What Will I Do on Summer Vaca?

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

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

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

Trip 2:  To Union County, South Carolina.

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

Trip 3:  Binghamton, NY and Guilford County, NY

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

Places I will definitely be visiting:

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

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

Black Sheep Sunday: Horse thief or son of a redcoat?

I’m not gonna lie.  I love a little family drama, especially when that drama that has LONG past.  Drama in my current living family?  Not quite as fun.

My Munn branch seems to have quite a little bit of it, including the guy who brought us to this country in the first place and presumably gave generations of Munns their last name.

Family crest for the Munn family of England.

The farthest back we have traced my Munn branch of the family is to a fellow named Thomas Atherton Munn.  What has been assumed and asserted by many is that Atherton was originally the last name of this family and Munn was added to disguise some sketchy life choices.

Story One

My dad says that this is the story that my great grandfather (John Darl Munn, Sr.) swears by:  Thomas Atherton Munn was actually born in England and was being held in a sort of jail.  Supposedly he had stolen a horse or something of the like.  He, along with 60 others, broke out from jail and he somehow escaped to the United States.  He swapped his middle and last name to avoid getting caught.  This is how he became a Munn and was no longer an Atherton.

Story Two:

Thomas Atherton was born in New York/New Jersey, and his father was actually a British Loyalist (redcoat) in the US during the American Revolution.  When his father deserted the British side he change his last name to his wife’s maiden name.

Other rumblings about the family/person of interest:

There was a horse thief in the Atherton family who was hung.  The family was so ashamed that they changed their name to a maiden name.

What do the facts say?

  • Thomas Atherton Munn lived in Bradford County, Pennsylvania in 1820, 1830, and 1840.
  • Thomas Munn was one of the early settlers in Litchfield, Pennsylvania.
  • He married Mary Wolcott and had 13 children.

If there’s anyone out there who has done research to come up with something solid about this horse theif/son of a redcoat, please let me know.   The problem is that multiple books written during or about this time have opposing facts.

For those of you who might be cousins out there, here is how TA Munn is related to me:

He is my 5th great grandfather.

Thomas Atherton > (son) Silas Munn > (son) John Parks Munn > (son) Willard Ord Munn > (son) John Darl Munn Sr. > (daughter) Gene Odelle Munn > (son) John Brown > (me!) Erin Brown

And the Weekend Has Yet to Begin…

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

This sob story is for another time.

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

Here is yesterday:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Directions for visiting West Cemetery in Hamilton County.

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

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

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

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

 

A Little Irish In All Of Us

I was sick today.  I have actually been sick for days, but today is officially a sick day because I had to call into work.  I have it all: fever, chills, coughing fits, swimmy head.  I’m generally pretty useless.  One thing I used to really enjoy, and actually used to feel guilty about partaking in when I was jobless, was 2 full hours of West Wing on Bravo in the morning.  So I thought that I could guiltlessly watch West Wing while I moaned on the couch and used the dog as a pillow.  Guess what!  Bravo does not show West Wing for two hours every day anymore.  They show like 12 hours of Millionaire Matchmaker.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I kind of love that show and have nothing against it.  Millionaire Matchmaker, however, does not hold a candle to two hours daily of Josh Lyman and CJ Cregg.  I’m sorry if anyone disagrees.

So I watched the news for awhile, which was more depressing than usual, considering the horrible tornado in Joplin, which is being covered nonstop.  But then all of a sudden there was a switchover to our President, in Ireland.  They showed video of him having a grand old time in Moneygall with his distant relatives from Ireland.  Then I got to see him give his speech in Dublin.  He talked about how America is so infused with Irish roots.  It was mentioned on the news several times after that how everyone tries to claim they have Irish roots.

Now, my name is Erin.  This is another word for Ireland.  But as far as my parents were concerned, they had no idea whether or not we were Irish.  I guess they got lucky that I was a super pale strawberry blonde with blue eyes.

In honor of the U.S. desire to be Irish, I will honor my own Irish roots (that I have found so far).

