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Genealogist Amy Johnson Crow has a fascinating podcast series at “Generations Cafe” (you can listen to it via any number of platforms – I use Spotify), and her latest is The Truth About Millennials and Genealogy. Yesterday, as I listened to Amy  and her daughter in conversation about what millennials think when it comes to genealogy, I found myself thinking about my own millenials.

First, Amy explained who the millennials are (those born from 1981-1998) which means that all four of my kids fall into that label. They are all adults with families and/or careers, bills to pay, and responsibilities. However, I probably only categorize my youngest as a millennial and even then, most of the time, she comes across as older in her thought processes.

Second, I was born toward the tail end of the baby boom. Some days I consider myself a baby boomer and other times I do not. Now that I’m getting closer to 60, I feel more and more like one! My parents were born prior to the depression so they lived through that as well as WWII. Could their life experiences have influenced how I perceive not only the world but my role as a family historian? Consequently, could it be the same for my children?

As I thought about topics that Amy had brought up during her podcast, I reflected on not only my experience but also my children’s. One thing that was mentioned had to do with heirlooms and reasons the younger generation may or may not want those items. Growing up, my mother would always mention how she ended up with certain items: “Mom Amore gave that to me” or “that used to belong to Gramma Clawson.” Often times I would hear stories to go along with her pronouncements. Then there were the items she used – the candy dish that always held M&Ms and the cookie jar that only held a certain type of sandwich cookie. There were things that my grandparents always had around – the Swiss kitchen scene plaque that hung in their kitchen (photo above), the Christmas bell that played “Jingle Bells,” and the wooden shoes they bought on a trip to Holland. There were always stories to go along with the items of note. I passed those stories – my stories – to my children. So when it came time to clean out my mom’s home after she died, the items we kept meant something – not only to my sister and I but to her children and to my children. Had it not been for the constant stories or the memories surrounding certain items, those heirlooms wouldn’t have meant much to us.

Another point in Amy’s podcast was the concept of “doing” genealogy. I grew up hearing family stories – all of the time. That didn’t mean I paid as much attention to them as I wish I had, but I’d listened just enough to inspire a spark of wanting to know fact from fiction. My sister enjoys hearing about what I find, but she doesn’t want to do the research. Most of my kids like hearing the stories – especially about black sheep relatives, but they don’t want to do the research. My son, however, likes the mystery and working the puzzles as much as I do. Reaching out to unknown cousins carries a certain risk – rejection or even finding that “crazy” relative – but it might mean making a new family connection that is wonderful.

The third item that Amy’s podcast brought to my attention was how to attract not only millennials to genealogy or historical societies – but people of all ages. Rachel even mentioned food! That’s good because my local historical society puts on a pretty good spread for everyone at our quarterly meetings! What will people get out of the societies? What’s in it for them? Are they artistic? Maybe they could be asked to volunteer some time to paint a sign for a special event? Do they want to read about what their parents or grandparents did 20-50 years ago in the newspapers kept at the historical society? Are they aware that their great-grandparents donated this really cool (insert item) to the historical society? Have they seen it? Do they know the story behind it? These and many more things are something I think my historical society can brainstorm about to come up with other ideas to get everyone more involved.

Perhaps there are members of a historical society who aren’t part of the Facebook (or other social media) crowd; maybe they don’t even have email or smart phones. I bet they have kids or grandkids who are. Pick an afternoon and have the grandkids pull up some information for you so it can be a tag team learning event. Pull out that item from the back of the closet the next time your millennial son/daughter/grandson/granddaughter/niece/nephew come over, and tell them the story behind it. Pull up a historic map and overlay it with a current one to show them where the great-great-grandparents lived in the 1800s and what that area looks like today.

I think one of the biggest thing genealogists and family historians can do to help millennials feel comfortable about learning more about family history is to not talk down to them when they do ask questions. Not everyone knows what FTM stands for or that ethnic breakdowns of a DNA test are just estimates. Not everyone knows what a Family History Center is or where one can be found. When they ask a question – in person or on social media – it’s best to find out what they do know in order to give them an answer that is neither over their head nor condescending.

I want to thank Amy and her daughter Rachel for a well done and thought provoking podcast. Please go listen – and then listen to the rest of her podcasts.

