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Posts Tagged ‘Ohio’

(My note: apparently real life intruded on my blog writing over the last week and a half! My apologies that this is several days late!)

Amy Johnson Crow, of No Story Too Small continues the challenge to the geneablogging world to write a blog post weekly on one ancestor. This could be a photo, a story, biography, or a post on the weekly theme. To read her challenge please go to Challenge: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – 2015 Edition. Feel free to join in at any time! The theme for the week of March 5-11 was “Stormy Weather.”

It seems as if I’ve encountered some members of my family who had bad luck when it came to lightning. My great-great-grandfather, Franklin Blazer, was killed by lightning at the age of 33. I wrote about this recently at What Happened to Franklin Blazer? so feel free to go read it if you haven’t.

Another relative who lost someone due to lightning was my Great-Uncle Herbert I. Amore’s wife, Fannie Coder. I knew Aunt Fannie when I was a girl and saw her every year at the annual Amore-Baker reunion in Coshocton, Ohio.

Fannie Coder Amore

Fannie Kathryn Coder was born to Jacob Coder and Ida May Huff on March 3, 1895. When she was born, her parents were not married and her birth was recorded as Cora Huff (illegitimate). The record was corrected at some later date as Fannie Coder. As yet I still have not located a marriage record for Ida Huff and Jacob Coder. On Christmas Day 1898 Ida married Hiram Thornton in Tuscarawas county, Ohio. Fannie is listed as “Fannie Thornton” living in the Hiram and Ida Thornton household in the 1900 census along with her infant half-brother, Robert Thornton.

On July 15 or 16 in 1901, a severe electrical storm must have caught several members of the family by surprise. Ida Mae, Fannie, baby Robert, along with Ida’s mother, Caroline Smailes Huff, and her 15-year old sister, Myrtle, took shelter under a straw shed. Lightning struck the straw and killed all but Fannie. Twenty-five years later, a small paragraph in The Coshocton Tribune (July 16, 1926; pg. 4) mentioned the tragedy.

Fannie Coder family NEWS-OH-CO_TR.1926_07_16_0004

Ten years after losing her mother, aunt, grandmother, and baby brother, Fannie married my grandfather’s brother, Herbert I. Amore. She needed approval due to her age (16). The Coshocton Morning Tribune reported (since both her parents were deceased) that a guardian was appointed in order for a license to be issued.

When Bert and Fannie celebrated their 35th wedding anniversary, the April 21, 1946 edition of the Coshocton Tribune ran an article about the milestone. Concerning the tragedy that happened, the paper reported:

Mrs. Amore relates that 45 years ago on July 15 she almost lost her life when lightning struck a straw shed in which she, her grandmother,
mother, aunt and brother had taken refuge during an electrical storm, about one mile north of Newcomerstown. The lightning killed all the others. She was reared in the home of her three uncles and their wives.

Fannie lived to the age of 96 years and passed away on April 26, 1991 in Coshocton, Ohio – 9 years after her husband died. The couple are buried at South Lawn Cemetery in Coshocton.

 

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john lafayette johnson birthday 001

This is a picture that my mother told me was taken for my great-grandfather’s birthday. When I asked her who everyone was (besides those whom I knew), I don’t remember if she told me or if she just said “relations.” I’ve slept since then and of course – it is NOT WRITTEN on the back of the picture. I dug it out again last week and decided it was time I tried to figure out who was at the birthday celebration.

I knew it was taken in 1939 – two months before my great-grandfather (he’s the older man on the far right), John Lafayette Johnson, passed away from pancreatic cancer. Even if I hadn’t been told that was the year, I could look at the image of my mother – third from the left in the sweater with the “B” on it – and know that she was still in high school. In 1939, she was 17 and played basketball for her high school, Bath Consolidated Schools, located in Bath Township, Greene county, Ohio. My great-grandmother, Katie (Blazer) Johnson, had passed away in 1930 of stomach cancer which explains why she wasn’t in the picture.

I knew the photo was taken in front of the home on Ohio Street in Fairfield (now Fairborn, Ohio) because I have seen other pictures of the same house and in the 1940 census, my grandparents were still residing there. My first thought upon seeing all the other people was that it was Johnson relatives, but when I shared it with some distant cousins hoping they would recognize someone, it was a bust. Anyone that it might have been had already died by 1939. Besides, the Johnson relatives lived in Indiana.

