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Misadventures of a Genealogist

Brief Website Makeover

Hello all, just dropping in quickly this morning to say I’ve refreshed my database website with a new look. I am recovering from a 3 day migraine and just could not take the bright colors I used to love.

websitescreenshotI made sure to leave in links to everything that had links before. Now I just need to keep updating it so it has more current research on it. The only major re-design that would happen to either this section or the database section is when I learn more coding. 🙂 That’s going to take a little time though, so this design will probably be around a while.

I will hopefully be back later today with an actual genealogy update or record at least. Then Friday, I will be posting another time. This time for William Richard Parkin.

SNGF: My 2nd Great Grandparents

Randy Seaver has a new Saturday Night Genealogy Fun post up! Since all my housework is done for the day and the house is settling down, I decided to jump in on this one and see how it went.

The mission is to list my 16 great-great grandparents with their birth year, their death year, and their lifespan. It should be interesting to see how they vary or if they vary at all. I’m going to list them as they go right down my pedigree, in fact, for fun here is my pedigree. 🙂

Kathleen's Pedigree

You can see their dates up there but I am going to type them anyway.

  1. Robert James Moore Sr. (1871-1925) 54 years old.
  2. Mary E. Johnson (1873-?) She died between 1910 and 1915, so between 37 and 42 years old.
  3. Lewis Thorward (1875-1946) 71 years old.
  4. Jennie Viola Love (1876-1960) 84 years old.
  5. Herbert Redford (1872-1940) 67 years old.
  6. Sarah Ann Sutcliffe (1873-1924) 51 years old. I found her headstone but not her death certificate.
  7. John Walter Parkin (1863-?) I think he died between 1905 and 1910, so between 42 and 47 years old.
  8. Jennie Featherson (1875-?) I think she died between 1900 and 1905, so between 25 and 30 years old.
  9. John Harmon Mays (1842-1927) 84 years old.
  10. Celia Slusher (1844-1914) 70 years old.
  11. Charles Moyer (1861-1940) 78 years old.
  12. Ada May Evans (1873-1925) 52 years old.
  13. George Thomas Taylor (1863-1913) 50 years old.
  14. Mollie Jane Webb (1867-1931) 64 years old.
  15. James William Applegate (1862-1951) 88 years old.
  16. Elizabeth West (1870-1938) 68 years old.

The average lifespan is 62 years. The average birth year is 1866 and the average death year is 1933. Very interesting and I see where I need to do a little more work at too!


Isaiah West and the Z-ladies

For years, there has been a mystery surrounding my 3x great grandparents, Isaiah West and Zemiah/Zerurah/Zeniah/Rura Black. Thanks to a new 5th cousin connection, I have a much clearer timeline in my head for what really happened. Not to mention I want to get my greedy hands on the Barton papers in Pendleton County! My brand new 5th cousin Christy wrote up a timeline that I think makes perfect sense. That inspired me dig up some of the records to back up that theory. Great teamwork if you ask me! I want her to have the credit for the theory, because once I started reading what she wrote it made a lot of sense to me! Christy is descended through Isaiah’s sister Sallie Ann West-McClanahan, who will come into play later in the timeline. 😉

April 30, 1853

Isaiah West and Samuel McClanahan swear out a marriage bond for Isaiah and Samuel’s daughter, Zerelda Jane McClanahan.

May 4, 1853

Isaiah West and Zerelda Jane McClanahan were married in Pendleton County, Kentucky. Marriage Certificate, Marriage Register

March 5, 1856

Isaiah West and Zerelda McClanahan have a son named Henry A. West in Pendleton County, Kentucky. Birth Record

Sometime after Henry’s birth Zerelda dies (allegedly). I haven’t found her death record yet.

August 11, 1860

In Falmouth, Pendleton County, Kentucky, the US Federal census is taken. Samuel McClanahan is recorded first. Sallie West-McClanahan is recorded right after. Living with her is a Zacariah West, age 35 and Henry West, age 5.  Right after that, John Black is recorded with his family, which includes Rachael Black, age 23.

October 30, 1861

Izah West and John F. Black swear out a marriage bond between Izah and Zemiah Black. The marriage is to take place on November 4, 1861 at John F. Black‘s residence. The marriage bond lists Izah as 30 years old, but lists this is his second marriage. Zemiah is listed as 24 years old and this is her first marriage.

