Genealogy Karma

The internet really has provided me a place to research and carry out this hobby without having to leave my home very much.  This is not because of magic.  I know the internet seems like magic sometimes, but this information got onto the internet somehow.  I wish I could personally thank  every person who has ever posted a picture of an ancestor that I have yanked and added to my personal collection. Sometimes I do.  Sometimes I can’t!  So I pay it forward and also try to give credit when I “borrow”.  I do a little work hoping that some person some day might be able to use the little thing that I’ve done.  Genealogy karma. Maybe you’re not supposed to do things hoping that it will come back to you, as that’s not very altruistic.  What are the karma rules?

Find-a-grave

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I am the first to admit, the concept of this website is a little morbid and I think it freaks people out a little bit (especially when they find out I have the App on my phone).

Even though it’s not the prettiest website in the world, findagrave.com is one of the most useful websites for genealogical research, at least in the United States.  I think about how many brick walls have been cracked with the assistance of this amazing tool.  As we all know, finding a death date is one of the more important things when looking to find records.  But what if a great great grandfather died in Scranton, Pennsylvania and I live in Indianapolis (this is all a true story so far) and I don’t have a death date but I know who his wife is and when she died.  WHAT DO I DO!?!?!?!?  Well, hop on Find-a-Grave, and do a search to see if someone has already posted his information.  If someone has posted information but you’d like to see what else is on the headstone you can request a photo and a volunteer could potentially go out and photograph it for you!  Is that not amazing?  21st Century Magic.

So what do I do?  There is a cemetery by my house called Concordia Cemetery.  It’s the closest one to me and I’ve spent a lot of time walking the rows of headstones attempting to catalog those that have not yet been cataloged.  Sometimes I’ll drive over to the Catholic Cemetery.  I have a little corner I’ve been working on over there, but the cemetery is so large it feels a little futile.  Concordia can be defeated!

Concordia Cemetery is very German. Check out Johann and Margaret Behrmann. Headstone actually written in German.

Concordia Cemetery is very German. Check out Johann and Margaret Behrmann. Headstone actually written in German.

Also while I’m out and about on little trips I’ll look to see if any nearby cemeteries have photo requests and I’ll go about and try to fulfill them.  Because you know what?  People do it for me.  Karma.

Besides the good feelings and potential volunteer work I will receive in response, why else do I do this?  Well, I love cemeteries.  It’s my version of adult coloring books, I guess.  I also find out some amazing history of the place where I live.  For instance, one day when I was rolling through Holy Cross Cemetery by my house I realized that the Chevrolet family is buried a mile from me.  Like…as in the cars.  Like the actual Chevrolet family.  Here!  Here they are.  Check it out here!  They didn’t even live here (we are obviously not Detroit), but they were buried here because of their pride in their cars in the Indy 500.  Gotta love the history.

My Half-Family

I am pretty close to my older sisters, to the point where I kind of forget that they’re my half-sisters.  We have different fathers.  I mean, I KNOW that their dad isn’t my dad, but sometimes I still forget that means they have an entire family that I don’t have.

My lovely sisters (and me, the cute blonde one). You gotta love an awkward Santa picture. And sisters in matching tracksuits.

My lovely sisters (and me, the cute blonde one). You gotta love an awkward Santa picture. And sisters in matching tracksuits.

I was reminded of this last weekend when I got a frantic text from my sister and niece asking me if I had any family history information.  My niece needed it very quickly for a Sociology assignment she didn’t know she had.  I was DELIGHTED to be able to help and also share some fun and interesting info about our family.

I pulled up my sister in my tree (as my niece decided to focus on her maternal side) and I realized I only had half of her tree.  So I helped with what I could and told her to get some info from her dad and I would try to fill in as much info as I could.  I found out some amazing information.  I feel like I never even knew my sisters!  They are straight up 1/4 Irish.  Their dad’s mother came to the US from Ireland.  What?!  I had no idea!  Once I hit Ireland with that branch (Mullery) I had a hard time going back farther.  So I decided to focus on the Jennings branch.

