I am writing today’s post in response to a blog writing prompt on www.geneabloggers.com, which is a great website devoted to providing ALL types of blogs about genealogy. They suggest for a slow, lazy Sunday, to write about those black sheep of the family.
Now don’t get me wrong. I love black sheep. What I love about my own family is that everyone seems to be a black sheep. None of us are like each other at ALL and if we were in a normal family, we’d all be the total weirdos, cast off, like day old bagels. But Andrew has got some nasty ones in his family. Sometimes I just have to remind him, when I feel like maybe he’s forgotten, that he has murderers in his family and it runs in his blood. He usually just rolls his eyes. But I know deep down that he’s taking it to heart.
Andrew and I got married last year, after a lengthy courtship of like…7 years. By the time we got to planning our honeymoon we were mostly thinking about a sensible trip. Something that will be warm in December, but close enough that we won’t waste a ton of time traveling, and cheap enough that we won’t have to put anything on a credit card. Well, two out of three ain’t bad. We ended up in Saint Augustine, Florida, which we loved. It was in this country so travel was relatively easy. It wasn’t super expensive. It was, however, freezing. So all those nights we had planned to have drinks out on the deck of some precious tucked away bar fizzled when we got there. So we spent a lot of nights in.
One night I got on the laptop (yes, we brought the computer on our honeymoon) and we were just sort of watching a House Hunters International marathon (so romantic, I know); and I was just messing about on Andrew’s tree as he was in and out of sleep. I was doing the census record searches for a cousin of his, Milo Long, and it looked like he was in prison in Montana.
I was very confused about this and looked at the records and noticed a Walter Long as well. Turns out they were brothers. And they were actually in jail in Montana. I just kept wondering how these two farmville Indiana boys ended up in a Montana prison. After a short bit of research I came upon the answer!
Both Milo and Walter went after the family of John Hayes after a “claim dispute” in Montana. According to the local paper, they had supposedly abandoned the claim, near Culbertson, Montana. When they found out someone had taken up residence in that spot they headed over there and gave this man a warning. The Long brothers, with up to 14 more ruffians, threatened the family and said they had 24 hours to get off the property. 24 hours later, they came back and the family was still there. The group proceeded to shoot up the property, killing John Hayes and his 11-year old daughter, Augusta.
This is horrible, obviously. But what I found amazing, was that there was only one census record of them in prison. So I looked into it more and it turns out they were only sentenced to 13 years for the murder of two! I guess that’s early Montana for you…
Milo and Walter were incarcerated at Old Montana Prison at Deer Lodge, which is now on the National Register of Historic Places. The prison housed its first inmate in 1871 and closed up shop in the late 1970s. There are all sorts of ghost stories attributed to the prison, but that’s nothing new for a prison, right? Looks like the next time Andrew and I are visiting Big Sky country we might have to make a stop to see where his cousin’s hung out for a short time. They have tours!
Now, once they got out, Walter got married and had three kids (one of them, a girl, named Delight – I swear). Milo got married a few times to a Helen, a Lola, and then a Nevada.
True to life Black Sheep here. I wish I had pictures of these guys.
I am a huge fan of the writer, Bill Bryson. He used to write primarily hilarious travel books. However, he seems to be interested in EVERYTHING now , and therefore has to write about everything. I just recently finished his most recent book, At Home. In this book he talks about history, but using the things that you find in your home.
A little, seemingly insignificant event happened to me in college that really made me more interested in houses and the histories within them. I used to live in an off-campus house when I went to school at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana. I LOVED my house. It was 5 bedrooms, hardwood floors, dining room, garage (without functional doors, but a garage nonetheless), and a small yard. I had great roommates too. I have nothing but fond memories of my time there. One of my roommates my senior year was dating a fellow named Zack (whom she eventually married). The two of them were visiting with some of Zack’s family one day when Zack’s grandfather was asking her about college life. When he found out she was living off campus, he asked her where abouts. She told him it was south of town. He said, “Oh! I used to live south of town. What street?” She said, “2nd and Fess.” He said, “Wow! That’s near where I grew up! I grew up ON Fess!” He asked her what the address was and she told him his old address! We were living in Zack’s grandfather’s house! WHAT?!
That one experience left me so interested in the history, not only of our own home, but of homes in general. I wonder what life was like for Zack’s grandfather in Bloomington in the 1930s. I can’t even imagine. I am guessing there were less couches on front porches. I am guessing there was much less frisbee played down the middle of the street in the summertime.
So one of the things about genealogy that has me most interested is using Google Maps to see where my ancestors are from. Using the census records (usually starting in 1900) on Ancestry.com you can find the addresses to anyone you’re seeking. One problem I have come upon is that there are never addresses for farms (mostly because there weren’t really addresses for them). Sometimes you can work out a nearby intersection, but that’s about it.
It’s interesting to see what the landscape looks like. Even if it’s obvious that the home is no long on the property, you see their proximity to other places within a short walk. Streetview, in Google Maps, has made it possible to even see what the exact home looks like from the front. Even if some of the houses addresses may not be lined up EXACTLY with the homes, you can generally get the feel of the street.
