Spring Break Road Trip – Revisiting Rumley

A few posts prior to this I wrote about my intentions of going back to Rumley, Ohio with my little sister.  This trip finally happened on our Spring Break.  It was kind of awesome and often hilarious.

Lil’ Amsters (as she will be referred to) came over to my house around 9ish and we prepped for the trip.  Camera (check), maps (check), notes (check), computer (check), and coffee (double check!).  We were set!

I drove.  This was probably for the best, despite the fact that I have an older car than Lil’ Amsters, and it often drives like it’s going to fall apart at any second.  I have recently (over the past 10 years) developed a car sickness issue.  It has gotten to the point where if I am not driving, I get super nauseated.  Sometimes even when I am driving, but the roads are super windy, I’ll still feel a little wonky.  If I’m in the backseat…watch out.  I will be moaning and whining within minutes.  The backseat of a large automobile, like a van, is almost unimaginable to me now.  Amy has her own car issues.  She has developed a fear of driving on the interstate in construction, or along walls, or near semis, which is pretty much MOST of the interstate.  In fact, as we were driving she told me a hilarious story of a recent trauma stemming from her fear, which culminated with the QOTD (quote of the day): ” …and that was when I realized I could never drive monks to the airport again”.  I laughed for like….20 minutes.

The longer we drove, the more I realized I think I built up Amy’s expectations for this trip.  She had her own story of a ghost town that she came upon in Arizona about 7 years ago.  It was an actual ghost town.  She could even wander in and out of the houses.  Super creepy and super awesome.  She said she even had a dream about our trip the night before.  In her dream a tornado had dropped a house next to her, on its side.  She really wanted to go searching through it but she wanted to wait for me.  That was sweet, even if it was a dream.

Piqua, Ohio

So we headed to our first stop.  Piqua!  The reason that I wanted to stop here on the way is because it was the last residence of a great great grandfather, Daniel Staudt.  As we drove through we were kind of stunned by some of the amazing neighborhoods in this random little town.  As we began to follow the directions towards our family’s home we realized he was not in one of these neighborhoods.  He was definitely on the other side of the tracks.  We found the house.  He died in 1935, so I’m guessing this was probably the actual house he lived in.  It doesn’t look newer than that.

 

621 Miami, in Piqua, Ohio. Last residence of Daniel Staudt, our great great great grandfather.

Photo of Daniel Staudt from old timey days. Date unknown.

His father, Simon, was a weaver.  One thing we noticed about Piqua was that there was a restaurant called Weavers and a blanket company right on the Main Street.  I’m going to have to look into that to see if there is any connection.

Sidney, Ohio

We drove on to the Shelby County’s seat, Sidney.  We loved Sidney.  What a strange and interesting place full of amazing architecture.  Also, I have not seen so many banks in one town square as I did there.  My favorite was this one.  I couldn’t stop looking at it.  It was just so insane!

Bank in Sidney. They promote "thrift". That colored section there, thats all TINY little tiles. It is also along the side of the building.

Some of the tile work on the wall of the bank closer up. Amazing! This building is covered with this stuff!

The following pictures include my other favorite spot on the square.  Please keep in mind that these two shops are right next to each other.  There is one shop that separates them.

The 4:20 shop. OBVIOUSLY not your average Smoke Shop. Doc Rob runs this place, as you can plainly see on the plywood sign.

I believe this is a Right to Life Thrift Shop? And there is a dance studio here as well? I am hoping the dance studio space is upstairs or something.

We weren’t crazy hungry yet so we headed to the library.  This is the first time Lil’ Amsters has done any research with me.  I think she was a little skeptical of being able to find anything here.  We got down to the basement, where all the local historical information resided, and found one man researching and two adolescent girls snickering about cute boys and books about vampires (oh, the girls were spontaneous singers, as well).

We found a WEALTH of information there in the basement.  In fact, the information I was mostly seeking out was about Rumley and the Goings/Goins family.  I found a book that was completely about the black communities of Shelby County, and specifically Rumley.  One of the biggest questions I was trying to answer was:  why did everyone leave?  And why did they leave at this time?  Turns out that was a question that a lot of people had.  This book provided a few different ideas, that were different from ones I read before.  This book suggested that maybe their southern style of farming wasn’t working in the north.  I am guessing this would have caused them to move elsewhere earlier since they were there for like 30-50 years.  Another suggestion was that they were irritated with all the white people moving into the area.  So this book suggested that the families in Rumley were racist and annoyed with white people and wanted to move where there were less of them.  This is unlikely since my family moved from Rumley to areas full of white people.  So these were both very strange suggestions.  Also, many of them had intermarried, soooo…  They were of mixed races.  Not really buying that argument.  So, we’ve still got a mystery.

Lil’ Amsters’ favorite part of the trip to the library was looking at the death record book, which includes the cause of death for everyone.  I’m going to admit, this is very entertaining.  I have to remind myself that these were real people and we shouldn’t be laughing at their demise but here are some of the good ones: killed while wrestling, yellow stomach, fits, confinement, drunkeness, teething, and sinking chills.

Another thing I learned was that a distant uncle, Salthial Goings, was a RASCAL.  I noticed before that he had been married a lot.  Well turns out he got divorced a lot.  In the divorce court records to a Sarah Goings, it states, “Goings, Salathial vs. Sarah A. Goings: Oct 1860.  Death of plaintiff suggested, action abated.”  Really?  By “suggested” do they mean “assumed”?  Or was he really THAT bad?

