Category Archives: Research Trips

Pennsylvania research – oh the value of research trips!

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.

Gravestone for Henry Uphouse, Barron Cemetery, Middlecreek, Somerset, PA

Worn and degraded headstone of Henry Uphouse

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


Hello world!

Ernest and Susan (Stanwood) Simpson

My great grandparents, Ernest and Susan (Stanwood) Simpson

Growing up, my grandmother, Goldie (Simpson) Edwards, played a pivotal role in my life. Living next door to her, I spent much of my time at her home. Later, when she moved across town, Mom would drop me off at “Grammer’s” house before school, and the bus would take me there after school. Grammer was the kind of grandmother most kids would want – prepared with cookies and milk when I’d get off the school bus, and always ready to help with home work. At Christmas time she could never keep a secret from me. I don’t recall a year she didn’t tell me what gift she’d have for me under the tree (and sometimes she’d even let me see it!), but always warned me to “pretend to be really surprised!” As a grew up, I began paying closer attention to when she’d tell stories about how family. She always spoke with great pride when she’d talk about her mother being a Stanwood. She’d saved old letters and photographs that would later provide my first clues when I began researching our family history.

Like most genealogists, my first efforts began at the National Archives. I’d spend hours scanning the censuses, and would come home and look for more clues, searching for something I’d missed. Eventually I was able to locate cousins who were also tracing our heritage, and through them obtained more hints to solve family puzzles. After my grandmother died, my mother took a keen interest in genealogy; one of my best memories of my mother was our 2004 research trip to Bar Harbor, Maine, where we visited home of many Maine Stanwoods, descendants of our ancestor Job Stanwood. My mom passed away just two years later, and I will forever be grateful for the hobby we shared together in her last years.

With the passage of time genealogy has certainly evolved; so much information is now available online. Even without a subscription to genealogy databases, one can find clues by “Googling” their surname. While I’ve had many web sites through the years, this is my first effort at posting my family history online. Extending it through a blog to reach out to other cousins is also new – time to catch up with the 21st century!


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