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In honor of Mother’s Day, I created a collage of all of the women who are my direct ancestors. After I was finished, I marveled that I had so many photos to use!

Beginning at the top, left to right:
Margaret Bushong b. 24 Jan 1814 in Ohio and d. 1 Jun 1888 in Hamilton county, Indiana. 3rd great-grandmother
Mary Angeline Werts b. 15 Feb 1855 in Coshocton county, Ohio and d. 5 Dec 1941 in Roscoe, Coshocton county, Ohio. Great-grandmother
Frances Virginia Ogan b. 29 Nov 1846 in Guernsey county, Ohio and d. 18 Feb 1915 in Coshocton, Ohio. Great-grandmother
Margaret Catherine Maple b. 22 Dec 1808 in Coshocton, Ohio and d. 13 May 1851 in Muskingum county, Ohio. 3rd great-grandmother
Nancy Caylor b. 10 May 1840 in Indiana and d. 21 Dec 1900 in Noblesville, Indiana. Great-Great-grandmother
Melissa Goul b. 17 Oct 1832 in Champaign county, Ohio and d. 7 Mar 1907 in Madison county, Indiana. Great-Great-grandmother
Ella Maria House b. 22 Jun 1882 in Coshocton county, Ohio and d. 3 Jul 1946 in Coshocton, Ohio. Grandmother
Louisa Bookless b. 13 Apr 1834 in Muskingum county, Ohio and d. 26 Jul 1912 in Coshocton, Ohio. Great-Great-grandmother
Martha Jane Stern b. 9 Feb 1872 in Clarksville, Indiana and d. 6 Nov 1956 in Leaburg, Oregon. Great-grandmother
Katie J Blazer b. 27 Sep 1864 in Madison county, Indiana and d. 20 May 1930 in Fairfield (now Fairborn), Ohio. Great-grandmother
Vesta Christena Wilt b. 7 May 1898 in Noblesville, Indiana and d. 19 Jan 1984 in Dayton, Ohio. Grandmother
Mary Helen Johnson b. 21 Sep 1921 in Anderson, Indiana and d. 1 May 2009 in Beavercreek, Ohio. Mother
Me!

 

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Ten years have passed since I started All My Branches Genealogy blog as a way to share stories about my ancestors, collateral relatives, and me. Cousins have found my blog and learned new things about our shared family. In turn, I’ve been able to collaborate with them about information that I didn’t have. 

I hope you’ll stick around for another ten!

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At a Snail’s Pace


Not my life – just my blog posts! In the last two months since my last blog post, life got busy. We had family in town, celebrated the baptism of the youngest granddaughter, found ourselves dealing with more snow, started preparing for our grandson’s prom, worshiped most of Holy Week, and dealt with more snow. My volunteer activities picked up speed – which meant I was in charge of presenting two different programs plus arranging programs for the local historical society.  

In the midst of everything, RootsTech happened. I watch the live stream keynotes and sessions from home. As has happened in the past, I became so caught up in new ideas of research and telling my family story, that I’ve failed to blog!

I have compiled a tour on Google Earth Pro of my great-great-grandfather’s travels from birth to death. Now to figure out how to share it with family. I’m also working on a PowerPoint presentation of the same person with added information.

I apologize for the break in posts, but I’m thrilled to have new storytelling ideas!

(Image from Wikimedia – Creative Commons license)

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FINDING LINCOLN

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My grandson and I finished gathering everything together in order to check out of the motel in Anderson, Indiana on the morning of July 18. He went to get a rolling cart so we wouldn’t have to make more than one trip from the room to the car and back. One final look around, and we were out the door to complete the final day of our trip before reaching home later that evening. I pushed open the door to get to the car and stopped – it was pouring down rain! Several things ran through my mind: I have to get gas in the rain; it is still dark and won’t be daylight for awhile; and I don’t know what drivers are like in the rain in Indiana. It really didn’t matter – we had to get back on the road if we wanted to be in Springfield, Illinois as early as we could.

