Saturday, December 19, 2015

# 7 Genealogy is what I do: GGGGrandpa Keith

John Keith arrived in Indiana before it was a state in the early 1800s. His name appears in 1807 in Dearborn County. He married Ellenor Peak sometime before 1814 when their son Nathan P. Keith was born. I think the P. probably stands for Peak (his mother's maiden name) so he was named for his grandfather Nathan Peak who was a Revolutionary War Veteran. When John came to Indiana he apparently had 5 siblings that came at the same time. His brothers Nicholas and William purchased land warrants right next to John's land warrant in what later became York Twp, Switzerland County, Indiana. John and Ellenor had 10 children as far as I can tell. After Ellenor died in 1749, John married his brother Nicholas's widow, Elizabeth. John died in 1863 and is buried on his land. His is the only gravestone still standing, but there were apparently others buried there as well, including Ellenor. Census records name both Maryland and Pennsylvania as his birth place. He was probably born around 1790, because his gravestone says he was aged 73 at death.
John's son, Nathan, was married to Nancy Sisson on August 27, 1839. They had 4 children:
John Wesley Keith born in 1840, Hiram Wilson Keith born in 1844, Harriet Ellen Keith born in 1847, and Mary A. Keith born in 1849. In 1850,
According to the 1850 Mortality Schedule, Nathan drowned in the Ohio River in May. It is too early for a death certificate and no probate record or will has been located. I have also looked for an obituary or even a news article about his death, without success. I would like to know what Nathan was doing in the Ohio River! Actually there are a lot of things I would like to know about this family. Where did they really come from? Were they simply farmers? Did they attend a local church somewhere nearby? and the list goes on.

Friday, November 13, 2015

#6: Genealogy is what I Do: The Yocums in Steubenville, Ohio

We always had a joke in our family about Granny Yocum, because that was my grandmother's maiden name. If you had known her you would never have guessed that she had real mountain roots, but that is exactly who she was. She talked about growing up running barefoot among the wildflowers in Missouri. My older brother sent me a package once with a note that this was about our family history and of course it was a book about "Lil' Abner".
Another thing Grandma mentioned was that her family had reunions in Steubenville, Ohio. My sister and I decided to look into this, so we drove to Steubenville, to the historical society there. What we found was a write up from one of those Yocum reunions which led us to look around and discover our ancestor, John Yocum, living in that area with his wife, Sarah Davis, and a long list of children. There are land records, church records, grave sites, and obituaries about these ancestors.
According to the records we found there, John Yocum was born in Reading, PA in 1799. Naturally we followed this trip up with a trip to Reading, but do you know how many John Yocum's there are in that part of Pennsylvania? Neither do I, but it is a large number. I have a cousin who spent a lot of time trying to untangle all the John Yocums, but we still don't have a clear connection. Yes, some online trees, name a certain family, but can't seem to prove it. I'm always open to suggestions!
To move forward, John had a son, Philip, who married Margaret Randolph (this was his second wife). They had a son, Lafayette, who married Ida Mae McClure and they are my grandmother's parents.
Ida Mae was a quilter (I have a couple quilts she made) and a great cook ( I enjoy making her recipe for chicken and dumplings-below). They lived in Illinois and later in Missouri, where Grandma grew up.

Ida Mae's Chicken and Dumplings

1 stewing chicken (or a 2 ½ to 3 lb. frying chicken)
2 or 3 quarts of water (enough to cover chicken)
Salt and pepper to taste
2-3 cups of flour (for a fair amount of dumplings)

Cover stewing chicken with water. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer until tender. (Salt can be added to the water if desired.) Remove chicken from the broth and allow to cool slightly; remove the meat from the bones and cut into bite size pieces. Return the chicken to the broth and add pepper to taste. Bring the broth to a boil.
While the broth is coming to a boil, mix together 2 -3 cups of flour with salt to taste in a mixing bowl. Make a well in the center of the flour. Pour in enough hot chicken broth to moisten the dry ingredients. Stir together until you get a rollable consistency, Roll out to about a ¼ inch thickness and cut into two inch squares. Drop dumplings into boiling broth one at a time and gently stir after each addition. Cook until done. (no longer tastes doughy) About 10-15 minutes. Makes about 6 servings

