A Return to Daviess County

Months ago I made my first trip to Daviess County.  I posted about it in December here.

My friend Amy was back in Indianapolis, taking a vacation from New Orleans (huh…).  We decided last fall that we just hadn’t gotten enough of this area and that we would have to come back.  So that’s what we did this weekend.  It was a delight.  We learned a ton!  We found many many tombstones of family members.  We visited the home churches of Amy’s family.  We even danced in a cornfield and in a Dairy Queen drive-thru.  It doesn’t get much better than that on a chilly spring Saturday.

Stop 1: GOP Conference Cornfield

We left Indianapolis early after a delightful breakfast at Sister’s Restaurant.  We took I-70 over to Cloverdale and went south all the way to Washington.  The drive was beautiful.  The weather was weird.  Super cloudy and eerie, and then the clouds would go and it was bright blue skies, and then back to grey and sad, then BLUE!  We got pretty close to Washington when we saw a sign for a Historical Marker down another road.  We stop for all historical markers.  So we turned down a small country road, crossed some RR tracks and ended up at a marker in the middle of a cornfield.

We learned from the marker that the GOP had a rally/conference/meeting in this cornfield during the elections in 1938.  We also discovered that they buried a time capsule at the site that is not to be opened till 2038.  I loooove time capsules (or at least the idea behind them), so needless to say I got really excited.  As I was lying on the ground, posing for a picture with the time capsule spot I saw a dead turtle near my head and ran away.  Bleh.

I might be too excited about this time capsule. I kind of want to show up for this opening in 2038. I wonder if the neighbors would think that was weird.

We then walked on the dusty road a bit and smelled the air because it was so so so clean.  It was absolutely silent.  I forgot now nice it is to be in the country sometimes.  We attempted to enjoy the country by dancing and playing airplane in the road.  It was enjoyable.  It worked.

Erin airplaning

 

Amy dancing

We drove through a couple of small towns of note:

  • Freedom, Indiana – Home of an Indiana libertarian that Amy heard speak, who moved here because the name of the town was “Freedom”.  Gag.
  • Elnora – Sad.  This town looked like it had seen better days.
  • Newberry – Cute but very tiny town.

We finally got to Washington and Amy got us to the library without any help of a map.  Amazing!  Yay Amy!  I think she has such a good memory of how to get there because of the stress I caused her trying to get there last time.

Stop 2:  Washington Public Library, Washington, Indiana

Simply put, this is a beautiful Carnegie library.  It’s just so pretty.  The exterior is solid and the interior is broken into small rooms, but somehow still feels open and airy.  I loved it.  We came here last time we were in town and got here 15 minutes before it closed because it closes at 2 on a Saturday!  What use is that?

We camped out at a room in the genealogy section on the other side of the bookshelf from a serial grunter.  We knew exactly how successful his research endeavors were going based on the grunting.  He was often confused, frustrated, and then every once in awhile successful (these were a higher pitched grunt-more of a sigh).

We began scanning the shelves and immediately found histories of the Arvin family, which was the maiden name of Amy’s grandmother.  There was even a published book about the entire history of the Arvin family in the area and how they got there.  It was pretty amazing.  We found her great grandfather, great great grandfather, and so on.

Now, one thing about my friend Amy is that she is really Catholic.  Like we’ve been working on her tree for a while now and I hadn’t found a single relative of hers yet that was not Catholic.   It’s a part of her identity.  I can only imagine a tragedy unfolding if she ever found out she wasn’t 100% Catholic (oh…the guilt).  Then the Arvin book did what I was supposed to keep secret if I ever found out.  Henry Arvin, the man who brought the family to Indiana was a Catholic convert (a 400 pound one at that, who was too big to farm) and was most likely Baptist before he converted to his wife’s religion.  Amy went through a series of facial transformations that had me laughing so hard I thought I was going to run the grunter out of the room.

This is her actually finding the text that he was a convert. When she gasped I grabbed my camera.

Feeling the shock.

Attempting to deal with the news.

After the discovery of the Arvin information we continued to find information of the family in wedding records, church records, and county information.  It was a pretty successful trip despite the fact that we only had 3.5 hours there.  Before we left I used the information we got from our research there to plot out the next portion of our trip.

Stop 3: St. Peter’s Church – Montgomery, Indiana

St. Peter's Cemetery in Montgomery, Indiana

We headed to St. Peter’s Church in Montgomery, a large church in a tiny town.  The older part of the cemetery here was much larger than that of the rest of the cemeteries we visited that day.  It was on a hill and quite scenic.  We were able to find quite a few people named Arvin, including a grandparent!  Win!

As we were driving out of Montgomery, we saw a sign for an Amish Village down the street.  Obviously we had to go.  We turned a corner and there was an entire “village” of white buildings with a couple buggies and some horses.  There were also a TON of older folks milling around the grounds and shopping.  What we came upon was Gasthof Amish Village.  There was a hotel, a bakery, an antique shop (maybe more than one), a restaurant, buggy rides, nature, and more.  We walked around in sort of a stunned, open-mouthed stupor.  Where did this come from?  Where are we?  Is that singing?  What is this place?  We gave up trying to figure out most of the answers to these questions and continued onto Cannelburg!

Stop 4: Cannelburg, Indiana (again!)

We visited Cannelburg the last time we were here and loved it.  We had to go back to see the Catholic Church and see if we missed a cemetery that might have been there.  All Saints Catholic Church was there and we decided that those parishioners were most likely buried in St. Peter’s.  We revisited our favorite Cannelburg landmark, the Cannelburg Jailhouse.

Amy got gutsy, got out, and decided to give a little peek inside said jailhouse to find out what’s going on in there.

Amy being brave.

Turns out it was just a shed.  Boo!  I think she was hoping to see some shackles and a tin cup for water.  No such luck.

Stop 5 : St. Mary’s Cemetery (unplanned)

This was unplanned because this church has burned and is no longer listed on any maps.  In fact, the cemetery that is adjacent to the burned church is not even listed on Google Maps.  I have looked for it since and cannot find it again!  Well, I’m glad we turned around and followed the signs toward St. Mary’s because we found a ton of Amy’s relatives there.  For those of you looking for this place, the church (no longer open) and cemetery are located at County Road 1200 East and County Road 350 North, on the NW side of the intersection, just south of West Boggs Lake. The most important things we found here were numerous McAtee graves.

St. Mary's Cemetery - Headstone of Daniel McAtee, Amy's 4th great grandfather

We loved that we found this place without planning for it.  The opportunity presented itself and we had to go.  And it was awesome.