There was so much more at the Sidney library to be researched, but we didn’t have all day.  We spent about an hour there.  By the time we left my stomach was RAGING with hunger.  We headed over to a restaurant on the square called The Spot.  And it truly was.  They had some great malted milkshakes.  I felt like I had walked into a small town version of the Peach Pit.  That was a Beverly Hills 90210 reference for all those who didn’t catch it.

After lunch we continued around the Sidney square again and marvelled at the banks and weird businesses scattered about.  We drove out of town and headed to Rumley.

Rumley, Ohio

We stopped at Collins Cemetery first.  This is the “cemetery” I wrote about previously, which is actually just a weird slab in the middle of a field with a bunch of headstones stacked up and a memorial stone.  I am wondering if this was the spot of the original cemetery.  Are the bodies still buried here?

Stacks of headstones in the "cemetery".

View of Collins Cemetery from the road.

We took a few pictures and continued into “town”.

We stopped at the old schoolhouse which still stands there.  At the library we did find out that this schoolhouse was actually built in the 1890s, which means that none of our family went to school here, but it was still pretty old and kind of awesome.  Based on the context clues (beer boxes inside, huge BBQ smokers outside) this place is now used for a party spot.  A gathering place.  I’m just glad it’s being used and not being removed.

Lil' Amsters checking out the exterior of the Old School House in Rumley.

We moved onto the church and neighboring creek.  We learned from the books in the library that this creek was where the residents and churchgoers were baptized.  We wandered down to the banks and realized that they had recently had a flood.  We optimistically hoped to find some random remnant of the old village but there was not much.  We did find some bricks that were not stamped with a title, and wondered if they had been homemade in those parts, but they were pretty nice and seemed pretty newish.

Loramie Creek that runs through the north section of Rumley. The site of many Rumley baptisms.

We headed next door to the church and had a look.  The church had very little information about their actual structure.  I have no idea if it’s been rebuilt.  It has at least been re-sided.  Other than that I have no idea.

This is the Rumley Baptist Church. A memorial plaque to the old village remains on this property.

As Lil’ Amy looked around she got kind of sad.  She realized that there was really nothing left of the old village and no abandoned houses to rummage through.  We hoped to see some of the old roads or something, or some old foundations.  Nothing.  Seems that this area has been cleaned up and there is nothing left.  As we pulled off the main strip of Rumley we spotted something just beyond where the town would have been and pulled in.  Just what we were looking for!  And with no one around!

Having a little peek. Seems it is used for nothing now, nothing much in there but used bottles of alcohol. This place DOES seem like the kind of place to throw a good party.

Amy got her fix of abandoned properties and we moved on.

Houston, Ohio

Our Staudt relatives were buried in Houston, Ohio.  We found the cemetery after a series of near missed turns through back-roads Ohio.  One thing that I do appreciate in Indiana is that our road numbering system makes a little more sense than Ohio’s system.  In Indiana if you miss a road, you can always figure it out at the next road.  This is how the internal dialogue would go, “Oh.  Wait.  Did I miss County Road 400?  Lemme see, oh…here’s 450.  Oh, and here’s 500.  Yep.  Missed it.  Let me turn around and make this right.”  In Ohio, it’s more like this, “Oh my god.  If I didn’t have my iPhone I would be screwed.”

We found Houston and the church and the cemetery.  We had a lovely little walkabout the cemetery, till the wind shifted and the cow smell became very apparent.  The walk became less lovely, but we continued on.  We found the graves of most of my direct Staudt relatives.  Victory!

Headstone of Simon and Catherine (Oliver) Staudt in Houston Cemetery.

We hopped in the car and headed for home.  One of my favorite parts of the trip was soon to come.

Before long Lil’ Amsters was on the phone and I saw a sign for an Historical Marker.  I can’t pass a sign like that without inspecting.  I turned down the street and found something amazing, Bear’s Mill.  This is a still functioning mill that houses a shop where they sell the grain and cornmeal they still make.  They also sell the wares of Darke County, Ohio residents.  I ended up buying some Bear’s Mill blend coffee….and it’s kind of awesome!

Bear's Creek Mill.

We continued on through a few small towns. And then hit Indiana, and turned south on IN 227.

SR 227

What an amazing stretch of road.  If you love those little quick hills that bring your stomach up through your throat you will LOVE this road.  I was squealing for miles!  Literally miles.  Lil’ Amsters on the other hand was trying not to squeal as she was on the phone and was trying to not be rude.  She did raise her arms in the traditional roller coaster stance.

While on 227 we also drove through some wacky little towns as well as some amazing ones.  Whitewater, Indiana.  Strange.  That’s all I’m gonna say.  227 took us back to the interstate and we took the boring way the rest of the way home.  Lil’ Amsters complained that my car was going to fall apart and that I was driving too fast for it.  I was driving the speed limit.  Welcome to my life.

 

Fun with Google Maps

I am a huge fan of the writer, Bill Bryson.  He used to write primarily hilarious travel books.  However, he seems to be interested in EVERYTHING now , and therefore has to write about everything.  I just recently finished his most recent book, At Home.  In this book he talks about history, but using the things that you find in your home.

A little, seemingly insignificant event happened to me in college that really made me more interested in houses and the histories within them.  I used to live in an off-campus house when I went to school at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana.  I LOVED my house.  It was 5 bedrooms, hardwood floors, dining room, garage (without functional doors, but a garage nonetheless), and a small yard.  I had great roommates too.  I have nothing but fond memories of my time there.  One of my roommates my senior year was dating a fellow named Zack (whom she eventually married).  The two of them were visiting with some of Zack’s family one day when Zack’s grandfather was asking her about college life.  When he found out she was living off campus, he asked her where abouts.  She told him it was south of town.  He said, “Oh!  I used to live south of town.  What street?”  She said, “2nd and Fess.”  He said, “Wow!  That’s near where I grew up!  I grew up ON Fess!”  He asked her what the address was and she told him his old address!  We were living in Zack’s grandfather’s house!  WHAT?!