November 4, 1861

Izah West and Zemiah Black are married at “her father’s house” in the presence of J. Willson, F. McClanahan and Walter Macketee. Marriage License and Certificate.

August 6, 1870

In Berlin, Bracken County, Kentucky, the US Federal census is taken. Isiah West and his wife Zeruah are counted with two children Jackson and Susan. Another child, Lafayette West seems to not be there. Also living in the household is 14 year old Henry West.

September 1, 1877

Henry A. West and Martha (McClanahan) Thornberry are selling off a piece of Samuel P. McClanahan’s land to a James B. McClanahan. Further cementing Henry A. West as Samuel McClanahan’s grandson. This is the final reference I have to Henry.

June 1880

Isaiah West and Zernie West are counted in the 1880 United States Census with 5 children. None of them are Henry. The sad part about this being that if Henry was still in their household, it might have said son listed as his relationship.

February 28, 1899

Jack West marries Laura McClanahan in Bracken County, Kentucky. His father is listed as being born in Bracken County, Kentucky. His mother is listed as being born in Pendleton County, Kentucky. This is Jack’s first marriage and Laura’s second. Marriage Record Page 1, Marriage Record Page 2

June 1900

The 1900 United States Census is the last time I see Isaiah or Zemiah. Though I don’t know what to really call her because she is something different on every record. In this census Zemiah says she has given birth to 10 children, with only 5 living. Elizabeth, Michael, Edith are living with her. Jackson and Lafayette are married with families. A child, Isaiah M. West who was months old in 1880, is not listed in this census. I already have 5 children found, so I am assuming Isaiah M. West has died. That leaves 4 more children I need to see if there are birth and death records for.

Zemiah Black's Name Variations

June 1900

Jack and Laura West are living in Falmouth, Kentucky with her son Burg and their child together Ester. Also living in the house is Sallie McClanahan. She is listed as Jack’s Aunt. According to my new cousin, Sallie wills Jack her land as a repayment for him taking care of her in her later years. I really want to get my hand on these E. E. Barton papers. 😉

December 10, 1908

Edith West marries Anderson Curtis at the residence of James William Applegate (husband of Elizabeth West). Her father is listed as Isaiah West and mother as Ruie Black. Both are listed as being born in Bracken County, Kentucky. Marriage Record Page 1, Marriage Record Page 2

Aug 4, 1912

Isaiah and Zemiah’s son, Michael West passes away at the age of 35. His father is listed as Isaia West and his mother is listed as Rura Black. Both are listed as being born in Bracken County, Kentucky. The informant on the record is Elizabeth West‘s husband, James William Applegate. Death Record

July 30, 1938

On July 30, 1938, my 2nd great grandmother, Elizabeth West-Applegate passed away. On her death certificate her mother is listed as Zeroah Black and father as Isaiah West. Both are listed as being born in Bracken County, Kentucky. The informant for the record was Elizabeth’s husband, James William Applegate.

1930s and 1940s

The E. E. Barton papers. A very prominent lawyer in Pendleton County was very interested in Northern Kentucky genealogy. He spent over 50 years researching but in the 1930s and 1940s he interviewed residents and transcribed records from the courthouse. These family notes should be treated the same way family bibles are, as secondary sources, but they are still so valuable. Also, I don’t know the copyright on these papers so I’m not going to post them here. I know there are volunteer groups working to transcribe them to the web, and I believe the “originals” are in possession of the Pendleton County Historical and Genealogical Society in Frankfort. To find out more, read this great article by Cheri Daniels. I’m going to be looking more into that soon!

Christy sent me a couple of examples that back up her theory about Isaiah’s marriage. In the examples it mentioned that Henry West m. in Pendleton County, went west. It also says Lafayette went west with Henry. Now I’ve been looking and I found Lafayette out “west” but no sign of Henry yet. Lafayette was in Missouri in 1900 before reaching Colorado and settling. I haven’t entered all that into the website or my program yet, or this entry would never get finished! Maybe I will do a Lafayette entry on his own someday. 😉

My next step is to search out some more records. I have two goals I want to accomplish. This first one is to document the variations in Zemiah‘s name to try and have an idea of what her actual name is. The second goal is to have as much evidence as possible that there is one Isaiah West, who married two different Z-ladies, as I call them. 😉

These are the records I will be searching for in the future:

  1. Zerelda McClanahan‘s death record. It should be sometime between 1856 and 1861.
  2. Birth records, if they exist, for all of Zemiah and Isaiah’s children.
  3. Death records for all the other children of Zemiah and Isaiah.
  4. Find Edith West-Curtis‘ death certificate. I know where she is buried, so I just have to find out where she died.
  5. Lafayette West in the 1870 Census. Maybe he is living with a family member? Or maybe his estimated age was off in 1880.
  6. Marriage record for Henry West in Pendleton County, Kentucky.
  7. Marriage record for Lafayette West and Mattie O’Neal. I have them in the census until 1940, but haven’t found their marriage record yet.
  8. Marriage record for James William Applegate and Elizabeth Susan West.
  9. Death Record for Henry that will hopefully show his mother’s maiden name. He was young when she died so it could go either way on that one.

I really enjoyed making this timeline and I think I will do at least one a week! It really helped me have to gather all my records and re-examine them.

Isaiah West and Zemiah Black Marriage Record

I will be writing up a timeline post for Isaiah West, hopefully this week. Right now I am working on updating his section of my database website. That way I can point to the exact records I will be talking about. I am just so excited to finally see proof of this marriage.

Isaiah West, Zemiah Black
Isaiah West, Zemiah Black marriage bond

Pendleton County, Kentucky, Marriage Bonds, 1851-1864, v. 6: 139, West-Black, 1861; digital images, Family Search ( : accessed 23 Apr 2016).

What is a Genealogist to Do? Part 3

If you aren’t caught up on this saga, you can read Part 1 and Part 2.

Things went quiet again for a few years. Then in 2012 my Aunt went to the cemetery to visit Grandpa and to check on the graves. Unfortunately, it looks like in 2011 another baby was buried in our family lot. This one not by my 2nd cousin, but her ex-husband’s sister.


Where do you even go from there? What do you do? The second baby had been there at least a year before we were aware of it. I don’t even know the circumstances surrounding the second burial because this time, they stayed silent and didn’t come to us to “brag”. I hesitate to say the word, but that is what it felt like to our family at the time.

Again we called the cemetery, and this time they told us our information was in there, but there was no note. Then they told us they don’t require proof of ownership, that the funeral home tells them where they need to go and they open the grave. When we called the funeral home, they at first didn’t want to talk to us. Finally after we were persistent to have some kind of answers, we were told that grieving parents weren’t asked those kinds of questions.

The cemetery assured us that the middle plot is still able to hold my Grandma and that the babies were buried with the father of my 2nd cousin. Do we believe that though? I don’t know that we do. Every time we go to the cemetery now, we just can’t help but wonder. Every single family member who goes to visit now always analyzes the graves. There is a paranoia that exists with this now.

Let me just say at this point, I understand how we can be seen as the cold-hearted ones. I am sympathetic to the loss of life. It’s not the fault of the babies who are buried there. Drug addiction is a major problem in my family. We’ve dealt with it for a lot of years. I am sympathetic to all that comes with it but at what point do you say enough? My grandfather worked very hard in the short time he was here. He lost his 3 year old son to an illness he couldn’t help. He provided what his son needed to the very end, all the way to his final resting place.


I can’t even say we wouldn’t have let her bury the first baby there in the first place, because we most likely would have with no hesitation. It’s the sneaking around and the maliciousness towards our family. This second baby, I don’t even know where to start with that. The first time, you say it’s just a family argument and they wanted the baby with their family members. The second time, I don’t see any reason for that at all.

We were in contact with the cemetery again last month. Another new person is working there and again, there was no note saying there was a problem with this grave. There was a comment from the new caretaker that this wasn’t an isolated problem, that he was seeing quite a bit of weird things going on.

Is this something I’m just not thinking of in the right way? What would you do if you were faced with this?  Who do you get mad at? The cemetery? The funeral home? The family members? Do you just let it go or do you fight back? Is there even any cause to be mad, or are we just too sensitive?

If you even take the personal aspects out of it. How do I document the second burial in my family tree? Do I just ignore it?

There are so many questions and no answers.

What is a Genealogist to Do? Part 2

I’m sure by now you are curious as to what I was talking about on Friday. I know I said I was going to post the second part on Monday but I’m anxious to just get the story out and see what others might think.

To make a long story as short as possible, my Grandpa bought a 5 plot cemetery lot  in 1953 when his son passed away. When Grandpa died in 1976 he was buried next to his son. Over the years, members of my Grandma’s family had come to her and asked if they could use other spots in the lot. She agreed because it was her family and she was okay with it since there was still a spot there next to Grandpa and Willie for her.

