What Will I Do on Summer Vaca?

We are on a balanced schedule in our school district now.  While I love having an extended Spring and Fall Break, I must say that I really do desire the time to actually be lazy in the summer.  We have just over a month and a half of summer break.  And while I should be delighted to have that time, I am already finding that it is already filling up.  So I am nervous about not getting in a genealogy trip.  I need to start planning now.  But here’s the problem.  I have so many places I would like to go that I’m not sure where I should focus.  Here are some of my options:

Trip 1: To Springfield and then Keithsburg (Mercer Co.), Illinois

This is more for Andrew’s family.  His Nelson branch ends here.  The problem is that we have no death date for James A. Nelson.  James was born in Kentucky, moved to Indiana where he married Sarah Heaton.  The two of them soon moved to Keithsburg and as far as I know this is where James ended.  Sarah is widowed by 1870.  James is found in the 1860 census.  So where is this guy?  He would have been 47 when the Civil War started, so I doubt that is what happened to him.  Anyway…the point is…I’ve hit a brick wall with this guy.  I am hoping a visit to the capital and the town where he lived might shed some light on this guy.  Pros:  1. Close to Indiana.  Not the longest drive in the world.  2. Right on the Mississippi River, so that could be awesome.  3. I have always wanted to go to Springfield and see all the Lincoln stuff.  Cons:  1. Keithsburg floods…and badly.  I believe that many Mercer County records have been destroyed. 2.  Not the most exciting drive in the world.

Trip 2:  To Union County, South Carolina.

This is my ultimate brick wall.  This is as far back as I have gotten in my Brown family.  Alexander Brown was born in here in 1761 to unknown parents.  He married Sarah Benson and moved up to Darke County, Ohio where some Browns still live today.  Of all the family limbs that I have wanted to trace back to the origin country, this is it.  It’s my surname!  Come on!  There was some speculation that Alexander may have been a Quaker and moved up to Ohio to get away from the slavery issues that plagued the south, along with many other Quakers at this time.  As we all know, Quakers were among the first people to denounce slavery and act on it, even in the north.  Good old Quakers.  I would probably need to stay in a town between Columbia (the capitol) and Union (county seat of Union County) to have the best chance of finding information.  Pros: 1.  I LOVE the south.  In fact the southeast part of this country is one of my favorite places to visit, mostly for the landscape.  I find it extremely beautiful.  And I don’t mind the heat.  2. It’s the Browns!  3. There seems to be plenty of cheap places to stay between Columbia and Union, particularly in Newberry.  Sumter National Forest is nearby, and might require a visit.  Cons:  1.) It’s much farther than Illinois.  2.)  It might be more difficult to find someone interested in going with me (mainly Andrew who hates the hot hot heat).  3.) If no one has figured out Alexander by now, can I? 

Trip 3:  Binghamton, NY and Guilford County, NY

This is an area that my Lacey/Burch/Burtch branch lived and worked.  What is most interesting about this area to me is that my gg and ggg grandfathers were architects here.  Many of the buildings that still stand in Binghamton were designed by them.  I also have quite the little mystery with my gg grandfather Mister Bascom Taylor Lacey (AKA B.T. Lacey).  He was 90 years old and living in East Stroudsburg, PA in 1956.  I am guessing he didn’t do a ton of moving around before this. He is not buried with his first wife (who was not even provided a headstone) and I can’t seem to find where his second wife is buried either.  I thought that because he family business (and much of the family themselves) were based in NY that I would be able to find some info on him after his death in Binghamton.  I could be totally off-base here.  Pros:  1. I know with certainty that the buildings my people built are still standing.  I will get to stand in them and admire up close.  2. It’s a very pretty drive to NY with the potential for lots of little stops along the way.  3. This B.T. Lacey mystery is driving me nuts and I would love to know where he was finally “laid to rest”.  Please someone find me a flipping obituary!  4. I could maybe combine it with the PA trip that I plan on definitely taking in July.  Cons:  1. Once again, a long drive.  Who knows how much gas will be this summer.  2. New York = expensive.  I know it’s not the city, but the closer you get to the east coast the higher the prices generally.  3. I am going to NYC this Memorial Day.  Going again seems a little overkill.

Places I will definitely be visiting:

  • Darke County, Ohio (Brown fam)
  • Rush County, Indiana (Boyce fam)
  • Wabash, Indiana (Oyler fam)
  • Marshall County, Indiana (Reed fam)
  • Hendricks County, Indiana (Sparks fam)
  • Eastern PA (my mother’s whole side of the family)

So…any ideas you guys?  Anybody know of any more pros and cons of each location?  I could use a little help deciding.

Fall Break Part IV – Someone is Trying to Erase My Family

On our last morning in Scranton I was ready to really use that Google Map I had created for the trip.  On the map I included every address from my ancestors that I could find.  Usually you can find addresses in cities for census records from 1900 and later.  I was also able to find a lot of addresses in the city directories.

Andrew played navigator as I drove (have I mentioned that Andrew is a saint?) and he would use the map to lead me from one house to the next.  I would attempt to park at each house and one of us would snap a picture (and imagine life in 1900) and then I would enter into my phone the address.

I decided at one house to start entering the houses in advance and this proved to be a mistake, mostly because it seems someone is trying to erase any history of my family in Scranton.  We drove down an amazing street in the Dunmore area of Scranton with beautiful houses.  I thought, “Yes!  My family was rich!  And somehow I am entitled to this house!”  So as we moved slowly down the street and read the addresses I realized there was one missing.  And there was an empty lot.  Crap.  Well, let’s move on.

