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I have a difficult time picking just one photo of an ancestor or relative that is my  favorite. Many of what I consider in the top five include my maternal grandmother, Vesta Christena (Wilt) Johnson. I called her Nana because I believe it was my brother – the oldest of the grandchildren – who gave her that title.

As a child, many people would always comment on my blue eyes and ask me where I got them. My dad and siblings all were blessed with blue eyes so I would say that I got my blue eyes from my dad. There were also others who would tell me that I looked like Nana. I just couldn’t see it. I was a pre-teen or teen, and my grandmother was 63 years older than me. How could anyone tell?

However, in the last ten years or so, as I’ve shared photos of Nana online, many have repeated those assertions – that I did resemble her. Since I am much older now, I do see it. And then back in December, my cousin posted a picture that I had never seen before. It was of my grandparents with my uncle (my cousin’s father) when he was a baby. I cropped the photo to show just my grandmother and compared it to a photo of me about the same age. Well, what do you, my readers think?

This is a post in the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge for Week 2. For more information or to sign up to participate (all free!!), check out Amy Johnson Crow’s post: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks.

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When I started working on my family history, information on the web was lacking. In fact, aside from the beginnings of Ancestry.com, Rootsweb, and the old LDS FamilySearch.org, the main website was Cyndi’s List. Cyndi Ingle was a one woman show back in 2001, and she still is. Except today, Cyndi’s List is much bigger.

Fortunately, back then a good friend let me borrow her family tree software in order to begin. All the beginning genealogy articles I found online or in a few magazines suggested to start with yourself. That is exactly what I did. Now, almost twenty years later, I am using the latest version of Family Tree Maker (FTM). The database assigns a reference number to each person, and my number is 1. Number 2 is my dad. I really have no idea what the computations are for numbers in FTM. My mother shows up as Reference number 7359!

My descendants include four children and eight grandchildren! My ancestors include my two parents and four grandparents.

• Paternal: Lloyd William Amore and Ella Maria House
• Maternal: Glen Roy Johnson and Vesta Christena Wilt

As I go further back into my family history, not only do the generations become compounded but I am at brick walls on others. I have listed the number of known and documented ancestors after the relationship.

Great-Grandparents – 8

• Paternal: William Henry Amore and Mary Angeline Werts; James Emory House and Frances Virginia Ogan
• Maternal: John Lafayette Johnson and Katie J Blazer; Joseph Napolean Wilt and Martha Jane Stern

Great-Great-Grandparents (AKA 2x great-grandparents) – 14 out of 16

• Paternal: William Amore and Charlotte Reed; William Washington Werts and Louisa Bookless; Florus Allen House and Julia Ann Lewis; BRICKWALL on Frances Ogan’s biological parents.
• Maternal: James Wilson Johnson and Amanda Eveline Mullis; Franklin Blazer and Melissa Goul; Isreal Isaac Wilt and Christena Nash; Emanuel Bushong Stern and Nancy Caylor.

3x Great-Grandparents – 25 out of 32

• Paternal: BRICKWALL on William Amore’s parents; Zachariah Reed and BRICKWALL on Charlotte Reed’s mother; George Peter Werts and Margaret Catherine Maple; David Bookless and Mary Cartmell; Allen House and Editha Bigelow; Abel Lewis Jr and Nancy (Ann) Johnston.
• Maternal: Jacob Johnson and Ann Shields; John Mullis and Darlett Stanley; John Blazer and Mary Ann Nelson; John Goul and Martha McManaway (or alternate spellings); John Wilt and Phebe Hottinger; Alexander Nash and Elsy Minesinger; Peter Stern and Margaret Bushong; Abraham Caylor and Susannah Miller.