Stop 6 – St. Martin Church and Cemetery, Whitfield, Indiana

Based on Google Maps I was pretty sure Whitfield was going to be a small town.  I was right.  I’m pretty sure Whitfield consists of the church and a couple of houses.  The church is a pretty white building, reminiscent of New England country churches.   The Anticipation service was going on at St. Martin while we were visiting the cemetery and when church was out we were able to actually go inside.  It was an older church and the interior was cozy and simple.  The churchgoers seemed friendly and didn’t look at us like we were criminals, which was nice.  Amy was convinced that most of these people were probably her cousins.  She was waiting to get invited home to meet the relatives.

St. Martin Church, Whitfield, Indiana

We found the one grave we were really hoping to find, that of Anna Dell (McAtee) Arvin.  This is Amy’s great grandmother.  She was delighted to find it.  It wasn’t until we got to St. Martin that she felt any sort of connection to the area.  Earlier, as we were driving away from Montgomery, I said, “It’s so weird that your people are from here…isn’t it?”  And she said, “I was just thinking that.  I feel like no connection to this.”  But she loved St. Martin, and now wants to go to the Hog Roast they’re having this summer.

Stop 7 – Hindostan Falls, AKA Disasterland

Things had been going too well.  Other than a Mexican food lunch and stomach issue, the trip had been too perfect.  So something had to go awry.

When I looked at the map, I noticed that heading away from Whitfield and driving towards French Lick we could make a little stop in a town called Hindostan Falls.  There isn’t anything left of the town anymore (which used to be the almost the same size as Louisville back in the earlier part of the 19th century).  It’s now a small recreational area.  That would be nice, right?  No.  It wasn’t.

The drive started out fine, till we saw two cars pulled off on the side of the road.  It looked like a back country drug deal.  I’m sure it wasn’t, but I made a joke about it and Amy got stressed.  Then the County Road we were on turned into a gravel road.  Amy got more stressed.  A bridge showed up ahead of us and she said, “You’re not taking my car over that, are you?”  I really considered turning around because she looked like she was going to have a panic attack.  Then as I was getting ready to switch into reverse, a truck pulled up behind us.  “Welp, looks like we have to go over!”.  And we did.  And it was fine.  The road turned back into pavement and it seemed like we were out of the woods.  I wasn’t aware that we would soon be in the mud.

Brooks Bridge - On the way to Hindostan Falls.

Southern Indiana has seen its fair share of flooding this spring.  I was not, however, aware that there were still flooding issues.  The street began to look dirty, then muddy, then mud.  Like there was no street.  Just mud.  I soon realized that if I stopped the car, we would probably stay stopped for good.  So I very very carefully maneuvered the car into a U-turn and started going back the way we came.  The man in the pickup truck was walking towards us with two kids.  As we got closer, I rolled down my window as I slowly rode by and said, “This mud is horrible!  I had no idea!”.  He said, “Just be careful, I looked over at the river and all of a sudden my truck was off the road.”  I realized that they were walking cause their massive truck got stuck.  I realized there was nothing we could do for these people.  If we stopped we would stay stopped.  We had no phone reception.  We couldn’t help push that thing out, they needed a massive truck for a tow.  Their only chance was to get to one of the neighboring houses, and luckily there were a few nearby.  I just kept thinking, “Move on!  Save yourself!”

Driving out of the mud. Ugh. Muck muck muck.

We finally got back to pavement and decided to NOT go back towards the scary bridge.  We passed a church that we were convinced was called “The Church of the Gross” because they had a very unfortunate graphic designer for their font.  It was, in fact, called the Church of the Cross.  We laughed…a lot.  We soon made it to French Lick. (sigh)

Stop 8 – French Lick, Indiana

When is French Lick not a good idea?  Never.  Both Amy and I love French Lick.  We stopped by the French Lick Winery for dinner and had a wine tasting while we were waiting for our food.  Neither of us bought any wine, but I was definitely tempted.  After dinner Amy was very interested in a mini-Blizzard from Dairy Queen.  And who am I to say “no” to Dairy Queen?

Amy played DJ during our entire trip and did a pretty good job throughout.  When we got to Dairy Queen she really hit her DJing high point.  She turned on the new Justin Timberlake and Timbaland song, Carry Out.  If you haven’t heard this song, I would highly recommend it.  I was skeptical of it myself, but after watching the ridiculous video I was completely won over.  We danced.  The guy behind us was very amused.  And then MotownPhilly came on.  It was kind of awesome.  We listened to three fabulous dance tunes before we got our mini-Blizzard.  We didn’t mind waiting.

Post blizzard we headed back towards Indy.

Stop 9 – Home

Dead dead deadski.  Home and to bed.

 

 

 

 

Spring Spring Go Away

Spring is not my favorite season.  I am a summer and fall girl.

I love the hot humid Indiana summers, especially the nights when I can sit outside in a tank top and shorts and sip on a mojito well into the evening with no worry of a chill.  I love the fall because of the smells.  It always smells like someone is burning wood for the sole purpose of making it smell fall-y.  It’s still warm, but starts to get dry.  I love the sound of the dry leaves shaking on the trees in the wind before they fall.

Here’s what I don’t like: unending rain.  This is what spring has been for the past two years in Indiana.  Rain rain rain and more rain.  I’m done with it.  I am ready for summer.  Spring is cramping my adventurous ancestry research style.

I want to be out there stomping (or lightly walking) through cemeteries before they are overgrown.  At this point visiting such places requires rubber boots and the knowledge that you will come out caked in mud.  I want to visit the small towns where my people (and Andrew’s) are from and take pictures of their old homes.  I want to not be afraid of floating into a flooded river in my tiny car (which would totally happen with my luck).

When the weather corrects itself I will be visiting the following locales:

  • Crown Hill Cemetery – Indianapolis, IN
  • Mississinewa Memorial Cemetery – Wabash, IN
  • Darke County, Ohio – Many locations
  • Scranton, PA area (I doubt this will happen anytime this summer)

I need to start making some plans.

Spring Break Road Trip – Revisiting Rumley

A few posts prior to this I wrote about my intentions of going back to Rumley, Ohio with my little sister.  This trip finally happened on our Spring Break.  It was kind of awesome and often hilarious.

Lil’ Amsters (as she will be referred to) came over to my house around 9ish and we prepped for the trip.  Camera (check), maps (check), notes (check), computer (check), and coffee (double check!).  We were set!