By daylight, the rain had dwindled to sprinkles. We moved right along into Illinois. At one point, the rain came down so hard and fast that the wind blew it sideways. I was having a difficult time seeing the lanes of the highway plus so much water on the road made it difficult to navigate. I kept telling my grandson that I needed to get off the road. Finally, I saw an exit with a sign reading “Gas.” If you have ever heard my story about finding a gas station in Illinois, you know where this is going already! (Many years ago when my youngest daughter was about 4, we needed to find a restroom quickly and followed a sign reading “Gas” for about 10 miles before realizing it was a joke – not really, but we never found a gas station. My husband always said it was the only way for Illinois to get people to live there – to confuse them enough until they stay!) Anyhow – I made sure I followed the directions to where “gas” would be located and drove at least five miles or more down a narrow road off the highway. In the distance, I saw a water tower and knew a town would be there. Sure enough, itty bitty town with its lone gas station was right there. With no parking, I just pulled beside a gas pump. Time for restroom break and then to get snacks and something to drink. By the time we walked back outside, the rain was gone!

Onward toward Springfield! That place has been on my list for quite awhile and even more so after our stop there in the summer of 2008. We missed the tour of Lincoln’s home, and the tomb at Oak Ridge Cemetery was closed in order to make ready for Lincoln’s bicentennial birthday celebration. This time, I wanted to get to the home tour early enough in order to get on the list before the day grew late.

If you have been to Springfield, you are aware that you must pay for parking before entering the visitor center. Unfortunately, it isn’t easy to predict how long the tour or the wait will be so that is like fortune-telling. I decided that we wouldn’t be there longer than two hours no matter what and paid for parking. Luckily, we arrived five minutes before we needed to meet our tour group in one of the historic buildings by the Lincoln house.

Since the home and the other buildings there are part of the National Park system, a Park Ranger led our tour. He was entertaining and knowledgeable. If there was one thing we all learned – keep your hands and feet on the blue carpet! Word of advice – if you can get away with carrying your money/license/credit cards in a pocket – do so. At least take a small purse with a strap to put over you. You can not lean on or bump the walls in the Lincoln home with your body, hands, purse, or objects. That is how they can keep it preserved. After the initial instructions, we were ready to enter the building.

Abraham Lincoln is my favorite president. I am still learning more and more about the man and his presidency. So to stand in the same rooms where he and his family lived, was awe inspiring for me.

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Scenes in the photo (above): the front of the home and front door; the front parlor where Lincoln found out that he had secured the nomination for President in 1860; the dining room table and the sideboard; the stove in the kitchen; the kitchen table; the fireplace in the sitting room; the carpeting in the sitting room; Abraham Lincoln’s bedroom with his bed, wash basin and writing desk; Mary Todd Lincoln’s bedroom; Robert Lincoln’s bedroom; Willie and Tad’s bedroom; the hired girl’s room; and the apple tree in the back yard. I do believe that the wallpaper in Lincoln’s bedroom would have kept me awake all night!

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My grandson in front of Lincoln house

In the Charles Arnold house located across the street from the Lincoln’s, we were able to see displays of items found on the Lincoln property; architecture and building material information; portraits of Mary and Abraham; a diorama of the Lincoln house; campaign banners; campaign medals; and other items. The Visitor’s Center also had a diorama of the streets and buildings of Old Springfield.

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 Since the tour of the home doesn’t take very long, once we were finished looking at the displays in the Arnold house, we had plenty of time before we had to get the car out of the parking lot. We walked along the historic roads, and I captured photos of the homes.

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Descriptions of the homes from left to right, top to bottom are as follows. The Allen Miller house was built in the mid-1850s and is named for the Allen Miller family who lived in the home after 1860. The Dean house was the home of Mrs. Harriet Dean and her son, Frederick. The Charles Corneau house was built about 1849. The Henson Lyon family rented the house in the early 1860s from Lemuel Ide. The Dubois house was built about 1858 and the Jesse Dubois family resided there until 1864. The Henson Robinson house was built about 1859-1860. The Sprigg house was the residence for Mrs. Julia Sprigg, a friend of Mary Lincoln, from 1853 until 1869. The Beedle house – named after William Beedle – was built about 1841. The final house was built in the early 1850s and was rented by Mrs. Sarah Cook, a widow, in the early 1860s.

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While we were walking through the historic Lincoln neighborhood, we saw a wagon, the Politics in the Neighborhood Log Cabin display, the Underground Railroad display, and the stone in front of the Henson Robinson house. Then we ventured to the Visitor’s Center and gift shop. My grandson found a Lincoln pocketwatch while I bought three books, magnets, and some postcards. To read more, please go to Lincoln Home National Historic Site.  Then it was time to head toward Oak Ridge Cemetery.

As we entered the cemetery, I told my grandson that we were not going to be able to miss the monument. We drove until we saw this.

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We found a parking lot next to the tomb and made our way toward it. As we walked, the structure seemed to get larger and larger.

