My husband and I just returned from a five-day research trip in Pennsylvania. It was a whirlwind trip, and as I had limited time, I had to focus my priorities and not allow myself to get distracted. What wonderful results! I could easily have spent the entire time at the wonderful Somerset County Historical Society! What an awesome place!
What made this trip especially thrilling was being able to verify theories, positively identifying my third-great grandfather’s gravestone, clarifying misinformation found online, and getting to actually touch and handle 170 year old documents listing my family in 1840. What exhilaration! What joy! For all these reasons, whenever possible, an on-site research trip is really the best way to work on a family history.
One of my first objectives was to solve the mystery of Henry Uphouse, my third great grandfather, whom I believed to be buried at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church Cemetery, also known as Barron Cemetery, in Middlecreek, PA. Having done extensive research in Somerset county, Pennsylvania, I knew he was the only Henry Uphouse listed in the 1840 and 1850 censuses in the entire county. I had viewed his probate records, scanned decades worth of microfilmed tax records for the county, and was confident my assumption was correct – Henry Uphouse died in sometime in April, 1857. My dilemma? Pennsylvania’s tombstone project listed his date of death as April 14, 1852. Recognizing the possibility of a transcription error, I was anxious to visit the cemetery myself to visualize the gravestone. My husband and I searched the entire site, and could not locate the headstone. A second search through and I began scrutinizing dates, looking for one that stated 1852 or 1857, and finally found the stone shown the right. Since the stone was so worn, the name was simply unreadable. However, the year was clearly 1857, not 1852. I took several photos of it, sat that evening, wishing the name to somehow magically appear. Then I remembered an old trick I’d read about to obtain information from worn headstones, and knew I couldn’t rest until I’d tried everything to positively identify this as Henry’s headstone.
The next morning we set off to Walmart for the requisite supplies – charcoal, large paper, and at my husband’s suggestion, tissue paper. Continue reading