Ida Mae McClure Yocum

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Part 5: Genealogy is what I do; Swamp Land

My dad told me a story that he remembered from reading his grandfather's Family Bible. he said that one of our ancestors wanted a horse so he could join the army as an officer. In  order to purchase the horse he sold a piece of swamp land. Later this land was part of the site where the city of Rochester, NY was built.
This is a good example of family tradition handed down and altered with the telling.
I found a similar story in the book written by some of the family in the early 1900s in New York for a family reunion.
In this version of the story my ancestor owned horses and someone wanted to trade a piece of land he owned in order to buy one of these horses, so he could join the army. My ancestor looked at the piece of land and found that it was swamp land, so he did not buy it. This story also says that the land is where current day Rochester, NY is.
Both of these stories were written down around the same time, but they both depend on memories passed down over a couple generations.
Which one is true? Is there any evidence for either story?
I later found out that my ancestor Philip Price did own horses. As a matter of fact there is a record in Maryland calling his land there a plantation and telling that he lost 30 horses in a plague. This is several years before he moved to Rush, New York, but he may still have had horses in NY. Who knows!

Monday, September 21, 2015

Part 4: Genealogy is what I Do: Grandpa's music

Wow, I have been slow about getting back to this!
When I remember my grandfather, Charles Rex price, I think of a quiet man with a head full of beautiful white hair. His birthday was one day after mine and we often went to visit for his birthday. He loved wood and created things in his workshop that different family members still own. Grandpa and Grandma liked to have big family meals in their backyard and they never seemed troubled by the antics of their many grandchildren.
But... there is one thing I know about him, that I don't personally remember. grandpa was extremely musical. He sang and played many instruments. I have pictures of grandpa with his three brothers singing quartets and of Grandpa as the conductor of the orchestra at the big Congregational Church in Pontiac, Michigan. My brother, who is 9 years older than I am, tells me that he remembers listening to Grandpa sing and thought that he had never heard a more beautiful voice. I also have church bulletins that name Grandpa as the soloist or part of a duet (sometimes with my dad). Another thing I have is a box full of music that belonged to him and I have seen some of his instruments.
So... I have evidence of his talent. I wish I could hear him sing and play (maybe in Heaven).
One thing I have tried to track down is the radio programs that he was involved in. According to Dad and my great uncle Edgar, grandpa had a radio program (probably over the border in Canada) and he also played on another program as a guest musician. His program may have been called Rex and Ray or it may have been Charlie and Edith. Dad has mentioned both names. Dad thought that the program he was a guest on had Bible in the title and that it was a local Detroit station. I called a couple stations years ago and was told that they had no archives from the 20s, 30s, or 40s. Maybe I should look at local museums. Any suggestions?

Monday, August 17, 2015

Part 3: Genealogy is what I do; How did George Knight die?