That one experience left me so interested in the history, not only of our own home, but of homes in general.  I wonder what life was like for Zack’s grandfather in Bloomington in the 1930s.  I can’t even imagine.  I am guessing there were less couches on front porches.  I am guessing there was much less frisbee played down the middle of the street in the summertime.

So one of the things about genealogy that has me most interested is using Google Maps to see where my ancestors are from.  Using the census records (usually starting in 1900) on Ancestry.com you can find the addresses to anyone you’re seeking.  One problem I have come upon is that there are never addresses for farms (mostly because there weren’t really addresses for them).  Sometimes you can work out a nearby intersection, but that’s about it.

It’s interesting to see what the landscape looks like.  Even if it’s obvious that the home is no long on the property, you see their proximity to other places within a short walk.  Streetview, in Google Maps, has made it possible to even see what the exact home looks like from the front.  Even if some of the houses addresses may not be lined up EXACTLY with the homes, you can generally get the feel of the street.

Some homes are amazing, glowing in the sun on tree-lined streets.  Some houses, as I have stated in an earlier post, look like total crack dens.  Some houses look like they were probably once amazing…and are now homes to the animals and intravenous drug users, hiding from the cops.

I have included here some of my favorites so far.

My Fam

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

This is the home of my great great great grandfather, Bascom Taylor Lacey.  Here is an example of a time when I was like, “I wonder if there’s any way to prove that I should have inherited his money.”  Amazing house, right?  And that name….Bascom Taylor Lacey.  A man with that name SHOULD live in that house.  A fun little sidenote about B.T.  (a nickname he often used), he was the President of the Green Ridge Club, which was a cycling club in the Scranton, PA area.  I learned recently from American Pickers that biking was a rich person’s hobby back in the early 1900s.  Bikes were VERY expensive.  Very.

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

So, I have a great great uncle named Allison Kinsley.  It took me quite awhile to come to the realization that this man was actually a man.  Allison?  Yeah, he was a guy.  He moved to Denver, far far from the rest of my Kinsley family in Pennsylvania and New England.  He lived here in 1920 (I don’t know till when because I still don’t have a death date for him) and the Esquire didn’t open till 1927.  It was redone in the 1960s, as you can tell by its ugly boxiness.  But how about that Old Timey font on the front!  Capitol Hill is supposed to be one of the cooler and trendier ‘hoods in all of Denver.  I’m proud of my Uncle Allison.

Tucson home where my great grandparents lived.

You may be thinking, “Are those cacti in the front yard?”  That’s what I was thinking, and yes…yes, they are.  This is the house (or at least right next to the house) where my great great grandparents John Darl and Eva (Hill) Munn, moved in their middle life after their kids had grown.  They ended up moving back to Ohio later in their lives, but they spent quite awhile in Arizona when there was still not much going on there.

Andrew’s Fam

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

When we were growing up we lived in a neighborhood for a few years where there existed an urban legend of a man.  His name was Weedy Man.  We called him that because he lived in a house that was so surrounded by weeds and foliage that you truly could not even see it.  When I looked this house of Andrew’s great great grandmother, Fannie (Galloway) Bastion Johnson, I was brought back to my childhood of terrifying neighborhood characters.  It looks like it was quite a large house and was probably quite lovely in 1920.  It is currently a hot mess.  This neighborhood is known for being in the middle of Sketchyville.

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

This house, on the near NE side of Indianapolis is where Andrew’s grandmother lived as a child.  I saw a picture of what this house looked like back then and wish I had it to post along with all this.

Friends’ Fams

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

The one on the left is the home of my friend Ragin’ Nortron’s great grandmother.  You may remember a story I recently posted about Ragin’ and his family in Wabash, Indiana.  Much of his family is also from the St. Louis area.  This was one of my favorites.  You can tell that these houses were probably amazing when they were built and before they started becoming vacant lots.  I LOVE that this home still has shards of glass sitting in the frames.  I can just imagine the exciting adventures that go on behind those empty window frames.

This used to be a house.

As we can see from the steps, this used to be a house, and was most likely the house of Andrew Brosman in 1930.  He was the great grandfather of my friend C-Dogg.  He only lived for a very short time in Indianapolis, but when he did he was located at this home at 2546 N. Harding Street.  It was probably a great place to live then, within a short walk of Riverside Park.

Illustration of Riverside Park from an old postcard.

I am a traveling fiend, and sometimes I feel like Google maps lets me take little trips to the places where my family comes from without ever leaving this great. comfy, green chair.

Any genealogists out there enjoy this little mini-hobby as well?  Anyone have another fabulous use for Google Maps?

Friends for Generations

We have some really good friends.  I am one of those people who when I find a good friend, I hold on to them.  What I have learned recently was one of the most adorable things I have ever seen, and it involves my husband and his friend.

So I LOVE getting people excited about genealogy, although it may be sort of a selfish thing.  I MIGHT automatically assume people will think less of me if they know that I’m interested in such a geriatric hobby, so I try to make it sound REALLY cool and hip.  However, when I get people excited I will often hear, “Well, let me know if you have time to work on my tree.  That would be cool.” And honestly, I kind of like it.  I love looking into other people’s histories, almost as much as my own, only because they are so different.  My friends, C-Dogg B-Dizzle and husband Ragin’ Nortron (names have been changed to protect the innocent), are two friends whose trees I am working on.  I must say, it is a nice diversion from my own.