I drove.  This was probably for the best, despite the fact that I have an older car than Lil’ Amsters, and it often drives like it’s going to fall apart at any second.  I have recently (over the past 10 years) developed a car sickness issue.  It has gotten to the point where if I am not driving, I get super nauseated.  Sometimes even when I am driving, but the roads are super windy, I’ll still feel a little wonky.  If I’m in the backseat…watch out.  I will be moaning and whining within minutes.  The backseat of a large automobile, like a van, is almost unimaginable to me now.  Amy has her own car issues.  She has developed a fear of driving on the interstate in construction, or along walls, or near semis, which is pretty much MOST of the interstate.  In fact, as we were driving she told me a hilarious story of a recent trauma stemming from her fear, which culminated with the QOTD (quote of the day): ” …and that was when I realized I could never drive monks to the airport again”.  I laughed for like….20 minutes.

The longer we drove, the more I realized I think I built up Amy’s expectations for this trip.  She had her own story of a ghost town that she came upon in Arizona about 7 years ago.  It was an actual ghost town.  She could even wander in and out of the houses.  Super creepy and super awesome.  She said she even had a dream about our trip the night before.  In her dream a tornado had dropped a house next to her, on its side.  She really wanted to go searching through it but she wanted to wait for me.  That was sweet, even if it was a dream.

Piqua, Ohio

So we headed to our first stop.  Piqua!  The reason that I wanted to stop here on the way is because it was the last residence of a great great grandfather, Daniel Staudt.  As we drove through we were kind of stunned by some of the amazing neighborhoods in this random little town.  As we began to follow the directions towards our family’s home we realized he was not in one of these neighborhoods.  He was definitely on the other side of the tracks.  We found the house.  He died in 1935, so I’m guessing this was probably the actual house he lived in.  It doesn’t look newer than that.

 

621 Miami, in Piqua, Ohio. Last residence of Daniel Staudt, our great great great grandfather.

Photo of Daniel Staudt from old timey days. Date unknown.

His father, Simon, was a weaver.  One thing we noticed about Piqua was that there was a restaurant called Weavers and a blanket company right on the Main Street.  I’m going to have to look into that to see if there is any connection.

Sidney, Ohio

We drove on to the Shelby County’s seat, Sidney.  We loved Sidney.  What a strange and interesting place full of amazing architecture.  Also, I have not seen so many banks in one town square as I did there.  My favorite was this one.  I couldn’t stop looking at it.  It was just so insane!

Bank in Sidney. They promote "thrift". That colored section there, thats all TINY little tiles. It is also along the side of the building.

Some of the tile work on the wall of the bank closer up. Amazing! This building is covered with this stuff!

The following pictures include my other favorite spot on the square.  Please keep in mind that these two shops are right next to each other.  There is one shop that separates them.

The 4:20 shop. OBVIOUSLY not your average Smoke Shop. Doc Rob runs this place, as you can plainly see on the plywood sign.

I believe this is a Right to Life Thrift Shop? And there is a dance studio here as well? I am hoping the dance studio space is upstairs or something.

We weren’t crazy hungry yet so we headed to the library.  This is the first time Lil’ Amsters has done any research with me.  I think she was a little skeptical of being able to find anything here.  We got down to the basement, where all the local historical information resided, and found one man researching and two adolescent girls snickering about cute boys and books about vampires (oh, the girls were spontaneous singers, as well).

We found a WEALTH of information there in the basement.  In fact, the information I was mostly seeking out was about Rumley and the Goings/Goins family.  I found a book that was completely about the black communities of Shelby County, and specifically Rumley.  One of the biggest questions I was trying to answer was:  why did everyone leave?  And why did they leave at this time?  Turns out that was a question that a lot of people had.  This book provided a few different ideas, that were different from ones I read before.  This book suggested that maybe their southern style of farming wasn’t working in the north.  I am guessing this would have caused them to move elsewhere earlier since they were there for like 30-50 years.  Another suggestion was that they were irritated with all the white people moving into the area.  So this book suggested that the families in Rumley were racist and annoyed with white people and wanted to move where there were less of them.  This is unlikely since my family moved from Rumley to areas full of white people.  So these were both very strange suggestions.  Also, many of them had intermarried, soooo…  They were of mixed races.  Not really buying that argument.  So, we’ve still got a mystery.

Lil’ Amsters’ favorite part of the trip to the library was looking at the death record book, which includes the cause of death for everyone.  I’m going to admit, this is very entertaining.  I have to remind myself that these were real people and we shouldn’t be laughing at their demise but here are some of the good ones: killed while wrestling, yellow stomach, fits, confinement, drunkeness, teething, and sinking chills.

Another thing I learned was that a distant uncle, Salthial Goings, was a RASCAL.  I noticed before that he had been married a lot.  Well turns out he got divorced a lot.  In the divorce court records to a Sarah Goings, it states, “Goings, Salathial vs. Sarah A. Goings: Oct 1860.  Death of plaintiff suggested, action abated.”  Really?  By “suggested” do they mean “assumed”?  Or was he really THAT bad?

There was so much more at the Sidney library to be researched, but we didn’t have all day.  We spent about an hour there.  By the time we left my stomach was RAGING with hunger.  We headed over to a restaurant on the square called The Spot.  And it truly was.  They had some great malted milkshakes.  I felt like I had walked into a small town version of the Peach Pit.  That was a Beverly Hills 90210 reference for all those who didn’t catch it.

After lunch we continued around the Sidney square again and marvelled at the banks and weird businesses scattered about.  We drove out of town and headed to Rumley.

Rumley, Ohio

We stopped at Collins Cemetery first.  This is the “cemetery” I wrote about previously, which is actually just a weird slab in the middle of a field with a bunch of headstones stacked up and a memorial stone.  I am wondering if this was the spot of the original cemetery.  Are the bodies still buried here?

Stacks of headstones in the "cemetery".

View of Collins Cemetery from the road.

We took a few pictures and continued into “town”.

We stopped at the old schoolhouse which still stands there.  At the library we did find out that this schoolhouse was actually built in the 1890s, which means that none of our family went to school here, but it was still pretty old and kind of awesome.  Based on the context clues (beer boxes inside, huge BBQ smokers outside) this place is now used for a party spot.  A gathering place.  I’m just glad it’s being used and not being removed.

Lil' Amsters checking out the exterior of the Old School House in Rumley.

We moved onto the church and neighboring creek.  We learned from the books in the library that this creek was where the residents and churchgoers were baptized.  We wandered down to the banks and realized that they had recently had a flood.  We optimistically hoped to find some random remnant of the old village but there was not much.  We did find some bricks that were not stamped with a title, and wondered if they had been homemade in those parts, but they were pretty nice and seemed pretty newish.

Loramie Creek that runs through the north section of Rumley. The site of many Rumley baptisms.

We headed next door to the church and had a look.  The church had very little information about their actual structure.  I have no idea if it’s been rebuilt.  It has at least been re-sided.  Other than that I have no idea.

This is the Rumley Baptist Church. A memorial plaque to the old village remains on this property.