We drove to a neighborhood a little less nice, but still some cute houses.  We drove down the street, Andrew announced the address, and I drove past another….you guessed it, empty lot.  There was a house on either side!  In fact, it was the ONLY empty lot on the street.  This literally happened 5 times.  Almost the same situation every time!  Both houses on either side were there….and then there was an empty lot.  The one that was NOT like this situation was the street that was completely removed and taken over by a warehouse.

By the fifth house, obscenities were coming from both Andrew and I.  And then Andrew said, “Someone is trying to erase your family.”  Oh haha….

And then I thought about it…

  • The gravestones covered in mud at Forest Hills Cemetery
  • Emmaretta Lacey’s missing headstone
  • 5 houses completely gone.  Bulldozed.  Surrounded on all sides by survivors.
  • An odd missing page from the Scranton newspaper where Andrew was trying to find my grandfather’s obituary.  It was literally the ONLY page missing.

I did find a few houses though.  Here is what I found:

Home of Charles W. Kinsley Jr. and Sr. in 1930s and 1940s

116 Oak Street. I found this picture in an old photo album of my mom's. I am guessing this was taken sometime before 1955.

 

Updated picture, Fall 2011 of 116 Oak Street. I love the subtle differences.

Home of Charles W. Kinsley Sr. in 1918

According to Zillow.com the last time this house was sold was in 1944 for $46,500. I am wondering if it was always multi-family. They could have definitely used the space as Chick, Sr. and his wife had 7 children.

Marion Lacey’s Childhood Home in 1900

1002 Columbia. This is the home of my great grandmother Marion and her father Bascom Taylor Lacey.

Newlywed home of my grandparents, Charles and Lois (Smith) Kinsley

1107 Lafayette Street - This is what the home looked like in 1943, right after my mother was born. This is the home where my grandparents lived right after they married and had my mom. It was really pretty back then.

 

It says "1109" but it's actually 1107 Lafayette. Unfortunately we didn't see this one in real life while we were there, but I found a picture of it when I got home on the Google maps. It's not looking so hot these days. It seems a lot has been removed all around it. Sad.

Despite seeing a lot of empty lots, we were able to find a lot of other homes that made it worth the trip.  I love seeing the old and the new photos together.  Now I’m gonna have to rummage through some more pictures to see what I can find that I might have missed previous to this trip.

I think a summer trip to Scranton might be in order.  Right?  Yes…I think so.

Fall Break Part III – The Cemetery Tour: Hillary Clinton’s Gotta Be Pissed

We didn’t stay at the train station hotel our entire trip.  In fact, we were so very lucky to have some condo timeshare points donated to us by my sister!  She has a condo through Wyndham and some leftover points she would not be using, as she had just given birth to our new nephew.  Wyndham has a great place located in Stroudsburg, PA.  They were amazing, huge, and beautiful.  We had a two bedroom with a full kitchen, balcony, two bathrooms, a lovely view, and cable TV.  All for just the two of us.  At this point I really wished we could have found someone else to come with us to share these lovely amenities.

Our vacation home in the morning. Lovely.

Stroudsburg is a bit of a drive to Scranton, but not horrible.  It is, however, a delightfully quaint town.  I mean that in the least offensive way.  I just wanted to walk all around the town and window shop, chuckling at the clever names of the stores.  But we didn’t have time for that nonsense.  There was researching to be done.  I also was happy to be there because my great great grandfather, Bascom Taylor Lacey, spent his latter years in East Stroudsburg. Where he ended up at death is still kind of a mystery to me.

So after a full day at the library I decided the next day would be a half-cemetery/half-library day.  The weather had cleared up a bit and I thought we should take advantage of a clearish fall day.  The first stop we made was to Abington Hills.  This is a cemetery outside of Scranton proper that I learned at the library, the day prior, was where my great grandparents (L. Carlyle and Cora Motzenbacher Smith) are buried.  I was told by a woman at the library that it might be difficult to find people at some of these cemeteries because the man who owns Abington Hills also owns a cemetery in town called Washburn Street Cemetery.  He has been known to be neglectful of the cemeteries to the point of incarceration.  I wasn’t sure this was accurate information but I braced myself for a nasty trip.  We were the only people in the cemetery.  It really wasn’t horrible.  There were parts that needed some work and it could have used regular lawn mowing.  But most of the headstones were standing up.  I was unable to find a place with records or maps, but luckily I just happened upon my relatives driving by!  Now, this is when I realized how many Smiths and Jones there are in the world (or Scranton at least).  Holy crackerjacks. Every three seconds or so my heart would do a little jump because I would see a last name I needed and then would sigh, “oh, nope.”  This happened over and over, till I actually found them.

This is the headstone for William J. and Nellie (Jones) Smith, Louis Carlyle's parents. You may recognize their names as the ones on the birth certificate I posted earlier.

Here is the headstone for Louis Carlyle Smith and his wife Cora (Motzenbacher) Smith. They are my great grandparents who both died before I was born.

Cora and L. Carlyle sometime before 1960.

We headed out of Abington Hills and towards the city.  Washburn Street Cemetery was our next stop.  Keep in mind, this is the second cemetery owned by Mr. Neglecty Neglecterson we will have visited.  That is a hard name to say.

As we drove into the cemetery it started to sprinkle a little bit, which really just encompassed the entire feel of the cemetery, which I would call “sad and abused”.  This is a cemetery in the middle of town, an historic cemetery, where many of those who died in the Avondale Mine disaster (where over 100 people died in a mine shaft) are buried.  This is not a cemetery that is no longer burying people and has been abandoned, but you would never know it!