So I turned to my great-grandmother’s family. They lived in Urbana, Ohio – about an hour’s travel today. Her brother, Wesley Blazer, was still living in 1939 but I had never seen a picture of him. His son, Glen O. Blazer, I had known and had pictures that I could compare as well as his wife, son, and sister. Below are the comparisons. The picture on the right was taken in 1976. Looking at the ears, chin, mouth, nose and eyes led me to believe this was Glen. Based on that deduction, all I needed to do was compare photos of his wife, Nina (Cushman) Blazer, and his sister, Ada D. Blazer, as well as place them in that time frame.

glen blazer comparison

Below, the picture on the right of Nina Cushman Blazer (Glen’s wife) was taken at a reunion in 1969 – 30 years after the one on the left.

nina cushman blazer comparison

The comparison collage below of Ada Dell Blazer show how she looked in 1939 (left), around 1918 (top right), and at a reunion in the early 1970s (bottom right).

ada blazer comparison

Based on the photographic evidence, I was able to see the picture more clearly (pun intended!). Since Wesley Blazer was still living and would have been 76 years old, I believe he is the gentleman with the hat sixth from the left. The young man standing just over Nina’s shoulder would be Marion Blazer – son of Glen and Nina. In 1939 he was about 16 years old. The man peaking out from behind Ada’s head would be her second husband, John Black, and their daughter would be in front of her.

Below is the photo after I added the names of those in the picture.

john lafayette johnson birthday

 And just for more comparison – here’s a few photos taken in 1969 and the early 1970s that include my grandparents, Glen & Vesta Johnson, as well as Glen and Nina Blazer, and Ada (Blazer) Black.

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glen_gleno_nina_ada

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2000px-Broken_heart

It’s not just a line from The Righteous Brothers song – it also explains which ancestors I choose to research until the cows come home. Most are not direct ancestors but collaterals. Nieces of great-grandfathers, distant cousins of a 2nd great-grandmother, relatives of an aunt’s in-law, etc. These are people who I have found in newspapers and court documents due to a dispute – sometimes with a neighbor but most times with their spouse. Disputes that turn ugly and full of scandal. Why do I enjoy spending countless hours of research on these people? Because there is so much to find! They are fascinating, full of dramatic details, and even a little sad.

Since my paternal side hails from Coshocton, Ohio, I have found a wealth of news articles on many of those relatives. Skeletons in the closet do not make me bat an eye or shy away from digging deeper. I want to know what type of circumstances – environmental, genetic, or social – led up to whatever scandal or drama happened. Was that a turning point in that person’s life – for better or worse? Did that person ever seem to achieve happiness within their life? Are their descendants aware of these troubles?

I also love to do research to flesh out a mystery. If you’ve been following my Genealogy Mystery posts, then you are aware that I’m trying to solve a mystery for someone – related to me as my grandfather’s foster sister’s biological daughter. Broken hearts prevail in that story as well.

Unfortunately, most of us have had to live through heartbreak – in whatever form it took: the loss of a close family member due to death; watching a loved one suffer through disease or mental illness; a divorce or split in a marriage or partnership; loss of a job that caused a domino affect in everything else; a disaster such as flooding, tornado, hurricane, dust bowl or fire that created a tremendous loss and hardship; or being a victim of a crime. Stories of our ancestors and their families could possibly be our stories – human stories. What we find in researching makes our ancestors real life people – not just a name with dates of birth and death. And that is the main reason that I do this research.

Amy Johnson Crow, of No Story Too Small continues the challenge to the geneablogging world to write a blog post weekly on one ancestor. This could be a photo, a story, biography, or a post on the weekly theme. To read her challenge please go to Challenge: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – 2015 Edition. Feel free to join in at any time! This week’s theme is “Love.”

(Image attribution: By Corazón.svg: User:Fibonacci derivative work: Eviatar Bach (Corazón.svg) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons)

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johnson_eva

Eva as a young girl

In The News Article I learned that my grandfather’s foster sister listed her mother as Clara Badgly Grennells. Then in Clara Badgly I sought out this mystery woman through census records – without too much luck. But in the previous installment, The Letter, I finally had more information to work with. In order to decipher the who, what, when, why, where, and how, I need to analyze the letter.