As Lil’ Amy looked around she got kind of sad.  She realized that there was really nothing left of the old village and no abandoned houses to rummage through.  We hoped to see some of the old roads or something, or some old foundations.  Nothing.  Seems that this area has been cleaned up and there is nothing left.  As we pulled off the main strip of Rumley we spotted something just beyond where the town would have been and pulled in.  Just what we were looking for!  And with no one around!

Having a little peek. Seems it is used for nothing now, nothing much in there but used bottles of alcohol. This place DOES seem like the kind of place to throw a good party.

Amy got her fix of abandoned properties and we moved on.

Houston, Ohio

Our Staudt relatives were buried in Houston, Ohio.  We found the cemetery after a series of near missed turns through back-roads Ohio.  One thing that I do appreciate in Indiana is that our road numbering system makes a little more sense than Ohio’s system.  In Indiana if you miss a road, you can always figure it out at the next road.  This is how the internal dialogue would go, “Oh.  Wait.  Did I miss County Road 400?  Lemme see, oh…here’s 450.  Oh, and here’s 500.  Yep.  Missed it.  Let me turn around and make this right.”  In Ohio, it’s more like this, “Oh my god.  If I didn’t have my iPhone I would be screwed.”

We found Houston and the church and the cemetery.  We had a lovely little walkabout the cemetery, till the wind shifted and the cow smell became very apparent.  The walk became less lovely, but we continued on.  We found the graves of most of my direct Staudt relatives.  Victory!

Headstone of Simon and Catherine (Oliver) Staudt in Houston Cemetery.

We hopped in the car and headed for home.  One of my favorite parts of the trip was soon to come.

Before long Lil’ Amsters was on the phone and I saw a sign for an Historical Marker.  I can’t pass a sign like that without inspecting.  I turned down the street and found something amazing, Bear’s Mill.  This is a still functioning mill that houses a shop where they sell the grain and cornmeal they still make.  They also sell the wares of Darke County, Ohio residents.  I ended up buying some Bear’s Mill blend coffee….and it’s kind of awesome!

Bear's Creek Mill.

We continued on through a few small towns. And then hit Indiana, and turned south on IN 227.

SR 227

What an amazing stretch of road.  If you love those little quick hills that bring your stomach up through your throat you will LOVE this road.  I was squealing for miles!  Literally miles.  Lil’ Amsters on the other hand was trying not to squeal as she was on the phone and was trying to not be rude.  She did raise her arms in the traditional roller coaster stance.

While on 227 we also drove through some wacky little towns as well as some amazing ones.  Whitewater, Indiana.  Strange.  That’s all I’m gonna say.  227 took us back to the interstate and we took the boring way the rest of the way home.  Lil’ Amsters complained that my car was going to fall apart and that I was driving too fast for it.  I was driving the speed limit.  Welcome to my life.

 

Rumley, Ohio – A Ghost town of sorts

Most of the time I think that my younger sister and I couldn’t be any more different, but we have a few very strange things in common.  We both used to have recurring dreams that involved tornadoes.  Mine were nightmares.  Hers were more fun, obviously.  We used to kick each other under the table during meals without even realizing it until we’d get yelled at for it.  We both enjoy playing “The Cleaning Game”. I won’t go into the specific rules of that one.  Another thing we have in common is our love for abandoned houses and ghost towns.    When I told her the story of Rumley, Ohio and how I longed to return to Shelby County and learn more about it, she was delighted, and wanted to come along as well.

Rumley doesn’t exist anymore.  There is a New Rumley, Ohio.  This incorporated area is known for being the birthplace of George Custer.  But Rumley…nothing.

My father is John Brown.  His mother is Gene Munn.  Her mother is Eva Hill.  Her father was Adam Hill.  His mother was Edna Goings.  Her father was Joel Goings.  Joel Goings was a free black man who, along with his brother Wesley, started his own village: Rumley, Ohio.  A cemetery still stands in the area where Rumley once stood.  Well…it’s kind of a cemetery.

Collins Cemetery - in honor of the pioneers of Rumley, Ohio. This "cemetery" sits on a concrete slab in the middle of a farm's field along a barely traveled road.

Joel did something very shocking for the 1830s.  He married a white woman.  Not just a white woman, but an Irish white woman, so she was most likely REALLY white.

Joel and Elizabeth (Cole) Goings had 11 children together.  Many of those children were born in Rumley.  They attended school here.  For decades they got married and had their own children here.  Suddenly, in the late 1860s and early 1870s the marriage records of the family were diminishing in Shelby County because everyone had moved away.

According to the reading I have done, it seems that many of those that lived in the black and mixed communities of Shelby County and Northwest Ohio were eventually run out of their own towns.  Around Rumley signs were posted warning of physical harm if Black residents didn’t take up residency elsewhere.  In Rumley this began around the 1860s, which was obviously a stressful time in race relations, right smack dab in the middle of the Civil War.

What exists of the town today is unfortunate.

Old Church. One of the only remaining structures in what was the town.

Informational plaque in front of the old Baptist church in Rumley.

And that’s about it.  A church and a cemetery on a slab of concrete.

My goal is to find out what happened to Rumley.  Did something happened that set off the racial tensions that lead to the mass exodus from the town?  This is something I am very interested in researching.   Maybe my little sister will come with me on my next trip.

New Year for New Adventures

As this year comes to a close, I still have one little trip planned for next week.  My friend, C-Dogg B-Dizzle, showed some interest in visiting nearby Monroe and Greene counties to see the places where her B-Dizzle ancestors first came to Indiana.

Next year I have a short list of places I would like to visit to continue on my search:

1.) Darke County, OH – Again.  I have already been out there this past year, but there is SO much research to be done on my Dad’s side and Andrew’s Mom’s side.  I could do work there for an entire week.  Maybe I’ll get crazy and even find a cheap hotel and do an overnighter.

 

Garst Museum in Darke County (Greenville, OH) where researching ancestry is made easy by great help!

2.)  Keithsburg, IL – This is the farthest back I can get in the Nelson branch.  While I know that James A. Nelson was born in Kentucky, and spent some time in Indiana, he was last heard from in Keithsburg, IL, a town along the Mississippi River.  What worries me is that Keithsburg, and much of Mercer County, has a horrible habit of being flooded.  I am afraid that records will be scarce.  We shall see.  While taking a trip to Keithsburg I am determined to stop in Springfield on the way and visit the Lincoln attractions.  I am gonna nerd it up ALL the way.

3.)  Pennsylvania/New York – Pennsylvania has very poor online records, which is unfortunate for me because my Mom’s entire family came through Pennsylvania.  I would really like to have a Scranton, Lock Haven, Laceyville, Binghamton NY trip.  One thing I am really interested in seeing are some buildings in the Binghamton area that my ggg grandfather built, as he was a regionally known architect.  At one point I had a whole map created about the route to get there, where to stop, and where to stay.  I think it’s perfect for a summer trip.