4x Great-Grandparents – 42 out of 64

• Paternal: BRICKWALL on Zachariah Reed’s parents; George Peter Werts and Susanna Huff; William B Maple and Mary Fuller; (thought to be but not proven) William Bookless and Ann Pearson; John Cartmell and mother of Mary Cartmell NOT PROVEN; Lazarus House and Rebecca Risley; Eli Bigelow and Anna Freeman; Abel Lewis and Elizabeth Jones; James Johnston and Catherine See.
• Maternal: BRICKWALL on Jacob Johnson’s parents; William Shields and Mary (maiden name is unknown); George Mullis (Sr) and Margaret “Polly” Owens; Thomas Stanley Sr and Sarah Mason; Philip Blazer and Elizabeth Kingsley; John Griffith Nelson and Mary Dickenson Arbuckle; Adam Goul and Elizabeth Lutz; BRICKWALL for parents of Martha McManaway; Peter Wilt and BRICKWALL for John Wilt’s mother; John Hottinger and Mary Orebaugh; Joshua Nash and Abigail (maiden name is unknown); Joseph Minesinger and Christeana (maiden name is unknown); Christian Stern and Susanna Roudebush; John Bushong and Anna Stover; Johannes Caylor (Kohler) and Sarah Salome Kinsey; Joseph H Miller and Catherine Botafield.

Now, 17 years after I began this family history journey, where do I start in order to break down those brick walls? I start with myself once again and go through each person’s documentation, ephemera, and stories in order to pick out as much information as I can. I also check into each person’s FAN club (family, associates and neighbors) – cluster research – for even more evidence.

(Photos above (left to right top to bottom) – First collage: Glen & Vesta (Wilt) Johnson; Lloyd & Ella (House) Amore; William Henry & Mary (Werts) Amore; John & Katie (Blazer) Johnson. Second collage: Peter & Margaret (Bushong) Stern; Joseph & Martha (Stern) Wilt and family; Emanuel & Nancy (Caylor) Stern; George Peter & Margaret Catherine (Maple) Werts. Third collage: James Wilson Johnson; William Amore; Melissa (Goul) Blazer; Isreal Wilt.)

This is the first post in the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge for Week 1. For more information or to sign up to participate (all free!!), check out Amy Johnson Crow’s post: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks.

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wilt-cousins-in-indiana

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!

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amorefamily3

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.

picture2

 

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

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31daystobettergenealogy

Amy Johnson Crow is hosting an online learning experience called “31 Days to Better Genealogy.” If you haven’t signed up for this, you can do so here. There is also a closed Facebook group that you can request to join after you sign up for the daily newsletter. You will receive a daily email and during the day, Amy posts a live video on the Facebook group. All members of the group are encouraged to work on the tip of the day, report their results, help and encourage each other.

Today’s tip was to explore the Digital Public Library of America website. Amy said that searches on it are a bit like Google. The DPLA has a bit of everything and some items do not even pop up from a regular search engine. So I thought I would give it a whirl to see what else I could find concerning my ancestors in Coshocton county, Ohio. Here is where Bright Shiny Objects happen so I knew I would need to be focused on what I was searching for (Day 1’s tip was to be more specific and asking the right questions).

As the search results for “Coshocton county Ohio” appeared, I noticed off to the side was “History of Muskingum County, Ohio.” Hmm, I thought. New focus and new question. Would that digital book have any new information concerning my 3rd great-grandfather, Abel Lewis? So I clicked on that topic, the digital book appeared, and in the “search this text” box I entered Lewis.

Sure enough, one of the first items that appeared concerned Abel Lewis and the Masons in Muskingum county. This was new information for me. The text mentioned that “On Saturday, the 25th day of May, 1805, William Raynolds, William Smyth, Levi Whipple, Daniel Converse, Abel Lewis and Lewis Cass, held a meeting in Zanesville, and, ‘after becoming known to each other as- Master Masons, in the manner prescribed by the rules of the craft, entered into conversation respecting the practicability and propriety of procuring a charter, authorizing them to hold a Lodge in this place…'” (Source: Everhart, J.F. 1794. History of Muskingum County, Ohio, with Illustrations and Biographical Sketches of Prominent Men and Pioneers. F.J. Everhart and Company. 1882. Hathitrust. Electronic material. Digital image. p187. Digital Public Library of America. http://dp.la : accessed 4 October 2016.)

Another entry mentioned exactly where Abel Lewis lived after he had completed his term as Postmaster (he also had been an Ohio Supreme Court Clerk and surveyor) in 1812.