Here’s a little backstory.  Currently the whole entire family lives in Indianapolis. Like…everyone.  Keep in mind that every single one of my siblings was born in a different city (and mostly different states).  I didn’t really “meet” my brother until I was about six because he moved out when I was born.  And before my grandparents moved here in the 1960s NO ONE from the family lived in Indiana, so it’s kind of amazing we all ended up here.  My mom’s family is all east coast.  In addition, none of my mom’s husbands were from here, or so we (or they) thought.

Turns out the Jennings branch (my mom’s second husband) spent quite a bit of time in Southeastern Indiana, in Dearborn County.  Robert K. Jennings is the father of my two sisters and adoptive father of my two brothers.  His grandfather, Clyde Addison Jennings…born in Indiana!  Clyde went to school and became a news editor!  Kind of cool, right?  Specifically he was born in a small town called Moores Hill.  I came to find out that Moores Hill was the home of a Moores Hill College, founded in 1854.  The college later moved to Evansville and changed the name to the University of Evansville.  I’m guessing the relocation of the college was not great for the little town.  I’m going to have to make it a future day trip.

Clyde’s dad, Thomas Jennings was a well-known Civil War veteran in that area.  He was born in Missouri but spent the majority of his life in Moores Hill after the war.  He opened up and ran a drug store.  He was essentially the town’s pharmacist.

Thomas A. Jennings, Moores Hill druggist.

Thomas A. Jennings, Moores Hill druggist.

Thomas and his wife, Maria (Smith) Jennings are buried there in Forest Hill Cemetery, less than an hour and a half from my home.  I am going.  The next nice Friday…I’m going.  I will update after I visit what I imagine is a super cool town.  And maybe I’ll go to Cincinnati.  And IKEA.  Because IKEA.

Thanks for sharing, Girl Scouts!

Early on in the history of this blog I wrote a post about how the Girl Scouts devoured a cemetery that I REALLY wanted to go to.  I had a sneaking suspicion that within this cemetery lay quite a few of Andrew’s old family, including great great great great grandparents.  I finally got the guts to confront this nasty Girl Scout camp, “Camp Dellwood” (I am using finger quotes…as I am typing this…as difficult as that sounds).  I had the help of my trusty cemetery-stomper friend, Jumwaltie (the spelling has been altered protect the innocent).  Jumwaltie has been a trusty friend in cemetery-stomping for years, and as far as I am concerned…things better stay that way.  We call it “cemetery-stomping” but we don’t actually stomp on them.  It just a crass/shortened way to describe driving around and visiting graveyards.  We don’t jump on headstones or anything weird like that.  Anyway…I digress.

Jumwaltie joined me on our trip.  She played navigator to my driver.  Thank heavens she did, because even as I was driving my car sickness was making we woozy.  Uncool.  Road trips are my favorite thing in the world and this situation seems to be getting worse.  Navigating (reading anything) makes it all ten times worse.  Anyway, Jumwaltie got us to Camp Dellwood.  We drove in the front entrance and the “park ranger” was washing his car in his driveway.  I met him and said that I heard there was a cemetery back in the camp that I was eager to visit.  He seemed nice enough, possibly annoyed, but definitely nice.  The gatekeeper allowed us through.

Old Union Cemetery on the west wide of Indianapolis, Raceway Road, located inside Camp Dellwood.

About 500 yards into the camp the cemetery was on the left.  It seemed pretty well maintained, especially considering the age of many of the headstones.  What I found out was pretty awesome.  Andrew’s great great great great grandfather was buried there.  His name was John Hornaday.  His family relocated from Chatham County, North Carolina and ended up in western Marion County and Eastern Hendricks County.  In fact, Hornaday Road runs just north and south just 2 miles west of the Old Union Cemetery.  This is the cool part..

Andrew’s grandmother, Dorothy Boyce Nelson, was John’s great great grand-daughter.  She was also a girl scout troop leader.  According to her she used to spend many a nights camping at Dellwood with her troops.  I haven’t talked to her about it, but chances are she had no idea she was camping directly next to where her great great grandparents had been for 100 years already.

Headstone of John Hornaday at Old Union Cemetery

Just goes to show that the girl scouts are good for way more than just Samoas (although they are kind of the best).  Thanks, girl scouts, for sharing in my family history.

It was a good start to an all day trip.  More to come.  Learn how Jumwaltie is convinced that my Andrew and her man-friend are somehow related.

 

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.