4.)  Local libraries.  I still have not gotten to the Indiana State Library.  Shame.  Also, the Ft. Wayne library is KIND of calling my name.  It’s supposedly the biggest genealogy section outside of the Salt Lake City collection.

5.)  Union, SC – This is kind of the stretch.  I very highly doubt I’ll make it to South Carolina, but this is the absolute farthest I have been able to trace my Brown family online.  Some fellow named Alexander Brown left Union, SC and settled the family in Darke County, where many still remain today.  I would LOVE to get down there.  If not this year, maybe next.

Happy Holidays!  Here’s to a new year of research excitement and adventure!

O Cannelburg, O Cannelburg, How Lovely are Thy Jails

I have a friend who is very Irish.  She’s got the white skin, the red hair, grandparents named Patrick and Bridget…everything.  But there are a few branches on her mother’s side that are German…very German.  These include generations of people ALL named Emil.  I can imagine family gatherings with that family was a lot like my Brown side.  We have like 800 Johns.  My dad is a John, but when we’re at a family gathering in Ohio, his name is Tom.  It was easier that way than having all 800 Johns turn around when someone calls for you.  Anyway…I imagine that’s how it was in her very German family with Emils.  They were probably nicknamed Heinrich, Klaus, and Lou… or something.

Anyway, when she was in town visiting last year we started working on her family tree.  We worked for hours, well into the night.  We worked until all her makeup had washed off from tears of laughter.  What we discovered was that my friend Amy had VERY deep roots in Southern Indiana in the Catholic German community.  One town that stood out to us was Cannelburg, mostly because we had never heard of it before and it was just so obscure.  We decided then and there that we WOULD go to Cannelburg.  That is what we did last week.  We went to Cannelburg and discovered some great places down in Southern Indiana.

I geeked out the nights before our departure and made a Google map of our trip.  Of course I forgot to send it to myself before we left and I had to wing it.  It worked out.

Stop 1:  Bloomington, IN – Farm

Farm is actually a restaurant.  Not a farm.  They specialize in locally grown and organic foods.  They are well known for their breakfasts, and for good reason….jeezy creezy it was good.  I could have survived on the biscuits alone, but I ate way more than that.  Amy and I went to Indiana University Bloomington, so it’s a nice time when we can revisit Kirkwood and reminisce.  I’m glad Farm wasn’t around when I was in school.  I would have been even broker.

Stop 2:  Scotland, Indiana

Scotland was not the goal.  In fact, neither of us had ever heard of Scotland, Indiana.  As we drove down the road towards Daviess County Amy saw a small blue sign that just said, “Historic Site”.  She made it very apparent that she thought we should go back and see what the site was, and we did.  We drove up a massive long hill and came upon the town.  We saw what I believe was the “historic site” immediately on our left.  This used to be a hotel, and as I drove around the back to turn around there were two remaining outhouses.  Fabulous.

I felt a little bit like we were the only people in the whole town, except I also felt like we were being watched the whole time…very Children of the Corn.  A very manicured grey poodle ran manically across the street a lot.  Like frantic street-crossing.  Back and forth.  Amy was solicited in the street by a black cat while she tried to take the following pictures.  She hates cats.  It amused me.

Scotland, Indiana.  National Register of Historic Places

This is Scotland. The Scotland Hotel is the blue building on the left. This is now a residence, but there is a marker in front of the home declaring its place in the National Historic Register.

Stop signs, Scotland, Indiana.

Scotland really wants you to stop here. One stop sign is just not enough. Also they want you to know that they are an OFFICIAL community. They have a sign that says so. It doesn't matter that this is a sign from when Robert Orr was governor of the state (1981-1989).

General Store in Scotland, Indiana.  Osh Kosh B'Gosh advertisement.

A fun little general store we saw as we drove around town. This place was vacant except for the many motorcycles inside.

We were running low on gas, and I was afraid a Scotland native was going to grow weary of our picture-taking, so we left.

Stop 3:  Some Big Lake or something, Daviess Co. or possible Martin Co., Indiana

So we stopped and got gas.  I was pumping and Amy ran in to get something to drink.  I’m not sure where my mind was, but it certainly wasn’t on the task at hand.  When I finished pumping I pulled up to the gas station and waited for Amy.  When she came out she looked a little frazzled.  She told me about the conversation of the locals that were in the gas station and the fact that every one of them was smoking in the store.  She got out as soon as she could and just hopped in the car.  Neither of us were paying attention like we should.  I pulled out of the gas station and headed towards Loogootee, what was to be our next stop.  About a half hour later I heard Amy say, “Oh Erie!  We have to stop!” She explained that our gas flap was open.  So I pulled into a parking lot about 1 minute later.  It was a parking lot for a lake-side restaurant.  As I was opening the door to get out Amy said, “I think there’s supposed to be some big lake around here or something.”  I looked up.  Ummm….We were completely surrounded by a lake.  We were literally on a large peninsula.  And I just looked at her and looked at the lake.  Really? So that was hilarious, and then I got out and realized that not only was the gas flap open, I didn’t even put the cap on!  WHAT?!  All of our brain power had obviously been sucked away by Scotland’s charms.

Daviess County and Martin County Indiana

So here I am, in front of the MASSIVE lake Amy just kind of missed, putting on the bright yellow gas cap we both missed.

Stop 4:  Loogootee, Indiana

We learned that a number of Amy’s ancestors were buried in St. John’s cemetery in Loogootee.  They were also baptized and married in its church.  The cemetery was a small and peaceful place FULL of surnames we recognized in her tree (Norris, Arvin, McAtee, etc.).

Catholic cemetery, Martin County, Indiana

St. John's Cemetery in Loogootee, Indiana on a cloudy day.

We found good old Hillary, one of her great great great grandfathers (who we often refer to as Hilaire, because of what seems to be a Hilaire-ious census error).  We both felt close to Hillary (who’s name is misspelled on his headstone – what?!).  So we both had our pics taken with him, in his final resting place.

Hillery McAtee, Martin County, St. John's Cemetery

Amy, showing love to the McAtee ancestry. "What up, g-pa?!"

The church, located about a mile from the cemetery, was “whimsical” as Amy said.  Hand-painted angels adorned the walls.  Pink was the color palette of choice.

St. John's Catholic Church in Martin County, Indiana, Loogootee.

St. John's Catholic Church in Loogootee. You could use this church as the template for an 8 year old girl's bedroom concept. Very pink.

It was just sitting there! I kind of wanted to take one. Like they were preparing to sell them at the next bake-sale.

