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?



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, 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.

A forgotten murder/suicide in Downtown Indy

So, one of my favorite things about doing genealogy is coming upon these wild stories in families that people knew nothing about.  A lot of times horrible things will happen and people don’t want to talk about them and they get swept under the rug.  These stories get lost in history.  I found one of those stories today!

I started a new tree for a friend with the last name of Totten.  While she was here I hit a few little roadblocks but once she left I had some more time to delve a little deeper into her Totten branch and figured out how her family got to Indiana.  The first Totten to have a child in Indiana was Calvin P. Totten who came to Johnson County with his parents and quite a few siblings.

I couldn’t find any death or burial information on Calvin and his wife Cora, which was frustrating me so I hopped on to see if there were any newspaper articles where either of them were mentioned.  This is what popped up in my first search:

“Jealous Husband Kills Wife and Commits Suicide

A Double Tragedy Enacted on Streets of Indianapolis

In a fit of jealous rage, Calvin Totten, a contractor, aged fifty-five years, this evening shot to death his wife, aged forty-years, as the woman ran screaming into the street, and then in the presence of a crowd of Saturday afternoon shoppers he sent a bullet into his own head, inflicting a fatal wound.”

Ack!  What?!  I must know more!

This came from an article in the Cleveland Leader on Aug 31.  I couldn’t find anything online from the Indianapolis News or Star about this so I’ll be looking tomorrow.  How will I look tomorrow?  I knew you’d ask.

Well, tomorrow is my birthday.  Andrew asked what I would like to do for my birthday and I asked him if I could spend some time at the State Library because it’s been about forever.  Today, after working on this Totten tree I have even more to research!  I could spend all day there.  Happy Birthday to me!

The Totten that I know was shocked at this bit of news.  Although she did respond with a, “Tottens are pretty intense.”  HA!   I hope to find some more info tomorrow to pass along to her.  I am also interested to find out if her grandfather Totten (still alive) knew anything about this craziness.  It seems that many (not all of them, obviously) of the Tottens may have left Indiana after this incident so there may not have been a lot of family around to even bring it up.


(Written the following day)

So I found an article in the Indianapolis News from September 1, 1902.  The article is pretty wild, and obviously very sensational writing (given the times) so I think I have to post the whole thing.

“Slain Wife and Suicide Are Buried Together

Calvin Totten, Jealous Husband and His Victim

At Town of Courtship

Husband Killed her Saturday Night After Years of Jealous Rage – Efforts to Evade Him

Imbued with a jealous rage that had been rankling within him for several years, Calvin P. Totten murdered his wife by shooting her with a revolver, Saturday evening, and then turned the weapon on himself.  A bullet in his brain caused his death an hour and a half later at City Hospital.

The shooting occurred at the home of Mrs. Benjamin Carr at 216 East New York Street, where Mrs. Totten and her sixteen-year-old daughter, Minnie Totten, had gone to make a social call.

Because of domestic differences, Mrs. Totten had left her husband several months ago, and refused to live with him.  She had applied for a divorce on the ground of inhuman treatment on several occassions.  The threats of Totten to take her life had caused the family no end of alarm, and care was exercised to keep Totten from ascertaining the whereabouts of his wife.  The woman moved many times to keep from coming in contact with her jealous husband.

Recently she had been living with her daughter Minnie at 427 East Market Street.  The girl is employed by the New Telephone Company.  Last Friday Minnie saw her father lurking near their home and Mrs. Totten in moral dread, asked the police to lock him up.

Superintendent Taffe allowed Totten to go free on his promise to leave the city immediately.  He was not seen again until he appeared suddenly in front of the Carr home.

The woman and girl were talking of Johnson County, where all of them formerly lived.  Minnie went to Franklin last week to attend the Johnson County Fair and she was telling of her experiences when her mother, with blanched face, suddenly exclaimed, “My God, here comes Cal.”