Hugh Davidson and his wife, Elizabeth Allen, were from a tiny little town in Northern Ireland, in the County Antrim, called Randalstown.  They came over to the U.S. in 1812 just before the war started.  They brought two children with them.  Once they got into the U.S., they quickly moved inland towards Ohio and made a home in a few different counties before finally settling in Darke County, near Versailles.

Hugh and Elizabeth (Allen) Davidson, Darke County, Ohio

I don’t claim to know why they came here.  That’s one thing I’ll have to look into when I have time to focus on these folks. It may have something to do with the impending war with Britain.  I’m guessing there is some relation there.

This is one of the few ancestors I have found from Ireland.  What I find interesting is that none of these Irish ancestors come from the Republic of Ireland.  They are all from Northern Ireland, British territory.

For those interested, Hugh is my 5th great grandfather.  The branch goes as follows:  Hugh (father of)> James Davidson (father of)> Mary Ellen Davidson (mother of)> Mary Catherine Staudt (mother of)> Eva Jane Hill (mother of)> Gene Odell Munn (mother of)> John Thomas Brown (father of)> ME!

Now back to moping, moaning, and coughing.

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.

Fun with Google Maps

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.

My Fam

1910 Home of Bascom Taylor Lacey at 1559 Washington Street in Scranton, Pennsylvania.

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.

The parking lot for this theatre seems to have taken over my great great uncle's home.

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.

Tucson home where my great grandparents lived.

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.

Andrew’s Fam

East 12th Street in Indianapolis, Indiana. There is really a house behind this.

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.

2021 Nowland Avenue - The home of many generations of Andrew's grandmother's family.

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.

Friends’ Fams

4054 Saint Ferdinand Ave in St. Louis, Missouri. This was the home of Mary Margaret Hardin in 1930.

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.

This used to be a house.

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.

Illustration of Riverside Park from an old postcard.

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?

Sad about genes

Genealogy makes you start to think more about genes…obviously.  When you see old pictures of family members you start thinking things like, “Wow!  That looks just like my brother!”or “Now I know where Bobby gets his red hair!”

There are some pictures of my mother when she was younger that look just like me.  It’s a little creepy actually.  My sisters used to tease me and say things like, “Wow, Erin!  What was it like in the 1950s?”  There is a picture of my grandmother from the 1940s in her town newspaper posing with some people from her class.  It’s almost as if my little sister had been transported in time and was sent to sleep with curlers in her hair.  SUPER creepy.

So every time I go out into the sun I curse my genes.  You see…I am white.  I am very white.  If I’m not wearing sunscreen I will burn in less than 15 minutes.  Even if I am wearing sunscreen…strong sunscreen….I will still burn.  It will take longer, but it will happen.  After researching my family tree it is upsetting that I had this good chance to get nice dark skin from my dad’s side but ended up with the white pasty skin from my mother’s side (a group of people who came almost primarily from the British Isles).

I have known for just over a year that my dad’s side is filled with many dark-skinned people.  The Goings family that orginated in Angola (as far as I know so far).  The Hill family, not descended from the Goings, is the same.  Henry Levi Dorton, a ggggg grandfather was sold into indentured servitude until his 31st birthday and was luckily released early after some untimely deaths of his “owners”.  Much of the census records of my family members of this branch into the early 1900s consider them “mulatto”.

Then there is my brach of Choctaw Indian, also on my dad’s side. Hannah Findley, another great grandmother of mine, had to go to court to prove that she was Choctaw to get her freedom from slavery.

My little sister, Amy, has great skin.  She tans in the summer.  She isn’t afraid of the sun.  She’s probably burned a couple times, but she has good coloring.  And then there’s me.  I get tan in one place on my body, my left arm (the driving arm).  It’s a slow building tan, but by the end of the summer it’s something to be proud of.  But then, of course, I’m convinced I am going to get melanoma.  I scrutinize the shape and color of every mole or freckle.

So how did Amy end up with this great color and then there’s me…the whitest white girl? This is why I am sad about genes.

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.