needed to meet our tour group in one of the historic buildings by the Lincoln house.
Since the home and the other buildings there are part of the National Park system, a Park Ranger led our tour. He was entertaining and knowledgeable. If there was one thing we all learned – keep your hands and feet on the blue carpet! Word of advice – if you can get away with carrying your money/license/credit cards in a pocket – do so. At least take a small purse with a strap to put over you. You can not lean on or bump the walls in the Lincoln home with your body, hands, purse, or objects. That is how they can keep it preserved. After the initial instructions, we were ready to enter the building.
Abraham Lincoln is my favorite president. I am still learning more and more about the man and his presidency. So to stand in the same rooms where he and his family lived, was awe inspiring for me.
Scenes in the photo (above): the front of the home and front door; the front parlor where Lincoln found out that he had secured the nomination for President in 1860; the dining room table and the sideboard; the stove in the kitchen; the kitchen table; the fireplace in the sitting room; the carpeting in the sitting room; Abraham Lincoln’s bedroom with his bed, wash basin and writing desk; Mary Todd Lincoln’s bedroom; Robert Lincoln’s bedroom; Willie and Tad’s bedroom; the hired girl’s room; and the apple tree in the back yard. I do believe that the wallpaper in Lincoln’s bedroom would have kept me awake all night!
My grandson in front of Lincoln house
In the Charles Arnold house located across the street from the Lincoln’s, we were able to see displays of items found on the Lincoln property; architecture and building material information; portraits of Mary and Abraham; a diorama of the Lincoln house; campaign banners; campaign medals; and other items. The Visitor’s Center also had a diorama of the streets and buildings of Old Springfield.
Since the tour of the home doesn’t take very long, once we were finished looking at the displays in the Arnold house, we had plenty of time before we had to get the car out of the parking lot. We walked along the historic roads, and I captured photos of the homes.
Descriptions of the homes from left to right, top to bottom are as follows. The Allen Miller house was built in the mid-1850s and is named for the Allen Miller family who lived in the home after 1860. The Dean house was the home of Mrs. Harriet Dean and her son, Frederick. The Charles Corneau house was built about 1849. The Henson Lyon family rented the house in the early 1860s from Lemuel Ide. The Dubois house was built about 1858 and the Jesse Dubois family resided there until 1864. The Henson Robinson house was built about 1859-1860. The Sprigg house was the residence for Mrs. Julia Sprigg, a friend of Mary Lincoln, from 1853 until 1869. The Beedle house – named after William Beedle – was built about 1841. The final house was built in the early 1850s and was rented by Mrs. Sarah Cook, a widow, in the early 1860s.
While we were walking through the historic Lincoln neighborhood, we saw a wagon, the Politics in the Neighborhood Log Cabin display, the Underground Railroad display, and the stone in front of the Henson Robinson house. Then we ventured to the Visitor’s Center and gift shop. My grandson found a Lincoln pocketwatch while I bought three books, magnets, and some postcards. To read more, please go to Lincoln Home National Historic Site. Then it was time to head toward Oak Ridge Cemetery.
As we entered the cemetery, I told my grandson that we were not going to be able to miss the monument. We drove until we saw this.
We found a parking lot next to the tomb and made our way toward it. As we walked, the structure seemed to get larger and larger.
As we entered, I was struck by how solemn it was. This was a burial location for the man I believe was this country’s greatest President. It was a place of quiet reflection, honor, and respect. As we circled through the building, there were several displays.
The inner room is not as big as one would think it should be but on the other hand, it almost feels cavernous due to the flood of emotions that comes from standing at the final resting place of a beloved President, his wife, and three of his sons.
After paying our respects to the President and Mrs. Lincoln, we left the burial chamber and the tomb. Outside in front of the monument, is the famous Lincoln “head” that many use to rub Lincoln’s nose for luck. There are beautiful flower gardens surrounding the building.
And just like that, our road trip had come to a close. It was time to finish our journey back to the farm twelve days after we had started.
In summary, I was able to see just about everything I had set out to see. I found almost all of the graves that were on my list. I had taken care of my father’s wishes and made sure that all went according to plan with the interment of his ashes. I felt as if there were new bonds formed with my cousins. I met cousins that I’d long communicated with only online. Most importantly, I believe that it was a time for my grandson and I to make memories together. And in the end, it really was great to get home.
If you would like to start at the beginning or re-read any of the previous installments, please go to:
Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four, Part Five, Part Six, Part Seven, Part Eight, and Part Nine.
(Photo of Abraham Lincoln: Wikimedia Commons, public domain. All other photos copyright Wendy Littrell, address for private use.)
