Fall Break Part I – Pre-partying

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

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

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

Indy to New York

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

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

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

The Bronx

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

Westchester County, New York

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

Andrew and Amsters outside Antionette's

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

Lyndhurst Mansion, Tarrytown, New York

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

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

New York City, Manhattan

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

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

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

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

View from our rooftop bar location. Not too shabby.

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

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

Part II will contain ACTUAL ancestry research.



Scranton Lace Company, Here I Come

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

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

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

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

The Art of Abandonment

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

1905 Scranton Lace Company Gold Bond Note

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

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


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

Wordless Wednesday – Assorted intimidating pictures of my grandfather, Charles W. Kinsley. Who was this guy?

Charles W. Kinsley, hunting. Of course.

I have no idea what those charts mean and don't want to know what those missle-shaped things do. Charles Kinsley (right), in Alabama.

Charles W. Kinsley (far left) with Governor Patterson (seated) of Alabama.

Charles W. Kinsley, downtown Indianapolis development, early 1980s.

Friday I’m in Love

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stop Two – White Oak Cemetery, Bloomington, IN

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

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

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

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

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

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

And we moved on.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stop Six – The beautiful IU Auditorium, Bloomington, IN

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

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

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

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

Stop Seven – Ice Cream on Kirkwood, Bloomington, IN


Stop Eight – Home, Indianapolis, IN

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

And the Weekend Has Yet to Begin…

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

This sob story is for another time.

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

Here is yesterday:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Directions for visiting West Cemetery in Hamilton County.

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

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

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

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


An Adventure for All Ages

We recently took a day trip up to Plymouth, Indiana, which is where Andrew’s maternal grandfather lives.  We just went for a visit (honestly we don’t get up there enough) and to start helping him look through his stuff because he is most likely moving to an assisted living facility.

So while Andrew took his grandfather’s floor-plan map and measured his furniture to see what was doable in the new place, I got to hang out with said grandfather and chat family tree!  I also got to check out some amazing pictures.

4 generation picture (1895, Plymouth, Indiana) - Back row standing: Maude (Yazel) Seymour, Nancy (Hippert) Yazel (Maude's Mother). Seated: Peter Hippert (Nancy's father), Edna Faye Reed (Maude's daughter and Andrew's great-grandmother)

This above picture was my favorite for one great big obvious reason (hello Beardy McBearderson!) but it’s also interesting  because it is one of those multi-generational pictures that people still take today.  Peter Hippert died just four years after this picture was taken.  Chances are that not many, if any, exist of him before this time.  Peter also did not live in Plymouth.  He still lived in Auglaize County, Ohio at this time.  He was just on a visit, which was probably quite the little journey at that time.

Earlier in the day, when we first got to the house, I mentioned our timetable and said that we might be stopping at a cemetery on the way out of town.  Andrew’s mom decided we should all go and have a little adventure.  She asked her dad, “Are you up for an adventure?”  He answered, “Well, yeah.”  And an adventure we had.

We all piled into the little Pontiac and headed out of town, toward a very small town called Bourbon, Indiana.  Actually, we weren’t headed for Bourbon, we were headed for outside of Bourbon.  The goal was Mount Pleasant Church of the Bretheren.

Andrew’s family on both sides were mainly Church of the Bretheren, and this area of Indiana is full of these little churches.  Unfortunately, according to Roy (the Grandfather), this one will be closing in the fall.  I might have to find out if they have any church records before things get handed off to ‘who knows where’.

Thanks to Google Maps and www.findagrave.com we were able to find the cemetery easily.  When we left the house in Plymouth we were all a little worried about the heat and how Roy would feel outside for so long.  As we drove the temperature dropped…and dropped some more.  We were followed by dark, menacing clouds the whole way.  When we got to the cemetery it was cool and breezy, still humid but so very comfortable.  The clouds were pretty much coming straight for us.

I knew we didn’t have much time, so I started snapping pictures of any headstones with Seymour, Stockman, or Yazel.  These are all names in that branch of Andrew’s family.  I even made sure to get a couple family pics.

From left to right: Gloria (Reed) Nelson, Andrew Nelson (posing?), and James Roy Reed. Visiting Mount Pleasant Cemetery.

The older part of the cemetery was across the street.  Roy was convinced that some of the earlier family members were buried over there, including Peter Hippert and a George Washington Seymour.  I don’t know anything about this GW’s plot, but I did find out that Peter is actually buried at a Horn Cemetery in Ohio.

Andrew and I headed back to the newer section, and immediately a lady in a fabulously comfy looking ‘Green Eggs and Ham’ T-shirt came out of her house next door to tell us that the weather map showed some nasty weather almost right on top of us and she didn’t want us stuck out there.  She said there would probably be hail.

Andrew’s mom rushed to get the car turned around so Roy could hop in.  The sprinkles started the second we got in.  We decided maybe would be a good time to eat, but we would have to get to a restaurant first.  This required driving through what looked like some sort of hell-mouth.  We did it, well Gloria (Andrew’s Mom) did.  The darkest part of the storm wasn’t nearly as horrible as it looked.  It was sort of downpour-y though, and when we got to the restaurant (where I proceeded to consume more carbs than I had in weeks combined) all of us got soaked.

We headed back to the house for a few minutes before we went along on our way back to Indy.  I sort of wish we had looked at a weather map before we left.  The “hell-mouth” we drove through earlier was nothing compared to the near-firestorm we drove through to get home.  I don’t know that I’ve ever driven in a lightning storm that was so prolific.  There was literally lightning every single second for about 15 minutes straight.  Once we finally got out of the storm it followed us home the rest of the way, behind us by about a few miles.  This is what it looked like the entire way home.  We were right on the border of heavenly and hellish weather.

The edge of the storm

I’m going to have to take a trip up north again, and maybe this time check the weather.

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.



The Summer Flits Away

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

Moving on…

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

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

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

Onto other news…

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

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

Summer, I could just eat you up.

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

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.