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As we entered, I was struck by how solemn it was. This was a burial location for the man I believe was this country’s greatest President. It was a place of quiet reflection, honor, and respect. As we circled through the building, there were several displays.

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The inner room is not as big as one would think it should be but on the other hand, it almost feels cavernous due to the flood of emotions that comes from standing at the final resting place of a beloved President, his wife, and three of his sons.

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lincoln-plaques

After paying our respects to the President and Mrs. Lincoln, we left the burial chamber and the tomb. Outside in front of the monument, is the famous Lincoln “head” that many use to rub Lincoln’s nose for luck. There are beautiful flower gardens surrounding the building.

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And just like that, our road trip had come to a close. It was time to finish our journey back to the farm twelve days after we had started.

In summary, I was able to see just about everything I had set out to see. I found almost all of the graves that were on my list. I had taken care of my father’s wishes and made sure that all went according to plan with the interment of his ashes. I felt as if there were new bonds formed with my cousins. I met cousins that I’d long communicated with only online. Most importantly, I believe that it was a time for my grandson and I to make memories together. And in the end, it really was great to get home.

If you would like to start at the beginning or re-read any of the previous installments, please go to:
Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part FourPart Five, Part Six, Part Seven, Part Eight, and Part Nine.

(Photo of Abraham Lincoln: Wikimedia Commons, public domain. All other photos copyright Wendy Littrell, address for private use.)

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Our last full day in Anderson was filled with emotion and fun. If you have read this blog for awhile, then you might remember my post – Independent From Birth – about my maternal grandfather’s foster sister, Eva – specifically the following paragrah:

She and her husband split up and divorced, and when Eva was in her early 40s, she discovered that she was pregnant.  The specter of what lay ahead of her would surely be weighing on her mind: an older mother, a single mother, a mother of a grown son, a woman who had limited income.  Any number of reasons would have aided her in her decision to give up her daughter – just as she had been given up.  It was only many years later before Eva died, that she would be reunited with her grown daughter.

I have also written a series of articles concerning the Clues to the Mystery of Clara (Eva’s biological mother). All of the research stemmed from a comment I received on my genealogy web site many, many years ago from a woman telling me she was Eva’s biological daughter. Ever since Lynn and I began communicating way back then, she’s given me what little information she was told. I’ve used that and gone on to find documents and news articles to help her find out more about her biological family. When I knew that I was definitely going to be in Anderson, I made sure Lynn knew our schedule in order for us to finally meet face to face. Little did I know that she had a surprise of her own for me!

When Lynn and her husband pulled in to the motel parking lot to pick us up, I could hardly contain my excitement! As soon as we could, we hugged and laughed. It was as if we had known each other forever. Originally, we had planned to get a pizza and go to one of the parks, but the pizza place wasn’t going to be open for awhile. That’s when she told me that Eva’s daughter-in-law and granddaughter were also going to be with us for the day! I had never met them. The granddaughter (Lynn’s niece) had plenty of questions about Eva as well. We met up with them and they followed us to Culvers for an early lunch. Immediately, we all began pouring over the information about Eva and Clara as well as my grandparents (Eva’s foster parents).

That’s when I told my cousin and her mother that they were about to have their mind blown. We did share a family connection via the foster parent to child connection. BUT – further back – one of Clara’s direct ancestors was the brother of my direct ancestor – on my grandmother’s side. There was a blood connection! It was so thrilling to provide this information that it was hard to eat!

Soon, lunch was over, and we drove over to Mounds State Park and grabbed a picnic table to sit and enjoy the cool day. There was plenty of conversation. Lynn recounted to us how she finally found Eva and was able to talk with her. Her niece recounted meeting Lynn and also talked about her dad – Lynn’s older half-brother. While we were engaged in family history talk, Lynn’s husband and my grandson went to explore the Great Mound. The sky was beginning to turn and threaten rain. Lynn’s niece and sister-in-law had to leave. We took some nice photos before we parted ways.

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Left to right: Wendy, Lynn (seated), cousin “B” and her mom “J”

Lynn, her husband and I drove through Anderson and happened to pass a cemetery. I saw the sign that said “West Maplewood” and then both my grandson and I exclaimed “There it is!” It was the gravestone that had been so elusive to us the last two days! I didn’t realize that West Maplewood Cemetery was off another road than East Maplewood – no wonder I could never find it. So Lynn’s husband pulled in to the cemetery. We all got out and set about exploring.