As I mentioned in an earlier post about the Scranton Lace Company, Hillary Rodham Clinton’s family is also from Scranton, PA.  In fact, some of her family and some of my family worked together at the Scranton Lace Company.  When I came home from my trip I did a little more research about some of the places we visited on our PA trip.  One of them was the Washburn Street Cemetery.  And who is buried there?  Hillary’s parents!  And her mother JUST died!  I am guessing Hillary Clinton was at the cemetery at some point recently and saw the state of where her parents are spending their afterlife.  It was appalling.  Some of the great things about said cemetery:

  • Knee-deep grass in spots.  Keep in mind, this is mid-October.  The grass is not ever out of control this time of year.
  • The man who was actually out mowing today was running into and over headstones.  It sounded like he was actually trying to kill the lawnmower.  Now, it was difficult to see the headstones, so I can hardly blame him, beacause…
  • They’re knocked over all over the place!  Very nice headstones ALL over the ground.
  • And holes that were actually trying to sprain my ankle…which of course I couldn’t see because of the grass.
  • The fence was a hot mess, which might explain how people are able to get in and knock down the headstones.
  • My favorite part:  The racing wheels someone is storing near the back of the cemetery.  Really?  Really??!?

Needless to say, I had a very hard time finding anyone in here.  I was looking for my Motzenbacher family (who I know are buried here) and only found one, David.  He’s a great great uncle.

A great great uncle of mine. Where is Sylvester? Who could ever find out in this hot mess of a cemetery?

Not what I was hoping for.

What I did find, and was very amused by, was this headstone.

A spot for visitors.

Enough about my rage over Washburn.

Our last stop would be Forest Hill in the Dunmore area of Scranton.  This is kind of a fancy suburb with cute houses (I’m not sure if I should use “cute” to describe some of the mansions but…) and rolling hills, with areas of scenic wooded areas.  The cemetery is one of those wooded areas.  Dunmore Cemetery butts up to Forest Hill and is easy to confuse.  We went looking for some of my Kinsleys and Laceys who I know to be buried there.  We took one lap around the place and decided this was crazy.  There was a phone number on the website for the cemetery and good old Andrew gave a call.  Turns out the lady answering the phone was at the service building at the front of the cemetery and was so gracious and helpful.  I loved her.

She pulled out the burial card for the plot and I learned a lot more than what I thought was there.  In addition to being the burial place for Charles and Marion (Lacey) Kinsley it is also the burial place for Marion’s brother (Turman Lacey) and mother (Emmaretta Foster Lacey).  All of this was paid for by Emmaretta’s husband, Bascom Taylor Lacey (AKA B.T. Lacey).  Here’s the weird part.  Bascom is not buried here and Emmaretta was not given a headstone.  She died suddenly in her mid 40s.  No headstone.  Everyone else in the bunch has a headstone, not Emmaretta.  So I asked if she’d EVER had a headstone.  Nope!  Never.  And where on earth is Bascom?  So after the lady gave us the information and instructions out to the plot we drove over.  This is what we found:

See the dark parts of those headstones? That was all mud Andrew scraped off. This is the point in the trip where Andrew said, "Someone hates your family." All that mud behind them? Those are the other plots in my family completely covered in mud.

We decided after taking a few pictures that we would stop by the front office again to let the lady know what a mess it was.  She said that they hire the guy from the other cemetery to do burials and it turns out they had a burial next to them recently and they never cleaned it up!  Great.  Cemetery success!  Forest Hill was still by far the nicest of the cemeteries we visited in Scranton, with the best help.

Fall Break Part IV:  We will visit the homes of my old relatives.  At least…we’ll try.  Maybe Andrew was right, someone hated our family.

Update on Scranton Lace

I have gotten a ton of hits on my site recently and when I check the search terms that people are using to find me a majority of them involve “Scranton lace” somehow. I thought that something must be causing this.  When I searched the web about it, I learned that a redevelopment project is in the works for this piece of history.  While I’m kind of sad that no one will be able to wander this amazing piece of history and see the old loom cards, I am glad the building will not be knocked down. Here is the link to the newspaper article:

Scranton Lace Project Approved

On our last trip to Scranton we stopped by the site of the old Scranton Lace Company to see what we could see.  It actually looked like they had installed cameras, had guard dogs, and Andrew actually thought he saw a person walking around inside.  We did not attempt entry.  We did take some pictures of the exterior.

Entrance door to Scranton Lace with missing letters.

Super cool clock tower we were not expecting to see there. Loved this older portion of the building.

Well guarded. Cameras, signs, dogs (supposedly), Oh My!

Fall Break Part II – Library Love

We got into Scranton late.  I was tormented during the entire drive by deer threatening to run across the road.  I mean it.  The entire drive.  They were everywhere, standing three feet from the road, taunting me.  And then there were the dead ones…everywhere.  They were reminding me every five minutes that I had a new car that did not want deer guts all over it.  Nor did I want to be scarred for life over killing an animal – despite the fact they obviously deserved it.  So I was a little physically and mentally exhausted when we got to the hotel. We reserved a spot on Priceline.com just that morning at the Lackawanna Station Radisson, which is an amazing hotel, but was once an amazing train station.  Unfortunately I was so tired that I was barely able to keep my eyes open as we stumbled up to the room (which seemed nice, but honestly I can’t recall).  The next morning I got up early to get started on researching as early as possible.  We headed downstairs to have breakfast at the restaurant, which used to be the main waiting area/terminal of the train station.