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Just less than 20 years ago, my friend Barbara mentioned that she was working on her family’s genealogy. She had one of the first versions of Family Tree Maker and showed me how it worked on her computer. She had notebooks full of research.

Within a year and a half, my mom had given me a few small boxes of old photos. We sat at her dining table going through each one and labeling them to the best of her knowledge. Around the same time, my sister-in-law – with some collaboration from a distant cousin as well as my father-in-law – had completed two family history books on my husband’s line. I talked to my friend more about this software program she had. Before too long, I had gotten a copy and was using it. Through dial-up, I was able to get on the internet. Cyndi’s List was the first “genealogy” website I found. At my local public library, I also found another website run by the Church of Latter Day Saints – FamilySearch before it was really called FamilySearch! Then the site mainly had family histories acquired by the church – no real census records or anything else.

I don’t remember how much longer after that it was that Barbara suggested she take me to the Dallas Public Library to the Genealogy section. She had been there many times so I wouldn’t feel like a complete newbie! We set a day, she picked me up, and made the trek just south of us into downtown Dallas.

Once we got to the 8th floor, Barbara helped me sign in and showed me the procedure for pulling microfilm as well as finding which one I needed via census index in the books. We found two empty microfilm readers and settled in for the day. First, I was struck by how many items there were on the shelves to look at. Second, I figured it was going to take me a long time even with the right microfilm roll to find what I was looking for. I had brought some blank census record research sheets that I had gotten out of my copy of “The Unpuzzling Your Past Workbook” by Emily Ann Croom in order to write down my findings. (I hadn’t planned to spend much on making copies of microfilm pages.)

I found a name on my matenal family line in one of the census indexes so I carefully retrieved the microfilm and threaded it through the reader. After going backward and forward a few times (a little too fast!), figuring out how to bring the image into focus at the size I wanted, I finally saw my great-great-grandmother’s name on the 1870 census record.

The image above is the first time I found Melissa (Malissa) Goul Blazer on any official record. I think I smiled the rest of the day! She was real. She was counted. And not only that but my great-grandmother Katie was the 6 year old living with her. I knew it was the right family because I was aware of the names of the other children. I was a little confused why Melissa’s husband wasn’t living with her (it would be many more years before I realized that Melissa was a young widow). Suddenly, there was a need for me to find others: other ancestors of mine. And that drive is still there – except with a more discerning eye. But that name written on the census record – that was probably the turning point in my family history research. And it all began with a trip to the library!

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Putnam County lies along the Missouri/Iowa border in North Central Missouri. Now that I am a resident of Missouri, I want to familiarize myself to the geography – especially in areas where some of my collateral relatives lived and are buried. And I do – have people buried in Unionville – the county seat of Putnam county.

As we drove toward Purdin last week for a high school baseball game, I saw a sign that said Milan was 30 some miles and Unionville was 53 miles. My husband’s grandparents once lived in Milan. To get to the cemetery where they are buried, we would need to go through there. Unionville was still closer than Columbia – the nearest “big” city.

The day after that, I checked to see where the Unionville cemetery was located because I will drive up one day and take pictures of headstones for my own files as well as Find a Grave. Oh, and who is buried there? The man who is purportedly the father of my great-grandmother’s half brother – James M Goul. James was also my great-great-grandmother’s first cousin. He was born in Virginia in 1822 and died in Unionville in 1888. He and his wife, Hannah Susan Harbert Goul are both buried in Unionville cemetery.

My Google search also turned up a link to the Putnam County Historical Society. I was excited to see that the Putnam County Library had digitized their collection of newspapers – and it was searchable! I found many wonderful goodies in those newspapers – which will be another blog post! For now – here are some links if you also have ancestors or collateral relatives that lived in Putnam county: Putnam County Historical Society and Putnam county newspapers.

Image: By The original uploader was Catbar at English Wikipedia (Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons.) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

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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.

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(Links for the first four parts are at the end of this blog post.)

My grandson and I got an early start on Wednesday, July 13, and headed to get breakfast. By the way, did I mention that beginning the very first night we checked in to our hotel, we had flushing issues with the toilet? They left a plunger with us but it was still not flushing correctly so when we left the hotel to begin our day on Wednesday, I more or less gave the hotel an ultimatum – fix it or move us. (The maintenance man finally fixed it during the day while we were out!)