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The photo above shows the very tall grave marker in the Hawkins family plot. At the upper right is the stone for Coleman Hawkins and below that is for his wife (and my great-great-grandfather’s sister) Elizabeth Blazer Hawkins. For more on their story, please read Mingling of Families and Murder.

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This collage above shows the stones in the Hawkins family plot. Then from bottom left across and then up to top right: Ida E Hawkins (b. 1873 d. 1898); Silas Hawkins (b. 1870 d. 1901); Rufus Hawkins (b. 1866 d. 1896); stone hard to read;  and George G Hawkins (b. 1860 d. 1885).

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In another section of West Maplewood, I found my great-great-grandfather’s (Frank Blazer) and Elizabeth’s other sister, Mary Jane Blazer Webb. She was next to her husband, Marian Webb, and sons: Rufus V Webb and Wilson S Webb. There were several interesting gravestones we saw as we explored the cemetery. From there we went to Frisch’s to eat. Once again, I had the Swiss Miss! We topped off our day at Shadyside Memorial Park in Anderson. Here is a photo I have of my grandfather, Glen R Johnson, as a young boy with sheep at Shadyside in the early 1900s.

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The Terraced Gardens at the park were beautiful. There is also a memorial dedicated to all veterans from Madison county.

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Below are photos of the Veterans Memorial.

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We had spent quite a bit of time at the park when it started to sprinkle. The day was growing late and Lynn and her husband had another couple of hours on the road to get back to their home. Reluctantly, we piled back in to their vehicle so they could drop my grandson and me off at our motel. We said our good-byes, and they left for home. It was time to start packing up to leave the next morning and finish our journey home.

Next: Finding Lincoln

The previous installments of our genealogy road trip can be found here:  Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part FourPart Five, Part Six, Part Seven and Part Eight.

If you would like to read more about Lynn’s biological maternal grandmother, please go to: Clara – the News Article, Who Is Clara Badger?, and  Update and Summary.

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

 

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SONY DSC

(Links to previous installments are at the bottom of this article.) The morning of July 15 found us leaving Coshocton before 6 a.m. headed south west. I wanted to get to Anderson, Indiana before the afternoon but planned a stop before leaving Ohio. My four times great-grandparents, Adam Goul and Elizabeth (Lutz) Goul, settled in Champaign county by 1817. They were buried at Treacles Creek Cemetery in Goshen township off of South Parkview Road. By the time we arrived at the cemetery, my grandson had gone back to asleep. The only parking was off the shoulder of the road so I woke him just enough to tell him I was going into the cemetery. Luckily, the photos I have seen of the headstones gave me an indication as to the area I should look.

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I found them pretty quickly and took some photos. As I had done in many of the other cemeteries, I talked to them for a few moments before heading back to the car. We drove on toward Anderson, Indiana.

My mom, her older two siblings, and my grandfather had all been born in Anderson. When my mom was just a few years old, the family moved to present day Fairborn, Ohio. Ancestors on my grandmother’s side had lived in Henry county – very close to Madison county so I hoped that I could also visit where they were buried.

When we arrived in Anderson, I realized too late that the hotel sat off the road to the right of the highway, and I was in the left lane. Having lived in the Dallas area for so long, I was used to driving a bit and going around the block to my destination. That is not so in Anderson! I drove a very long way and kept thinking that surely this road will intersect with the highway again – nope, it went right over it without an exit to the highway! Even with that bit of trouble, we arrived at the hotel about 11 a.m. I knew check-in wasn’t until 3 p.m. but I had hoped that they (like the hotel in Coshocton) might let us check in early. Sadly, that wasn’t the case. I was told that it “might” be ready by 2. The first thing we did was find a place to eat – Pizza Hut. Then we drove out to Maplewood Cemetery near the college in Anderson. My grandfather’s parents and siblings are buried there – along with many of my grandfather’s cousins.

With the size of the cemetery, I stopped at the office. I explained to the lady that we were from out of state, and I had hoped to see some of my family member’s graves during the short time I was in town, but I needed to know exactly where they were buried or I would never find them. Her comment: “We really don’t do that.” Before I could pick my jaw up off of the floor, she sighed and asked me “just how many people are we talking about?” Well I knew that anything over 4 was just going to shut her down so I gave my great-grandmother’s name as I knew that some of the others were buried right next to her. The lady made the look up on the computer, retrieved a book from an inner room, and marked down her plot on a map she gave me. I also got the location for my grandfather’s foster sister, Eva’s grave. I thanked her profusely, and then we left the office to follow the map.