Willie Mays Grave

We never even thought about the cemetery until 2008. We would visit over the years but we didn’t think there was anything to worry about with it. Then in 2008, we received word through my cousin one day that the cemetery deed was needed because someone had lost a baby and needed to bury it. We were a little taken aback because we didn’t even have anyone in the immediate family who was pregnant. When we called the cemetery they told us that the person who was burying the baby told them it was her cemetery lot and the funeral home was already on the way to the cemetery. As we didn’t have all the facts and it was an infant, we just told them to go ahead and bury the baby.

This is where I start to get a little hesitant about the details, but they are important to the story. The woman who lost the baby turned out to be the daughter/grand-daughter of the other two people buried in the family lot from Grandma’s side of the family. This woman was also a heroin addict and lost her baby due to her drug use. None of those details were important at first because at the end of the day, an infant needed a final resting place.

Something still didn’t sit right with my family. Why did my second cousin just walk into a cemetery and claim ownership and they believed her? I guess because her father and grandfather were buried there. However, we physically had the deed in Maryland that said Stanley Mays was the owner and his heirs would inherit it should he die.

My mother called the cemetery. She was just wanting to make sure that no one else tried to bury anyone else in that grave without permission. The man at the cemetery seemed bewildered but after explaining the circumstances to the man he assured us that this would not happen again. He was leaving a note in the computer that this was an issue for this particular site. He updated the contact information for the grave site, which was also part of the problem. We left it at that, despite the continued unrest knowing that it could happen again.

There was definitely drama between my 2nd cousin’s mother and our family after this incident. Basically, my mother let it be known she wasn’t happy with the way the situation unfolded and the way they seemed to brag about the “free stuff” that was donated. They weren’t happy with us and threatened to sue us, among other things.

You would think this is the end of this story. That I would just  tell you to make sure that you update your cemetery contact information because through a series of misunderstandings this happened to us. No, that’s not what happened here and it became very clear to us.

But I’ll get into that in the final part tomorrow.

What Is a Genealogist to Do?

For years, I have had a huge dilemma with my family tree research. It has to do with a family lot we own in a cemetery. What would you do if you went to your family cemetery lot and saw that there were strangers buried there? Not strangers from your past, but strangers from current times who were buried there recently.

I could write a book on the circumstances surrounding how this happened to us. I’ve been struggling with how to document this situation for future generations. There needs to be an explanation documented or there could be some very bad confusion later on. I’ve also been struggling with whether I should be saying anything about this at all. There are still living family members on both sides of this battle. I will try to be as unbiased as I can be about this. It wouldn’t feel right not saying anything though, because I wouldn’t want anyone to have this happen to them. For you to show up at your grandfather’s grave site, that he purchased for his family, and find there are people buried there that you don’t even know.

Stanley Mays Grave

I’m sure as my story progresses, any internet savvy person will be able to figure out where and who I am talking about to some extent. That’s not really my concern right now. My concern is to bring light to something everyone should be aware of if they have family cemetery lots.

Next part coming Monday. I didn’t want to make this post too long.

What’s New in my Genealogy Database

I get a lot of e-mails about what kind of information I have about all the names I talk about here on the blog. My database website is pretty outdated with the information I currently have. So I wanted to show the easiest way to find out what is new on my database website.


If you go to my main website, there is a Database Additions link in the sidebar. I will be putting some serious time in over the next couple of weeks to try and get that as updated as possible with information and documents.

Marriage Record of John Walter Parkin

My website has migrated to its new server and there should be zero downtime! That is definitely good news. Usually something always goes wrong for me in these things. 🙂


To celebrate here is the marriage record for my 2x great grandparents John Walter Parkin and Jennie Featherson. I had hoped to get the maiden names of their mothers with this record. I have to say 50% is much better than 0%!

Lucky for me Find My Past had some sort of promotion going on and I was able to find census records for Ann Maltis’s family. More about that later though. 😉

Marriage of Herbert Redford and Sadie Sutcliffe

Sadie Sutcliffe is no longer my family tree’s biggest mystery! Thanks to the New Jersey State Archives, there are plenty of new names for me to play with!


I hope your family trees are treating you kindly! My father’s side is definitely ripe with activity while I am waiting on my website to change servers. There are a couple more records that came with this one and I can’t wait to share them.


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