Confessional sign

How awesome is this sign that was built in over the confessional booths? What is with that fabulous font?! I kind of loved it.

We couldn’t spend too much time in Loogootee so after the church we drove through kind of quickly to get to our next stop.

Stop 5: Washington, Indiana.  Daviess County.

I recently read a book that I randomly came upon in a Half-Priced Books.  It was called Indiana Gothic, by Pope Brock and was amazing!  It was written in a style that reminded me of In Cold Blood, in the sense that it was a true story written like a novel.  This Mr. Brock wrote the story of some of his own ancestors that lived in Daviess County around the turn of the century, and later.  He had some DRAMA up in his family.  His family never talked about but it was saved in the history of public record and newspapers.  Almost all of the story took place in Daviess County, specifically Washington, Indiana.  So it was kind of fun for me to visit this place.  We drove around downtown looking for the library, and finally found it.  We headed inside to the Genealogy section and had all of 15 minutes to do a little searching.  In that VERY short time we found a ton of stuff.  We realized that one day of research in that little room would fill in some gaps.  Maybe on her next trip to Indiana.

When the library closed we drove around town for a few minutes.  I gave Amy the task of map-reader since I was driving.  I quickly learned that Amy doesn’t like to read maps.  She may have liked to read maps before she moved to New Orleans, but now life must be lived, and maps are a hindrance.  Or maybe she never liked to read maps.  So I showed her how to use the maps app on my iPhone and she just continued to stare out the windows with iPhone in hand.  This is how the conversations would go:

Me:  So where next?

Amy: What?

Me:  Where to?  Do I need to turn here?  Check the map.

Amy:  Oh, Ummm… (turning phone, looking confused, looking out the window again)  Where are we?

Me:  Amy!  You’re supposed to be the map reader.

Amy:  Stop yelling at me!  You’re making me work too fast!

So, we finally got moving to our next stop after some wandering…

Stop 6: Black Oak

Really not much going on here.  Like…for real.  Nothing.  We did come upon a LOT of Mennonites in this area.  I’m pretty sure the majority of people that lived here are German Dutch or Mennonite or Amish.  Most homes had a carriage.  We did come upon a very strange place here called the Candy Haus.  We thought, “Yay!  A small local family owned shop!  Let’s stop!”  So we followed the signs and came upon a house with a sign inviting us in.  What I saw was very strange.  There was a strange booth in front of the house with the same vinyl siding as the house, with a man talking on a phone.  A woman dressed in a long dress and head covering was walking out towards the booth to go talk to the man.  Amy kept asking me to stop and I had to repeatedly say, “Amy!  They’re in a phone booth!  In their front yard!  I am not stopping!”  I think after the 3rd or 4th time I explained it to her she also decided that stopping would be weird…you know, while they were in the phone booth.

We drove on.

Stop 7: Cannelburg.  Finally.

This location was our main goal.  Many of Amy’s family members lived in farmland immediately surrounding Cannelburg (also sometimes spelled Cannellburg).  Cannelburg was very similar to Black Oak, but actually still had the post office that Black Oak has since lost.  The post office and meat processing center seems to be the center of this bustling town (even though it’s not nearly big enough to be a town).  As we were driving around town, I saw a street we hadn’t driven down yet (keep in mind we drove through the rest of the streets in like 10 minutes, including Amy’s stops to take photos).  We turned down the road and what I saw was amazing.  A shed, made of wood with some weird metal covering, with a sign proclaiming it as the “town” jail.

Cannelburg jail, Daviess County, Indiana

If you cannot read the sign in this picture, it reads Cannelburg Jailhouse, Est. 1890.

At first we thought Cannelburgians were just Hilaire-ious.  But then we started discussing whether this actually could have been a jailhouse for the town.  We decided that it totally was, and knowing Amy’s love for bourbon, her family members were probably there from time to time.

That was it.  That was Cannelburg.  At first it was sort of a letdown, but the “jailhouse” made this stop totally worth it.

We wanted to get to French Lick so we started out of town and started the scenic drive.

Stop 8: Shoals, Indiana

Shoals, Indiana is one of the prettiest little areas I have seen in Southern Indiana.  I have been through a lot of our state and had never been to Shoals.  I might be back.

Overlook in Shoals Indiana

They had an amazing little overlook along the route to French Lick so we had to stop and take pictures.

Stop 9: French Lick, Indiana

We both love French Lick and West Baden, Indiana.  If you live in Indiana or Kentucky and have never been here, please go.  You will be shocked and amazed by the two gorgeous hotels located here. Not only are the hotels gorgeous, but the renovation of the hotels and creation of the casino in town has lead to a movement of economic revitalization in the community.  The downtown has way more going on, and it’s so cute.

French Lick church

Please visit French Lick and West Baden. This is part of the adorable downtown, settled in what is known as Springs Valley.

On the drive to French Lick I had a small meltdown.  I get carsick now.  This is something that’s gotten progressively worse since I’ve gotten older.  It’s usually fine as long as I’m driving.  The roads from Cannelburg to French Lick were SOOOO windy though.  I don’t think it helped that I was very hungry.  When we found a place to eat in French Lick I was truly thinking to myself, “I can’t get back in that car tonight.  We are going to have to stay here.  Or Amy will have to drive back and Andrew will have to pick me up tomorrow.  I cannot get back in that car.”  I didn’t say these things out loud cause I was REALLY hoping it would pass.  It did.  We got a mediocre dinner downtown and headed over to the West Baden Hotel, the more impressive of the two hotels.  We stopped at the precious little ice cream shop and I got some Rocky Road, which brought be completely back to life.  We sat in the massive atrium, ate, people watched, and just relaxed.

Stop 10: Home

We rocked out to Elvis Presley.  Isn’t Suspicious Minds a fabulous song?

We got home.

Arni’s Couldn’t Solve This Mystery

I just started a new job.  While I am excited to have a regularly paying gig, it really does cut into my exciting new life of genealogy-traveling.  What DOES excite me, is that I have a teacher’s schedule and I have a decent amount of time off which allows me to get around.

The week before I started this new job I wanted one last short little jaunt somewhere.  I decided to head to Crawfordsville, Indiana to see if I could find some answers on a Riley Bastion.  As many of these previous posts are, this one is about Andrew’s family.  Unfortunately most of the traveling for my family would be much farther.  Maybe this summer…

Riley Bastion is Andrew’s Great great grandfather.  His name was the first mystery.  I have seen a William Riley Bastion and a Riley Bastion in Crawfordsville.  This has to be the same person, right?  We can only assume.  The name is unique enough, and in such a small town during the same time period…we have to assume or we will go insane.  He is related like this:  Andrew Nelson>Kevin Nelson (father)>Paul Nelson (grandfather)> Annetta Bastion (great grandmother)> Riley (the mystery) Bastion

What made Riley such a mystery was that he died very young, leaving his poor wife Fannie a widow with three kids in her mid 20s.  Riley was just over 30.  I wanted to try and figure out what happened, where he was buried, and who his parents were.  I came home with some answers, but more questions.