She seemed almost paralyzed with fear, but managed to struggle to her feet as though to escape.  She was too late, however, as Totten with the expression of a demon in his face, drew his revolver and began firing.  With a scream Mrs. Totten staggered and was about to run into the house when four shots from the revolver came in rapid succession.  The woman fell heavily to the floor of the porch, three of the four bullets having inflicted fatal wounds.

One of them had passed through her heart and the other three entered her back.  Mrs. Carr was so close that the bullets almost touched her as they sped by to their mark.  Minnie Totten fell in a swoon and the man turned toward the street.

The firing attracted the attention of a dozen or more men passing in Massachusetts Avenue nearby.  They ran to the house and the murderer coolly emptied the shells from his revolver and filled the chambers with fresh cartridges.  Waving the weapon defiantly at the crowd he started to run east in New York Street. The men followed him at a respectful distance, and when Totten realized that escape was impossible he stopped and fired a bullet into his right temple.

The couple were married in Franklin seventeen years ago on the wife’s nineteenth birthday.  Totten at that time was thirty-six years old.  Mrs. Totten’s maiden name was Cora Kipheart, and her brothers and relatives are well-known citizens of Johnson County.  Totten was also a member of a well-to-do family.  He was employed as a carpenter and a bricklayer.

Totten from the start had a jealous disposition and this culminated in an unreasoning suspicion that his wife was not true to him.  Quarrels were frequent, and as a last resort, and after sixteen years of suffering, Mrs. Totten decided to separate from him.  This only developed and strengthened the man’s jealousy and he swore often that he would someday take her life.

Yesterday evening at 6 o’clock both the bodies of Mr. and Mrs. Totten were buried side by side in the little graveyard at Bargersville, Johnson County.  It was in this little village that Mrs. Totten was born and reared, and it was there she first met Totten.  There was much feeling against Totten among the relatives and friends of the dead woman, but it was finally decided that both bodies should be buried in the family plot next to the grave of one of their children.

The grave of Mary Lenore Totten who died just two years before her father killed her mother and himself.  She was just 13 years old.

The grave of Mary Lenore Totten who died just two years before her father killed her mother and himself. She was just 13 years old.

At 2:30 o’clock yesterday afternoon two hearses bore the bodies from Ragsdale’s undertaking establishment to an electric car of the Franklin line, at Georgia and Meridiant Streets.  This car was met in Franklin and the funeral procession went over a country road to the Bargersville cemetery.  A large crowd of people followed all the way.  Short services were held at the graves and the last chapter of the tragedy was closed when the coffins were lowered into the ground.”

Bravo, 1902 journalist!  Well-written, sir!  One thing that always amazes me about reading these old stories…they are so rarely labeled with the name of a writer.

The next time I get some time to go to the library I hope to check out some of the newspapers from Johnson County during that time.

Any Tottens or Kiphearts out there in the world ever hear about this story?  Please comment!


A new VERY little leaf in our Family Shrub

So, I like to be a little different.  Some people like to have babies who are full-sized after a 9-10 mos pregnancy.  Nope.  Not me.  I am into delivering before even the third trimester.  Actually, I didn’t choose to deliver that early.  I was very sick; and my little stinker, Coraline Reed Nelson was born on 11/20/2012 at just 1 lb 1 oz.  She just came home from the hospital and her NICU life three weeks ago.  She’s a pretty awesome baby.  She sleeps through the night (sometimes with one snack break in the middle – depending) and is really cute.

Coraline poses with her sock monkey friend.

In the NICU, many people commented on her name.  They would either ask if it was supposed to be Caroline or if we got it from the Tim Burton movie, Coraline.  Well…we named the baby under crazy circumstances.  When I went in for pain issues, it turns out I had what was called HELLP Syndrome, and the pain was my liver swelling up.  I also had severe pre-eclampsia which shot my blood pressure through the roof.  So they first gave me morphine.  Then they came to tell me that I was having my baby that night…in like…a half hour.  WHAT?!  One of my first thoughts was, “We don’t even have a name!”