Pendleton, Ind.
July 19, 31.
Dear Folks,
How does the weather suit you? I wish it would rain, our garden is wilting. I have some news for you all.
I undertook to locate my Mother and found my Father. He was here to see me on the 12th and again yesterday afternoon and evening. Lives in Indianapolis. Has a brother that’s an attorney and one a contractor. Name is John Hanrahan.
He is Irish. Vesta my mother would not have nothing to do with him after she learned she was to become a mother and would not tell him the truth nor let him see her. So he did not know until after I was born then he wanted to marry her but she wanted to marry Fred Blackburn. Instead. She told my father I died. My father really loved (Fluffy) that’s what he called her. She was his first sweetheart. Name was Clara Badger instead of Badgly. I guess she was always changing her name. This picture of her was taken when she was 30 yr old. My father said she looks tired and worned in it. Not a bit like she did at 20 yr, said she was beautiful at 20.
When she died on Christmas ’28, Clara’s father states she called for me and cried till they had to give her morphine. She died at 6 pm. That was the Xmas John gave me those pearls, and that day I told Mom that some one wanted me terrible bad. I just felt it. The Doctor said if they could find me she would live. Oh I don’t see why I can’t have her now. They say I’m exactly like her. She named me “Marie”! She some how found out my last name was Johnson. He said she was not bad.
Am enclosing this envelope. Please send it back right away as it is precious to me. He said he would send us some money next Thursday. John is laid off again.
Well I thought I’d let you all know about it. My Father said to thank Mom and Dad for taking good care of me and wants to meet all of you. Has raised or nearly raised 5 children of some one else’s and none of his own. Said he always wanted a child and here he had one and did not know it. His step-children are jealous of me. He 41 awful nice. John likes him.
I like his brother Frank and his wife (illegible) nice too. My father looks like this picture yet.
Well I’ll stop. Send this back right away. I’ll enclose a stamp I want them.
As Ever,
Eva

Initially, I was beyond thrilled to find this letter, read it, and share it with “L” (Eva’s daughter). And she was just as excited to hear about it and read it. However, the more I looked at it, the more unclear it became.

The date the letter was written is July 19, 1931. That is one year and almost two months exactly from the time Eva’s foster mother (my grandmother), Kate J Blazer Johnson, passed away from stomach cancer in Greene county, Ohio while living with my grandfather, Glen R. Johnson. My great-grandfather (Eva’s foster father), John Lafayette Johnson, was still living. Presumably, the “folks” to whom she addressed the letter includes her foster dad, John Johnson, her foster brother, Glen R. Johnson, and his wife (my grandmother), Vesta C. Wilt Johnson; Eva even uses my grandmother’s name at the beginning of the letter. I wonder if Eva had given any thought as to whether or not she would hurt her foster dad by gushing over her birth father or pining away for her birth mother a year after the death of the woman who had raised her from birth?

Eva begins the letter just like any other correspondence between family members by mentioning the weather and her garden but makes it perfectly clear that her reason for writing doesn’t have anything to do with trivial day to day matters but an important event that has happened to her by summing up how she had been searching for her birth mother. Eva doesn’t mention how long she has been searching but putting it together with the news clipping from the Anderson Herald, it would seem as if the search has been ongoing for awhile. Eva drops the proverbial bomb in their lap that she has already met her birth father, and he has visited her twice! She gives her birth parents’ names as Clara Badger (“not Badgly”) and John Hanrahan, who she says “is Irish.” Since she has discovered the error of what she thought Clara’s surname was and what is correct, my assumption is that the news article came first. If that is the case then the information given in the article was incorrect because it specifically states that “four years ago the foster parent…died.” That would have meant the story was printed in 1934. Yet the story said it had only been twenty years earlier that Eva had been born giving the news article the date of 1930 and only a few short months after Katie had died.

Then, perhaps to somehow justify the circumstances of her birth or the reason she was given up to Katie and John, Eva launches in with an explanation that includes how Clara didn’t want anything to do with John Hanrahan even though he wanted to marry her but instead was told by Clara that Eva had died. Eva gave the name of the man Clara had wanted to marry instead as Fred Blackburn. Furthermore, she goes on to talk about the events surrounding the night that Clara died and said it was Christmas 1928. She used the words “Clara’s father states” and “The Doctor said” and “They say” but there aren’t any details to defend those statements. Did John Hanrahan tell her those things? If so, how did he know what Clara’s father or the doctor said? Who are the “they” she says told her she is just like Clara? How did Eva know that Clara named her “Marie” or how she found out her surname was Johnson? No explanations by Eva are ever given for that. She never tells my grandparents that she has met these other people. If John Hanrahan didn’t give her that information, then how did Eva know all of that?

