Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Happy Anniversary!

Happy anniversary to my wonderful husband!

Monday, April 29, 2013

Matrilineal Monday - Frances Wall

Frances Wall is a 3rd great grandmother on my maternal side. I know quite a bit about her and her family thanks to my great aunt Bruna and her book: Pioneer Families.
Frances was born February 15, 1842 near Morton in Ray County, Missouri. She was the third of 15 children born to Wade Wall and Luvicia Pritchard. I have seen varying accounts of the number and names of their children. The following list comes from Larry James' book The Pritchard and Wall Families of Ray County, Missouri.
That is a lot of children and all but two lived to adulthood. Frances must have spent a lot of time babysitting. Frances, sometimes listed as Franny, was born and raised in Ray County and lived her entire life there. She married Samuel Oscar McGuire on December 22, 1871.
Samuel and Frances had four children, three living until adulthood. I have to wonder if having 14 siblings made Frances want to keep her own family small.
Samuel was a farmer and Frances was a housewife. She was very involved in the Methodist church and was in several church clubs. She lived in the country near Morton, Missouri until her later years when she moved to Hardin, Missouri.

Frances died in Hardin, Missouri on November 3, 1931 and is buried with her husband in Lavelock Cemetery, just north of Hardin.
Based on the above information, I have the following due-outs for Frances:

1. Try to definitively list her siblings.
2. Find an obituary.

  • McGuire, Bruna. Pioneer Families: McGuire, Berry, Hughes. Hardin, Mo. 1954.
  • James, Larry. The Pritchard and Wall Families of Ray County, Missouri. The Mid-Continent Public Library, Neosho, Mo. 1984.
  • Ancestry.com. Missouri Marriage Records, 1805-2002 [database on-line]. Samuel McGuire and Frances Wall marriage record, December 22, 1871. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2007. Original data: Missouri Marriage Records. Jefferson City, MO, USA: Missouri State Archives. Microfilm.
This post is part of my on-going goal of 2013 to research each of my 32 3rd great-grandparents more in-depth. Frances is #30 on my list.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Surname Saturday - Samuel Oscar McGuire

Samuel Oscar McGuire, often called S. O., is a 3rd great grandparent on my maternal side. I'm blessed to know quite a bit about Samuel, thanks in most part to my great aunt Bruna McGuire. She was Samuel's daughter, a family historian and a journalist who wrote a book about the McGuire clan.

Samuel was born January 22, 1843 in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky. He was the second son born to Samuel McGuire and Elizabeth Berry.
Elizabeth Berry was Samuel McGuire's second wife. He had two children with his first wife, Mary Ann Buckley: Francis Ann McGuire (1825-1897) and Mary Jane McGuire (1828-1910). Despite the twenty year difference in ages it appears that Samuel remained close to his two half sisters. I have found no death information about Mary Ann Buckley, but she died sometime prior to Samuel's marriage to Elizabeth in 1837. Samuel McGuire Sr. died in 1847 and Elizabeth remarried Edwin Hawkins a year later. And Edwin was dead by 1850. Elizabeth is not listed with an occupation on the 1850 census so I'm not sure how she was able to care for her boys. It's possible she took in boarders.

By 1860, Eliza and her boys moved to Ray County, Missouri. I have not been able to determine the cause for that migration. Samuel enlisted as a confederate in the Missouri 1st Cavalry on December 17, 1861. He was captured at the Big Black Bridge during the battle of Vicksburg on May 17, 1863 and sent as a prisoner of war to Fort Delaware and then Point Lookout, Maryland. He was released on March 14, 1864 after taking the oath to not return to the Confederate forces. Of course, he did. I was able to find record of him assigned to the 11th Missouri Infantry and it appears he was assigned here until the end of the war, paroled on June 7, 1865 in Alexandria, Louisiana.
The location where S. O. McGuire was captured during the Civil War. (1864) Big Black River, Miss. Battlefield of May 17, 1863. Courtesy of the Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division. Reproduction Number LC-B8171-1056 DLC (b&w film neg.)
According to a biography written in the History of Ray County, Missouri (1881) after the war Samuel traveled to Nebraska and the Dakotas and engaged in teaming for four years. He was also allegedly in a battle with some Native Americans while in the Dakota territory where several of his companions were killed. I have not been able to verify this.

After much adventure, Samuel returned to Missouri and married Frances Wall December 22, 1870 in Ray County, Missouri. The couple had four children, three surviving to adulthood. Garnett McGuire died in infancy.

Samuel and Frances were farmers and owned land to the east and northeast of Morton, Missouri. They lived in a home they called "Woodland Echo." They spent their entire married life in Ray County, Missouri, living in the country near Morton, Missouri and then moving to the city of Hardin when they got older.

