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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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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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(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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If you need to catch up on Part One and Part Two, I’ll wait . . .

So now the time had come for the next leg of my journey – my dad’s hometown of Coshocton, Ohio. Coshocton is located in west central Ohio near the foothills of the Appalachian mountains and just under 3 hours from where we were outside of Dayton. Knowing the horrible traffic and road construction of I-71 and I-70 through Columbus, I chose to spend most of the drive via the country. We headed toward Xenia and then north to Columbus on 70 but went around the city eastward. Before reaching Zanesville, we headed north and then east on 16. As we drove through Newark, I pointed out the Longaberger Basket Building to my grandson. He just had to get a picture as we passed by!

I had left my cousin’s house earlier than planned so we arrived at our hotel before noon. Even though the hotel check in was later in the day, they had our room ready for us so we got our luggage and settled in. Then we set out to explore a bit. We headed toward the courthouse square and passed the Presbyterian church where my grandparents – Lloyd Amore and Ella House – were married in 1903.

presbyterian-church-coshocton-collagePresbyterian Church (left) and Chapel (right)

We walked around the square while we were there. The Coal Miner’s Memorial is dedicated to all those men who worked in the mines and those who lost their lives. It was very important for me to see as not only did some of my dad’s cousins work in the coal mines but so did my grandpa Lloyd Amore. The Bicentennial Time Capsule is special to me because a letter was placed in it from my Great-Uncle, Rev. Isaiah H (“Zade”) Amore. The front page of the November 21, 1976 edition of the Coshocton Tribune reports: In his letter he states that Coshocton has been good to him and has taught him how much people need one another. Rev. Amore strikes a humorous note in his letter, as he often did in the sermons that made his ministry so successful, when he concludes with “I have had my share of weddings and funerals.” Uncle Zade had just celebrated his 100th birthday and due to health reasons, he was unable to be present at the ceremony that day. I am thrilled that in the fall of 2076 someone will open that time capsule and read his letter! The Coshocton County War Memorial is a part of other memorial markers in front of the courthouse. (Photo of the square below.)

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Bob Evans restaurant was right next door to our hotel, so we went there for a late lunch. My grandson was excited that they had double chocolate hotcakes on the menu (wait a minute, I thought we were there for lunch?)!

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After lunch, we headed just around the corner from our hotel to Historic Roscoe Village. I wanted to do a quick check on things just in case we weren’t able to do the tour later in the week. Many years ago, my dad sent me some photos from his last visit to Coshocton. On the back of one, he wrote “Coshocton General Store, some of my brothers and sisters were born upstairs.” That picture has been posted here on the blog quite awhile ago. When we walked in the store, I told the lady at the counter that my grandparents had lived in the upstairs room in the early 1900s and some of my dad’s siblings were born there. She was very excited and told me there were antiques for sale in the upstairs room so I could go up the steps and stand in that same room. After we came back down, we did a bit of shopping and my grandson bought a ball cap before leaving. I stood across the street and took photos of the store. However, and this made me feel sad later – the photo my dad had sent to me and labeled the General Store was not, in fact, correct. I did take a picture of the correct building later – even though I never went in and upstairs – mainly because I was still under the impression that it was the General Store where my grandparents’ home had been.

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In the photos above, you will see the picture my dad sent to me, then the one I took of the General Store, and finally of the Roscoe Village Suites – the correct building. (I am not sure why I didn’t look at the picture on the blog before deciding I had the right building – let that be a lesson learned.) I can take comfort knowing that my grandparents and great-grandparents probably did shop at the General Store even though I now know that they didn’t live there.

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I captured more photos while on our walk down Whitewoman Street through Historic Roscoe Village. After we left, we went up the hill in Roscoe and passed the home I believed to be where my great-grandparents, William H and Mary Angelina (Werts) Amore lived. Up from their house was the Roscoe Cemetery. I drove through but didn’t see their graves. It would be the next day when I would spend more time at the cemeteries in the area.

Our late dinner was spent at McDonalds – grandson’s choice. Then we went back to the hotel to just rest and relax. The next day – Tuesday – was going to be one filled with tons of walking up and down hills.

Next – meeting new cousins and visiting ancestral graves.

 

 

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This is a continuation of Part One so please go to that if you haven’t read it yet.