I drove to Crawfordsville, a little town that is home to Wabash College.  I find that little college towns are kind of the best.  They have that small town charm but have a few really tasty places to eat.  I sought out the food before I headed to the library.  I almost drove off the road when I turned a corner and saw a sign for Arni’s!  YES!  ARNI’S!

Arni's gleaming sign in the afternoon light.

When I was growing up there was an Arni’s very near my house.  My sister, Kristen, worked there for years.  There were bikes all over the walls.  Celebrity cardboard cut-outs filled the foyer and bar.  The place was a heaven of tacky.  I loved it.  I still love it in my memories.  That Arni’s is now gone and they have moved even farther north and made it “nice”.  They have also changed the menu a bit which upsets me even more.  I went to this Arni’s once and that was the last time.  It was too depressing and nice.  This Arni’s looked just dingy enough for me to enjoy.  I walked in.  While there were no bikes or tacky decor, it was only counter service, the place was small and laid out weird, and it smelled like Arni’s.  Perfect.  I had a luscious hot ham and cheese and made my way over to the library, which was right next door.

I am one of those people who feels weird talking to people I don’t know.  When I actually do it, it’s not painful, but I just have to work up courage first.  Here are some things I hate:  calling to make reservations over the phone, asking for directions, getting my haircut because of the requirement for small-talk, and asking librarians for help when I’m not really sure what I’m looking for.  I am sure that librarians LOVE the challenge.  I would!  But not everyone is like me.  This makes me feel awkward and guilty simultaneously.

So I went to the family research section, which was fairly large.  I LITERALLY looked at every single book on the shelf and leafed through many more of them trying to find some information.  The only thing I could find about this Riley character was his death date, which I already knew.  So after about 2 hours of just browsing and hoping I went to talk to the librarian.  Why didn’t I do this in the first place?!  Within two minutes she used the death date to pull up a file on the computer which had a copy of his death certificate.  This included how he died (unreadable), how long he’d been sick, what his parents names were, and where he died.

Poor Riley had been sick for 2 years before he finally died.  His parents were listed as Phoebe and Anthony Bastion.  He died in Crawfordsville, which I had already suspected, but there was still no word on where he was buried.

I was so excited to get this information that I immediately went home to enter it into my computer to see what I could find in addition based on my new info.  And what I found was so frustrating.  Anthony and Phoebe may NOT have been his biological parents.  They may have adopted him and changed his name somewhere around his tenth birthday.  He may have been named William Riley Wheeler prior to that, but I can’t be sure.

This guy is going to require more than one trip to Crawfordsville.  At least I know there is an Arni’s there to keep me happy and full before I start a long day of mystery-solving.

The Eels accompanied me to Rushville

This has been a rough week.  I have been sick.  I actually did start to get better, and then went ahead and got sick again a few days later.  During one of my healthier days this week I decided to take a little trip to Rush County to see if I could find some of Andrew’s family who are buried there.  I also thought I might spend some time at the library there.

I got in the car and started going through a book of CDs that Andrew found in the basement.  I don’t know how long they had been down there, but I was so excited to come across one of my favorite Eels CDs, Shootenanny!!  GREAT Album.  It was Saturday morning, which made the song (Saturday Morning) that much more enjoyable for me.

“Saturday morning
And this ain’t the place for me
I’m giving you warning baby
We got a whole big fat world to see”

Just as a side note.  Only the Eels could make a song as creepy as Restraining Order Blues sound so pretty.  If you haven’t heard the album, I’d highly recommend it.

My first stop would be McCarter Cemetery.  This cemetery is literally in the middle of nowhere.  I spent about 20-30 minutes there and didn’t see a car the entire time.  I did, however, see an Amish horse and buggy.

The only traffic I saw at McCarter Cemetery

The closest town is Milroy.  Not much going on there, either.  But honestly, this was a beautiful cemetery.  It was so quiet with a beautiful view of barely-rolling hills, with little one lane roads cutting through the land.  I could have sat here all day.

View from McCarter Cemetery

Luckily, this was a really small cemetery and I found Andrew’s family pretty quick.  His Corey family is buried here, along with some of his Boring family.  In fact, his gggg grandmother lived to be at least 100 years old.  The gravestone said 1776-1886 100 years.  So someone was bad at math, but he’s got some healthy genes either way.  Supposedly this Corey family is of relation to Giles Corey/Cory.  He is the man who was pressed to death by heavy stones during the Salem witch trials.  I have yet to get that far back in the history, but if I have to make a trip out to Salem, so be it.  I LOVE Salem.

I found a nice little spot under a tree where I could sit for a bit and relax.  I just sat and listened to the wind blow through the dying corn plants behind me.  It hasn’t rained here in about 3 weeks, working on 4.  Everything is brown.

I believe that the tree I found was also the spot for some sneaky corn-stealing squirrels to munch down on their stolen goods.

Discarded corn cobs. Those crazy squirrels!

I left my peaceful little world of McCarter Cemetery and headed for the big city, Rushville, Indiana!  Andrew also had family buried here.  His grandmother’s maiden name is Boyce, which I have since learned was Boys about 2 generations before her.  I knew that this Boys family was buried in East Hill Cemetery in Section 3, thanks to findagrave.com.  However, this was a MASSIVE cemetery.  I drove in and was like, “whaaa?”  I found section 3 fairly easily, but even this section alone was massive!  Miraculously, I managed to find the Boys family in less than 3 minutes!  They were right by the road.  I got out to take a picture.

Grave of William Boys and Helen Boring - ggg grandparents of Andrew

Now, sometimes I have an occasion where I think to myself, “If someone was paying attention to what I’m doing right now they would think I was insane.”  I mean this about life in general, not necessarily grave hunting.  There have just been these moments in my life that are like that.  Sometimes when I see someone who I think is acting very strange, I just have to remind myself that I have also had these moments, and there’s probably a very logical explanation.  While I was hunting for the grave I noticed a man and woman in the same section.  The woman seemed normal, but the man seemed frantic.  They had a glass that they kept filling in some water pump and taking it back and forth to a headstone, from what I could tell.  He was dressed nicely, as if he had just left church (It was Saturday) and his lady friend was in like a black cocktail dress.  When I finally got close enough to hear what they were saying.  The man was raving about how great the stone was.  And how when he died he was very interested in this certain type of stone.  He was wild-eyed.  He moved at twice the pace of the woman he was with could move. I didn’t make eye contact.  I was kind of scared of him.  But maybe I was just hungry.