There were many things I had wanted to cram in to our day, and the first item on the agenda was finding and taking photos of the houses my ancestors had lived. Luckily, with a borrowed GPS, it made my job easier to find the homes. I had five addresses – one home looked pretty trashed (a lot of junk piled around outside) and another one had been torn down.

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This was the home my grandparents, Lloyd and Ella (House) Amore lived in during the 1930s and 40s. In fact my Uncle Bervil Amore’s son, Bill, was born upstairs.

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I believe the house above is the last home my grandfather, Lloyd, resided before his death in 1955. This is the house my sister remembers visiting him.

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This house was the home of my great-grandparents – James and Frances (Ogan) House – in the early 1900s. After Lloyd and Ella moved to the farm owned by her parents, James and Frances bought the new home in 1915 just prior to Frances’ death. The 1,228 square foot home has three bedrooms and one bath. The total lot size is 6,300 square feet (home details from Trulia.com). James and youngest son, Lester, continued to live in the home until James went to the Sandusky Soldier’s and Sailor’s home in the early 1920s – where he lived on and off until his death on October 1, 1924. This was the home where Lester’s second wife, Pearl Davidson, took her own life on the morning of April 5, 1945 via a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.

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I took this photo of the Church of the Nazarene after I drove by and remembered my cousins telling me that my grandmother Ella had attended this church. I turned around and parked across the street to take this shot.

Following our morning criss-crossing Coshocton, we headed toward Historic Roscoe Village. We wanted to visit the Johnson-Humrickhouse Museum. The name comes from the union of Mary Susan Humrickhouse and Joseph Johnson. Their sons – John and David Johnson – collected many items and artifacts from their many trips around the world. They left all the items to the village of Roscoe. (Sources: Wikipedia: Johnson-Humrickhouse Museum and J-H Museum brochure)

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Outside the museum is the cut-out (shown above in photo) so I had to take a photo of it with my grandson! The other photos (above) were taken in the Historic Ohio gallery and consist of the village shoemakers tools (which I had to get a picture because my great-grandfather and my great-great-grandfather were both shoemakers and one was located in Roscoe Village!), furnishings from a log house, and 18th & 19th century firearms.

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The American Indian gallery exhibits included the Zuni Turquoise and Squash bracelet and necklace and Coral Squash necklace (top right), the Chippewa cradleboard (center right), Native American coiled baskets. and the Sioux Elk Hide Dress (left).

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Other items displayed included the early Ohio typewriter (top right), Italian accordian decorated with mother-of-pearl (center right), early Ohio spinning wheel (bottom right), a walrus tusk with Inuit Scrimshaw artwork (bottom left), and the Newark Holy Stones (top left). The stones were reported to be found in 1860 among the ancient Indian burial mounds in Newark, Ohio. For more information, you can read about the stones here.

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Along with the Newark Holy Stones exhibit on the second floor, is also the Golden Gallery. Items in the “Victorian Nook” include a 1930s silk wedding dress and 19th century men’s suit (left), a white lawn dress, and a studio camera.

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Sharing space in the Golden Gallery, are many printers tools and objects. A separate room on the second floor is used for Special Exhibits. During the time of our visit, the exhibit was “Grafted to the Past” – art that was inspired by objects in the museum to commemorate its 85th anniversary. The photo on the above left is Rounce mixed media artwork done by Curt Derby. Besides printers blocks, quoins, and tools on the right hand side above, there is a Washington press and a model of the Gutenberg press. These exhibits appealed to the graphic artist side of me! I absolutely adored them.

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Two exhibits included in the Asian Gallery were the Japanese Samurai and Buddha. Located in the Historic Ohio Gallery was the Stock tray (center bottom) first made in Coshocton. The 1850s square grand piano at the top right was used in the first Roscoe Hotel during the Civil War. Below that is a photo of a page from a 1570 Bible. The Boston Parlor Organ was manufactured in Coshocton in the 19th century. Lastly, on the bottom right corner, is Lord Baltimore’s prayer book dated 1632.