Eva weaves a melodramatic story about how her birth mother was calling for her the night that she died and at the same time – miles away – she was having a premonition that “someone wanted” her “terrible bad.” Later in the letter she gives more information as to the name of one of John Hanrahan’s brothers – Frank – and that she likes him and his wife. That indicates that she has met the Hanrahan side (or some of it) of her birth family. Eva mentions how her biological father bemoans that he never got to raise one of his own children but has helped or has raised five children. She goes on to say that his step-children are jealous of her. Was she able to meet them? Were all of the “five children” John’s step-children or did he have nieces and nephews that he helped raise? Did John tell her they were jealous of her or did she say that to make herself feel better or look better to her dad, brother, and sister-in-law? Perhaps it was her way of saying, “See, there are people who can’t believe I have John Hanrahan for a father and they don’t!”

Finally, in closing the letter, Eva reminds my grandparents and her foster dad that she has enclosed a picture, possibly two, of her parents. It is not clear whether or not it is a picture of her bio parents together of separate ones. What she does make clear is that the picture is very precious to her and they are to send it back to her immediately in the envelope she is also sending along with a stamp. I assume that they did send it back although I haven’t checked to see whether or not they kept it for some reason, and it’s among the other ten-thousand photos I have of people I don’t know (because no one marked who they were on the back of the picture! – but that’s a rant for another time!). Eva also casually mentions that John Hanrahan is going to send them some money because her husband, John Skinner, has been laid off again. Eva makes sure to let them know that her birth father wants to thank her foster parents for taking “good care” of her and also wants to meet all of them.

The details that I picked out of the letter to help me research Eva’s birth parents include their full names: Clara Badger and John Hanrahan. Clara wanted to marry Fred Blackburn. John Hanrahan has two brothers – a contractor and an attorney. He also has a brother, Frank, who is married. I can’t claim that Frank is either the lawyer or the contractor. John Hanrahan was born about 1890 if he is 41 years old in 1931. It isn’t clear if he is married in 1941 but he has or has had step-children – or children that he considers step-children. Clara has passed away by 1931 – supposedly on December 25, 1928. John Hanrahan is Irish or of Irish descent and lives in Indianapolis.

My best guess is that when The Anderson Herald published the news article concerning Eva and her mother, it was printed in the late summer to early fall of 1930 – not that long after Katie died. That is probably how John Hanrahan discovered Eva – even though the birth mother’s name in the article is incorrect – it was close enough for him to figure it out. I believe that Eva embellished some of the details for dramatic flair. Her mom, Katie – the woman who had raised her – had died and her dad – John Johnson – was living in another state. Eva was unclear if she was going to see him again. So her melodrama could have been a way for her to cope with the types of abandonment she had felt in her life – first by her birth mother right after she was born, then by her foster brother, Glen,  and then Katie and John when they moved away, then by Katie’s death, and finally the knowledge that Clara had already died. Eva found her birth father only because she was searching for her birth mother! She wasn’t going to end up with a “mom” following Katie’s death after all.

If nothing else, I had more information to use for research – and what a boat-load of information I found!

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52ancestors-2015

Amy Johnson Crow, of No Story Too Small continues the challenge to the geneablogging world to write a blog post weekly on one ancestor. This could be a photo, a story, biography, or a post on the weekly theme. To read her challenge please go to Challenge: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – 2015 Edition. Feel free to join in at any time!

The theme for Week #2 is “King” and Amy noted: “January 8 is Elvis’ birthday. January 15 is the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. Do either of these “Kings” remind you of an ancestor? Or, taken another way, do you have a connection to royalty? Did you ancestor flee from an oppressive king?”

Of course the first thing I saw was “Elvis Presley” and all other thought went out the window!  My sister-in-law was an Elvis fan – a very big one! She was born Phyllis Anne Pearson on August 9, 1941 to Forrest Orville Pearson and Helen Jane Manning in Troy, Ohio. When she was born, her older brother was almost three. Her parents were divorced and by 1952, Forrest had remarried and was expecting a child with his wife. Unfortunately, the little boy was born prematurely and didn’t survive. Phyllis also had a younger half-sister. Her mother had also remarried. As a child, she contracted polio; consequently, one leg was a tad shorter than the other and that foot was half the size of her other one.

By the end of 1960, Phyllis was working at Miami Valley Hospital in Dayton and met my brother, Jim. He had tried to enlist in the US Air Force but due to his eyesight and a bad shoulder, he was honorably discharged. Unable to follow in the footsteps of our father and grandfather, he found work at the same hospital as Phyllis. On February 1, 1961 the two of them married at the parsonage of the First Reformed Church of Xenia (Ohio) by Rev. Russell Mayer. Their friends, Mr. and Mrs. Donald Fuchs, were their attendants. The reception was held at my parents’ home in Beavercreek, Ohio. My brother had turned 21 years old a month previous – on January 2 – and Phyllis was 20.