I was working on Nortron’s tree the other day and made a lovely discovery.  When I look through census records I love to find out the actual home addresses of the people in the tree and put those addresses in my notes section.  Then if you want to pull up the address on google maps, it’s kind of awesome.

“Oh look!  This is where my ggg grandmother lived, and now it looks like a crack den!”  This happens a LOT.

So I was looking at Nortron’s gg grandfather’s (Arthur Jones) addresses in the actual copies of the census pages and noticed something interesting on the page.  I recognized the name under him.  Delmar Morts.  Hmmm….  I know there were Morts’s in my tree because of Andrew but I wasn’t sure if they were from Wabash, Indiana like this one.  So I switch trees, and what do you know.  Delmar and Arthur were neighbors!  Delmar was my husbands gg uncle!  Now…this wouldn’t be strange if any of us were from Wabash.  None of us were.  In fact, I don’t know that any of us have BEEN to Wabash.  Maybe, Ragin’ Nortron.  I can’t say.

My husband and Ragin’ have been friends for years, since we were all in high school together (WAY too long ago).  Ragin’ wooed and married a friend of mine and an old roommate.  They are now close neighbors to us and they are delightful friends.  I wonder if Delmar and Arthur were good friends.  I’m just going to assume they were… and sigh a lot, thinking about how precious it all is.

O Cannelburg, O Cannelburg, How Lovely are Thy Jails

I have a friend who is very Irish.  She’s got the white skin, the red hair, grandparents named Patrick and Bridget…everything.  But there are a few branches on her mother’s side that are German…very German.  These include generations of people ALL named Emil.  I can imagine family gatherings with that family was a lot like my Brown side.  We have like 800 Johns.  My dad is a John, but when we’re at a family gathering in Ohio, his name is Tom.  It was easier that way than having all 800 Johns turn around when someone calls for you.  Anyway…I imagine that’s how it was in her very German family with Emils.  They were probably nicknamed Heinrich, Klaus, and Lou… or something.

Anyway, when she was in town visiting last year we started working on her family tree.  We worked for hours, well into the night.  We worked until all her makeup had washed off from tears of laughter.  What we discovered was that my friend Amy had VERY deep roots in Southern Indiana in the Catholic German community.  One town that stood out to us was Cannelburg, mostly because we had never heard of it before and it was just so obscure.  We decided then and there that we WOULD go to Cannelburg.  That is what we did last week.  We went to Cannelburg and discovered some great places down in Southern Indiana.

I geeked out the nights before our departure and made a Google map of our trip.  Of course I forgot to send it to myself before we left and I had to wing it.  It worked out.

Stop 1:  Bloomington, IN – Farm

Farm is actually a restaurant.  Not a farm.  They specialize in locally grown and organic foods.  They are well known for their breakfasts, and for good reason….jeezy creezy it was good.  I could have survived on the biscuits alone, but I ate way more than that.  Amy and I went to Indiana University Bloomington, so it’s a nice time when we can revisit Kirkwood and reminisce.  I’m glad Farm wasn’t around when I was in school.  I would have been even broker.

Stop 2:  Scotland, Indiana

Scotland was not the goal.  In fact, neither of us had ever heard of Scotland, Indiana.  As we drove down the road towards Daviess County Amy saw a small blue sign that just said, “Historic Site”.  She made it very apparent that she thought we should go back and see what the site was, and we did.  We drove up a massive long hill and came upon the town.  We saw what I believe was the “historic site” immediately on our left.  This used to be a hotel, and as I drove around the back to turn around there were two remaining outhouses.  Fabulous.

I felt a little bit like we were the only people in the whole town, except I also felt like we were being watched the whole time…very Children of the Corn.  A very manicured grey poodle ran manically across the street a lot.  Like frantic street-crossing.  Back and forth.  Amy was solicited in the street by a black cat while she tried to take the following pictures.  She hates cats.  It amused me.

Scotland, Indiana.  National Register of Historic Places

This is Scotland. The Scotland Hotel is the blue building on the left. This is now a residence, but there is a marker in front of the home declaring its place in the National Historic Register.

Stop signs, Scotland, Indiana.

Scotland really wants you to stop here. One stop sign is just not enough. Also they want you to know that they are an OFFICIAL community. They have a sign that says so. It doesn't matter that this is a sign from when Robert Orr was governor of the state (1981-1989).

General Store in Scotland, Indiana.  Osh Kosh B'Gosh advertisement.

A fun little general store we saw as we drove around town. This place was vacant except for the many motorcycles inside.

We were running low on gas, and I was afraid a Scotland native was going to grow weary of our picture-taking, so we left.

Stop 3:  Some Big Lake or something, Daviess Co. or possible Martin Co., Indiana

So we stopped and got gas.  I was pumping and Amy ran in to get something to drink.  I’m not sure where my mind was, but it certainly wasn’t on the task at hand.  When I finished pumping I pulled up to the gas station and waited for Amy.  When she came out she looked a little frazzled.  She told me about the conversation of the locals that were in the gas station and the fact that every one of them was smoking in the store.  She got out as soon as she could and just hopped in the car.  Neither of us were paying attention like we should.  I pulled out of the gas station and headed towards Loogootee, what was to be our next stop.  About a half hour later I heard Amy say, “Oh Erie!  We have to stop!” She explained that our gas flap was open.  So I pulled into a parking lot about 1 minute later.  It was a parking lot for a lake-side restaurant.  As I was opening the door to get out Amy said, “I think there’s supposed to be some big lake around here or something.”  I looked up.  Ummm….We were completely surrounded by a lake.  We were literally on a large peninsula.  And I just looked at her and looked at the lake.  Really? So that was hilarious, and then I got out and realized that not only was the gas flap open, I didn’t even put the cap on!  WHAT?!  All of our brain power had obviously been sucked away by Scotland’s charms.