Some homes are amazing, glowing in the sun on tree-lined streets. Some houses, as I have stated in an earlier post, look like total crack dens. Some houses look like they were probably once amazing…and are now homes to the animals and intravenous drug users, hiding from the cops.
I have included here some of my favorites so far.
This is the home of my great great great grandfather, Bascom Taylor Lacey. Here is an example of a time when I was like, “I wonder if there’s any way to prove that I should have inherited his money.” Amazing house, right? And that name….Bascom Taylor Lacey. A man with that name SHOULD live in that house. A fun little sidenote about B.T. (a nickname he often used), he was the President of the Green Ridge Club, which was a cycling club in the Scranton, PA area. I learned recently from American Pickers that biking was a rich person’s hobby back in the early 1900s. Bikes were VERY expensive. Very.
So, I have a great great uncle named Allison Kinsley. It took me quite awhile to come to the realization that this man was actually a man. Allison? Yeah, he was a guy. He moved to Denver, far far from the rest of my Kinsley family in Pennsylvania and New England. He lived here in 1920 (I don’t know till when because I still don’t have a death date for him) and the Esquire didn’t open till 1927. It was redone in the 1960s, as you can tell by its ugly boxiness. But how about that Old Timey font on the front! Capitol Hill is supposed to be one of the cooler and trendier ‘hoods in all of Denver. I’m proud of my Uncle Allison.
You may be thinking, “Are those cacti in the front yard?” That’s what I was thinking, and yes…yes, they are. This is the house (or at least right next to the house) where my great great grandparents John Darl and Eva (Hill) Munn, moved in their middle life after their kids had grown. They ended up moving back to Ohio later in their lives, but they spent quite awhile in Arizona when there was still not much going on there.
When we were growing up we lived in a neighborhood for a few years where there existed an urban legend of a man. His name was Weedy Man. We called him that because he lived in a house that was so surrounded by weeds and foliage that you truly could not even see it. When I looked this house of Andrew’s great great grandmother, Fannie (Galloway) Bastion Johnson, I was brought back to my childhood of terrifying neighborhood characters. It looks like it was quite a large house and was probably quite lovely in 1920. It is currently a hot mess. This neighborhood is known for being in the middle of Sketchyville.
This house, on the near NE side of Indianapolis is where Andrew’s grandmother lived as a child. I saw a picture of what this house looked like back then and wish I had it to post along with all this.
The one on the left is the home of my friend Ragin’ Nortron’s great grandmother. You may remember a story I recently posted about Ragin’ and his family in Wabash, Indiana. Much of his family is also from the St. Louis area. This was one of my favorites. You can tell that these houses were probably amazing when they were built and before they started becoming vacant lots. I LOVE that this home still has shards of glass sitting in the frames. I can just imagine the exciting adventures that go on behind those empty window frames.
As we can see from the steps, this used to be a house, and was most likely the house of Andrew Brosman in 1930. He was the great grandfather of my friend C-Dogg. He only lived for a very short time in Indianapolis, but when he did he was located at this home at 2546 N. Harding Street. It was probably a great place to live then, within a short walk of Riverside Park.
I am a traveling fiend, and sometimes I feel like Google maps lets me take little trips to the places where my family comes from without ever leaving this great. comfy, green chair.
Any genealogists out there enjoy this little mini-hobby as well? Anyone have another fabulous use for Google Maps?
I have one other friend who is really into genealogy. We’ll call her J-Wow. Her love for geriatric hobbies goes well beyond my own. She also loves to knit! She even owns a spinning wheel! (what??) Luckily this friend is in town, and sometimes it’s nice to have someone with me to go hunting for gravestones, or scavenge through the state library. She is usually up for such adventures. In fact, she has recently gotten very interested in old pictures. Not just her own, you see. But everyone’s. I think this is fabulous.
J-Wow was talking the other day about this new focus of hers, and how she was really getting into her own family photos. I, on the other hand, was lamenting my total lack of any family photos. I mean, don’t get me wrong, my mom kept scrapbooks like a champion, but if you’d look at the shelves of pictures you would think that nothing had happened before she was born. I would LOVE to discover some rare tin-type of my great-great uncle in his army blues. So yeah, I’m a little jealous.
J-Wow’s plan is really great though. She is going to collect photos that are rare and in decent conditions, saving them from the trash cans they will surely find soon, and post them on the internet for family members to find. This will be a much easier process with any names on the back, or information in general. I think she is doing an interesting and helpful thing for those of us out there who have NO idea what our family members looked like.
So here’s my next and final thought.
I love old timey pictures, but sometimes old timey people creep me out.
Case in point: Andrew’s great great great great uncle Daniel Heaton. Creepy, right? Eek.
We have some really good friends. I am one of those people who when I find a good friend, I hold on to them. What I have learned recently was one of the most adorable things I have ever seen, and it involves my husband and his friend.