We hadn’t even discussed names.  Andrew still said we had plenty of time.  The goal was to each make a list of 10 names that we really liked and then we would cross reference.  My list consisted of a lot of family names for either the first or middle name.  My family doesn’t really have a ton of awesome names, but one of them was Cora.  My great grandmother was Cora (Motzenbacher) Smith.  I never met her as she died a few years before I was born, but her daughter, Lois (Smith) Kinsley was a fabulous lady.  So I can only imagine that Cora had to be as well.  Coraline seemed like a nice play on the name so I put it on my list.  Reed is Andrew’s mom’s maiden name.  I think it’s pretty.  And Nelson is…well…Andrew’s last name, obvs.

I was on a magnesium drip when we chose the name.  If you’ve ever been on it, then you’ll understand that I am very lucky that my child isn’t named “Puppy McGee Nelson” or something.  I was TOTALLY out of it.  I hope to never have to be on magnesium again.  No fun.  No fun at all.  So I’m not really sure how the decision making process went with Andrew.  I don’t really remember.  Everything is very fuzzy.

Unfortunately, just as Coraline was coming home, another part of the Nelson family tree died.  Dorothy Jane Boyce Nelson died at age 96.  She was a great lady and had an amazing life.  I can only hope to have such a full life.

Dorothy Boyce Nelson

Since her death I have been reminded of the really interesting Indianapolis roots in that family, and will hopefully continue to find new information and will continue to post.

Babies keep you busy, though.  For serious.  For updates on little Coraline, visit the other blog at

I am a lousy blogger. I’ll be better soon.

I haven’t always been a lousy blogger.  Life has, however, taken a bit of a turn this year.  I am having a hard time focusing on one thing for any amount of time, including work.  So blogging has been on the backburner, unfortunately along with the genealogy in general.

My husband and I are expecting our first child at the very beginning of March.  ACK!  There’s so much to do and so much to think about that I feel like I’m about to go into shutdown mode. I was just trying to put a registry together and I realized that i have NO idea what babies need.  Blankets?  Diapers?  Uhhh….Stuff?  That’s about where I am.  So…that’s just one more thing pressing on my brain.  What in the world do I think I am doing?

I am, however, excited to be extending our family tree.  One thing we have not yet discussed is names.  It is also the one question (after, “Do you know what you’re having?”) that everyone has asked.  The goal was to put together a list of 10 names each, then cross reference, and then start vetoing.  Andrew seems to be having a harder time coming up with names, so we haven’t gotten to view each other’s lists.  I would love to add a family name in there, which I believe is something that has often fallen by the wayside in recent past generations (unless you are a Jr. or something along those lines).

We have had some generational naming in my family though.  A cousin of mine named her son Andrew Lloyd.  Lloyd was our grandfather’s name.  He was an absolute delight of a person, and a great guy to be named after.  My husband has a brother who has the middle name of Wood, which is the family name carried down by the first male for 4 generations.  Before that it was the surname of one of his branches that settled Indianapolis.  What I have gained from my research so far is that the Wood who first came to Indianapolis settled along the White River and was a cooper.  So I kind of love that the name has trickled down to our generation.

As you start looking back into families of the 18th and 19th centuries, many names are clearly taken from older generations.  They may be named after an aunt, uncle, grandparent, or even a child who just died and had the same name (creepers).

So what names do we have that would work?  Well…once we come up with something I’ll reveal it to the world.  Oh…and it’s a girl.

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.

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.


Sunday’s Obituary – Death, Destruction, and poor George Norris

During a visit to the Indiana State Library two weeks ago I came upon an amazing amount of information over both Andrew’s family as well as my friend Amy.  The first story I came upon was about Amy’s great great great grandfather, who it turns out died in a horrible grisly accident.  The local newspaper in Washington, Indiana (Daviess County) held back no specifics about the gory details…so obviously I have to post it:

Jan 21, 1887

Death and Destruction

Wrought By the Explosion of a Portable Engine Boiler

“Jack” Norris Torn to Pieces by a Flying Fragment of Iron.

