Category Archives: Misadventures of a Genealogist

Reminiscing about the Beginning

I was a little sentimental this weekend. I’ve been cleaning out my external hard drive and I’ve found files I haven’t looked at in years. Not to mention 2 weeks ago we cleaned out a shed we haven’t been in for 3 years at least! So I’m just a big ball of sentimentality here.

One of my treasures is the photocopies I made of my Grandmother’s family tree. She kept the original but we went to the drug store and we made photocopies of the whole shebang. I have such a vivid memory of the original binder. It’s probably sitting at my Aunt’s house right now. She’s got a whole box of stuff she says she’s keeping for me, I’m sure that’s in there.

This is what the first page of the tree looks like. It started with the little blurb at the top.

James F., Vincent, and George Washington Webb were three of five known children who were orphaned at an early age by the death of both parents. There may have been other children. Upon the death of their parents, they were taken in by various families and were reared to adulthood on that basis. There is no information the other two children. James lived in Brown County, Ohio and died at an early age from Civil War wounds. Vincent moved to Romney, Tippecanoe County, Indiana. George lived generally in Brown and Clermont Counties of Ohio. And Pendleton County, Kentucky court records reveal that he owned land in that county. By some Accounts and by an entry in the Congressional Record, George Washington Webb is credited with discovering white burley tobacco. The family legend of their having one fourth American Indian blood has not been confirmed.

Since I’ve been researching I’ve found out many things about this blurb alone.

  • There were in fact two other children. One girl Alice Webb who married James A Bell. The last child I am less clear on. It may or may not have been a boy named Nathaniel.
  • The children were not orphaned at an early age that I can tell, but it is mere speculation on my part. In 1850 there is a Reuben Webb living with James and his family. He may or may not be their father. However, it’s always possible that it could be their uncle or even a cousin of some sort. Without birth and death records I can’t be sure. However, 1850 wasn’t exactly the record keeping age if you get my drift.

  • George did in fact “discover” White Burley Tobacco. A quick google search will turn up the same.

White burley, in 1865, George Webb of Brown County, Ohio planted red burley seeds he had purchased, and found that a few of the seedlings had a whitish, sickly look. The air-cured leaf was found to be more mild than other types of tobacco.1

  • I have absolutely no idea where the Indian blood rumor comes from yet.

What a wonderful little starting point for starting to research though! It gives you just enough information to be curious but nothing that has actually been proven.

As you can see this tree was put together in 1980. Obviously there have been changes between then and when I got the tree. It’s nice to see this was done before computers though. So obviously a lot of the research must have been done by word of mouth and on site research. I’m such a computer nut I can’t even imagine!

Back to the tree though. For every page of names, there is a ‘B’ page that lists the spouse of each person. In some cases it gives the spouse’s parents.

I can’t tell you how many memories I have researching these names. I feel like I know these people even though I don’t.  I’ve tried to show people how this system of the tree worked, but people just got confused. So I guess it’s not so great for a long term solution. How on earth do you even go about having a hard copy of your family tree? I mean just the thought of trying to figure it out makes me break out in hives.

There I am! Good ol’ number 6-54. This is how I know there have changes since 1980. :) I was born in 1983 and there I am. Not to mention that my generation wasn’t listed in birth order. So I imagine it was updated in bulk in the early 90′s. There’s a rumor that the tree I got was done by a distant cousin for a high school project. I don’t know if that refers to the original by WEDavis or if it refers to the updated version. It doesn’t matter, because I’ve been trying to verify it myself anyway. There are a great deal of errors.

I eventually made a new copy in Excel. I tried to update it and fix what I could. I printed it, put it in a new pretty folder.  Then I realized my family tree is forever changing and it’s a never-ending battle.

Still there’s nothing like having an old fashioned hard copy right?

Thank you WEDavis for all the years of joy I’ve found in researching and learning about my family.

  1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Types_of_tobacco#White_Burley

Favorite Things: Thorward Photos

There are many things that I love. Some of those things have nothing to do with genealogy. However, many of them have everything to do with genealogy! I was going through some of my picture files today and I decided to post some of my favorite Thorward Family photos.