Samuel died January 25, 1910 in Hardin, Missouri. Frances died in 1931 and both are buried in Lavelock Cemetery, just north of Hardin, Missouri in Ray County.
According to his headstone, S. O. McGuire was a mason, but I know nothing of his activities with the organization.
Based on the above, here are my due-outs for Samuel:

1. Try to determine why they moved from Kentucky to Ray County, Missouri.
2. Write a post about his military service.
3. Research his travels through Nebraska and Dakota territory.
4. Research his time as a Freemason.
5. Locate a print version of his obituary.

  • McGuire, Bruna. Pioneer Families: McGuire, Berry, Hughes. Hardin, Mo. 1954.
  • Big Black River, Miss. Battlefield of May 17, 1863. Courtesy of the Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division. Reproduction Number LC-B8171-1056 DLC (b&w film neg.) 1864.
  • History of Ray County, Missouri. Samuel McGuire biography, p. 785. Missouri Historical Company. St. Louis, Mo. 1881
  • Ancestry.com. Missouri Marriage Records, 1805-2002 [database on-line]. Samuel McGuire and Frances Wall marriage, December 22, 1870, Ray County, Missouri. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2007. Original data: Missouri Marriage Records. Jefferson City, MO, USA: Missouri State Archives. Microfilm.
This post is part of my on-going goal of 2013 to research each of my 32 3rd great-grandparents more in-depth. Samuel is #29 on my list.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Follow Friday - Favorites for April 26, 2013

Favorites is my weekly list of favorite genealogy, history and random finds from across the Net.
An interesting tax treasure from John at Filiopietism Prism
Lost identities of slaves uncovered in Virginia
The Legal Genealogist discusses the new DPLA and copyright
Two Nerdy History Girls share Kitty from Kansas City
Lost World War II battlefield found
The Horse Soldiers (my parents favorite movie) inspired this blogger to research family
A wonderful tribute at Are My Roots Showing
Janet at Genealogy Addiction admits she is a Genealogy Junkie
Yvette at The Ancestors Have Spoken wonders: What do I do with all this stuff?
An interesting post about a popular Evanston, Illinois photographer
Using Civil War unit histories to fill you research gaps
Woman travels to historic times with the aid of Photoshop
UK man resigns by cake

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Thankful Thursday - Daniel D. Lightner, The Abolitionist Part III

Daniel Dinkle Lightner and Polly Seward (sitting). Elvira (Lightner) Hull Allen and her daughter Mary Florence Hull Johnson. Taken 1879. Courtesy Bertha F. Johnson Papers, Sophia Smith Collection, Smith College, Northampton, Mass.

Over the past few weeks I have shared the adventures of the Lightner family in the 1850s and 1860s as they ran a station on the Underground railroad. I've shared some of the ways they secreted slaves and their close calls. Today, I'll share why Daniel Lightner was so passionate about saving slaves.

According to a story written by Alfaretta Niver as told by her mother Elvira L. (Lightner) Hull Allen, Daniel had every reason to hate the concept of slavery. Elvira, was Daniel's daughter and was also a witness to the family's role in saving slaves. She relates that Daniel's hatred of slavery began when he was only 12 years old in Virginia while visiting his uncle, William Baker. Baker was a plantation owner who had a large number of slaves.

I warn you that the following stories are of a horrific nature and the language used is of that of the original author and may be offensive to some readers.

"Daniel visited a neighboring plantation where the owner was much excited because a black woman had run away after being whipped, leaving her little baby. She was thought to be hiding in a rocky canyon. Her owner went there and called through a speaking trumpet, 'Malinda Flowers, unless you come back to Massa, I will beat your black brat's brains out on this rock in the morning.'"

Sadly, the slave owner carried through with his threat. Daniel was horrified.

"Daniel fell to the ground in a faint. When he came to, he looked up to Heaven and said, 'If I live to be a man, I'll give my life to help free the niggers.'"

Ten years later, William Baker called his slaves together and set them free. Some left, but many wanted to stay and Baker divided his land and hired the now free persons to work it. This infuriated the local populous and they began to threaten Baker, burned down his property and tried to frighten the African Americans any way they could. Sadly, the angry mob came and took two former slave boys named John and Edward, that Baker had adopted and educated as if they were his own children. The boys were murdered and Baker was forced to watch. According to Elvira's tale, he died from the shock.

I have yet to prove the above accounts. Unfortunately, William Baker is a very common name and to date I do not know where in Virginia he had a plantation. However, it is no stretch of the imagination to think that there could be some truth in these stories.

These horrible events clearly made an impact on Daniel Lightner. He was willing to risk the lives of himself and his family to support a cause he dearly believed in. Elvira best sums up the reason behind their drive in her own words.