July 9 – I woke early in order to go to Glen Haven Memorial Gardens in New Carlisle, Ohio. I wanted to visit the graves of my mom, maternal grandparents, uncle and aunts. Before I did anything, I posted birthday greetings for my son on Facebook. As I looked at my list, I decided to go visit my dad’s grave one more time. The ground had been put back, and it appeared as if it hadn’t even been touched. The sun was out and it was shaping up to be a beautiful day. I spent time talking to Dad before saying goodbye and heading east on Route 40 (National Road) toward Glen Haven.

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I was a bit disappointed that my grandfather, Glen R Johnson, did not have a flag placed at his grave but many others did. Since he is buried in the Veteran’s section, I would think there would be a high probability that his would not be overlooked. Only my mother’s grave had flowers as my sister and I make sure we order a silk arrangement every spring. It was a shame that the others did not have flowers. (Photo above: upper left clockwise – “J” – the Johnson plot, my uncle and aunt Glen R Johnson and Mary Van Tuyl Johnson, my mother Mary H Johnson Amore, my grandparents Glen R Johnson and Vesta Wilt Johnson, my aunt Lois Evelyn Johnson, and the four gravestones.) I spent quite a bit of time there talking to Mom and my grandparents. Then I took my leave and headed toward Fairborn in Greene County close to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. My grandparents raised their family in what used to be Fairfield until the town merged with neighbor Osborn to become present day Fairborn. I wanted to take a picture of the home where my mom spent her youth. Unfortunately, not only was the street torn up and barriers marked “No Thru Traffic” were in place (which I disregarded!) but the trees in the front yard of the house made it impossible to take a good photograph. With a police vehicle at one end of the street and too many cars in the driveway, I didn’t think it would be proper to stop the car, get out and try to get a good camera shot so I just turned around and left. This – below – is what the home looked like many years ago.

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After returning from my morning journey, my cousin and I hit the local supermarket. I wanted to purchase items that can only be found in the Dayton area – Mikesell’s potato chips, Esther Price candy, and also some Buckeye candy. Think I bought enough chips? (As of today, we’ve eaten all but two bags!)

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After our grocery run, my grandson and I bid goodbye to my cousin and went over to her mother’s (my first cousin) for the remainder of our Dayton visit. I enjoy our conversations. She and her late husband had been very sweet to me when I was a child, and I was flower girl for their wedding. The food she fixed for our supper was delicious.

July 10 – my grandson and I left before 10 a.m. to visit the National Museum of the United States Air Force just off of Springfield Street in Dayton. The museum is very special to me as the Caquot Balloon hanging in the Early Years Gallery is similar to the balloon my grandfather worked with in the Signal Corps during WWI. He and several other balloonists and those of the Royal Air Force helped to locate the balloon for display in the museum. He had also donated some artifacts. Another family history fact: when the museum moved from the Base located off of Broad Street in Fairborn to its present day location, my dad was in charge of the logistics of moving all of the equipment/aircraft/etc. Fun fact: I’ve visited the museum more since I moved away from Ohio than I ever did as a kid!

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Following our full day at the Air Force museum, we traveled back toward my hometown and stopped one last time at Ritter’s for frozen custard before heading over to my other cousin’s house for a visit. The evening back at our hostess’ home was spent catching up on laundry and more conversation. We tried to cram in as much as we could in our chat. For all too soon, it would be time to hit the road in the morning for the next leg of our trip – one I was very much looking forward to be headed!

Next – my dad’s hometown!

(All photos – digital scans and originals in possession of Wendy Littrell, address for private use.)

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fireworks

July started off with a bang! Just like many families around the nation, we went to a local park to watch the fireworks display on the Fourth of July. We are also fortunate to live amidst cornfields and rural areas and can shoot off our own sparklers, firecrackers, bottle rockets, and other types of fireworks. For me the holiday was full of mixed emotions since I knew that just two days later, I would be on my way to Ohio to have my dad’s ashes interred – and – I would see cousins and begin the genealogy adventure that I’ve been waiting to do.

July 6 – Started very early in the morning as my fifteen year old grandson and I finished loading up the car to begin our trip eastward. As we neared the Mississippi River to cross in to Illinois, the sky was full of gray clouds. We drove through Springfield in the rain which turned to sprinkles close to Decatur. By the time we arrived in Brownsburg, Indiana, the sun was out, and it was time for lunch. We arrived at my cousin’s home located south of Dayton before 4:30 p.m.

Our first evening together since the summer of 2010 was full of laughter and catching up. Her two boys are a year older and a year younger than my grandson so the boys disappeared to play video games in the basement. We had a great dinner and then in the late evening, she told me that we needed to go to Bill’s Donuts. Wait a minute – a donut shop – at night? Let me just say that every town across the United States needs one of these places that are open 24 hours! It appeared to be the local hangout for not only teens but families. Picture the very best ice cream shop you’ve visited – but instead of ice cream, it’s donuts! We left there with a baker’s dozen of a variety of sweet treats for breakfast (some of them were still left at breakfast the next morning too!). On second thought, it’s probably not a good idea for one of those to be close to where I live!