Daviess County and Martin County Indiana

So here I am, in front of the MASSIVE lake Amy just kind of missed, putting on the bright yellow gas cap we both missed.

Stop 4:  Loogootee, Indiana

We learned that a number of Amy’s ancestors were buried in St. John’s cemetery in Loogootee.  They were also baptized and married in its church.  The cemetery was a small and peaceful place FULL of surnames we recognized in her tree (Norris, Arvin, McAtee, etc.).

Catholic cemetery, Martin County, Indiana

St. John's Cemetery in Loogootee, Indiana on a cloudy day.

We found good old Hillary, one of her great great great grandfathers (who we often refer to as Hilaire, because of what seems to be a Hilaire-ious census error).  We both felt close to Hillary (who’s name is misspelled on his headstone – what?!).  So we both had our pics taken with him, in his final resting place.

Hillery McAtee, Martin County, St. John's Cemetery

Amy, showing love to the McAtee ancestry. "What up, g-pa?!"

The church, located about a mile from the cemetery, was “whimsical” as Amy said.  Hand-painted angels adorned the walls.  Pink was the color palette of choice.

St. John's Catholic Church in Martin County, Indiana, Loogootee.

St. John's Catholic Church in Loogootee. You could use this church as the template for an 8 year old girl's bedroom concept. Very pink.

It was just sitting there! I kind of wanted to take one. Like they were preparing to sell them at the next bake-sale.

Confessional sign

How awesome is this sign that was built in over the confessional booths? What is with that fabulous font?! I kind of loved it.

We couldn’t spend too much time in Loogootee so after the church we drove through kind of quickly to get to our next stop.

Stop 5: Washington, Indiana.  Daviess County.

I recently read a book that I randomly came upon in a Half-Priced Books.  It was called Indiana Gothic, by Pope Brock and was amazing!  It was written in a style that reminded me of In Cold Blood, in the sense that it was a true story written like a novel.  This Mr. Brock wrote the story of some of his own ancestors that lived in Daviess County around the turn of the century, and later.  He had some DRAMA up in his family.  His family never talked about but it was saved in the history of public record and newspapers.  Almost all of the story took place in Daviess County, specifically Washington, Indiana.  So it was kind of fun for me to visit this place.  We drove around downtown looking for the library, and finally found it.  We headed inside to the Genealogy section and had all of 15 minutes to do a little searching.  In that VERY short time we found a ton of stuff.  We realized that one day of research in that little room would fill in some gaps.  Maybe on her next trip to Indiana.

When the library closed we drove around town for a few minutes.  I gave Amy the task of map-reader since I was driving.  I quickly learned that Amy doesn’t like to read maps.  She may have liked to read maps before she moved to New Orleans, but now life must be lived, and maps are a hindrance.  Or maybe she never liked to read maps.  So I showed her how to use the maps app on my iPhone and she just continued to stare out the windows with iPhone in hand.  This is how the conversations would go:

Me:  So where next?

Amy: What?

Me:  Where to?  Do I need to turn here?  Check the map.

Amy:  Oh, Ummm… (turning phone, looking confused, looking out the window again)  Where are we?

Me:  Amy!  You’re supposed to be the map reader.

Amy:  Stop yelling at me!  You’re making me work too fast!

So, we finally got moving to our next stop after some wandering…

Stop 6: Black Oak

Really not much going on here.  Like…for real.  Nothing.  We did come upon a LOT of Mennonites in this area.  I’m pretty sure the majority of people that lived here are German Dutch or Mennonite or Amish.  Most homes had a carriage.  We did come upon a very strange place here called the Candy Haus.  We thought, “Yay!  A small local family owned shop!  Let’s stop!”  So we followed the signs and came upon a house with a sign inviting us in.  What I saw was very strange.  There was a strange booth in front of the house with the same vinyl siding as the house, with a man talking on a phone.  A woman dressed in a long dress and head covering was walking out towards the booth to go talk to the man.  Amy kept asking me to stop and I had to repeatedly say, “Amy!  They’re in a phone booth!  In their front yard!  I am not stopping!”  I think after the 3rd or 4th time I explained it to her she also decided that stopping would be weird…you know, while they were in the phone booth.

We drove on.

Stop 7: Cannelburg.  Finally.

This location was our main goal.  Many of Amy’s family members lived in farmland immediately surrounding Cannelburg (also sometimes spelled Cannellburg).  Cannelburg was very similar to Black Oak, but actually still had the post office that Black Oak has since lost.  The post office and meat processing center seems to be the center of this bustling town (even though it’s not nearly big enough to be a town).  As we were driving around town, I saw a street we hadn’t driven down yet (keep in mind we drove through the rest of the streets in like 10 minutes, including Amy’s stops to take photos).  We turned down the road and what I saw was amazing.  A shed, made of wood with some weird metal covering, with a sign proclaiming it as the “town” jail.

Cannelburg jail, Daviess County, Indiana

If you cannot read the sign in this picture, it reads Cannelburg Jailhouse, Est. 1890.

At first we thought Cannelburgians were just Hilaire-ious.  But then we started discussing whether this actually could have been a jailhouse for the town.  We decided that it totally was, and knowing Amy’s love for bourbon, her family members were probably there from time to time.

That was it.  That was Cannelburg.  At first it was sort of a letdown, but the “jailhouse” made this stop totally worth it.

We wanted to get to French Lick so we started out of town and started the scenic drive.