In the past, I have just glossed over items at the DPLA because I wasn’t thinking about searching for things. I was searching for names. The tip for today has really opened my eyes. I see many hours of more research in the DPLA ahead for me!

 

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31daystobettergenealogy

Amy Johnson Crow is hosting an online learning experience called “31 Days to Better Genealogy.” If you haven’t signed up for this, you can do so here. There is also a closed Facebook group that you can request to join after you sign up for the daily newsletter. You will receive a daily email and during the day, Amy posts a live video on the Facebook group. All members of the group are encouraged to work on the tip of the day, report their results, help and encourage each other.

Yesterday’s topic was “Explore Your Ancestor’s Occupation” and one of the items listed included looking at the Agriculture Census if your ancestor was a farmer. The ancestor I wanted to explore was my great-grandfather, James Emory House, born in May 1842 and died in October 1924. For most of his life he lived in Coshocton county, Ohio and indicated on the US Censuses that he was a farmer. His daughter – my grandmother’s sister – Julia Ann House had graduated high school (as did most of the eight children in the family), and when Julia married on Christmas Day in 1906, her dress was “white silk draped in chiffon.” Not only was it out of the ordinary for a family to afford to give their daughter a lavish wedding but to purchase a silk wedding dress for her. Those things indicated that James House had a substantial income.

I turned to the Non-Population Schedule in Agriculture for 1880. It showed that my great-grandfather owned 50 acres of improved land, 10 acres of woodlands with a total value of $2700. He owned two horses, 4 dairy cows, 5 other cattle, 8 swine, and 50 barnyard poultry. His chickens laid 200 dozen eggs in 1879. There were two acres in apple orchard with 50 fruit bearing trees and one acre in peach orchard with 40 fruit bearing trees. In 1879, five acres were grass mown and six acres of hay harvested. Crops included Indian corn – 4 acres/150 bushels; Oats – 2 acres/50 bushes; Wheat – 10 acres/170 bushels; and Irish potatoes – a quarter acre/20 bushels. Today, that $2700 would be close to $60,000.

This census provided me insight as to how well-to-do my great-grandfather and his family were back in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

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4X6 GRAPHIC

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to participate in the Saturday Night Genealogy Fun until today. Six questions naming 4 people or items. This week will be the first three questions. For more information concerning what SNGF is please go to Randy Seaver’s Genea-Musings post. The answers are of direct ancestors – not collateral lines.

What four places did my ancestors live that are geographically the farthest from where I am today?

  • Hartford, Connecticut: my 2nd-7th great-grandfathers were born, lived or died there (William House 1642-1703 / William House 1684-1742 / William House 1713-1788 / Lazarus House 1748-1817 / Allen House 1791 in Connecticut – died Michigan 1845 / Florus Allen House 1813 in Connecticut – died Ohio 1891)
  • Suffolk, England: my 9th great-grandparents John Bigelow was born there in 1617 and died Watertown, Massachusetts in 1703 and Mary Warren born in Suffolk about 1624 and died Massachusetts in 1691.
  • Alsace, France: my 6th great-grandparents, Nicholas (Hans) Feuerstein and Anna Nonnemacher. He was born there in 1712 and died in Pennsylvania before 1768. She was born there in 1711 and died in York county, Pennsylvania about 1760.
  • Baden-Württemberg, Germany: my 8th great-grandparents, Hans P Raudenbusch born about 1614 and died 1704, and Maria Bremm 1639-1711.

What are the four most unusual given names in my family tree? Any name that is not John, William, James, Michael, Jacob, or Mary!

  • Eugene: my dad is the only direct line ancestor I have with that given name.
  • Vesta: my maternal grandmother is the only direct line ancestor with that given name.
  • Ella: my paternal grandmother is the only direct line ancestor with that given name.
  • Wendy: I am the only one in my direct line with this given name (although I do have a few cousins named Wendy!)

What are the four most common given names in my family tree? I think I answered that one above but listing direct ancestors within 15 generations, they would be:

  • Mary: 24
  • William: 19
  • John: 57
  • Many Elizabeths, Margarets, Annas, Jacobs, and Michaels.

Next Saturday will be the final three questions. Did you play?

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