So I LOVE getting people excited about genealogy, although it may be sort of a selfish thing. I MIGHT automatically assume people will think less of me if they know that I’m interested in such a geriatric hobby, so I try to make it sound REALLY cool and hip. However, when I get people excited I will often hear, “Well, let me know if you have time to work on my tree. That would be cool.” And honestly, I kind of like it. I love looking into other people’s histories, almost as much as my own, only because they are so different. My friends, C-Dogg B-Dizzle and husband Ragin’ Nortron (names have been changed to protect the innocent), are two friends whose trees I am working on. I must say, it is a nice diversion from my own.
I was working on Nortron’s tree the other day and made a lovely discovery. When I look through census records I love to find out the actual home addresses of the people in the tree and put those addresses in my notes section. Then if you want to pull up the address on google maps, it’s kind of awesome.
“Oh look! This is where my ggg grandmother lived, and now it looks like a crack den!” This happens a LOT.
So I was looking at Nortron’s gg grandfather’s (Arthur Jones) addresses in the actual copies of the census pages and noticed something interesting on the page. I recognized the name under him. Delmar Morts. Hmmm…. I know there were Morts’s in my tree because of Andrew but I wasn’t sure if they were from Wabash, Indiana like this one. So I switch trees, and what do you know. Delmar and Arthur were neighbors! Delmar was my husbands gg uncle! Now…this wouldn’t be strange if any of us were from Wabash. None of us were. In fact, I don’t know that any of us have BEEN to Wabash. Maybe, Ragin’ Nortron. I can’t say.
My husband and Ragin’ have been friends for years, since we were all in high school together (WAY too long ago). Ragin’ wooed and married a friend of mine and an old roommate. They are now close neighbors to us and they are delightful friends. I wonder if Delmar and Arthur were good friends. I’m just going to assume they were… and sigh a lot, thinking about how precious it all is.
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.
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.
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.).
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I was stuck. A man sat across from me. I didn’t know how name. I wasn’t sure how he was related. But I believe I was listening to his entire family history (which was long…considering he was in his mid-80s). When we got to the story about how he saw Cole Porter once because his cousin lived across the street from his apartment in Peru I began to wonder, “How did I get sucked into this?”
Andrew’s Reed family was having a reunion up in good ol’ Bremen, Indiana. No one knows where Bremen is, so when I attempted to describe it’s location, I said, “Plymouth, Indiana is the nearest bustling metropolis”. It’s in northern Indiana, not quite “the region” but pretty close. Much of the Reed family has hailed from this area, in or around Marshall County, for generations. Marshall County is where Andrew’s mom grew up. So I thought this would be a great opportunity to meet some of the older people in the family who I haven’t met and who might have some info for me that I could add to the tree. I had no idea what was in store for me there.
It started out with the usual Reed atmosphere. Lots of nice people and good food (mostly carb-based). I usually leave an event in northern Indiana feeling very bad about myself and what I had consumed. I like to pretend that the drive back to Indy actually burns calories.
Soon after the eating Andrew’s mom comes up to me and tells me she was talking to a man about the family’s history and he said that so and so was a colonel in the American Revolution. Well….I needed to talk to this man. Take me to him! She took me to a very nice man. I showed him the very vague print out I brought with me and merely asked him to look it over to tell me if there were any glaring issues. He seemed very excited about my tree and said there were names on there he hadn’t really seen yet. Then he asked if I wouldn’t mind talking to his dad.
I should have known better when it took about 3 minutes to break into the conversation that he was already having. His son said, “Hey. Dad!” about twelve times before he decided to acknowledge his presence. He said, “This girl here is working on the family tree and wanted to know if you could see if what she has so far is right.”
He did! He checked out the tree. It looks like I’m on the right track. That took like 5 minutes. I talked to him for another 55. No no….that is wrong. He talked to me for another 55 minutes. At least. I’m not sure what he was talking about for most of it but here is some of what I learned about: the entire history of the state of West Virginia, Cole Porter’s headstone in Peru, Indiana, how many branches of the name Smith are really out there (countless), bodies of water in northern Indiana, and various “scandals” within his family.
I glanced around every so often for help. I was trying not to be rude but he was talking to me with CONSTANT eye contact. I could have been handcuffed to the picnic table and my level of “trapped” would have been exactly the same. Finally Andrew’s mom caught my crazed and anxious glances. She ran over. Ok, maybe it wasn’t a run, but she got to my side very quickly (she is truly a gem) and attempted to break into the conversation. It took almost another 10 minutes for her to help me get out and away from that table. When I asked for his email address we got a long story about how his email address came to be. ::sigh::
We finally exchanged names after speaking for over an HOUR and were on our separate ways.
I finally left the table and immediately reprimanded Andrew (probably unfairly). “Didn’t you see me over there?!? I kept looking over here! Thank god your mother saved me!” He responded, “I thought you were just learning lots!” Or something along those lines. He really was a very nice man. I shouldn’t have been so peeved, but I had truly become claustrophobic in a open-sided park shelter. I didn’t even know that was possible.
As Andrew was packing up drinks into the car his new iPhone fell out of his front pocket and sort of broke, a lot. Ugh. He had it much worse than I did.
Overall the reunion was great. I wish I hadn’t been sucked in for so long because I wasn’t able to talk to the rest of the fam that we don’t see very often, but the food was good. I felt like after that conversation I deserved all those chocolate peanut butter crispie treats. I earned it.