July 7 – I used the Keurig coffee maker for the very first time and then headed to the cemetery in order to sign all the necessary documents pertaining to my father’s ashes and the interment. With some heartache, I left the ashes with the cemetery office in order for them to have everything ready for the next morning. After having them in my possession for six months, it felt odd that he wasn’t coming back to the house with me.

For lunch, the boys thought my grandson and I needed to see what all the hype was over Rapid Fire Pizza – so off we went. I love pizza – and I especially love pizza that I can create just for me! Think Subway – but pizza! I absolutely loved this restaurant and this is another place I believe all towns should have (well, on second thought . . . – see my response about Bill’s Donuts in above paragraph!)

That evening was our cousin get-together at Marion’s Pizza (more pizza!!!). We were missing a few but did have a very enjoyable time. Luckily, even though some left after eating, I was able to spend some time chatting with my three first cousins (children of my mom’s sister). This time, I was the one who asked the questions. I wanted to know more about my aunt – as their mom – instead of my mom’s sister. They shared some stories that made me see Aunt Genevieve in a whole new light! I didn’t realize that she pulled pranks and had a wicked sense of humor!

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My 3 first cousins and myself

marions-pizza-7-july-2016-family-gathering-judy-karen-wendy-ann-marie2 My first cousin and 2 first cousins once removed

July 8 – cousins all met at the house where I was staying and followed each other to Royal Oak Memorial Gardens in Brookville, Ohio. When we arrived, I noticed that the gentleman who was handling the arrangements had set up a nice table to hold the container of ashes. They had even placed a flag next to my father’s headstone since he was a veteran. It was a wonderful gesture, and I was very touched. My dad didn’t want a memorial service so I knew that our time was going to be brief. A few of us recounted a couple of stories about my dad, I read the obituary I had written, and then we drank a toast. My dad’s drink of choice was vodka and lemon-lime so some of us (adults) either got a small amount of vodka or both vodka and sprite and the three boys got the soda. We raised our glasses (dixie cups!) and said good-bye. I think my dad would have approved.

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When we left the cemetery, we headed back to the Dayton area to have lunch at Frisch’s (Big Boy). I can’t begin to tell you how much I was looking forward to this lunch because my favorite sandwich is the Swiss Miss – a hamburger pattie on a rye bun with swiss cheese and tartar sauce. Can not get this sandwich anyplace else except Frisch’s!

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My cousins, grandson, and myself at Frisch’s Big Boy

After lunch, my grandson and I took off to drive by important places of my childhood. I had a list of addresses and with the help of a loaned GPS, I knew there wouldn’t be any problem finding them. We stopped by my childhood home in Beavercreek, the townhome where my mother spent the last 32 years of her life, two houses my maternal grandparents had lived, and my three schools.

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My childhood home – left (1960s) and right (July 2016)

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One of my grandparents’ homes in Dayton (left – 1950s & right – July 2016)

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My mom’s former townhome

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My grandparents’ house in Kettering, Ohio.

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My elementary, junior high (now a middle school), and high school

When I pulled through the parking lot of my high school (which is now the “back” of the school even though it faces the road), I was pointing out windows of the classes I had been in and what the new parts of the school were when a man came to the car and asked if he could help with anything. As soon as I told him I was a graduate and showing my grandson where I went to school, he had me park so he could give us the nickel tour since so much of it has changed.

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The picture above is of the auditorium from the stage. When I was in high school, we couldn’t perform any theatrical productions there because we did not have such a marvelous stage or auditorium. We had to travel down the road a bit to the elementary school. I’m a tad bit jealous that not only is the stage wonderful but the dressing rooms are pretty nice as well (sure beats getting in costume and make-up in the girls restroom!) Before we left, I had to take a picture of my grandson with our school’s mascot – Bucky Beaver.

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From there we headed to our favorite frozen custard stand just down the road from my high school – Ritter’s Frozen Custard. When my mom was living, and we would visit her, this is where we all liked to come on warm summer evenings. We’d all order our frozen treats and sit on the stone benches at the tables. Good memories.

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Next – the rest of our adventures in Dayton before heading to the second leg of our journey.

(All photos, digital scans are property of Wendy Littrell; address for private use.)

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