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Top Left to Right: Letis W Johnson, Mary A Johnson, Eva L (Johnson) Skinner (my great-uncle & great-aunts)
Bottom: John L Johnson and Katie J (Blazer) Johnson – my great-grandparents

As we were driving through the cemetery looking for other graves, we saw a father and his son crisscrossing many of the roads. I stopped to ask if they were playing “Pokemon Go” – sure enough, they were but had also been visiting his parents’ graves. We thought it was humorous because many of the college students were also wandering through campus and nearby streets playing the game. Needless to say, even though one of the gravestones I was looking for was rather large and next to the road, we never found it. We did stop at the Veterans area and take pictures.

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Finally, we were able to check in at the hotel. I saw several families staying there – so that always makes me feel better about safety. I had booked this place on the advice of my cousin – who I would finally get to meet in person on July 17.

Realizing just how difficult it was obtaining grave location information at Maplewood, I contacted the other cemetery – Grove Lawn – in Pendleton (a few miles down the road). I reached the Town Hall so I explained the reason for my call and was passed off to another woman. She was very helpful and told me she would call me back and email me a map once she had the graves located. It wasn’t too long when she called to apologize that the area I needed to search was the older section and those records had burned in a fire long ago. She told me to check my email for her advice along with the map.

My grandson and I headed off to Pendleton and passed Fall Creek park. I turned into one of the small lanes of the cemetery and stopped. Based on what the lady at the Town Hall told me, I suggested that my grandson head off to the section on his side of the car to start looking for gravestones. As I stepped a few feet back and looked down, there they were! As I believed on Tuesday in Coshocton, it appeared the ancestors wanted to be found!

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Left side – top: Franklin Blazer & bottom: Melissa (Goul) Blazer
Right side: John & Martha Goul (Melissa’s parents)

Over a bit from Franklin and Melissa’s graves were the stones of Franklin’s brother’s family. George and Amanda Blazer are buried near three of their four children: Estella (Blazer) Dilts, John W Blazer, and James Albert Blazer.

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Also, close by were two other members of the family – John F Blazer, son of Franklin and Melissa (my great-grandmother Katie’s brother), and Franklin’s father, John Blazer. There is an area without a gravestone next to the elder John Blazer, and I believe my three times great-grandmother, Mary Ann (Nelson) Blazer, is buried there.

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Left: John Blazer b 1810 d 1873 / Right: John F Blazer b 1859 d 1897

Further back in the cemetery is where I located Melissa’s parents grave – John and Martha Goul. Then I saw John Goul’s brother’s gravestone. It looks like a carved tree trunk.

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Above: Side of headstone for Henry Goul and Bottom: Sarah Shaul Goul

By the time we were finished at Grove Lawn, we headed back to Anderson and the hotel. After a bit of rest and relaxation, the grandson and I went down the street to eat at Cracker Barrel. After supper, the rest of the evening was spent back at the hotel in anticipation of another busy day.

Next: Day Two in Anderson and Vicinity

(Please visit the previous installments for the story up to now! Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four, Part Five, and Part Six.

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

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Wendy Amore, Christmas 1967 53 Cherry Hill Dr, Beavercreek, OH

Christmas 1967

For those readers who are a “certain age” – do you remember “Creepy Crawlers?” Prior to Christmas 1967, my neighbors had one of those kits. I loved watching how the liquid stuff that came out of bottle (“PlastiGoop”) and put into molds could create caterpillars, bugs, spiders, and a whole assortment of “creepy crawlers.” I enjoyed it so much and talked about it so Santa Claus – in his infinite wisdom – gifted me with a different type of Thingmaker – Fun Flowers.

The photo above shows me after Christmas using my new toy. I know that it is at least the day after Christmas because there aren’t any remnants of Christmas presents around the tree. I also don’t see anyone else in the picture. On Christmas Day there would have been quite a number of folks at our house making it particularly difficult to get a picture without anyone else there. My dad was taking the photo so he was also the one making sure I used the heating element correctly as I was only six years old. The TV stand next to me is holding the box with other metal molds so I could make several different types of flower petals and leaves. I decorated pencils with all of my flower creations! (Fun fact: I still own the chair as it is part of the dining room set which sits in our front room as well as the hutch cabinet in the upper part of the photo that now sits in our dining area/living room!)

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 write about a photo in order to encourage those taking part in the group to list more about their pictures instead of just name, date, and place. Give the photos life so those in the future (our children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, etc.) will have that information.

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