This is the dining area at the Lackawanna Station Radisson.

Check out the tiles that lined the entire room. I have not looked into how old they are. I was wondering if they were original, and there when it was a train station, but we decided probably not. I should have asked.

Andrew and I packed up our things and prepared to break up for the day.  He would actually be working from a coffee shop right on the square downtown, and I would be heading to the Albright Memorial Library.  Andrew has the amazing advantage of being able to get a lot of work done away from the office.  So on this trip it wasn’t necessary to take full work days off and use PTO.  On a dreary and rainy morning I dropped him off at Northern Light Espresso Bar where he picked out his spot upstairs for the next couple of days.  I proceeded to search for a parking spot near the library.  This proved to be harder than I thought it would be.  Scranton is a small city!  This should be easy.  Yeah, not so much.  The meters there take tokens and quarters only.  That’s right – tokens.  You may be asking yourself, “Is Scranton like a massive Chuck E. Cheese?”  And no, it’s not.  It is just as hardscrabble as Joe Biden described it, especially in the rain.  There are no keyboard playing gorillas anywhere to be found.  But yes, they use tokens in the meters.  And there were not a ton of meters available near the library as the school and downtown areas are  well-populated places during the day.

I finally ended up here:  Albright Memorial Library.

A rainy day outside Albright Memorial Library in Scranton, PA.

The library is an amazing old building and is well used.  The library was packed with people actually reading, checking out books, and researching.  They had the same “interesting” patrons that the Indianapolis libraries do (the oddballs in tin-foil lined hats that sit and read 12 newspapers over the course of 10 hours), but it was still a positive and productive atmosphere.  I headed upstairs to the research room and tried to figure out where to start first.

I decided on finding birth certificates or death certificates.  So I asked the lady at the desk where I might start.  She asked me for a specific date so I kind of scrambled and looked down my long list and found on that fit into the short parameters of what microfilm they had.  She then used that date to find a specific index list, which she searched.  She then used the number she found from that index to look for another number on another roll (which was kept in the back room where only staff could go) and then she pulled out a third roll which actually had the microfilm of the birth certificate.  I felt like a total dunce because I had no idea how she found it.  And it seemed to take forever.  So I got one good copy of a birth certificate of Louis Carlyle Smith.

Birth Certificate from 1897 of my Great Grandfather. This is the only birth certificate I searched for after realizing I only had two days in the library, not two months.

I decided that searching for birth certificates was going to cause both myself and the staff of Albright major headaches, so I focused on something much easier to search – obituaries.  I found an amazing amount of information between the obituaries in their collection of newspapers and the Public Directories.  Between the two I was able to piece together a lot of missing information, including a few death dates (which I literally found by scrolling through months of obituaries).  I usually found out the churches that people were members of, which if I have more time in the area should help me find information as well.  I was able to find burial locations which helped me later in the week.  I also learned that my family’s roots in Eastern Pennsylvania, and especially Scranton, were very deep.

At one point during my search, a crazy lady walking around with a half gallon of milk brought the copy of my great grandfather’s birth certificate to me.  He’s been dead since 1960.  I wasn’t really concerned about people seeing his personal information.  She came up to me and lectured me on privacy issues.  I should not be leaving this personal information out.  I tried to explain to her that it really wasn’t private, and that’s it’s literally in the public records.  She was not the type of person to argue with – she was carrying a half gallon of milk around a library.  I thanked her for saving me from people trying to steal my great grandfather’s identity and moved on.

Things I learned in the library:

  • My family is extremely diverse in its religious affiliation.  I suppose I already knew this from my immediate family.  But even within my Mom’s branch from Scranton they were very diverse.
  • Scranton is very Welsh.  I knew that my Welsh immigrant family members came through Scranton, but I feel like at least half of the immigrant population of this town was Welsh.  And they all had the last name of Jones.  Well, maybe half of them.
  • The Scranton newspapers in the olden days all had an obituary section but were never in the same place two days in a row.  I often see this in other papers as well.  You are lucky to have an entire section devoted to obituaries here though.  It’s even harder searching the old Indianapolis Stars.  Ugh.

Fall Break Part III – Cemeteries of Shame coming soon

Fall Break Part I – Pre-partying

I had an amazing two-week fall break.  Around these parts fall is kind of awesome.  Honestly, I hate to say that because I despise winter with absolutely everything in me, and fall is really just PRE-winter.  But early fall is generally very pretty and very comfortable.  Jacket weather.  You understand.

I was absolutely delighted to take this drive out to the east coast where the rumors of an even more amazing color show on the trees was promised.

The goal:  Drive from Indiana to New York City.  Spend three days in New York.  Head to Scranton, Pennsylvania, and get crazy with some dead ancestors.  This trip was gonna be awesome.

Indy to New York

We left so early, 7am-ish.  I have no idea how it felt like we were driving a lot at night.  I wonder if Andrew feels this way.  I should ask him.  Nothing super exciting about the drive, but a few observations:

  • Holy crackerjacks, the wind.  Once we were finally facing east, I think the wind had a hand in getting us better gas mileage.  Wow.
  • The leaves were not quite as pretty in Pennsylvania, at least not as pretty as they should have been.  I am guessing this is because of the crazy windstorm that almost transplanted us in Kansas.
  • As we drove through the Stroudsburg section of Pennsylvania, we were in a “caution zone”.  I feel like that might mean the opposite of what it does in Indiana ….cause…. wow.  I was going 10 over the speed limit and people were speeding past me, obviously irritated with my geriatric driving.
  • The Bronx is very easy to get to from the George Washington Bridge, but not cheap!  I paid $16 in 3 minutes.  Boo tolls.  Let me just express my rage about the lack of upkeep on the freeway leading to the bridge and how I almost got my new car stuck in a pothole that seemed more like a manhole with no cover.  Unacceptable for paying $16.