Four Other Men Seriously Injured – Complete Details of the Terrible Accident

Hurled though space!

A sickening mass of living, quivering flesh, mangled beyond recognition, and scarcely a resemblance to humanity.

Such was the sad end of poor Jack Norris.  One of the best known saw mill men and engineers in the county and a man that everybody in northeastern Daviess County knew and respected.

The accident that deprived him of life after fifty-two years residence in Daviess County, happened at twenty minutes after 9 o clock Thursday morning in Barr Township, ten miles northeast of this city.

Norris operated a portable saw mill, and had been running his mill on the farm of Clay Doane, just north of Henry Sefrit’s place, and near the Harrisonville road, since last spring.

The mill worked a force of four or five men when in operation, including Mr. Norris who was the engineer.  His sawyer was his son, John Norris, Jr. The boiler and engine of the mill were purchased about three years ago, and had been used almost constantly from that time.  The engine was about a 16-horse power.

Thursday morning the men went to work as usual, the force consisting of “Jack” Norris, his sons, John and Elbert, Lewis McAtee, and Thomas Murphy.

They were a little later starting than usual Thursday morning.

Clay Doane, owner of the farm where the mill stood, was hauling wood that morning, and he and his team stood on the bank of a little creek or “branch” that runs near the mill.  Shortly after nine o’clock Mr. Doane was startled by a terrific explosion, and for an instant the air about the mill was filled with the debris of the wrecked saw mill – boards, logs, splinters, pieces of iron, parts of the boiler, and coals of fire from the furnace.

The most horrible flying object, however, was the dismembered and mangled body of a man, which was shot through the air and surrounding tree-tops for a distance of more than 100 yards.

The body was that of Jack Norris.

He had evidently been standing at the side of the boiler when it let go, and a section, weighing a thousand pounds, had carried him in its flight through space, tearing his head from his body and reducing his form to shapeless and bleeding mass in the twinkling of an eye.

Hi body was split open, and from it, yet quivering with life, some of his internal organs were torn from their places and strewed along the terrible track of the heavy piece of boiler plate, which swept through the air with irresistible force, cutting limbs from trees 30 or 40 feet from the ground, and splattering their inanimate trunks with the brains and blood of the luckless engineer.

Having exhausted its force, the mass of iron fell in the road 100 yards from where it started, and a few feet further on lay the lifeless remains of Norris, who was mangled beyond recognition. 

Bits of his flesh, hair, and beard were found sticking to the pieces of boiler.  Death, of course, was instantaneous, and he was killed as suddenly as if he had been prostrated by a bolt of lightning.

The other men who were working in the mill were all more or less injured.  John Norris Jr., the sawyer, had an arm broken, but was not rendered unconscious.

Elbert Norris, aged 18, Willis McAtee, aged 35, and Thomas Murphy were all prostrated by the force of the explosion, the breath knocked out of them, and each more or less seriously hurt.  Elbert Norris’ hurts were of the most serious character and may yet prove fatal.  He has a dangerous scalp wound, and was bruised about the body.

Clay Doane was the only man about the mill who was not injured.  He stood within 100 yards of the mill when the explosion occurred, and says the shock did not affect him, nor even frighten his team.  All the occupants of the houses in the neighborhood, however, felt the shock.

Mr. Doane was, of course, the first on the scene of the shocking accident, and he cared for the wounded as best he could till aid came.  The body of the dead man was put in as presentable shape as possible under the circumstances, and conveyed to the deceased’s home, near St. Mary’s.  The wounded men were also taken home, and their injuries attended to.

Based on plat maps and the description given in the article I believe I was able to work out where the accident took place.  Just north of the Amish school (north of Cannelsburg) on County Road 775 East, south of County Road 400 North.

Assumed location of accident where George "Jack" Norris died, north of Cannelsburg, Indiana

Sunday’s Obituary – Asa Caywood

I found this when I visited the Indiana State Library.  I love 1.) that the writer is also the man who ministered the funeral service and 2.) how delightfully flowery the language is.