Stop 8: Shoals, Indiana

Shoals, Indiana is one of the prettiest little areas I have seen in Southern Indiana.  I have been through a lot of our state and had never been to Shoals.  I might be back.

Overlook in Shoals Indiana

They had an amazing little overlook along the route to French Lick so we had to stop and take pictures.

Stop 9: French Lick, Indiana

We both love French Lick and West Baden, Indiana.  If you live in Indiana or Kentucky and have never been here, please go.  You will be shocked and amazed by the two gorgeous hotels located here. Not only are the hotels gorgeous, but the renovation of the hotels and creation of the casino in town has lead to a movement of economic revitalization in the community.  The downtown has way more going on, and it’s so cute.

French Lick church

Please visit French Lick and West Baden. This is part of the adorable downtown, settled in what is known as Springs Valley.

On the drive to French Lick I had a small meltdown.  I get carsick now.  This is something that’s gotten progressively worse since I’ve gotten older.  It’s usually fine as long as I’m driving.  The roads from Cannelburg to French Lick were SOOOO windy though.  I don’t think it helped that I was very hungry.  When we found a place to eat in French Lick I was truly thinking to myself, “I can’t get back in that car tonight.  We are going to have to stay here.  Or Amy will have to drive back and Andrew will have to pick me up tomorrow.  I cannot get back in that car.”  I didn’t say these things out loud cause I was REALLY hoping it would pass.  It did.  We got a mediocre dinner downtown and headed over to the West Baden Hotel, the more impressive of the two hotels.  We stopped at the precious little ice cream shop and I got some Rocky Road, which brought be completely back to life.  We sat in the massive atrium, ate, people watched, and just relaxed.

Stop 10: Home

We rocked out to Elvis Presley.  Isn’t Suspicious Minds a fabulous song?

We got home.

Arni’s Couldn’t Solve This Mystery

I just started a new job.  While I am excited to have a regularly paying gig, it really does cut into my exciting new life of genealogy-traveling.  What DOES excite me, is that I have a teacher’s schedule and I have a decent amount of time off which allows me to get around.

The week before I started this new job I wanted one last short little jaunt somewhere.  I decided to head to Crawfordsville, Indiana to see if I could find some answers on a Riley Bastion.  As many of these previous posts are, this one is about Andrew’s family.  Unfortunately most of the traveling for my family would be much farther.  Maybe this summer…

Riley Bastion is Andrew’s Great great grandfather.  His name was the first mystery.  I have seen a William Riley Bastion and a Riley Bastion in Crawfordsville.  This has to be the same person, right?  We can only assume.  The name is unique enough, and in such a small town during the same time period…we have to assume or we will go insane.  He is related like this:  Andrew Nelson>Kevin Nelson (father)>Paul Nelson (grandfather)> Annetta Bastion (great grandmother)> Riley (the mystery) Bastion

What made Riley such a mystery was that he died very young, leaving his poor wife Fannie a widow with three kids in her mid 20s.  Riley was just over 30.  I wanted to try and figure out what happened, where he was buried, and who his parents were.  I came home with some answers, but more questions.

I drove to Crawfordsville, a little town that is home to Wabash College.  I find that little college towns are kind of the best.  They have that small town charm but have a few really tasty places to eat.  I sought out the food before I headed to the library.  I almost drove off the road when I turned a corner and saw a sign for Arni’s!  YES!  ARNI’S!

Arni's gleaming sign in the afternoon light.

When I was growing up there was an Arni’s very near my house.  My sister, Kristen, worked there for years.  There were bikes all over the walls.  Celebrity cardboard cut-outs filled the foyer and bar.  The place was a heaven of tacky.  I loved it.  I still love it in my memories.  That Arni’s is now gone and they have moved even farther north and made it “nice”.  They have also changed the menu a bit which upsets me even more.  I went to this Arni’s once and that was the last time.  It was too depressing and nice.  This Arni’s looked just dingy enough for me to enjoy.  I walked in.  While there were no bikes or tacky decor, it was only counter service, the place was small and laid out weird, and it smelled like Arni’s.  Perfect.  I had a luscious hot ham and cheese and made my way over to the library, which was right next door.

I am one of those people who feels weird talking to people I don’t know.  When I actually do it, it’s not painful, but I just have to work up courage first.  Here are some things I hate:  calling to make reservations over the phone, asking for directions, getting my haircut because of the requirement for small-talk, and asking librarians for help when I’m not really sure what I’m looking for.  I am sure that librarians LOVE the challenge.  I would!  But not everyone is like me.  This makes me feel awkward and guilty simultaneously.

So I went to the family research section, which was fairly large.  I LITERALLY looked at every single book on the shelf and leafed through many more of them trying to find some information.  The only thing I could find about this Riley character was his death date, which I already knew.  So after about 2 hours of just browsing and hoping I went to talk to the librarian.  Why didn’t I do this in the first place?!  Within two minutes she used the death date to pull up a file on the computer which had a copy of his death certificate.  This included how he died (unreadable), how long he’d been sick, what his parents names were, and where he died.

Poor Riley had been sick for 2 years before he finally died.  His parents were listed as Phoebe and Anthony Bastion.  He died in Crawfordsville, which I had already suspected, but there was still no word on where he was buried.

I was so excited to get this information that I immediately went home to enter it into my computer to see what I could find in addition based on my new info.  And what I found was so frustrating.  Anthony and Phoebe may NOT have been his biological parents.  They may have adopted him and changed his name somewhere around his tenth birthday.  He may have been named William Riley Wheeler prior to that, but I can’t be sure.