"You ask how we felt while going through such scenes. I presume we felt much as people have always felt, who risked life, liberty, health, property and friends for a cause that was unpopular. There seemed to be a sanctity about it. I can remember hearing father and mother say, "God has called us to this work and he shant find us shirking."

The photo and letter excerpts featured here are courtesy The Bertha F. Johnson Papers, Sophia Smith Collection, Smith College, Northampton, Mass.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Wordless Wednesday - Home Sweet Home

My mother with me and my brother in front of our home in Kansas City, Missouri, circa 1977.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Tuesday's Tip - Make reading your blog easy...Link Back!

Last week I came across a great post on one of my favorite blogs (name withheld to protect anonymity!). The post was the second part of a three part series, and I wanted to read the series from the beginning, but I couldn't find the link. I had to go back to the home page and conduct a search to find the first installment. I was really interested in the story, so I was willing to do the work, but if I wasn't I would have moved on and left the blog.

Bloggers must make reading our blog easy! It's a rule of thumb that blog posts must stay fairly short to maintain the interest of the reader (I like to stay less than 500 words...or try to). Most folks have enough reading to do for work or school that in their free time they prefer small snippets. As the storytellers it is important for us to not only break up the story, but to set up our blogs so that our readers can find the different parts. Hence the need for the wonderful link back.

Note in my example above, that I included the idea that there was a part I to my story in the very first sentence and I created a link back to the first installment. Once I publish the third installment I will create a link back on all pages that relate to the story so my readers can easily locate each part. I have seen other bloggers create a list of the installments at the very beginning of their post.

Adding links back to previous or related posts is such a simple concept, but it is one that can easily be forgotten. Take a moment to do it and make reading your blog easy for your readers!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Military Monday - Missouri National Guard

My Dad with some troops from his Missouri National Guard unit. He is third from left and the only one with a weapon. I'm not sure of the date here...probably early 1980s.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Surname Saturday - John C. Ozias

John C. Ozias was my 3rd great grandfather on paternal side. He was born October 22, 1824 in Ohio, the eighth of ten known children of Jacob and Susanna (Christman) Ozias.

There are many online trees for John Jacob (often just called Jacob), however, I have yet to learn very much about him. I do know that he died in 1848 in Preble County, Ohio. Susanna Ozias lived until 1867 and also died in Preble County, Ohio. They are both buried in Roselawn Cemetery, Lewisburg, Ohio.

John married Christine Potterf March 6, 1851 in Preble County, Ohio.
The couple had ten children.
Sometime around 1855 the couple moved from Ohio to Byron, Buchanan County, Iowa. John was a farmer and Christine was a housewife. The family lived in Iowa for nearly 20 years. John registered for the Civil War draft in Byron County, Iowa in June 1863, but there is no record of him actually having served in the war.
By 1875 the Ozias family were in Nemaha County, Kansas, after having made a long enough stop in Missouri to have their last child.
1875 Kansas State census, Nemaha County.
I am not sure why the Ozias family traveled from Ohio to Iowa to Missouri and finally to Kansas. I have two lines that made about the same journey (the other being my Kuhn line) and I have not been able to determine why they migrated. I'm assuming it has something to do with the eternal quest to find the right land. Or perhaps a need to outrun their debts. Either way, John Ozias arrives in Kansas sometime around 1875. He dies only a year later on September 16, 1876 leaving his wife with a houseful of children. He is buried in Centralia Cemetery, Centralia, Kansas.

John C. Ozias headstone in Centralia Cemetery, Centralia, Kansas. Courtesy L. Hinrichsen
Based on all of his census entries, John was a farmer. I have been unable to find any plat maps from Iowa during his stay in that state, so I do not know if he owned land or just worked it. However, the value of his estate on the 1870 census is high and leads me to believe that he may have owned his own land. Here are my due-outs on John:

1. Find John's obituary
2. Look for land documents in Ohio, Iowa, Missouri and Kansas
3. Look for his father's probate records to determine if John was left anything.


  • Jordan Dodd, Liahona Research. Ohio, Marriages, 1803-1900 [database on-line]. John C. Ozias and Christine Potterf marriage. March 6, 1851, Preble County, Ohio. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2001.
  • Ancestry.com. U.S., Civil War Draft Registrations Records, 1863-1865 [database on-line]. John C. Ozias, Buchanan County, Iowa. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010. Original data: Consolidated Lists of Civil War Draft Registrations, 1863-1865. NM-65, entry 172, 620 volumes. ARC ID: 4213514. Records of the Provost Marshal General’s Bureau (Civil War), Record Group 110. National Archives, Washington D.C.
  • Ancestry.com.. Kansas State Census Collection, 1855-1925 [database on-line]. John C. Ozias, Illinois Township, Nemaha County, pg. 2. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2009.