Our last full day in Anderson was filled with emotion and fun. If you have read this blog for awhile, then you might remember my post – Independent From Birth – about my maternal grandfather’s foster sister, Eva – specifically the following paragrah:
She and her husband split up and divorced, and when Eva was in her early 40s, she discovered that she was pregnant. The specter of what lay ahead of her would surely be weighing on her mind: an older mother, a single mother, a mother of a grown son, a woman who had limited income. Any number of reasons would have aided her in her decision to give up her daughter – just as she had been given up. It was only many years later before Eva died, that she would be reunited with her grown daughter.
I have also written a series of articles concerning the Clues to the Mystery of Clara (Eva’s biological mother). All of the research stemmed from a comment I received on my genealogy web site many, many years ago from a woman telling me she was Eva’s biological daughter. Ever since Lynn and I began communicating way back then, she’s given me what little information she was told. I’ve used that and gone on to find documents and news articles to help her find out more about her biological family. When I knew that I was definitely going to be in Anderson, I made sure Lynn knew our schedule in order for us to finally meet face to face. Little did I know that she had a surprise of her own for me!
When Lynn and her husband pulled in to the motel parking lot to pick us up, I could hardly contain my excitement! As soon as we could, we hugged and laughed. It was as if we had known each other forever. Originally, we had planned to get a pizza and go to one of the parks, but the pizza place wasn’t going to be open for awhile. That’s when she told me that Eva’s daughter-in-law and granddaughter were also going to be with us for the day! I had never met them. The granddaughter (Lynn’s niece) had plenty of questions about Eva as well. We met up with them and they followed us to Culvers for an early lunch. Immediately, we all began pouring over the information about Eva and Clara as well as my grandparents (Eva’s foster parents).
That’s when I told my cousin and her mother that they were about to have their mind blown. We did share a family connection via the foster parent to child connection. BUT – further back – one of Clara’s direct ancestors was the brother of my direct ancestor – on my grandmother’s side. There was a blood connection! It was so thrilling to provide this information that it was hard to eat!
Soon, lunch was over, and we drove over to Mounds State Park and grabbed a picnic table to sit and enjoy the cool day. There was plenty of conversation. Lynn recounted to us how she finally found Eva and was able to talk with her. Her niece recounted meeting Lynn and also talked about her dad – Lynn’s older half-brother. While we were engaged in family history talk, Lynn’s husband and my grandson went to explore the Great Mound. The sky was beginning to turn and threaten rain. Lynn’s niece and sister-in-law had to leave. We took some nice photos before we parted ways.
Left to right: Wendy, Lynn (seated), cousin “B” and her mom “J”
Lynn, her husband and I drove through Anderson and happened to pass a cemetery. I saw the sign that said “West Maplewood” and then both my grandson and I exclaimed “There it is!” It was the gravestone that had been so elusive to us the last two days! I didn’t realize that West Maplewood Cemetery was off another road than East Maplewood – no wonder I could never find it. So Lynn’s husband pulled in to the cemetery. We all got out and set about exploring.
The photo above shows the very tall grave marker in the Hawkins family plot. At the upper right is the stone for Coleman Hawkins and below that is for his wife (and my great-great-grandfather’s sister) Elizabeth Blazer Hawkins. For more on their story, please read Mingling of Families and Murder.
This collage above shows the stones in the Hawkins family plot. Then from bottom left across and then up to top right: Ida E Hawkins (b. 1873 d. 1898); Silas Hawkins (b. 1870 d. 1901); Rufus Hawkins (b. 1866 d. 1896); stone hard to read; and George G Hawkins (b. 1860 d. 1885).
In another section of West Maplewood, I found my great-great-grandfather’s (Frank Blazer) and Elizabeth’s other sister, Mary Jane Blazer Webb. She was next to her husband, Marian Webb, and sons: Rufus V Webb and Wilson S Webb. There were several interesting gravestones we saw as we explored the cemetery. From there we went to Frisch’s to eat. Once again, I had the Swiss Miss! We topped off our day at Shadyside Memorial Park in Anderson. Here is a photo I have of my grandfather, Glen R Johnson, as a young boy with sheep at Shadyside in the early 1900s.
The Terraced Gardens at the park were beautiful. There is also a memorial dedicated to all veterans from Madison county.
Below are photos of the Veterans Memorial.
We had spent quite a bit of time at the park when it started to sprinkle. The day was growing late and Lynn and her husband had another couple of hours on the road to get back to their home. Reluctantly, we piled back in to their vehicle so they could drop my grandson and me off at our motel. We said our good-byes, and they left for home. It was time to start packing up to leave the next morning and finish our journey home.
Next: Finding Lincoln
(All photos copyright Wendy Littrell, address for private use)
Posted in personal, stories | Tagged Anderson, Badger, Blazer, cemeteries, cemetery, Clara Badger, Eva Johnson, fun, genealogy, Hawkins, Indiana, Johnson, journey, Madison County, Maplewood Cemetery, Mound State Park, personal, Shadyside Memorial Park, Webb | 2 Comments »
(Links to previous installments at bottom of post.)