William Lawrence Moore – My great grandfather. I never got to meet him. He passed away before I was born. When I started researching my Dad’s side of the family, I immediately felt connected to this man. I know that if I had met him, I probably would have wanted to move to Jersey to live with him and my Great Grandmother. :)

Llewellyn Thorward-Moore – My great grandmother. This is William’s wife. I have a picture of them together that I also love, but I just love love love this picture. In fact I loved it so much I’ve used it in almost all the layouts for this website. I have to say I knew next to nothing about my father’s family before I started this genealogy journey. I also never got to meet Llewellyn. I was a baby the last time we went to Jersey and she passed away in 1986. I was just 3 years old. I feel as if I know her though. While going through all these pictures and documents, I always come across Llewellyn’s handwritten comments and notes. She even left behind a journal that I’ll eventually be able to transcribe to the website. William and Llewellyn have to be two of my favorite people in the world.

Clifford Herbert Redford and friends. Clifford is sitting at the bottom left. What strikes me about this picture is not only did my Aunt send me a copy of it, but my great Aunt also sent me a copy. On the back of my Great Aunt’s copy, Clifford’s name was written as well as William Herbert Moore! Now I don’t know which of the men is William and I don’t know if this William is even related to the Moore branch of my tree. For all our family knows the Redford’s and the Moore’s didn’t mix until my Grandpa Moore married my Grandma (Florence Redford-Moore). So this is just one of those mysteries I can’t wait to solve!

William Moore, Llewellyn Thorward-Moore, Grandpa Moore, George W Thorward. What I love about this picture is everything! We won’t mention who the other three people in the picture are. I just can’t spend anymore time tonight trying to identify people! I just can’t! I love the houses in the background, I love how happy everyone looks. I love that my Great Grandma’s brother is pointing a toy gun (I hope!) at his nephew! Even in the 1930′s our family were jokesters!

Llewellyn Thorward-Moore and friends. I have a bunch of photos of Llewellyn traveling. I don’t know what she was traveling for. Most likely with the church, but she sure had a ton of fun! What I love about this picture isn’t even Llewellyn! It’s the girl front and center! How great is she. I love the glasses, I love the hate, I just love her character. When I first saw this picture I didn’t even notice Llewellyn. This goes to show, you don’t need to always think about your relatives. Sometimes there’s a gem, just sitting there on the sidelines!

So that’s 5 of my favorite photos that are linked to my Dad’s side of the family! I can’t wait to see what other treasures I find as I scan these pictures.

Identifying and Un-Identifying People

As I’m sure you’re all familiar with, it’s a big triumph to find pictures of your ancestors. I’m very rich indeed with priceless photographs. I have hundreds and hundreds… and hundreds of photographs to scan and identify. I’m not complaining, really I’m not. I can’t tell you how privileged I feel. I love finding photos like this:

Photos like this just make me want to dig in and figure out who is who! I see Lewis and Jennie (holding my Grandpa Moore!), William and Llewellyn… Then there are those other pleasant folks. Now who the heck are they! I don’t know. I do recognize that couple. They are in my hundreds upon hundreds of photos. Not all of them of course, but they are in a great deal more than a lot of other people. So they have to be important, right? Then it struck me. Mr. Mystery there has a resemblance to Lewis Thorward. So I start thinking to myself, Lewis had a brother! That’s right! It’s got to be him. Let me check my file and see.

Alright, so maybe it’s not Lewis Thorward‘s brother, Frank, after all. Frank didn’t have a daughter and I’m almost sure that’s why the girl is in the photo. Wait a second… Lewis had a sister who had one daughter! Maybe it’s his sister and her family!

Gosh darn it! Another negative identification. Vivian Plume would be into her 30′s by the time this picture was taken.

Not only did they take the photo once, there are more than one of the same people. To you this means nothing but they wanted to do another one, just in case. To me, this is finding this photo again a few months after I scanned the first one. Which once again has distracted me from my Great Scanning Project. Which has been underway for well over 2 years now, if not more. I can’t just put them in the ‘Scanned’ box and leave it this time. I have to have SOME resolution. Even if I’ll never be 100% sure. Then it struck me that in Llewellyn‘s journal, she mentions her Aunt Agnes an awful lot.