This post is part of my on-going goal of 2013 to research each of my 32 3rd great-grandparents more in-depth. John is #3 on my list.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Follow Friday - Favorites for April 19, 2013

Favorites is my weekly list of favorite genealogy, history and random finds from across the Net.
The Digital Library of America goes live
The Genealogy Insider suggests: Get your ancestors SS-5 before it is too late
Civil War ring returned to decedents
Spirits of the Old shares a letter about of the Christmas armistice of 1914
The evil of tornadoes at A Southern Sleuth
Playful photos from 100 years ago at Who Knew?
Sonja at Bushwhacking Genealogy: Kalamazoo and Beyond shares a day with a 1910 census taker
Ye Olde Family Tree shares a great tool for making family tree graphics
5 guaranteed ways to mess up your genealogy at Archives.com
A photo family reunion at Forgotten Places and Long Ago Places
John shares the story of a remarkable lady at Filiopietism Prism
Seven famous people that missed the Titanic

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Thankful Thursday - Daniel D. Lightner, The Abolitionist Part II

Daniel Dinkle Lightner and Polly Seward (sitting). Elvira Lightner (Hull) Allen and her daughter Mary Florence Hull Johnson. Taken 1879. Courtesy Bertha F. Johnson Papers, Sophia Smith Collection, Smith College, Northampton, Mass.
In part I I described how I learned that my ancestor Daniel Lightner was an abolitionist in Indiana and the ways the family were able to hide the slaves they secreted to safety. Today I want to share some of the close calls Daniel had.

In a letter to an unknown author, Daniel's daughter Elvira shares her memories of her family's foray into saving slaves.

"It seems that they were protected by unseen forces. Father was shot at several times; one time a mob of proslavery men heard he was coming home alone from Kokomo, and taking a rope, secreted themselves at a turn of the road with the full determination to hang him. After he had gone two or three miles something impressed him that there was danger ahead, and he went into the woods and cut him a hickory handspike, leaving knots on the end, and went back to the road and cautiously continued his journey. He saw the men before they saw him and went out of the road into the woods and came up behind them, and coming suddenly among them called them by name, and seeing the rope and knowing they were men who would be mean enough to do murder, he told them he guessed they would better put up their rope and go home, as he was going that way, and did not propose to be hindered. The men looked, as he said, dumbfounded and frightened, and did not offer to lay hands on him."

The Lightner home was also a dangerous place to be. Elvira says, "Several times when he [Lightner] would be out after dark, he was shot at and had stones hurled at him that would have killed him had they hit him. Twice a board in the fence was broken by stones that just missed him."

Throughout the letter, Elvira makes it clear that her parents did this work under the belief that they were guarded or protected by God. It is hard for me to imagine such hatred that would drive people to try to kill someone. It is also hard to imagine the constant underlying fear the Lightner family must have carried. Yet they did carry on.

In my next installment I'll share why Daniel Lightner was so passionate about abolitionism.

The photo and letter excerpts featured here are courtesy The Bertha F. Johnson Papers, Sophia Smith Collection, Smith College, Northampton, Mass.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Wordless Wednesday - Nutty Daddy

My nutty Daddy sometime in the early 1970s.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Tuesday's Tip - Military pension files...spend the dough early

Peace by John Rubens Smith. 
John Rubens Smith Collection, 
Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division
It's no surprise that ordering a pension file is pricey. The National Archives staff must pull your ancestor's record, delicately scan each and every page and finally ship the results to you. But the question is, is it worth it?

I have explored this question before and determined then that you should definitely spend the money for these files. Yesterday I was going through a new pension file that I had received and I made a new realization: spend the dough on the pension file BEFORE you do much else. Why? Because I would have saved years of stumbling upon records. Many of the facts about my ancestor were already in the pension file. When I received the file after having already completed years of research, I really didn't learn anything Earth shattering about my ancestor. Had I bought the pension file early in my research, the work would have been done for me.

Here are the facts pension file I received on Philip Kuhn gave me:
  • His birth date and place
  • His father's name
  • Physical information such as his height and coloring
  • The names of his children and wife and all of their birth dates
  • His migratory travel (with dates) through three states
  • The reason Philip traveled through three different states
  • The name and address of his brother
  • The name and address of his sister-in-law and her migratory patterns
  • The fact that his father-in-law traveled with him
  • The life issues his family faced after his death
  • How and when he died
  • A brief description of his military service and the fact that he was a prisoner of war
  • Descriptions of the type of man he was
Really, what other type of document gives that much information in one fell swoop, I ask you? Other than a personal journal or a stack of correspondence I can think of nothing else that is so helpful. Of course, not all pension files will include all of this, but by the nature of what they are and what they try to prove the must contain most of the list. The point is, if you know of a military veteran in your tree, but don't know much else, spend the dough on the pension file. It is well worth what you will save in looking for all of the above information from separate sources.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Military Monday - Civil War pension file of Philip Kuhn

Isn't it so exciting to see this CD in your mailbox?
Ah, the joy of pension files. It has been many months since I received the Civil War pension file of my 3rd great grandfather, Philip Kuhn. I must admit that I was insanely excited to receive the results, but on my first read through of the 100 pages I didn't learn anything I didn't already know. So I set the packet aside and moved on to new adventures. Herein lies the rub of having done research for so long...I am seldom learning anything new.