This is all very whiny so far.  Let me explain right now that my drive out was the least nice part of the trip.  It gets better.

The Bronx

We are lucky to have friends that live all over the place and don’t seem to mind when we want to crash in their homes and take advantage of their intriguing locations.  One such friends, is Amsters, who you may have remembered from previous posts.  She lives in Riverdale, a lovely little neighborhood in the the Bronx.  Let me tell you what I used to think about the Bronx.  I thought if I went there…I would probably die, quickly.  Such horrible misconceptions.  It is a lovely place and there’s so much amazing history as well.  So we thought we should probably go see some of that history.

Westchester County, New York

The first stop was Hastings-on-Hudson, an adorable little town on the Hudson River.  Amsters loves driving up on the Sawmill Parkway because it reminds her of Don Draper, and her love for him, as if she ever forgets about it.  We got there pretty quick and stopped into Antionette’s Patisserie.  We needed food and coffee.  Somehow, in my desire to find us a place to sit, I failed at getting both.  I ordered a drink…without caffeine?!  What on earth is the point?  The worst part was that I just really didn’t understand what I was ordering and the name sounded good.  It was, in effect, a hot milk.  I’m pretty sure that’s all it was, maybe with some sugar in it.  Then I pointed out a muffin I wanted, and said, “I want that, a chocolate chip muffin” and then ran outside and proceeded to speak to a man that I believe was actually Fareed Zakaria.  I am still trying to figure out if he owns a home nearby.  I grabbed an extra chair from Fareed’s table (he wasn’t using it) and then patiently sat and waited for my tasty coffee drink (which turned out to be sugary hot milk drink) and a chocolate chip muffin (which turned out to be a prune/fig health food granola dry grossness muffin).  Everyone else’s breakfast was great, so I kind of just mooched.  I’m glad people love me and accept me for who I am, and what I take from their plate.

Andrew and Amsters outside Antionette's

We finished our food and continued into Tarrytown.  I was told by a friend of mine about how great the Lyndhurst Mansion is, and I should probably go.  So we did!  I was a little worried about it considering the website looks like it was made in my Freshman year Intro to Telecom class (which I took in 1998, if that tells you anything about  the site).  You know, it was pretty awesome.  Our tour guide was slightly less than awesome, however, and I think this really detracted from the entire experience.   The house used to be the filming location for the show Dark Shadows.  It was very gothic and very strange.  One of the most popular architectural concepts of the time was using faux-anything.  At least that’s what the tour guide said.  I’m starting to think she may have just been some wackadoo off the street with a British accent who sounded like she knew something important.  Anyway, she claimed that a lot of the materials were fake.  They used wood to look like stone, even though they could have totally used stone.  It was supposed to be fake.  We were not allowed to take pictures inside.  Here are some of the outside:

Lyndhurst Mansion, Tarrytown, New York

The backyard, overlooking the bowling alley and Hudson River at Lyndhurst Mansion

We then headed over to Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, which is the oldest cemetery in the state of New York (if I’m not mistaken).  It was a beautiful cemetery with a shockingly large number of famous folks buried there.  I saw the gravesite for Andrew Carnegie (which was a hoot for my students to see pictures of, because we had just learned about him in US History), Samuel Gompers, much of the Rockefeller family, and obviously Washington Irving.  During our entire visit I tried to envision the locations from the Disney film and where they would probably be here.  I did this very quietly, so that my husband and Amsters would not judge me.

New York City, Manhattan

We spent one night in Manhattan and then part of the next day.  We happened to be in town at the same time as some of our other friends who just happened to be in the city.  We all met up for a lovely evening of comedy at the Upright Citizens Brigade and then an evening on the hotel roof having drinks with an amazing view of the city skyline.  I have to admit, I love New York City.  Every time I have been I have had a very unique and completely different experience.  There are still about a million things I haven’t seen and would love to.

Other spots I got to see this time around which was new and amazing:

  • The High Line – New walking park, which is a converted rail line and runs above ground.
  • Chelsea Market – Where we purchased amazing new red apple balsamic vinegar
  • St. John the Divine Church – Courtesy of our friend, Keely, who lives in the neighborhood.  This place is amazing.  The Children’s Sculpture park next to it is terrifying.
  • Columbia University campus – VERY different from my own undergrad experience.

The High Line, Manhattan, New York City, looking south

View from our rooftop bar location. Not too shabby.

We had one last visit to a couple of historic spots in the Bronx, but nothing family related, and we headed out to Eastern Pennsylvania, late at nigh so that I could get started early morning in Scranton.

The worst thing about traveling from New York to Pennsylvania in October in the evening….deer.  Suicidal deer.

Part II will contain ACTUAL ancestry research.

 

 

Scranton Lace Company, Here I Come

Teaching is hard.  Like….really hard.  You may have noticed that I haven’t posted anything in two months!  Two whole months!  Sometimes I’ll sit down to the computer to write something out cause I have a great thought…and maybe…just maybe…a three sentence post is better than no post at all.  But I am honestly too tired to even begin to think about what to write.

