Do you think my great-grandfather was a mama’s boy?

Marshall Home Place

 

You know how us family historians talk about putting flesh and bones on our ancestors? We love the the thought of discovering their daily lives. We want to see them as “real people” and find out what they were really like.

 

One way I’ve found to do that is through newspapers. They’re a fantastic source for understanding the setting of our ancestors daily lives. Even if our ancestors aren’t named, newspapers will have documented major local events that certainly affected our people’s lives. Better yet are newspapers from smaller communities, which printed the most mundane events. The stuff real life is made of!

Another great benefit? A newspaper search will reveal the names of lots of your ancestors’ friends and family too. Remember FAN club research?

In Northwest Ohio we have a fabulous resource in Bowling Green State University. Their Center for Archival Collections has a huge collection of historic newspapers. Check out their website. It’s worth the drive if you are close.

So awhile back my sister Betsy and I spent a day at BGSU. Our goal was to find a particular obit, but we struck out. It wasn’t a total loss though. We did find in the Lima, Ohio Times-Democrat an interesting slice of life concerning our great-grandparents.

 

The snippet read:
Mrs. Susan Marshall, of whose serious fall mention was made some weeks ago, was removed to the home of her daughter, Mrs. Stella Everitt, Monday of last week owing to the serious and finally fatal illness of Mrs. George Marshall, with whom she made her home.

 

 

Beside an incredibly long run-on sentence, we found our g-g-grandmother Susannah Van Meter lived with her son my great-grandfather George S. Marshall, and his wife my great-grandmother Mary Ellen Williams. Now I find that interesting as heck!!

Why would Susannah live with her son, instead of a nearby daughter until after she fell? George and Mary Ellen had young children at home. So Mary Ellen’s hands were full with her home/farm and children. I’d just think Susannah would live with Stella to begin with! Don’t you? Do you think my great-grandfather was a mama’s boy?

It’s a really cool bit of family info. I’ve twirled it around in my head several times. Whatever their reasons I have a little more flesh on the bones of these ancestors and look forward to finding lots more!

Starting a FAN club for your Civil War ancestor 

As a family historian I’ll bet you’ve read about “cluster genealogy” or Elizabeth Shown Mills’ outstanding approach on researching your ancestor’s Friends, Associates and Neighbors. Better known as the FAN CLUB!

Mill’s own explanation of this method can be found here. Simply put, extending your research beyond your individual ancestor to the people he or she lived, worked and socialized with helps to create a more accurate picture of their life. Don’t you just love this idea?

 

Fan Club

 

The same can be said for your Civil War ancestor. Creating a FAN club or researching the “cluster” of his company may produce some valuable leads regarding your veteran. In many cases young men enlisted together as recruitment stations were set up or passed through their area. By checking the 1860 Federal Census for neighbors, the regimental roster your ancestor served in, any manuscripts left by the men of that unit, etc. you’ll be able to get a more complete view of your Civil War ancestor’s service and how it impacted his family and the area he lived.

Are you doing “cluster genealogy” or FAN CLUB research on your ancestors? How are you doing? How do you record and organize your finds? I’d love to hear how this is going for you? Share in the comments!

Family History from my great grandmother’s pen

Family history - Genealogy research

My great grandmother Mary Ellen Williams (Marshall)

Do you have some family history documents that need transcribed? I do. You know I’ve transcribed several but have a few yet to do. One of my favorites is an essay my great-grandmother wrote. I assume she was a student when this was written and was one of her weekly English compositions. There wasn’t a date on it but since she was born in 1871 I’d guess it was written in the mid to late 1880s.

As a family historian some of the contents are amazing and I’ll talk about them after you read it.

So here is a transcription of a hand written essay by Mary Ellen Williams

 

Rainy Days

For my part, I like rainy days, to be sure, one can’t go away from home and is not very liable to receive visits, yet there are many pleasant things which may be done on a rainy day, while if it were sunshiny, one might never think of them. In the first place, if I can get a good book to read I don’t care how it may storm outside for I am oblivious to all around me. But if I can’t get a book my next greatest pleasure is to go up to the attic and rummage among the old things there. I wish you could see some of the queer and ancient things I find. There is a spinning wheel two hundred years old which I don’t doubt has many a time buzzed in the presence of Washington for great-grandmother Williams knew him well. I’ve tried several times to spin with it and such work as I’ve made!! But it’s fun. [Read more…]

The Fourth Generation is Where the Link Breaks in Passing Down Family History

Downing Family Cemetery

I wrote this post nearly four years ago. As I reread it I thought it’s just as true today as it was when I wrote it. In fact this post has given me a little extra motivational push as I start a new year of family research. After you read it let me know what you think!

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I read Marian’s Roots and Rambles blog post regarding the Marisa Tomei episode of Who Do You Think You Are, a couple of weeks ago. An observation Marian made has stayed with me in these succeeding days.

In her blog post Marian concludes, “ . . . the fourth generation is where the link breaks in families.”  She goes on to say, “It may be that events such as immigration or early death are really the factors behind these breaks. But none the less by the fourth generation family history information is either lost, forgotten or morphed into something erroneous.” [Read more…]

Here’s to a year of family history research, tearing down some brick walls and a cool new website!

Genealogy Research

 

Happy New Year Genealogy friends!

Did you enjoy the holidays as they whisked in and out of our lives? I sure did! That along with lots of other things going on in my life put me off the grid for awhile but it’s all been good stuff!

The big thing – I changed jobs! With training, new hours and working different days of the week, my family research and blogging had been put on hold. But I think I’ve got a handle on things now and life has returned to a somewhat regular routine. So here I am – back to blogging and getting back into research. Hurray!!

In addition, as you know since you’re here, I’ve been working on this new site. I wanted to update Genealogy Circle and I’m happy with the way it’s shaping up. Oh, they’ll be more tweaks along the way but I’m liking the new look! What do you think?

Eventually I’ll take down www.genealogycircle.com and point that address here. Even though I’ll leave www.genealogycircle.com up for awhile anything new will be posted here.

So here’s to a new year of family history research, tearing down some brick walls and a cool new website!!