But, I returned to this set of documents today to dig a little deeper. And low and behold there were little things that I missed.

The first thing I learned was that the health system for determining eligibility for a pension was broke (big surprise, right?). Philip visited two doctors in one year for examination. In April 1891 the doctor's measured him at 5'6". By July of that year he was 5' 9". By 1895 he was measured at 5' 5 3/4". This four inch variance in height is sketchy at best, but to me it outlines a bigger problem: If they couldn't measure his height properly, what else could they not detect?

At his first examination in 1891 the doctor found no issues with Philip, despite his complaints of issues that to my 21st century eyes clearly stem from more than a year in a prisoner of war camp.

Another thing I learned was the actual location of the Kuhn house in Baldwin, Kansas. When his wife, Bertha, applied for a widow's pension (which is another long, trying process) she had to show what property she had. The Kuhns had purchased lots 72 and 74 on Chapel St. They mortgaged the land and the house standing on the property. Sadly, when Philip died he owed more than $600. Bertha was forced to take in lodgers to stay a float. The house would have stood on the southeast corner of Chapel and 5th Streets. It is no longer standing.
Baldwin City plat map, 1902. The Kuhn house was on plots 72 & 74 on Chapel St.
To me, the biggest take away from these documents was that these ancestors, which I have often called my favorites, were not infallible  They had money problems, health problems and couldn't seem to catch a break from the government.

I think the lesson here is that you may not learn anything Earth shattering when you get a new packet of documents, but you will definitely find a new source for information you already knew and you may just learn something new that helps you realize that your ancestors were people just like you.


  • Geo. A. Ogle & Co., Standard Atlas of Douglas County, Kansas. Baldwin Plat Map, pgs. 54-55.  Kansas Memory, Kansas Historical Society. 1902

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Sympathy Saturday - Killing Lincoln

Brady, Mathew. Abraham Lincoln. U.S. National Archives. Series: Mathew Brady Photographs of Civil War-Era Personalities and Scenes, (Record Group 111) . Ca. 1860-1865. 
I'm behind the power curve because I just watched Killing Lincoln, aired on the National Geographic Channel. It's been lingering on my DVR but I had to wait until there was absolute quiet in my house to watch it. This program, based on the book by Bill O'Reilly and produced by Ridley Scott, is an in-depth exploration of the assassination of Lincoln.

I was amazed by the program. It probably helps that it was narrated by Tom Hanks. And that I have been fascinated by the Lincoln assassination since I was eight-years-old. In fact, my parents made a special detour during our visit to Washington, D.C. to take me to Ford's Theater. I've been there three or four times since then as well. I'm not sure what spurred my interest in this event. It could have been an issue of the children's history magazine Cobblestone. It is hard to say. But I've been studying this assassination for years.

Up until I watched Killing Lincoln, however, the assassination was just a story on paper. I knew all the facts and no new knowledge came from the show. But the program made the characters in this terrible drama seem real. I can still hear the cries of Mary Todd Lincoln after her husband was shot. It became not just a story about a distant president, but a story of the family man and friend. Perhaps this new realization stems from having a family of my own and being able to more accurately put myself in Mary or Robert Lincoln's shoes. Killing Lincoln humanized this drama creating a new layer to an already fascinating story.

The National Geographic Channel has also created a great interactive website to explore the assassination. It includes maps and photos and walks you through the conspiracy, the assassination and the aftermath. I spent a good hour looking through all of the information. They also have a special page with more information on the show itself which has some great videos from the actors.
A great tool on the Killing Lincoln website includes a slider showing the present-day condition of buildings involved in the conspiracy.
I do not know if Killing Lincoln will be aired again anytime soon, I do not find it in my local listings. But I would highly suggest that you track it down and watch it, especially if you are interested in the Civil War and the mid-nineteenth century. Even if you can't watch the show the websites are worth exploring.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Follow Friday - Favorites for April 12, 2013