I started teaching this year, full-time, US History and US Government.  I have had not a moment’s rest since the first day of school.  But today…I took a little diversion from grading bell-ringer worksheets and started planning my fall break.  I work at Indianapolis Public Schools and we are now on what is called a “balanced schedule”.  This means we go to school earlier in the fall, get out later in the spring, but have these amazing breaks in between.  So I have a lovely 2 week fall break coming up, and I can’t wait!

I am heading out east to visit some friends in NYC and do some family history research in Scranton, PA, FINALLY!  I am absolute delighted to be going to Scranton, where generations of Kinsleys, Laceys, and Smiths resided.  This is the town where my mom spent her young childhood.  This is also the town of the fictional Dunder-Mifflin Paper Company.  If there was a museum devoted to The Office we would be going.

While I got distracted, planning my vaca, I also took a little diversion onto ancestry.com (so naughty! I know!) and just did a general search for Charles W. Kinsley (my grandfather and also his father).  I ended up finding a new little tidbit of information about what C.W. Kinsley Sr. did as an occupation.  The 1936 City Directory had him working as a purchase agent at the Scranton Lace Company.  So I decided to Google the Scranton Lace Company to see if it was still in operation.  Sadly it seems that it closed in 2002 – but I was utterly delighted to come upon someone’s photo-blog of their urban exploration photos of this shuttered factory.  The photos are amazing, and have me dying to go visit.  If you’re into abandoned/urban decay pictures, you’ll love this:

The Art of Abandonment

As I was reading more about this company I came to find out that Hillary Rodham Clinton’s father and grandfather worked in this factory as well!  So I perused the R’s in the 1937 Directory and the one page that the Rodhams were on was missing!  Shenanigans!  So I looked to see if they had any other years posted and they did!  One year earlier, 1936.  So I looked up the Kinsleys first to make sure they were working at the factory then as well.  They were.  Then I found Mr. Hugh Rodham!  And yes, he worked at the lace factory with my great-grandfather.

1905 Scranton Lace Company Gold Bond Note

In addition to their place of employment, the directory also lists their residences.  It turns out these two fellows lived less than a mile from each other, both pretty close to the factory.

Whether you appreciate the Clinton’s politics or not, it’s pretty cool to have a link to a “first family”.

 

Friday I’m in Love

As I was walking around the IU Auditorium with two of my besties (who both worked with me there in college) I began to feel sorry for anyone who didn’t go to Indiana University.  I fell in love with the campus all over again, just as I do every time I visit.  I don’t know that IU is the best school in the world, but it’s got to be one of the most beautiful, and I think that counts for something.

Yesterday was a day of loving all over southern Indiana…but let’s start at the beginning.

A few weeks ago, a couple friends of mine, who have both been mentioned in previous posts, decided that we needed to take a trip down to Bloomington.  We all worked there together during college at the IU Auditorium box office and we wanted to visit with our old boss and co-worker.  I could seriously go on and on about how working there was one of the best things I ever did in my life.  Most of us that worked there probably can.  I made amazing friends there that I can’t imagine not having in my life now.

Sorry, I’m gushing.  I told you.  I loved it there.

So we planned on Friday.  Of course, anywhere I go I have to figure out if there is some cemetery or site I can visit to further my genealogical study.  Well, it turns out that one of my friends, C-Dogg B-Dizzle, has her roots in Southern Indiana!  I have made some mention of her Bloomington connections in previous posts, but C-Dogg had never done any research with me herself.  This would be perfect!

Stop One – Yogi’s Grill and Bar, Bloomington, IN

Good old Andrew let me borrow his car (which is way nicer than mine) to take the trip south.  We got to Yogi’s just in time.  I kind of wish now that I had taken a picture of the alcoholic beverage menu board.  It was amazing.  I forgot how cheap it is to drink in Bloomington.  We met up with Marge and Stacy and had a great old time talking about who is doing what now and what is new in the Auditorium, Theatre, and ticketing worlds.  I had my “usual”.  It was awesome.

Stop Two – White Oak Cemetery, Bloomington, IN

I have already been to White Oak Cemetery, and was lucky to have already searched the whole thing over to find C-Dogg’s family here.  Her Brosman family had been in the area for generations and happened to be buried in a neighborhood I love, just blocks from the last apartment where I lived in B-ton.

She got out her own camera and started snapping away at Brosmans that just sort of littered the west side of the cemetery.

C-Dogg, getting shots of all her Brosman kin.

We noticed something strange about the headstones at the cemetery.  While many of the stones are professionally made, and have amazingly stood the test of time, there were quite a few that were definitely hand-carved.  Here were some of my favorites:

Florence Hunter born July 20, 1888 and died January 15, 1911. Cutlery (I believe they are all butter knives) is holding her headstone "in place". What is this all about?

Woodrow Minks, born Jan 10, 1915 and died Oct 25, 1926. Notice the backard 'S' in "son". Weird, right? We saw a few with the letters carved in backwards.

And we moved on.

Stop Three – Erin’s Dream House, West of Bloomington, IN

We hopped in the car and headed toward our next stop, which is sort of my dream house.  I have visions of retiring early and running a bed and breakfast in the country, but close enough to a big city or town that I don’t feel like I am necessarily separated from the wider world.  A few months ago I noticed a house in southern Indiana (we won’t even get into my house hunting obsession) that fits that description perfectly, and I want it, now.  It’s an 1890 Queen Anne that is begging for someone to love it up.  The interior is filled with original woodwork, staircase, doors, hardware on doors, hardware on windows, and then some.  It is for sale for only $65K.  I tried to convince C-Dogg to do it, since I could live vicariously through her…but she didn’t take the bait.  I think she was scared off by the fact that the home is currently uninhabitable and would probably take $50-$75k to get there. Maybe Jumwaltie would do it.  She seemed excited about it as well.