 

Ode to The Indiana State Library

Ok, so I’m not actually going to write “an ode” cause I don’t do poetry; but I want to express my love and gratitude for this place which gives me a place to nerd up when the weather and/or my car isn’t eager for me to travel very far.

Now, I’m not talking about the Central Library.  I love that library for a completely different reason.  In fact, sometimes I wish I lived in that library.  Everyone who lives or visits Indianapolis should go up to the 6th floor and just enjoy the view facing south towards the Circle.

Central Library in downtown Indianapolis. Amazing library. Go there now if you haven't been yet.

On the exterior, Indiana State Library seems like the frumpy sister of the Central library but there are amazing resources there.

Today is a great example of reasons I love the State Library.  This is what happened, in order.

1.) I parked out front on the street.  There is almost always street parking out front.  And the tops of the meters were removed!  There were no “no parking” signs.  So that means Free Parking!  And it was!  I did not get a ticket.

2.) I went inside and had no problem finding an open easy place to sit.  The library is generally known for being a haven for homeless people.  I don’t generally have a problem with this, but it can be an issue with space.  Downstairs the only usable computers are hooked up to genealogy research sites and THAT is the only reason they are used.  This is not the biggest hit with the homeless population of the city.

3.) I had been researching a branch of my family, the Staudts (or Stoudts…or even Stouts) and found a book on the internet that would be so very helpful.  It didn’t even occur to me until I got there today that the State Library might actually have this very random family history called “Stoudts and Allied Families”.  And they did!  And I used it.  And it was so very helpful.  For those interested, I found out that my Staudt family came from Germany, a little village called Wolfersweiler.  Sounds awesome, I know.

4.)  It sounded as if there was a scuffle in the entry way about mid-way through my research there, and I had no worries.  There are capable security guards at the library whenever they’re open.

5.)  I asked the librarian a question.  Now, this seems like a silly reason to like a library, but I’m kind of shy about asking strangers questions because I hate sounding stupid.  But honestly, everyone who goes to this library is so geeked out on genealogy it makes me feel more comfortable.

6.)  As I was leaving I noticed a flier with information about presentations they’ll be doing over the course of the next month.  What is really amazing is that it’s free!

In addition to what happened today, other things that get me all excited about the State Library include:

  • The insane collection of newspapers from pretty much every county in the state, and even some nearby states.  I use these regularly, especially for obituaries and marriage announcements.
  • The fact that it’s across the street from the Indiana Historical Society, which also has a small but pretty cool library.
  • Records, records, and more records.  I can get lost in all those deeds, wills, death records, marriage records…it’s all very exciting.  Most of it is sorted by county and very easy to find.

For those who are interested in visiting the Indiana State Library I recommend checking out their website because the hours can be kind of weird; and there are some days they are just not open.

 

 

Still Amazed at Andrew’s Native Indy-ness.

So I went to the library on Thursday for a short little stint after school and was possibly going to meet up with my friend Amy.  She was, however, waylaid by the Catholic cemeteries and couldn’t make it.  No fear, I had plenty of my own research to do.

One thing I was really hoping to accomplish was discovering the location where Andrew’s Heaton branch had property throughout Marion County, and how early did they get here.

Well, using the deed records I was able to find out a couple of locations.  Andrew’s gggg grandfather, Eli Heaton, had about 80 acres up in the Nora area (which is now a shopping center that runs right along the Monon Trail) that he bought for $300 in 1835.  I’m currently trying to somehow prove that we are entitled to that land now, and all the subsequent improvements to that land.

I also discovered that Andrew’s gggg-uncle purchased land on the south side of town, not far from where we live now.  Asa Heaton owned a chunk of land that now lies adjacent to the Eli Lilly Recreation Area off Raymond Street in Indianapolis.  He paid $100 for this in 1823.  I’m not quite as excited about this chunk of land as it is now being used for industrial uses.  Sneh.

I also decided it was finally time to stop by the old family cemetery (since we were driving by it anyway) and see where the Indy old-timers are resting.  It’s a lovely little cemetery really, just 1 mile north from where Andrew’s parents reside today.

Entrance to Union Chapel Cemetery on the far north side of Indianapolis.

But isn’t it insane? They’ve been here since at least 1823!  Indiana wasn’t even a state till 1816.  Good job, Heatons.  Now, why aren’t there any streets named after you?