Favorites is my weekly list of favorite genealogy, history and random finds from across the Net.
Speakeasy Cards: A Prohibition-Era Ticket to Drink
Confederate records free on Fold3.com throughout April
A new trend in postcards...postcrossing!
Man men, mad 'dos: What the late 60s really looked like
The Southern Foodways Alliance explores Southern food trends
10 tips for researching genealogy in court records
Celebrating Family Stories shares Saying I Do during WWII
In Memoriam: Jane Nebel Henson
Treasure trail heating up part I and part II at Past-Present-Future
Ancestors Before Me shares a great resource: The HathiTrust Digital Library
Pages from the Ancestry Binders tells Why Learn about your family history?
Auschwitz survivor uses social media to try to find his long-lost twin

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Thankful Thursday - Daniel D. Lightner, The Abolitionist

Daniel Dinkle Lightner and Polly Seward (sitting). Elvira Lightner (Hull) Allen and her daughter Mary Florence Hull Johnson. Taken 1879. Courtesy Bertha F. Johnson Papers, Sophia Smith Collection, Smith College, Northampton, Mass.
I recently made a fantastic find: I descend from an Indiana abolitionist that ran a "station" on the underground railway in Indiana. I must admit that I couldn't be more proud of this discovery. I abhor the thought of slavery and to know that my ancestor took a very dangerous role in freeing slaves is a terrific piece of knowledge to hold.

I came across this information when I found The Bertha F. Johnson Papers, an archival collection located in the Sophia Smith Collection, Smith College, Northampton, Mass. My good friend Google linked me with this archive after I conducted a "backdoor" search for Daniel Lightner through his daughter, Elvira. The collection included the above four generation photograph of the Lightner family and the recollections of their abolitionist activities as remembered by Daniel's daughter, Elvira.

Elvira wrote a letter dated April 6, 1892 in response to questions asked her about her Underground Railway memories by an unknown author. She writes about how they secreted the slaves, how they transferred the slaves from "station" to station and some of the close calls the family had.

She mentions some methods for secreting the slaves.

"We did it various ways, sometimes put them between the straw ticks, and piled the feather bed on top and made all up nicely. The poor creatures would lie so still for hours that anyone unless they had known they were there, would never have dreamed it possible."

Not only were the slaves forced to be quiet, but the method of travel was muted, too.

"The horses feet would be muffled in thick cloth, and the wheels of the wagons or the tires of the wheels would be wrapped and wound with woolen so they did not make any noise."
She also mentions that the fugitives and "conductors" were always armed, if possible, to defend themselves. She writes, "Old Uncle Daniel Jones used to say 'I don't believe in fighting, thee knows, Daniel [Lightner], but I'll hold the lines while thee shoots.' But he nor father ever had occasion to use firearms."

In part II I'll talk about the close calls the Lightner family had while secreting slaves at their home.

The photo and letter excerpts featured here are courtesy The Bertha F. Johnson Papers, Sophia Smith Collection, Smith College, Northampton, Mass.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Wordless Wednesday - McGuire girls

(L-R) Virginia, Hazel, Catherine and Margaret McGuire

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Tuesday's Tip - How to donate your genealogy work

My family history paper files...semi-organized.
I'm often pretty anal about backing up my computer. I have two hard drives that I rotate for back-ups and store in a fire-proof safe when not in use. This week I have been wondering what would happen to my research if something were to happen to me. I'm not morbid, but the truth is that nothing lasts forever. Planning ahead for the disposition of your genealogy work is the best way to ensure your work lives on to help others.

The places to which you can donate genealogical materials are numerous. Here are just a few of the options for donating your genealogical papers and files.