      The night of October 21, 1899, George Knight, a laborer working in one of Holmes and Nicholson’s camps, was found lying by the track of the A & N Railroad line near Laroque, Michigan ( also called Hawk). At first the passing train men who saw him thought he was just resting by the track, because that was common, but when they passed again hours later they realized something was wrong, and Conductor McGarry stopped the train. They found him with his head bashed in, and he was recognized as George Knight who lived in Millersburg. He was still breathing when found. They took him on the train to transport  him into Laroque, but he died before arriving there. He was examined by a Doctor Sullivan and an inquest was held to determine the cause of death.
      This information was gleaned from three different newspapers that carried the story.
      My grandmother, who was twelve years old at the time, added that he was a logging boss in the camp and he was carrying the payroll that night.
      My grandmother, Edythe Georgiana Knight, was the third of five children born to George and his wife Delia. The youngest was born after his death. My dad’s first cousins all tell similar stories about that night. Their story is that he was murdered for the payroll he was carrying. My grandmother insisted that it was done by the Chinese Cook, who disappeared the same night. However, when the inquest was held, they brought in a different verdict.
      According to the newspaper account, the inquest gave a verdict of accidental death due to carelessness. Because of the nature of the head wound it was determined that George had most likely been walking on the tracks and stepped off to let a train pass, but he stepped back to soon, Since the train was completely passed, he was sucked into the side of the train by the intense motion and knocked aside.
      I was told the murder version of the story by my dad, as he had been told it by his mother. One of Dad’s cousins sent me copies of two of the newspaper articles. When I decided to investigate it, the third article was found, as well as the inquest’s version of the story.
      Although this took place in 1899, no death certificate has been found. I also have not been able to locate any record of George Knight’s marriage to Delia Ruger. The births of his children are all found down in the Arenac and Ogemaw area of the state along with a large number of land transactions.
      George was found with his parents in Fairgrove, Michigan in the 1780 census and by 1900 he was already dead. In the 1900 census his wife and children are living in AuGres.
      It still seems curious to me that, in spite of the inquest, the family passed on a story of murder. Could there be more evidence out there somewhere?

Part 2: What I Do is genealogy; finding Adam Price

    I wanted to find out where my Ancestor, Adam Price, and his brother, Jacob, lived before they settled in Utica, Michigan, so I did the usual basic land search and probate search.
    The land search was confusing at first because I did not know about government land records yet. Eventually I discovered that Adam got his land through a government grant and sent away for the complete file which really did not give me any new information.
    The probate search was immediately successful at the Michigan Archives in Lansing. I gleaned a lot of names (spouse and children) from the probate record, but nothing about where Adam came from. This is where frustration set in, so I went back to reading more about genealogical research and read about searching lateral ancestors for related information. It seems so obvious when you think about it, but I had not thought of it!
    By this time I knew some names of children and I had his brother’s name, so I went back to that old local history and hit the jackpot.
    Adam’s daughter, Sarah, married David Connor, and there was a biography for David Connor in  the book. In it the writer told about Sarah’s father coming to Michigan by steamboat and Ox cart and staying with his brother, Jacob, until his own house was built. It did not name where he came from, but gave me some clues since he came up the Detroit River. I was getting close…
Next I looked at a biography in the book that I had overlooked before, because I did not recognize a descendant of Jacob. This is where the information I was looking for was found. It told how Jacob had been born in Frederick, Maryland and the family had moved to Rush, New York and finally a few of the brothers had moved to Michigan after the Erie Canal was finished in the 1820s. Wow! There it was!
    Right away I called my Aunt who lives in New York and asked her if she knew where Rush was. Her answer was, “Yes, it is just down the road from where I live”. When I told her about what I had discovered she got excited, so my Aunt and her daughter (my first cousin) went looking. They found land records and they found a history written for a family reunion in the early 1900s.
    When I read this family history, I remembered a couple stories Dad told me. Sometimes family tradition gives a funny twist to what is really the truth. I got a good example of that from Dad’s story:
    Dad told me that one of his ancestors had owned some swamp land at the time of a war (he didn’t know which one). Because of the war, this ancestor wanted a horse so he could go and join the fight. He believed that if he owned a horse, he would automatically become an officer. So he traded the land for a horse and went off to fight. Later the land became very valuable because a major city now stand there.
    The story in the family history said that our ancestor owned horses and a man wanted to trade a piece of land for one of his horse, so he could join the war effort. My ancestor refused, because the land was swamp, but the land later became the site where Rochester, NY stands.
    Two different stories that sound so similar, but are either of them true?
    One thing Dad was right about, was the name of Adam and Jacob’s father. Dad guessed that his name was Philip, because he had a memory of his Great Grandfather being called Philip II. Since his father was Adam, he figured there must be another Philip back before Adam and he was right.
    Speaking of family tradition I came to realize that the family history written for a reunion in the early 1900s was not documented. It was tradition too, so my next goal was to prove or disprove what I found in it.
    Before I go there I have another story about family tradition in my next blog:

Saturday, August 15, 2015

What I do is genealogy! Here is how it all began.