Here is the tribute to Asa Caywood, a pioneer of Hendricks County, Indiana, outside of Brownsburg, Indiana. Taken from the Hendricks County Republican on Nov. 13, 1884:

Father Caywood was born in the State of Maryland in the year 1790.  From there he removed to Kentucky, and thence to Indiana in 1833, where he resided until his death.  In early life he made an open profession of his faith in Christ the Savior, and United with the Baptist Church.  Previous to his leaving Kentucky he identified himself with the Christian church.  On locating in Hendricks County in 1837 he took membership with the church at Brownsburg, where it remained until his death.  In 1856 his beloved companion was taken from him by death, and the evening of his life was spent with his son in law, Mr. Ben McDonald, where he received every kindness and attention that love could bestow.  He was the father of 13 children, 8 having preceded him to the spirit world.  For several years, on account of bolidy infirmities, he had been prevented from meeting in the public worship, but his faith wavered not, though the “eye grew dim and the natural force abated.”  His last illness was brief.  Gently as the sun descends to his western home, he, on Nov. 3, 1884, closed his long period of service at the age of 94 years.  He came to “his grave in full age, like as a shock of corn cometh in, in his season.” Services were conducted by the writer at the church at Brownsburg, after which his remains were laid to rest beside his wife, while the rainbow of immortality arches their graves.

-J.B. Ludwig

Asa Caywood's headstone in the middle of a stand of trees... in the middle of a corn the middle of nowhere.

Asa Caywood is related to Andrew (the husband) in this way:

Asa Caywood (father of) > Leah (Caywood) Ward (mother of) > Margaret (Ward) Sparks (mother of) > Henrietta (Sparks) Boyce (mother of) > Dorothy (Boyce) Nelson (mother of) > Kevin Nelson (father of) > Andrew!

Fall Break Part IV – Someone is Trying to Erase My Family

On our last morning in Scranton I was ready to really use that Google Map I had created for the trip.  On the map I included every address from my ancestors that I could find.  Usually you can find addresses in cities for census records from 1900 and later.  I was also able to find a lot of addresses in the city directories.

Andrew played navigator as I drove (have I mentioned that Andrew is a saint?) and he would use the map to lead me from one house to the next.  I would attempt to park at each house and one of us would snap a picture (and imagine life in 1900) and then I would enter into my phone the address.

I decided at one house to start entering the houses in advance and this proved to be a mistake, mostly because it seems someone is trying to erase any history of my family in Scranton.  We drove down an amazing street in the Dunmore area of Scranton with beautiful houses.  I thought, “Yes!  My family was rich!  And somehow I am entitled to this house!”  So as we moved slowly down the street and read the addresses I realized there was one missing.  And there was an empty lot.  Crap.  Well, let’s move on.

We drove to a neighborhood a little less nice, but still some cute houses.  We drove down the street, Andrew announced the address, and I drove past another….you guessed it, empty lot.  There was a house on either side!  In fact, it was the ONLY empty lot on the street.  This literally happened 5 times.  Almost the same situation every time!  Both houses on either side were there….and then there was an empty lot.  The one that was NOT like this situation was the street that was completely removed and taken over by a warehouse.

By the fifth house, obscenities were coming from both Andrew and I.  And then Andrew said, “Someone is trying to erase your family.”  Oh haha….

And then I thought about it…

  • The gravestones covered in mud at Forest Hills Cemetery
  • Emmaretta Lacey’s missing headstone
  • 5 houses completely gone.  Bulldozed.  Surrounded on all sides by survivors.
  • An odd missing page from the Scranton newspaper where Andrew was trying to find my grandfather’s obituary.  It was literally the ONLY page missing.

I did find a few houses though.  Here is what I found:

Home of Charles W. Kinsley Jr. and Sr. in 1930s and 1940s

116 Oak Street. I found this picture in an old photo album of my mom's. I am guessing this was taken sometime before 1955.