  • The Family History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah. The Family History Library accepts donations of genealogical data. They ask for well-organized information that adds new content to the FHL library (no duplicates histories accepted). They prefer digital copies of information, but will accept paper copies. Genealogical collections, or all of your paper and digital documents, are accepted, but they prefer them to be created by professional genealogists. This makes sense, as they don't have the time to cull through paperwork to ensure accuracy. For more information on donating to the FHL see here. FHL no longer accepts paper versions of family trees or pedigrees. However, you can add your family tree to FamilySearch.org for other researchers to see, similar to Ancestry.com, but there is no cost involved to view or to post. To learn more, click here. It requires a free account. You can also upload your GEDCOM file by clicking here and scrolling down to Donate Tree. You can also donate information through the FamilySearch Research wiki.
  • Large Genealogy-specific libraries. This group includes large genealogy libraries like the Midwest Genealogy Center (MGC) in Kansas City and the Allen County Public Library (ACPL) Genealogy Center in Fort Wayne, Indiana, among others. According to the ACPL website, they welcome all kinds of donations to include research articles, photographs, books or even copies of the family pages of your bible. They accept paper and digital copies. Nicole, the achivist at the Midwest Genealogy Center told me that they accept a wide range of materials as well. Patrons can drop off donations or mail them and there is no preference of format. However, if you submit digital information be sure that documents are in a format for easy viewing, such as a PDF file. Her tip to genealogists: be sure to use archival storage options when possible so your work will last. The benefit of donating to a large library is that your donation has the potential to reach a wider audience. The scope of large genealogy libraries is also usually regional, making donations of research that covers numerous states a perfect fit. Of course, it is also possible that your research could get buried among all of the many resources these libraries have to offer.
  • University libraries and archives. I have found countless genealogy records in University archives, most often the fantastic type of historical records that put the "meat on the bones," so to speak. Usually these items include letters or typed family notes directly from your ancestors' mouths. I even recently came across a photo of an ancestor in a university archive. The issue with donating your information to a university library or archive is reach. While the university catalogs are becoming more accessible thanks to tools like worldcat.org, it's still a shot in the dark for researchers to locate archive records. I recently found an archive for a family that lived in Indiana located in a university in Massachusetts. Each university is different, but most prefer donations that are specific to their region or pertain in some way to the university.
  • Local Genealogy or Historical Societies. Smaller societies are often a boon of information, however, their scope is limited and therefore what they accept for documentation is limited. I spoke with the Ray County Genealogical Society, located in Richmond, Missouri, and they stated that they prefer to take documents related to their own county and the surrounding counties. They don't have the shelf space to take everything. Also, format of a donation becomes an issue with smaller societies as well. For instance, some groups do not have computers so donating your work digitally has little benefit and it often places undue costs on the staff to print our your documents on their own time. Local genealogy society libraries are often co-located with the local museum, which opens up the option to donate family heirlooms as well. The bonus of donating items to a local society is that your work goes right into the place where your ancestors lived, and more importantly, where other researchers will look for it.
  • Online repositories. Consider donating some of your digital work to free research options like the FamilySearch.org wiki, the The US GenWeb Project, or genealogy association online archives. These options ensure your work is viewed for free and you are volunteering!
Here are some things to consider when you are determining where to donate your hard work:
  • What is the quality of your work? Have you thrown all your research together and left organization to the wind? Or have you documented everything and crossed and dotted all your t's and i's? The quality of your work may determine where it will be accepted. Large libraries and universities do not want a hodge podge of information. And while smaller local societies don't want junk either, they may be more accepting of less organized information. Ensure your work is worthy now as you go and it will be easier to donate down the line.
  • Where can your work benefit the most people? If the bulk of your collection is focused in a certain state or a group of counties, consider donating it to that location. It will ensure that other researchers with the same connections will have access to your work. However, local historical societies may not have the same reach as a larger genealogy library.
  • What format is your work in? By nature of the type of research we do, most genealogists have both paper and electronic documentation. Large libraries may prefer digital submissions, while smaller societies may not be able to accept digital items. Contemplate digitizing all of your paper documents as you obtain them to make submission easier down the road.
  • What is your disposition plan? If something happens to you, does your family know what to do with your research? I have thought about this, but I've never shared my plan with my family. It would be a shame for all of your work to go to waste, so make a plan now...and share it.
  • CALL AHEAD. The most important tip I can give is to ensure you call the organization or library to find out their donation acceptance policy. Ask to speak to the archivist or head librarian. Every organization has different policies, but they all require coordination prior to accepting items. 
For me, I don't want to donate until my tree is "done." But is it ever really going to be? It seems much better to maintain a healthy tree and a workable donation plan that I can enact now. Why wait?

For more information on donating your genealogical work, check out these links:

Archival materials can be found here, here and here
Family archiving tips
Family Search and Family History Library donations
The Society of American Archivists, Guide to Donating Family Papers
Donating published genealogies to the Library of Congress
Midwest Genealogy Center donations
Allen County Public Library Genealogy Center donations
New England Historic Genealogical Society library donations

Have you donated your work? What tips do you have?

Monday, April 8, 2013

Matrilineal Monday - Elizabeth Knupp

Elizabeth Knupp, also known as Bettie, was one of my 3rd great grandparents on my maternal side. She was born November 1, 1857 to Abraham and Catherine (Good) Knupp, the second of five known children.
The Knupp family lived in Augusta County where Abraham was a farmer. Sometime between 1860 and 1870 the family moved to Shenandoah County, where Abraham was originally from. Abraham served in the 12th Virginia Calvary Regiment, which may account for the 10 year break between their second and third child. I could find no record of additional children being born or having died.

Bettie Knupp married John Joseph Coffman January 16, 1879 in Shenandoah County, Virginia, and they soon moved to Rockingham County, Virginia. John was also a farmer. The couple had five children.
Unfortunately, I don't know much more about Bettie, other than she had five children and was a farmer's wife. I did receive a photo from a relative in Virginia that is believed to be Bettie. It was in the same frame as a photo with John Joseph Coffman and his second wife, Mary Garber.
I think it is possible that it is her, especially when compared to photos of some of her granddaughters. I also was able to determine how Bettie died.
Bettie sadly committed suicide just seven months after the birth of her last child and only two days after her own thirtieth birthday. I have to wonder if she might have had post-partum depression that she just couldn't shake. I'll never know the real reason.