"Buy me, Erin! If you can't save me, I'll die!" This is what this house says to me.

Somebody tell me how to make this happen for myself.  Thanks!

Stop Four: Burch Cemetery, between Stanford and Cincinnati IN, on SR 225 N

I honestly cannot believe we found this place.  We had google map directions and everything and still drove right past it.  We initially decided that it must be in the woods, and in someone else’s property, and we might have to just give up on this one.  I’m glad we didn’t.

I’m glad I turned around.  As we drove slowly back we noticed this narrow gravel drive that looked like someone’s driveway.  “I guess I’ll try this one!”, I said, as we chugged up a very steep hill, gravel splashing out from the tires behind us.  And then there is was….out of nowhere.  It had a gate around it and everything.  Somebody must be tending the property cause it was not overgrown.  We were elated to find it.

We found a whole cemetery full of some of C-Dogg’s distant relatives in here.  Unfortunately the one we were really hoping to find, a man who had actually fought as a Revolutionary War soldier, was absent from the party.  C-dogg snapped some more pictures and we hopped back in the car.  We prepared for the steep descent and were on our way to the next stop.

Stop Five – Union Bethel Cemetery, Richland Township, Greene County, IN

After a few little wrong turns we finally found this quaint little cemetery.  We found C-Dogg’s ggg grandfather who moved with the whole family to Indiana from Pennsylvania.  It was one of the easiest to find headstones in the whole cemetery, in fact.

One thing we found strange about this cemetery was that there were ornamental plantings in front of a lot of headstones, which were actually difficult to move enough to see the inscriptions.  I’m not sure I understand the point of planting in front of a headstone.

We didn’t stick around in this one for very long because we mentioned to Stacy, our old co-worker, that we would love to come back to the Auditorium before we left town again.  We were running a little late.

Stop Six – The beautiful IU Auditorium, Bloomington, IN

If you haven’t seen a show here then you’re missing out.  The murals in the front halls, painted by Thomas Hart Benton are reason enough just to make a visit.  We were thrilled to hear that they turned the jankety old University Theatre (which had been closed for years after opening a new Theatre building) into IU Cinema.

Sadly, we didn’t make it back onto campus on time and missed seeing the inside of the new cinema, but I’m so excited that it exists.  On thing that was shocking and amazing was that they reopened along the north side of the Auditorium.  The entire time we went to school there this space was filled with fencing and construction trucks.  In fact, we were just reminiscing about the day a woman got stuck at the stop of one of the construction fences and was afraid to climb down.  Now it is cleared out and beautiful. There is even a new statue of Hoagy Carmichael (who is from the area) out there with some benches and beautiful gardens.

We all sighed, collectively, and were grateful for our alma mater.

Thanks, IU and Bloomington.  You’re kind of the best.

Stop Seven – Ice Cream on Kirkwood, Bloomington, IN

Duh.

Stop Eight – Home, Indianapolis, IN

One of my favorite things about Bloomington was driving to and from Indianapolis, because it is a gorgeous drive.  It’s better to do it at certain times of the day.  Dusk in summer is the absolute best, especially on this most humid days when you can see the air just sit over the fields.

And the Weekend Has Yet to Begin…

I feel like I’m on a bit of a permanent vacation these days.  I know it’s not true.  I go back to work soon.   I’m also doing some work from home in between to keep us off the streets.  Not that my monetary contributions to the household really do anything but pay my students loans…

This sob story is for another time.

Anyway, I have been enjoying lovely little weekday trips.  I had one yesterday and one today…both with a little ancestry research in the mix.

Here is yesterday:

A few weeks ago I was at the Indiana State Library (which, as you remember, I have mad love for) and found out that a group of my ancestors, the Staudts, came from Wolfersweiler, Germany.  Is that not the best name for a town?  It might be.  So I also discovered that a woman by the name of Burgert had written a number of books and pamphlets over German immigration to the United States.  So I looked to see if the one about Wolfersweiler was anywhere in a library near me, and it was, kind of.  It was in Anderson.

Anderson is a sleepy little town NE of Indianapolis, known for a few things:

You might not know this about me, but I love the pony races.  I looked at this as an opportunity to take a trip and see some horsies.  I called up a couple dependable adventureres:  My younger sister, ‘Lil Amy, and my trusty friend in genealogy, we’ll call her Jumwaltie.  They were excited to join me on this trip.

We got to Anderson, drove through the downtown, and all got kind of sad.  It was a bit mopey.  The library was kind of awesome though.  And it was right next door to a Rax!  I haven’t seen a Rax since about 1990, which is when they all closed in Indianapolis.  I still get a little reminiscent and teary-eyed thinking about the plastic alligator cups that came with the kids meals.  They were so great.  Anyway…

We find the Indiana Room very easily at the library and I found my book within 2 minutes of stepping foot in there.  It is a very well organized space.  I got the information I needed…and then looked around to see what everyone else was doing.  Jumwaltie was looking up some of her own family from Bucks County, Pennsylvania and found some birth records.  Lil Amy was doing her favorite research activity, hunting down death records of absolute strangers.  She finds the way people died to be very interesting (and sometimes amusing).  The most interesting record she found was in one of the Marion County, Indiana books.  One little boy was killed by a streetcar right outside of where Lil Amy used to live downtown.  He was 6.  I’m guessing this sort of thing happened a lot.