This guy is going to require more than one trip to Crawfordsville.  At least I know there is an Arni’s there to keep me happy and full before I start a long day of mystery-solving.

Cole Porter's Cousin in Peru

I was stuck.  A man sat across from me.  I didn’t know how name.  I wasn’t sure how he was related.  But I believe I was listening to his entire family history (which was long…considering he was in his mid-80s).  When we got to the story about how he saw Cole Porter once because his cousin lived across the street from his apartment in Peru I began to wonder, “How did I get sucked into this?”

Andrew’s Reed family was having a reunion up in good ol’ Bremen, Indiana.  No one knows where Bremen is, so when I attempted to describe it’s location, I said, “Plymouth, Indiana is the nearest bustling metropolis”.  It’s in northern Indiana, not quite “the region” but pretty close.  Much of the Reed family has hailed from this area, in or around Marshall County, for generations.  Marshall County is where Andrew’s mom grew up.  So I thought this would be a great opportunity to meet some of the older people in the family who I haven’t met and who might have some info for me that I could add to the tree.  I had no idea what was in store for me there.

It started out with the usual Reed atmosphere.  Lots of nice people and good food (mostly carb-based).  I usually leave an event in northern Indiana feeling very bad about myself and what I had consumed.  I like to pretend that the drive back to Indy actually burns calories.

Soon after the eating Andrew’s mom comes up to me and tells me she was talking to a man about the family’s history and he said that so and so was a colonel in the American Revolution.  Well….I needed to talk to this man.  Take me to him!  She took me to a very nice man.  I showed him the very vague print out I brought with me and merely asked him to look it over to tell me if there were any glaring issues.  He seemed very excited about my tree and said there were names on there he hadn’t really seen yet.  Then he asked if I wouldn’t mind talking to his dad.

I should have known better when it took about 3 minutes to break into the conversation that he was already having.  His son said, “Hey.  Dad!” about twelve times before he decided to acknowledge his presence.  He said, “This girl here is working on the family tree and wanted to know if you could see if what she has so far is right.”

He did!  He checked out the tree.  It looks like I’m on the right track.  That took like 5 minutes.  I talked to him for another 55.  No no….that is wrong.  He talked to me for another 55 minutes.  At least.  I’m not sure what he was talking about for most of it but here is some of what I learned about: the entire history of the state of West Virginia, Cole Porter’s headstone in Peru, Indiana, how many branches of the name Smith are really out there (countless), bodies of water in northern Indiana, and various “scandals” within his family.

I glanced around every so often for help.  I was trying not to be rude but he was talking to me with CONSTANT eye contact.  I could have been handcuffed to the picnic table and my level of “trapped” would have been exactly the same.   Finally Andrew’s mom caught my crazed and anxious glances.  She ran over.  Ok, maybe it wasn’t a run, but she got to my side very quickly (she is truly a gem) and attempted to break into the conversation.  It took almost another 10 minutes for her to help me get out and away from that table.  When I asked for his email address we got a long story about how his email address came to be.  ::sigh::

We finally exchanged names after speaking for over an HOUR and were on our separate ways.

I finally left the table and immediately reprimanded Andrew (probably unfairly).  “Didn’t you see me over there?!?  I kept looking over here! Thank god your mother saved me!” He responded, “I thought you were just learning lots!”  Or something along those lines.  He really was a very nice man.  I shouldn’t have been so peeved, but I had truly become claustrophobic in a open-sided park shelter.  I didn’t even know that was possible.

As Andrew was packing up drinks into the car his new iPhone fell out of his front pocket and sort of broke, a lot.  Ugh.  He had it much worse than I did.

Overall the reunion was great.  I wish I hadn’t been sucked in for so long because I wasn’t able to talk to the rest of the fam that we don’t see very often, but the food was good.  I felt like after that conversation I deserved all those chocolate peanut butter crispie treats.  I earned it.

Practically a neighbor

So a friend of mine has moved to New Orleans.  She obviously doesn’t visit very much because, well, she lives in New Orleans and “Home” is Indianapolis.  Which sounds more exciting?  Anyway, she came home for a week because of a baby shower and we hung out for a few days.

We used to be roommates at IU so one day we drove down to Bloomington for a nostalgia-fest.  Andrew works down there three days a week so we made sure to go on a day that we could have lunch with him.  We made all the usual stops. Yogi’s for lunch, the Union, Kirkwood, our old house, the Auditorium for a visit with old friends.  I even got a no-bake cookie from Sugar and Spice, or what my friends and I decided to call it our Freshman year, a no-bake-ie.  Eh?  Clever, right?  Eh?

Anyway…

Of course I can’t go anywhere without thinking, “Is there a cemetery I need to visit?”  Well, there weren’t any for my family, but I recently started working on a friend of mine’s tree.  We’ll call her C-Dogg B-Dizzle to protect her identity.  She is also a friend I have known since Bloomington days and I found out that much of her family came from Bloomington and the nearby areas.  In fact, I lived ONE BLOCK from where her Great Great Grandparents were buried.  We were neighbors!  In fact, I used to take little strolls in that cemetery.  I’ve always loved cemeteries.  In fact, one of the reasons I loved my last apartment in Bloomington so much was because it was nestled right in between two cemeteries, and I had a great view of the pretty one on a hill out my living room AND bedroom window.

Now C-Dogg was not really aware of her history there and only knew that a grandfather of hers went to high school there.  Her Brosmans have been living in that area for generations, if not in Monroe County, then neighboring Greene County.

My New Orleans friend helped me find the headstone in White Oak Cemetery.  I can tell you with certainty that she REALLY didn’t want to get out of the car in that 98 degree heat and help me hunt for headstones, but she was a good sport and SHE found it.