Updated picture, Fall 2011 of 116 Oak Street. I love the subtle differences.

Home of Charles W. Kinsley Sr. in 1918

According to the last time this house was sold was in 1944 for $46,500. I am wondering if it was always multi-family. They could have definitely used the space as Chick, Sr. and his wife had 7 children.

Marion Lacey’s Childhood Home in 1900

1002 Columbia. This is the home of my great grandmother Marion and her father Bascom Taylor Lacey.

Newlywed home of my grandparents, Charles and Lois (Smith) Kinsley

1107 Lafayette Street - This is what the home looked like in 1943, right after my mother was born. This is the home where my grandparents lived right after they married and had my mom. It was really pretty back then.


It says "1109" but it's actually 1107 Lafayette. Unfortunately we didn't see this one in real life while we were there, but I found a picture of it when I got home on the Google maps. It's not looking so hot these days. It seems a lot has been removed all around it. Sad.

Despite seeing a lot of empty lots, we were able to find a lot of other homes that made it worth the trip.  I love seeing the old and the new photos together.  Now I’m gonna have to rummage through some more pictures to see what I can find that I might have missed previous to this trip.

I think a summer trip to Scranton might be in order.  Right?  Yes…I think so.

Jacob Yazel’s 30 Pound Liver

Unfortunately while I’ve been on break I have only had one day where I was able to make it to the Indiana State Library.  It was, however, a great visit.  I learned a lot of interesting info.  I was mostly looking for obituaries for Andrew’s family.  The goal is to get as many copied and recorded with the information transferred into my tree as possible.  It was amazing how helpful it was to fill some holes in my mom’s branch while out in Scranton.

Here was one of the most interesting stories I found.  I will just transcribe the entire news story from the Bourbon News Mirror in Marshall County on June 13, 1907:

“Last Thursday morning an operation was performed on Jacob Yazel, who lived near Inwood, for the purpose of locating the trouble he was having and seeking a remedy.  The operation was performed by Dr. McClure, of Inwood, and Dr. Shaffer, of Chicago, a son of Dr. Shaffer from Rochester.  When the surgeons had finished opening the abdomen of Mr. Yazel it was discovered that the outside of the liver was so hard that it was almost impossible to insert surgeons’ needles in it and when it was possible to do so the inside of the organ was spongy, thus indicating a condition that was incurable.  The wound was sewed up after the surgeons had made an exhaustive examination and though the patient rallied nicely it was seen he was not long for the world and on the following morning, about 6:30, he died.  The liver was so diseased that it was estimated to weigh almost 30 pounds.  The operation lasted 40 minutes.  Mr. Yazel had been ill for some weeks and all the physicians could do was to insist on the operation.  A few days before his death he sent for Attorney Thomas, of this place, and had his will made, leaving the farm and personal property to his wife.  He explained that he had made up his mind that he had to be operated on and took the will making as precaution, fearing he would not be able to survive it.  The deceased was about 65 years of age and was well knowsn and respected and leaves besides his wife a family of children, grown, who are all doing well.  The funeral was held Sunday. ”

A 30 pound liver?  My husband made the point that my dog is 30 pounds.  Now, this is a newspaper from 1907 and accuracy was never a strong point of sensational journalism.  But even a 20 pound liver would be amazingly impressive.

The other thing I love about this article is that it was front page news!  A surgery of one of the residents was front page news.

Anyway, it is sad that he died of liver failure at a young age, but this was an interesting bit of history that I enjoyed reading.

This is a photo that was THOUGHT to be Jacob Yazel.  If anyone out there sees this and knows otherwise, please respond.  I am guessing he is the one seated.  He would be around the right age.

Possibly Jacob Yazel and Family

Jacob Yazel is Andrew’s Great Great Great Grandfather in this way.  Andrew Nelson, son of > Gloria Reed, daughter of > James Reed, son of > Edna Faye Seymour, daughter of > Maude Yazel, daughter of > Jacob Yazel!