We also found a very interesting book, which included the inbound and outbound records for the Indianapolis Asylum for Friendless Colored Children.  This was an institution that was opened in Indianapolis by the Quakers in 1870.  Some of the information in there was amusing, some was devastating.  Often children would be taken there if their parents couldn’t care for them (especially if they were sick).  So their in-date might be 3/21 and then on 3/23 it will say that they died.  This happened a lot.

Here is one of my favorite titles of the day, because it was just so tragically blunt:

I had to thumb through this one for a minute. You have to.

After getting some questions and a few dirty looks from a lady who worked in the Indiana Room, we decided to head to the track and get our betting on.

I won’t go into the specifics of how that part of the trip went, but I did come out a winner (and by “winner” I mean I broke even).  Julia won in one race.  Lil Amy won in at least one.  I bet on the girliest-named horse, just for Andrew (like he asked).  That horse did not win.

On the way home we were talking about cemeteries (because we would be visiting a few on Friday) and Lil Amy said there is a cemetery near Julia’s house that she LOVES to visit, and can we please go?  We will LOVE it.  It’s SO CREEPY.  So we agree to go.  Then she started explaining how we get there.  Then it started sprinkling.  I started to wonder if this was a good idea.  It didn’t matter.  She thought it was.

Directions for visiting West Cemetery in Hamilton County.

  1. Park at Walgreens at 96th and Allisonville
  2. Walk west down 96th street, and to be safe stay in the grass (which is not comfortable in sandles currently)
  3. Turn onto the gravel road
  4. Follow the gravel road till it kind of ends
  5. Follow Lil Amy down what seems to be potentially a deer path to the edge of some woods.
  6. Walk into the woods and look for a sort of clearing.
  7. See headstones and walk towards them
  8. Trip on a headstone as soon as you get into the “cemetery” because it is completely covered in overgrown 3 foot tall grass.  It does look as though someone has tried to kill the grass immediately surrounding the center of the cemetery cause it’s now 3 foot tall brown grass.
  9. Start flailing your arms wildly because you realize you are being attacked by giant mosquitoes that have never tasted human blood and are very intrigued.
  10. Look as quickly as possible at headstones that might be interesting and try to remember how you got in and desperately seek out an exit route.
  11. Exit out the obvious, open way that you did not come in because you couldn’t see it.
  12. Seek out a new deer path which hopefully doesn’t have as many stickers and itchy, sting-y plants.  Continue swatting the bugs that have followed you out of the woods.  Note:  These bugs will probably “bug” you till you get to your car again.

Now, I don’t want this all to be negative.  This would be a great place to go when it is not July.  It certainly reminded me of that cemetery search I went on with Andrew about a year ago, where we ended up climbing barbed wire just to get to the edge of a cemetery that was so overgrown we could hardly see anything.  This little bit of 96th Street is still amazingly beautiful.  They are probably developing it very soon, which makes me sad.  If they do I wonder what will happen to this little cemetery in the middle of the woods.  According to findagrave.com this little cemetery was part of the farm that once belonged to John W. Becker.

I wanted nothing more than to get in the shower.  I almost asked Walgreens if they had one in the back.  I figured I would be home soon enough.  I dropped off Jumwaltie.  Then Lil Amy wanted ice cream.  How do I say “no” to that?  I don’t.  We went.  Brics.  That’s all I have to say.  If you’re in Indianapolis, go here.  Now.  Put down whatever you are doing now, and go eat at this shop.

Then I went home…and showered…for longer than was probably appropriate.  It was a good day.  An adventurous day of research is always a good day, especially when it involves gambling at a horsetrack.

 

The Summer Flits Away

I’ve been pretty sick, kids.  It’s been a nasty month ’round these parts.  Tissues….everywhere.  I’m here to tell you though, that I am back.  And I will be blogging regularly again.

Moving on…

For those who are genealogy buffs out there, do you feel like a vacation/trip is wasted if you don’t have a genealogy stop somewhere along the way?  Even just a little cemetery where you wanted to grab a picture…  I really shouldn’t feel this way, but I kind of do.  Andrew and I have been trying to plan a little summer trip which is drive-able and not insanely expensive.  We also wanted to go somewhere new.  It’s been awhile since we’ve gone to Michigan, and neither of us have ever been to the Upper Peninsula (the UP).

Painted Rocks, Upper Peninsula, Michigan - Where we will hopefully be spending a few days this summer.

As soon as Andrew mentioned it I thought, “Yeah!  The Painted Rocks!  That would be super cool.”  Then I immediately began trying to figure out if anyone on the tree is from Michigan.  Not really.  But what about the rest of the route… Wisconsin?  Nope.  Not there either.  Chicagoland area?  Not so much.  I got a little mopey and unexcited about it.  Does this happen to anyone else?  I am committed to making this trip happen this summer, and I am going to get over it (or move the driving route to cover the Wabash area of Indiana).

Onto other news…

We are able to plan a small trip (versus our move into the poor house) because I finally got a teaching job!  Woot!  I will be teaching High School social studies (most likely History).  So I will actually be adding to the household income.  As of now, my income has been paying my student loans, and little more.

The summer is getting away from me though.  I start Orientation on August 2, which means that I have a short window if I want to get any ancestry trips before school starts.  And then I have to fit in the other lovely parts of summer: parties, cocktails on the patio, dinner with friends, walks in the park, and grilling.

Summer, I could just eat you up.

This is going to be a busy summer. They always are these days.