Category Archives: My Family Lines
My favorite ancestor is Betsy (Wasgatt) Stanwood. She was one tough lady. She was five months pregnant when she married my 4th great grandfather, Benjamin Stanwood, in 1808. Not exactly politically correct in the early 19th century. When Benjamin died, she managed the family farm, and was listed as head of house on nearly all subsequent censuses. When her grown children and spouses moved to Minnesota, she went along for the ride, but came back to her home – Eden (now Bar Harbor), Maine. She apparently made this trip alone, although she was nearly 80 years old at the time. I love Bar Harbor – I understand why she came home.
I’ve dabbled in my Wasgatt genealogy throughout the years, but was again inspired to pick it back up when I saw the Wasgatt family Bible in Bar Harbor last summer. Armed with this info, and starting from scratch, I’ve been going through generation after generation, adding appropriate sources that I either lacked in my beginning days, or were dropped when moving from one genealogy program to the next.
One really cool thing about retracing your steps after so many years is that there are a lot more resources available online to assist. Continue reading
This photo has always intrigued me. Knowing my grandmother’s uncle, Melvin Stanwood, made his way from city to city, town to town, bringing telephone lines to local citizens, it seemed highly probable this picture was somehow related to him. Thanks to the Library of Congress and the Chronicling America project, I now know for sure. This evening I downloaded the following article (Princeton Union [Princeton, MN] 12 Oct 1905) from http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov:
Most cool, is after scanning the photo in on my Flip Pal scanner and blowing it up, I now see that the gentleman in the center in the suit is Uncle Melvin himself! How did I miss that before? Moral of the story – keep revisiting web sites, keep searching – you never know what’s gonna turn up!
Researching deeds has always felt cumbersome to me. Unless you live in the area where your ancestors resided (not me), or visit the courthouse in the county where they lived (not feasible to do routinely, if, like me, you live on the opposite coast from your forebears), the easiest way to research deeds is to first order the microfilmed index from the Family History Center, determine the book and page where your ancestor’s deeds are recorded (if any), and then order the corresponding films.
Well, the State of Maine has made the job of locating your ancestor’s probate records and deeds MUCH easier! Continue reading
In the era when families are spread through the U.S., I suppose my family was quite an anomaly. So much so that in later years my grandmother would often remark, “I must have done something wrong – I just can’t rid of you kids!” Of course, all of us “kids,” now well into adulthood with families of our own, knew she was fiercely proud of her loyal brood of children and grandchildren. Her life had been spent raising her three daughters, and then, spending her mid-life and senior years doting on her six grandkids.
Reflecting back, I now realize I took my childhood for granted, and assumed that all kids had wonderful grandparents and extended families. Continue reading
Last night I went to the Family History Center just long enough to order the microfilms I needed for Somerset County, PA – taxes, naturalization records, church records, etc. Yup, just a brief stop and then I’d head home and start my after-work chores. Well, lucky for me, two of the eight films I’d planned to request were there! I didn’t get any new info, but I was able to confirm info I’d found online at PA-Roots.org. (Needless to say, it is always exhilarating to see the original document, even though it wasn’t “new” information!) While wrapping up for the night, I was chatting with the volunteer who was manning the library. “So what go you interested in genealogy?” he asked.
The thrill of solving these puzzles is what has me hooked and keeps me feverishly seeking answers to my family mysteries. Continue reading
It’s hard to believe that last year this time I was just putting together a sketch of my Uphouse family in Somerset County, Pennsylvania. Using the censuses, I came up with some hypotheses on relationships – and most have proved correct! When Henry Uphouse died, his kids seemed to be spread abroad throughout Somerset and Westmoreland counties, and while I was reasonably certain these kids were my aunts and uncles, I had no initial proof. One invaluable web site to assist in my endeavor is www.pa-roots.com. Last night I found a newly-posted, extracted obituary for William H. Uphouse on there. Actually, they had two of them. A quick email and by mid-morning today I had scanned copies of both! Continue reading
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
Webster’s dictionary defines “father” as “a man that has begotten a child.” I disagree.
A father is a man who has loved, raised and cared for a child. A man who has cared for and raised a child he has not “begotten” is even more to be cherished, and is even more of a father. That certainly describes my own father, my Daddy.
My Dad married my mom when I was only 2 ½ (almost three) years old. One of my earliest memories was before their marriage. Daddy and I were on our front porch when he presented me with a Jane West doll. She was green and plastic, and if I recall correctly, had painted yellow hair. Even though I hadn’t yet developed into the country girl I would eventually become, I loved the Jane West doll and had her for many, many years. That was the first of many early memories of my Dad during my childhood.
Dad was a big kid at heart. Continue reading
In my last post I discussed how the use of the internet has expedited some of my research. However, I’ve also learned that sometimes we can become too reliant on databases, web searches and other online tools. Sometimes we just need to go back to basics.
Such is the case in my search for a photo of Flora (Stanwood) Simpson. Aunt Flora was one of those people that stayed put. Since she was found year after year, census after census, in the same place, I got to “know” Aunt Flora better than many of the other Aunts and Uncles in my family tree. Flora was married three times. She was widowed at the age of 25 when her first husband, Morton Howe, died, leaving her with four small children. Next she married John Miller. This marriage was brief, as in 1900 she married her third and final husband, Oliver Fred Simpson.
My grandmother, Goldie Simpson, recalled seeing Aunt Flora when she herself was very young. She remember this “very old woman with wrinkled socks.” Since my grandmother was only 3 years old at the time, she couldn’t offer many other details. :-) However, she did remember many of Flora’s step chlidren, who were my grandmother’s first-cousins. The relationship is a bit complicated, but the short story is that there were two Stanwood women who married two Simpson brothers. Continue reading