What I found very interesting about the plots of her family is that they were scattered sort of haphazardly across the back line of the cemetery along the trees.  Ella and Alvin Brosman (married) had matching stones, but were like 25 yards from each other.  William Byrd, a son of theirs, was somewhere in between along with like 6 others.

Headstone for Ella Jane Brosman

Headstone for Alvin Brosman - C-Dogg's gg grandfather

Another thing I found amusing was within the tree line was another sad little cemetery but for unwanted headstone decorations.  They absolutely littered the surrounding woods.

Abandoned flowers in White Oak Cemetery

The closest we got to an “adventure” was mixing up White Oak Cemetery with Rose Hill Cemetery.  Thanks, Google Maps (that was sarcasm).  BUT we had a lovely time on our visit.  And I was delighted to find something for a friend.

The Children of the Corn

I stood there, in front of the car, bleeding (but beginning to scab already) and covered in rash. Andrew looked at me and said, “Well, you got your adventure.”  I couldn’t tell if he was pissed or if he just mocking me because he thought it was actually funny.  He was wearing shorts and got it even worse than I did (I wore jeans).  Poor Andrew.

It all started when we drove out to Pittsboro, Indiana to see some friends’ new baby.  I hate driving to Pittsboro.  I just do.  There’s always road construction on the interstate and it’s just kind of far.  I have gotten very used to living downtown where nothing should take more than a 15 minute drive/bike/walk.  We stayed at our friends’ for about an hour, looked at the baby (cute and cuddly), held it some, ate pizza, and left.  I realized soon afterward that we were in Hendricks County (in a genealogist’s world, everything is measured by counties and townships).  Not only were we in Hendricks County, but we were in “middle of nowhere” Hendricks County.  I recalled that some of Andrew’s great grandparents, maybe six generations back, were pioneers of the area I would refer to as “Middle of Nowhere Hendricks County” and had a cemetery around here somewhere.  “Hey!  I’ve got an idea!  Let’s have an adventure!”  I described my idea to Andrew to hunt for this cemetery so I could get some pictures.  It shouldn’t be that hard.  We were both armed with iPhones – the cure-all.  Andrew didn’t hate the idea but he didn’t seem all that excited.  We decided to go for it.  He knew I was pumped.

We drove from our friends’ home (near the middle of nowhere) down a county road, turned onto another county road, and then another, and then another, until we were sufficiently truly in the middle of nowhere.  The directions provided to us on www.findagrave.com (yes, this is a real thing) told us to park off the road and walk along a fence to a patch of woods in the field.  What provided us the adventure was that, this was not a walkable field.  It was a field of corn.  This was Indiana.  This was late July.  It was 2 feet taller than me because it has been a really nice summer for crops.

We walked through a fence.  Check!  I saw some trees.  Check!  We walked through some corn and got to the trees.  Check!  It took about three minutes.  Easy!  When we got to the trees we saw the ACTUAL fence.  This was the ACTUAL fence we were supposed to cross.  So what was that first fence?  This new fence was a rusty barbed wire one.  I couldn’t tell you the last time I’d had a Tetanus shot, but I was trying really hard to recall as I looked at that fence.   I pulled myself up by a tree that I am sure now was dying.  If Andrew had not been pushing me from behind I can guarantee that limb would not have held and I would have cried all the way to the hospital.  We both got over.  We got out of that batch of woods to get our bearings.

Andrew pulled out the trusty iPhone and pulled up a Google Map of where we were.  And he said, “OH!  That’s the stand of trees over there!”  The stand of trees was on the other side of another cornfield.  For those who have not walked through a cornfield before, it hurts.  It looks like fun in the movies.  It’s not.  It hurts.  And if you’re hitting it hard enough, it even cuts.

We had gotten this far, we weren’t going to stop.  I wanted to see that cemetery!  And I was going to take pictures, darn it!  We pressed on.

This is when we started hearing the engines of what we agreed were 4-wheelers.  This was, of course, private property.  The house we parked at was the home of a lovely woman who said she didn’t really know where the cemetery was, but to go ahead and try to find it.  She, however, did not own the property.  I had already decided that if some man dressed in his cammies came at me with a gun and a lecture on trespassing I would just blame the lovely woman who owned the house where we parked.  Regardless, the 4-wheelers started to freak me out.

We FINALLY got to the stand of trees in the middle of the cornfield.  Once we got there we couldn’t get into it!  It was as if the plants had spent their entire existence learning new ways to defend themselves from huge predators.  Every plant had a sticker or a spike attached to it, even the trees!  There were pointy dangerous things EVERYWHERE.  We finally found what must have been the official entrance some time ago.  There was a very small piece of a wrought iron fence, being eaten by trees and plant-life of course.  We pushed in through that area and actually saw some flippin’ graves!

Unfortunately the person who owns the property has done nothing to keep up this cemetery, an amazing piece of Hendricks County history.  The Caywood family (some of Andrew’s great great great great grandparents) settled in that area in the 1840s.  There were some of those large casket-like above ground tombs that seem to have completely fallen over.  Trees grew into headstones.  There were really only 2 stones that still stood and were readable (with the amount of foliage that existed this time of year).  Pity.

We poked around for a bit, took a few pictures, and headed out back into the field.  During the walk back to the house I somehow decided that the noises I was hearing were no longer that of a 4-wheeler but of a wild and crazed bull, and it could smell us and our illegal trespassing.   I walked very very fast, and thought that I lost Andrew for a minute, but we got back to the place where the greenery was shorter than us again.  It was nice.  My skin stung.  Everything was red.

“Well, you got your adventure.”

I did.