I was getting hungry to the point of light-headedness and decided I should find somewhere to eat.  This is one of my favorite things to do on these little excursions.  I love finding new small-town eateries.  So I pulled out the trusty iphone and searched for restaurants in the area.  I could only find four.  One was Hardee’s.  I don’t think so.  One was Mexican.  Not in the mood.  One was Pizza King.  I can’t eat a whole pizza alone.  And the other was a little Corner Cafe.  That sounded perfect.  I parked, and walked to the door.  CLOSED?!  What?  It was barely after 2!  I thought I would drive around and see if I could find something that might have not shown up on my phone.  I passed the library and thought I would check the hours.  I was pretty sure they were open till 5.  I popped by the sign and, what?!  They closed at 3!  Rushville, you’re killin’ me!  This is the part where I gave up.  I decided to hop on SR 52 and head back to Indy.  There would be a restaurant somewhere along the way.

I was right.  I found a Dairy Queen type place where I could get some chicken fingers and ice cream.

I hopped back in my car and headed home along 52 which is a lovely drive.  A country road interrupted by cute little towns every few minutes.

The Eels accompanied me to Rush County and Coldplay brought me home.  It was a lovely drive on a lovely day.

Recent Americans

I have been helping the aunt of a friend of mine sort out her genealogy material.  It has been interesting to talk with her (and my friend) about their family because their relations came over to America much more recently than my own.  They are some serious Irish.  Like…REALLY Irish.  Like most of them are named Patrick, Bridget, Mary, or Joseph Irish.

While I was at her home on Friday her new son-in-law was hanging out.  He is the son of Basque Cuban refugees.  He knew exactly how his family got from the Basque region to Cuba, and then from Cuba to America.  He didn’t understand how we had to do so much research to figure out how we ended up in this crazy place called America.  “My mom got here on Eastern airlines.”

There is only one branch of my family that came to America after 1830 or so.  That is a branch on my maternal Grandmother’s side.  They’re Welsh and they unfortunately have the most boring and average names you could find.  There is a Jones branch and a Smith branch.  Very helpful.  Thank you.

While we were in New York recently we were lucky enough to be at Ellis Island the day that they were naturalizing new citizens.  I have to say it was kind of moving.  I’m interested to know if two generations down the line the children of these new Americans will know where they came from.

Front entrance to Ellis Island (Museum).

New Americans on Ellis Island

A Long Darke Trip (Part 2 of 2)

Over the course of a couple of weeks after my summer trip to New York and DC I decided that I would create a Google map to identify important places in mine and Andrew’s family history.  This would be birthplaces and deathplaces (addresses if possible) and cemeteries mostly.  I had a fun time watching my map take shape and actually seeing the pattern of migration across the country.  I divided it into four different colors, one for my mother’s branch and then father’s, and then the same for Andrew’s side.  The reason I decided to put this together was to create something easily accessible for when we were out on a trip and had a little extra time.  This happened while we were in DC and I had a hard time finding a place I wanted to stop because there was no easy way to find all my important locations along a course from DC to Indianapolis.

Does this make me a nerd?  Potentially.

Anyway…

I used my fabulous Google map after my trip to Garst Museum to find homes and cemeteries in the area where I could find my peoples.

Andrew had  great great great grandparents who lived and died on Water Street in Greenville.  I drove past the address but it seems this house has been torn down and was replaced in the 1930s or 1940s.  There is a church still next door that seems as though it must have been there while that family was there.  I took an uneventful picture for Andrew’s mom along Water Street.

Water Street - Where John Clinton and Sarah (Sink) Crumrine resided

The connection to Andrew is as follows:  Andrew Nelson > Gloria (Reed) Nelson > Esther (Bolinger) Reed > Oliver E. Bolinger > Sarah (Crumrine) Bollinger > John and Sarah (Sink) Crumrine.

I also knew there were some family members that I couldn’t figure out and I wanted to check some of the smaller pioneer cemeteries in the area.

A lot of my peoples come from Neave Township in Darke County so I looked up a couple of the cemeteries around there and went searching for my surnames.  I started out in Oak Hill Cemetery in Fort Jefferson.  I’m not sure if Fort Jefferson is a town, village, or what.  It’s small and as far as I could tell there weren’t any stoplights.   I found a few headstones, but I still haven’t managed to try and match it up with those in my tree.

I then drove by the park (that sits where the fort used to be) and noticed another small cemetery down the street.  This was a really small one next to a Methodist Church.  I parked and started walking the aisles of stones.  Unfortunately I could only read about 50% of the inscriptions.  What I found very interesting was that some of the oldest ones were the easiest to read.  My only assumption was that it was harder stone.  I would like to know what they carved some of those very early headstones from.

As I was finishing my self-guided tour an older gentleman with a cane yelled from the road, “You finding what you’re looking for?”  I have to say that throughout this ENTIRE day I had about ten people ask me this.  People were so friendly and helpful.

I told him that I wasn’t really sure what I was looking for, but that I had some surnames that I was hoping to find.  I did find one or two in this small pioneer cemetery.  I found a Nyswonger.  It’s spelled a little differently than some of my peoples but it’s possible they’re still related.  Spelling in the 1800s seems to have been an afterthought.

Thus began the hour long conversation with the friendly neighbor.  He told me ALL about this street and what it used to look like when he moved here.  He bought this house over 50 years ago with his wife, Bert (Roberta) who just died two years ago, just sitting in the kitchen after breakfast.  He took me on a tour of his amazing garden.  His Asian Pear tree was spectacular and I suggested he try to sell them in Greenville.  He says he already does that, and smiled proudly.  He told me about his kids and his grandkids.  When he found out I was from Indianapolis he told me about all of his hiking adventures in Brown County, Indiana.  He was in a hiking and camping club.

One thing I had been wondering for a couple years now about this area was why does everyone have a metal roof.  It’s the opposite of how it is here.  When you drive around in Indy, almost everyone has shingles.  If you see a house with a metal roof it’s kind of rare.  In old-town Western Ohio if you see a house with shingles it’s rare.  Almost everyone has a metal roof.  I asked the man why he thought that would be.  He says, “Well, they’re more expensive but they last longer.”  This wasn’t an answer.  I asked, “Well, is there a state tax deduction or something for installing a metal roof?”  He said that there was nothing like that.  So….I’m still stumped on the roof issue.

After about an hour of chatting he reminded me that it was just about dinner time and I might want to head home.  He walked me to my car and saw me off.  He was very sweet.  I never even got his name, but I know where he lives.