In Grandma and Grandpa Price's backyard with Mom, Grandma, and my 4 siblings
Before I really begin telling my story, I want to tell you what the primary surnames are in my research. Price and Knight on my dad's side and Keith and Yocum on my Mom's side. Other names that come into it are Bannister, Burke, Adams, Schaffer, Layman, Ruger, Houghtaling, Hinson, Thompson, Hyslop, Sisson, Peak, McClure, Randolph, Davis, and others. Here is how my story begins:

I guess my interest in Family History goes back to the stories that both of my parents told about their own childhoods. I don’t remember a start or beginning; the stories were always there and I enjoyed them. I think it was a natural way for my parents to express the love of their families just as it is for me to tell about my own childhood. I remember my dad taking us on little excursions to see something: a place from his past. For instance, we would be going to see my grandparents and he would take a detour to go by a house where his family used to live. I don’t remember ever being bored with stories or pictures of family. It seems that I was always interested, but it was a passive interest. I did not actively do anything to stir it up or expand it until I was in my mid-thirties.
The next phase of my genealogical interest hit me when I took a job near where my ancestors had lived. I know that we had driven around the Utica area before and Dad had told me that his family came from this area. When I moved to Sterling Heights, Michigan to take a teaching job, Dad reminded me that our family history was in that area, then, when my parents visited we took a drive up to the Library and the cemetery. In the library, we were directed to a local history written in the 1800s, which named my ancestor, Adam Price and his brother, Jacob, as some of the first settlers there and told how they built a grist mill together. We scrounged around in the library for a while without finding anything else, which was not surprising with our lack of experience in this type of research, but my thirst to know was awakened. In the cemetery we found my great grandparents and their parents, so now I had some names and dates to take off with. This was several years before I owned my first PC. I had a computer in my classroom and knew how to do word processing, but the world of the internet was still an unknown realm. In spite of that I made some progress and I have to stay it probably gave me a better start in the long run, because I was not tempted to blindly accept what someone else put in their tree. I learned to find the evidence myself.
The next thing I did was to read a couple books about genealogical research and they gave me the good idea to talk to older relatives. About this time, I became better acquainted with my great Uncle Edgar Price, who told me stories of his childhood on the farm north of Utica. I also talked to my Grandmother, Alice Yocum Keith, who was my only surviving grandparent at that time. Both of them were able to give me names and dates that I did not have. Then my oldest brother heard of my interest and he gave me a copy of a family tree that he did as a school assignment in Junior High. The great thing about that was, that all my grandparents had been living and contributed information to the tree at that time.
Well now I had a bunch of names, dates, and stories passed on through memories and family tradition and there was more to come, but I knew that I needed to find documentation for all of this. I began visiting court houses, libraries, and historical societies on all my vacations and dragging my sister around to these places as well. Fortunately she is also very interested. Gradually I discovered vital records, land records, probate records, church records, and so on until I had overflowing boxes of stuff about the family. As I worked on organizing all this a few questions emerged and I hit some brick walls. Here are some of those early questions:
1.       Where did Adam and Jacob Price come from, before they settled in Michigan?
2.       What really happened to my great grandfather, George Knight? Was he really murdered by the Chinese cook?
3.       Where did my grandfather have a radio program?
4.       Did the family really own some swamp land where the city of Rochester, NY now stands?
5.       Grandma mentioned a family reunion in Steubenville, Ohio, so why was it there?
6.       How did GGG Grandpa Nathan Keith drown in the Ohio River-what was he up to?

And the questions go on. In my next blog I plan to begin to tell you about what I have and have not discovered so far.
This genealogy thing is an obsession you know. Once you start, there never seems to be a stopping place.