John Joseph Coffman went on to marry again and had four more children. Bettie is buried in the Flat Rock Brethren Cemetery, Forestville, Shenandoah County, Virginia.
I'm not even sure what church Bettie attended. There just isn't much information on her. Even in the family files. Here are some of my due-outs on Bettie.

1. Try to locate her obituary.
2. Track down possible church records.


  • Dodd, Jordan, Liahona Research, comp. Virginia Marriages, 1851-1929 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2000. Original data: Shenandoah County, Virginia Marriages, 1851-80. County court records located at Woodstock, Virginia or Family History Library microfilm #0033929.
  • Fridley, Beth. Rockingham County, Virginia Deaths, 1886-95 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2000. Original data: Bureau of Vital Statistics - Death Register for Rockingham County, 1886-1895. Taken from a microfilm copy of located in the Library of Virginia at Richmond, VA, USA.
This post is part of my on-going goal of 2013 to research each of my 32 3rd great-grandparents more in-depth. Bettie is #32 on my list.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Follow Friday - Favorites for April 5, 2013

Favorites is my weekly list of favorite genealogy, history and random finds from across the Net.
Help! My Family Tree is out of control!
Florida's effort to exhume school graves is challenged
I can't help but wonder if my in-law ancestors shopped at a store like this in the Bronx
The Family Recorder shares the history of Marks and Spencer, a favorite British store
A photo following of a classy man: What Ali wore
Ancestoring's Ask A Genealogist takes on the question of taking on paid genealogy clients
A good tip from Genealogy - Southeast Michigan: What do you know about your neighbors?
Giant grasshoppers invade Kansas!!!
A family is reunited with old photo album with help from the 1930 census
The mystery of the Japanese passport is solved at Discovering My Lane Family Roots! 
Fake beards & face paint: The Dreadnought hoax, 1910
Celebrating Family Tories shares a talented fiddlin' farmer
The Ancestral Archaeologist suggests: Turn the page. Seriously.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Daniel D. Lightner, the Abolitionist and the great Google find

Daniel Dinkle Lightner and Polly Seward (sitting). Elvira Lightner (Hull) Allen and her daughter Mary Florence Hull Johnson. Taken 1879. Courtesy Bertha F. Johnson Papers, Sophia Smith Collection, Smith College, Northampton, Mass.
I recently wrote about my 3rd great grandmother, Louann Lightner, as part of my ongoing series of posts about my 32 great grandparents. While researching Louann for my post, I became curious about her father, Daniel D. Lightner.
I knew that Daniel was born in Virginia in 1810 and lived the bulk of his life in Ohio, where he died in 1888. I also was aware that he was involved in politics, but like so many ancestors I didn't know anything about the real Daniel Lightner. So I turned to my good friend Google. My first hit for Daniel was a biography in the Biographical Sketches of the Members of the Forty-First General Assembly of the State of Indiana, printed in 1861. The biography stated that Daniel was born May 21, 1810 in Rockingham County, Virginia. He moved to Indiana with his family when he was 15 and spent his adult life as a preacher, farmer, merchant, mason, Freemason, school teacher, post master and state representative. There was also a listing for a biography of Daniel's son, Seward, that gave more information. 

To learn more about Daniel I decided to research his other children in an attempt to "backdoor" my research.
I started with his oldest child, Elvira Lightner. A Google search revealed that Elvira married Moses Hull, a prominent minister and spiritualist. It also revealed a lucky find: The Bertha F. Johnson Papers, an archival collection located in the Sophia Smith Collection, Smith College, Northampton, Mass. Dr. Bertha Johnson was Elvira's granddaughter and she donated a photo (seen above) and the story of her grandparents and great-grandparents to the College.  What Bertha shared was a letter, written by her mother Elvira, that recalls her memories of her parents' role as abolitionists. Does it get any better than a find like this? 

Stay tuned for Daniel's story in the next installment.

  • Sutherland, James. Biographical sketches of the members of the forty-first general assembly of the State of Indiana with that of the State officers and judiciary. Indianapolis Journal Co., 1861. Daniel D. Lightner Biography, pages 137-138. Original: The New York Public Library, digitized Feb 7, 2008.
  • Goodspeed (Firm), publishers. Pictorial and Biographical Record of La Porte, Porter, Lake and Starke Counties, Indiana: Containing Biographical and Genealogical Records of Leading Men, Women and Prominent Families of the Counties Named, and Other Portions of the State. Seward Lightner biography, pgs. 472-473, 1894. Original: The New York Public Library, digitized Feb. 7, 2008.