I wasn’t at the wedding – because I wasn’t even born yet!  When my mother asked my grandmother on Easter of 1961 how she would feel about becoming a grandmother again, everyone looked at Phyllis, who immediately exclaimed, “It’s not me!” So Phyllis had been a part of my family even before I was born. She and my brother would keep me at their house on weekends here and there. I was at their house when I broke out in chicken pox at the age of six. They would get real ice cream for me from the ice cream truck whenever I spent time with them.

michele wendy jim phyllis

My sister, brother Jim holding me and Phyllis

Phyllis’ personality was big. Everyone knew when she had entered a room. She had a voice that carried and a laugh I still hear in my daughter – who laughs a lot like Phyllis. She was tall and carried quite a bit of weight but she could dress in lovely skirt suits and blouses. Her blonde hair was always coiffed. I remember her purse – she always had a big one. We always teased her that she needed an even bigger one! To her family, she was Anne, but to us – Jim’s family – she was Phyllis. She and my brother took me to see “Jaws” when it came out in the movie theaters. I can still hear her yell when that shark came up out of the water!

When she and my brother adopted their son, she was so happy – they both were. I had a new nephew, and he was a darling. Phyllis was always laughing and making jokes. And she would talk about possibly going to an Elvis concert. It was after he had released “Moody Blue” but then he died. She was in shock – along with half of country.

She and my brother divorced in 1998 but she would always be my sister. Whenever we traveled to Ohio to visit my family, I always made sure to see her. She was a passenger in a car accident which badly damaged her polio stricken foot. The doctors weren’t sure if she would be able to keep it but she did. By that time her weight had ballooned, and she spent a lot of time in a wheelchair. She was afraid to use her foot as damaged as it was. Then came the answer we all thought would help – gastric bypass.

After the surgery, she would write to me that she wasn’t sure it was worth it. She wasn’t able to keep anything down and some of her family members were treating her differently. I kept teasing her that soon she could go bikini shopping! When we saw her in the summer of 2006, she still had that wit and laugh, but truth be told, her appearance was startling. She had gone to from at least 400 lbs to under 200 lbs. Her face, which had always been round and “jolly,” had lost that roundness. Then when we saw her the following summer, she was walking with a walker and seemed to have a breathing issue, as if any movement just wore her out. She didn’t speak much, and I can’t remember if I heard her laugh that evening. She seemed to have a hard time sitting. Her face was devoid of joy and happiness. I know she was still in mourning after losing her mother earlier that spring. Looking back on that evening, I should have realized something was off but I chalked it up to her grief and not seeing her for a year. She had lost even more weight.

In 2008, we were in Ohio in June, to visit my mother who had her own illness to battle. I called Phyllis to ask her if we would be able to see her but she said that she just hadn’t been feeling well and wanted to rest. I thought she might have a kidney infection or something but the following month I received a call from my nephew who told me that Phyllis had been hospitalized, and it didn’t sound good. He didn’t go in to detail but I could tell that he was scared. The next day – July 27, 2008 – my cousin called in tears to tell me that Phyllis had died. I just couldn’t believe it. She had been so full of life for as long as I had known her. I wondered if having the gastric bypass had done her in since she hadn’t been able to eat very much after she had the surgery. It wasn’t until that fall when my sister and I were visiting our mother in Ohio that we asked my nephew exactly what happened. He said the doctors had told him that she had kidney cancer. I wonder if she even knew and had chosen not to endure chemotherapy. Now, I believe that when I had seen her in the summer of 2007, she probably had the cancer then, and was starting to feel the pain. I think she had just given up.

I miss getting letters from her – I miss her laugh and the way she could tell a story! I miss her because even though she and my brother had divorced, she was a link to him after he passed away – to the life they had lived happily when I was a child. Not only did my mother survive her son but also her daughter-in-law. My nephew had already lost his father, then his maternal grandmother, then his mother and the following spring, my mom – his paternal grandmother. A few weeks after my mom died, Phyllis’ brother passed away. My nephew endured a lot in a short span of time. It was times like that, I wish we were closer.

So, on the anniversary of Elvis’ birth, I remember my sister-in-law, Phyllis Anne Pearson Amore. I hope she’s at peace and laughing.

phyllis 001

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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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