I recommend a visit to this museum if you are ever in the Coshocton area. It won’t take up all of your day but it is well worth the small admission cost. There is also a gift shop on the first floor. I made a purchase of a book about Ohio’s Canals and my grandson – after seeing many, many arrowheads in the American Indian Gallery, bought some arrowheads!

After we left the museum, we headed to the Coshocton Public Library. I wanted to do some in-depth research in their genealogy room. Had I realized that most everything I thought I would be able to find was already digitized or my cousin had sent it to me, I would not have spent as many hours (6+) there. I also would have urged my grandson to find a nice cozy chair in the main part of the library – where there was an electrical outlet for his phone and hand held gaming system – so he wouldn’t have been as bored as he was. Lesson learned.

I pored over many books and items from the vertical files. Unfortunately, the very limited amount of microfilm readers were being used most of the time I was there – at least the one with the copier attached. Finally, the user left and I was able to delve in to the wills and probates microfilm. Bingo! I found my great-grandparents’ (James and Frances House) wills. That is something I need if I ever decide to apply for the Daughters of Union Veterans Lineage Society as it proves that my grandmother is James’ daughter.

Next – Historic Roscoe Village Tour

Links to the first few parts:
Part One
Part Two
Part Three
Part Four

(All photos copyright Wendy Littrell, address for private use.)

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Thanks to a Facebook post on the Indiana Genealogy page yesterday, I learned that three new databases were added to Ancestry.com – Indiana Birth Certificates (1907-1940), Indiana Marriage Certificates (1958-2005), and Indiana Death Certificates (1899-2011). At first, I figured it was just transcriptions of these documents (and we all know that there can be errors in transcribing documents!). Imagine how thrilled I was to find out that these three databases all included scanned images of the records!

After spending almost an hour going through some of the records pertaining to my family and ancestors, I realized that if I didn’t set a time limit for myself, I would be up all night! I found the birth certificates for my mom, aunt and uncle! I found death certificates for some of my extended Wilt relatives. And even though I had said that I had found the last piece of the Johnson/Kirkpatrick puzzle, I was wrong! On Ellen Ora Johnson Moffitt’s death certificate, her mother’s name was listed . . . (drum roll please) . . . Nancy J Kirkpatrick!!! Oh, happy, happy dance!!!

I’m sure I will find even more details that I’ve missed when I go through these documents and some are even sad. I decided to look for the death certificate for Albert Wilt. He was my maternal grandmother’s younger half-brother, son of Joseph Napolean Wilt and Anna Park. Albert’s gravestone bears the years 1917-1933. I did find his death certificate and the cause of death listed was horrible: head crushed by railway tram as he walked along the tracks. His death was ruled an accident. My great-grandfather Joe was the informant but he listed his birth date as August 1, 1914. So was Joe correct and the incorrect birth year was put on the head stone? Whatever the case, Albert was too young and his death was tragic.

So if you have family and ancestors from Indiana, please go check out these three new databases. Perhaps you’ll find some information that can help break down some brick walls.

(Image: Indiana Flag 1903 from Wikimedia Commons; public domain)

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In the past, I have written several articles about Ellen Ora Johnson, her family with Christopher Columbus Moffitt, and how I believed she was the daughter of Jacob M Johnson and Nancy Kirkpatrick. Those articles can be found here: Moffitt Mystery, Moffitt Mystery Part 2, Moffitt Mystery Part 3, Update on Part 3 – Moffitt Mystery, and Mystery Monday – Jacob M Johnson and Nancy Kirkpatrick.

Several months ago, I ran across a news article on Newspapers.com from The Daily Republican (Rushville, Indiana) on page 3 of the January 25, 1908 edition. It read: “Mrs. Nancy Cook of Knightstown visited Earl Atkins and family part of last week.” That one sentence was exciting because it showed a connection between Nancy Kirkpatrick Johnson Cook and the daughter of Ellen Ora Johnson Moffitt. Mrs. Earl Atkins was Lena Moffitt, the second oldest daughter of C.C. Moffitt and Ellen Ora Johnson.

I also located a memorial on Find a Grave for Elva Moffitt Griffith (third oldest daughter of C.C. and Ellen) that included her obituary which referenced Elva as the daughter of “Christopher Columbus and Ellen Cook Moffitt.” There’s that “Cook” name again. I returned once more to what I had found about Nancy Kirkpatrick.