Our second day (first full day) in Anderson, Indiana began after breakfast by finding the homes where my great-grandparents (John and Katie Johnson) and my grandmother (Vesta Wilt Johnson) resided. Needless to say, the homes were either gone or it wouldn’t have been a good idea for me to step out of my car and start taking photos of houses so I dispensed with that idea. I did take a photo of the church where the Johnson’s attended and where my grandfather, Glen R Johnson, was baptized. After attending this church on Easter Sunday 1916, he met the woman he would marry – my grandmother, Vesta Wilt.
Central Christian Church, Anderson, Indiana
It was almost time for the library to open so we waited in the parking lot for awhile. My grandson was already grumbling about spending more time in a library. Unlike, the one in Coshocton, the genealogy room was upstairs and open. There was no door that shut behind us as we entered. It was also very large. Since I had promised that we wouldn’t be there more than two hours, I hurriedly began looking through books. I used my Kindle to photograph information. In hindsight, had I known that I would find a wealth of information there, I would have spent more time at the Indiana Public Library and less at the Coshocton Library. Lesson learned!
Once we left the library, we headed toward Pendleton and Falls Park. It was a beautiful day for hiking the trail, seeing the falls, and enjoying nature. We didn’t park in the main lot but at a smaller lot on the opposite side of the park. The first thing that drew my attention was the beautiful Monarch Butterfly garden.
While walking through the woods, we noticed that there were signs indicating our location which helps to not get lost! We crossed some bridges over Prairie Creek and came upon the CSX railroad bridge. The year “1910” was marked on it!
While we explored, we saw groups of people who were walking/jogging the trails and those who were setting up cameras for photos. We came out of the woods in to the main area of the park and saw many people enjoying the day. There was even a bride having photos taken. I saw some geese but couldn’t get a very close picture. The falls were beautiful!
We went back to the car the same way we had come. By then we were hot. We got back on the road and stopped for a sweet treat at Good’s Candy Shop about 2:30. Not only did they have several varieties of popcorn and candy but also hand-dipped ice cream – which is what we both chose. After we finished, we headed back to Maple Grove Cemetery. I was still looking for the graves of my great-great-grandfather’s sister – Elizabeth Blazer – and her husband – Coleman Hawkins (please go back and read “Mingling of Families and Murder” to get an insight about these relationships!) This time, when we entered the cemetery, there was a sign “No Pokemon Game Play Allowed in Cemetery.” Needless to say, there were at least 2-3 golf carts filled with college students driving around and stopping. Two cemetery security vehicles followed them and seemed to run them out of the area. A few times, security followed me until they figured out that I really was looking for gravestones! Our 30+ minutes driving around was fruitless. I decided that I just wasn’t going to find the Hawkins family or any other Blazers that day.
We drove way out in the country to Henry County where my Nash ancestors were buried. Lebanon Baptist Cemetery isn’t very big and the graves were easily found.
The photo above shows the stone of Alexander and Elsie (Minesinger) Nash. They were the parents of Christena Nash who married Israel Wilt. Christena and Israel are the parents my great-grandfather, Joseph N Wilt, and great-great-grandparents of my grandmother, Vesta C (Wilt) Johnson. That makes Alexander and Elsie my three times great-grandparents. Alexander’s inscription is on one side of the stone. To read Elsie’s inscription, I had to move some vines out of the way. A tree has grown up right in front of their stone (where “Nash” is inscribed at bottom) and is dislodging the stone from the ground.
Close to Alexander and Elsie Nash rests the headstone of Christeana Minesinger – mother of Elsie (two photos above left). There is a stone leaning on Christeana’s but I wasn’t able to tell whose it was. The photo (third from left) above indicates how close her stone is to her daughter and son-in-law. The far right photo are graves of Nash children. Unfortunately, they were very hard to read. Before leaving, I told Christeana and Alexander and Elsie that I was very glad that I could visit their final resting place and thanked them for their lives.Without them, I wouldn’t be here. My grandson snapped a photo and labeled it “Nana talks to dead people.” Yes, yes I do!
It was time to head back to Anderson. That evening we ate dinner across the road from our hotel at Steak-n-Shake close to 7 p.m. By the time we were finished eating, it was time to head back to our room and settle in for the night. I was looking forward to a fun-filled and emotional Sunday. I would be meeting a cousin for the very first time!
Next – A Day with Lynn!
(All photos copyright Wendy Littrell, address for private use)
Posted in geography, Life and Death, personal | Tagged Anderson, cemeteries, cemetery, fun, genealogy, graves, gravestone, headstone, Henry County, Johnson, journey, Madison County, Minesinger, Nash, Wilt | 2 Comments »