Nancy was reportedly born on July 10, 1844 in Indiana. That birth date is listed on her gravestone located in Center Church Cemetery in Mays, Rush county, Indiana. The marriage record for her and Jacob M Johnson gives a marriage date of January 21, 1858. If both of those dates are correct, Nancy was 13 1/2 years old when she married. That wasn’t unheard of during that era, but it does create reasonable doubt. I believe Nancy was at least 2 years older when she married. People did lie about their ages – or not really know what year they were born so it is possible. In the 1860 US Census of Union twp in Howard county, Indiana, the household included: Jacob Johnson age 26 (putting his birth year at 1833-1834), Nancy Johnson age 23 (putting her birth year at 1836-1837), and Mary age 1 (birth year of 1858-1859). My belief is the name “Mary” was verbalized as “Orey” but the enumerator heard “Mary” or the girl did not have a real name yet so she was listed as Mary. (Many times children of a year or younger may not have been given their life-long name just in case they didn’t survive infancy.)

I couldn’t locate either Jacob or Nancy in the 1870 census but by 1880, Nancy is married to Allison Cook (married in 1865) and living in Center twp of Rush county, Indiana. Nancy’s age is listed as 36 (putting birth year as 1843-1844). There are two daughters and one son in the household: daughter Ollie B Cook is age 13 (birth year about 1867); daughter Martha A Cook is 11 (birth year about 1868-1869), and son Joseph R Cook is 8 (birth year 1871-1872).

By March 1, 1885 the family had moved to Osage county, Kansas and are shown on the Kansas State Census. Nancy is age 40, Allie (Ollie?) B Cook is 18, Martha A Cook is 15, and Joseph R Cook is 12.

In the 1900 US Census of Wayne twp, Henry county, Indiana, the household only includes Allison and Nancy, ages 66 and 46 respectively. It looks like Nancy has not aged very much since the 1885 Kansas census! The information shows that the couple have been married 35 years and that Nancy had 5 children but only 3 were living.

In the 1910 US Census, Nancy is living with her son, Joseph R Cook, and his family on Jefferson Street in Knightstown, Indiana. She is listed as widowed, mother of 4 children but only 3 living. Somehow one child was forgotten in ten years.

Nancy Jane Kirkpatrick Johnson Cook died in Knightstown on September 23, 1914. The death record in the Henry county Health office in New Castle records her as 71 years old.

As for her first husband, and brother to my second great-grandfather, Jacob M Johnson, he disappears after the 1860 census. I did locate his death date as May 26, 1864. So Nancy was a widow when she married Allison Cook – as opposed to a dissolution of marriage.

That is quite a bit of information but there is still nothing that ties Ellen Ora as the daughter of Nancy and Jacob. Luckily, I came across someone who had posted that she was their daughter so I contacted them. I wanted to know if they assumed the relationship based on circumstantial evidence just as I did.

Recently, this person contacted me and said they did have the evidence and would snail mail it to me. Monday, it arrived and was a type written sheet of genealogy information. The person who it originated from was none other than Ellen Ora’s daughter, Bessie Pearl Moffitt Lukens Tanner. The same daughter who had corresponded with my grandparents!

Jacob Marion Johnson has a birth date of May 20, 1833 and a death date of May 25, 1864. Nancy Jane Kirkpatrick was born July 10, 1843 (again, I think Nancy’s birth date is a bit off) and died the day that I have listed. They married on January 21, 1858 and two daughters were born to them: Ellen Ory Johnson and Lucretia Ann Johnson. Lucretia was born December 27, 1861 and died May 8, 1863. She was named after Nancy’s mother, Lucretia Zion.

Nancy married Allison Cook on November 16, 1865 and had three children: Ollie Bell (born November 3, 1866 and died March 22, 1952), Martha Ann (born July 24, 1871 and died August 3, 1887 after marrying William Moffitt in July 1887), and Joseph Rankin Cook – named after Nancy’s father, Joseph Kirkpatrick (born August 24, 1871 and died March 17, 1957).

Publicly, I want to thank Virginia Moffitt for providing the much needed last piece of the puzzle!

(Image: Wikimedia Commons, used under Creative Commons)

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