So I check out Agnes Love‘s family. Sure enough, she had a daughter who seems to be about the right age. I can’t be sure because I am never good at judging children ages. She’s close though! Not to mention the boys are old enough to have their own families or maybe stayed behind during a family trip. Agnes and her husband were living in Suffern, New York around the time of these pictures. To me, this is the conclusion that will allow me to go back to scanning. Even if I have taken an hour out of my time, not only to research but to type this blog post too. I’m nothing if not easily distracted folks.

There is good news though. Eventually someone, and I’m not saying who (Great Grandma Llewellyn)..

Someone started labeling the back of the photos. Now for the other 764.75 pictures that aren’t labeled? I should figure those out by the time my Great Grandchildren are moaning the fact that I never take any pictures.

Mrs. Rowe’s Cookbook

Since the last post was about Dad’s side of the family, this one will be about Mom’s. A few years back, my Mom was getting cookbooks from one of those mail order book clubs. This one was exclusively for cookbooks. This gem came in the mail at some point. I didn’t think anything of it at first. Then a light bulb went off in my head. Hey, the family name of Rowe!

To know the significance of the name Rowe, you have to be familiar with my family tree. Which you probably aren’t. That’s okay, I’ve done my research and I know my stuff! My mother’s family line is made up 90% of the surname Mays. They liked to have children and they didn’t stop at two or three. One thing I realized when I started trying to research the Mays’ was that they are very difficult to research. The surname can be construed as many different things, and it depends on who was spelling it. They not only were many, but they were spread out over a ton of country. They started in Virginia from what I can find, and they spread eventually to Kentucky. When I say Virginia and Kentucky I mean the whole state. So if your name is Mays and you live in Virginia or Kentucky… Hi, I just might be your cousin!

Back to the point. One of the things I realized was that the Mays family had lots of children, but those children married into the same families. So my Mays ancestors married many people from the Rowe, Whitt, Click, and Slusher. That’s just what I’ve proven. Who knows what else! Not to mention those I’m aware of but haven’t found proof of yet.

So when I sat down one day looking through cookbooks, I finally took a good look at what this one contained.

Do you notice that little nugget? The sister of Mildred Craft-Rowe? Bertha Mays. I have to be up front with you. I do not believe in coincidences. Everything happens for a reason and if something eerie happens, then that means listen up it’s important. So my little mind has been agonizing over this ever since. Not only does the cookbook show that the sisters married into both the Rowe and Mays families, it tells me that they are from an area of Virginia that my Mays line was very prevalent.

Even if I didn’t have a maybe family connection to this cookbook, I would still love this cookbook. It not only has lots of stories and photos from the family, it has great down home recipes. I’m going to try some of them very soon!

Visit Mrs. Rowe’s Restaurant Website

Get your own cookbook at Amazon.com!

I’ll let you guys know if I ever connect the dots on this mystery. ;-)

Thorward Meat Market

When I first started to dig into my father’s side of the family, my first stop was my Grandfather. He’s a wealth of knowledge! Not only does he have a great memory, but he also had a wealth of documents and photos in his Columbus, Ohio basement! It took me a few years, but I finally got him to dig them out and let me pour through them… Okay, so I waited until I had not only my older brother, but also my father to do the grunt work.

What is so great about my father’s family is that while everyone had a small idea of who was who, no one really had any historical knowledge of the family. So I was starting with a blank slate! That may sound daunting to many, but to me that was a blessing! My Grandmother on my mother’s side gave me a copy of her family tree and starting with that actually left me very frustrated! Trying to verify that information is a task I’m still working on! So Grandpa Moore’s basement of goodies was a great starting point! He even found his birth certificate. ;-)

The first thing that really started to get me involved in my Dad’s side of the family is that they picked a town, and they stayed there! These guys may have been immigrants, but they were by no means nomads. So Caldwell, New Jersey is a great place that I can go to, where I know there is probably a million different things that I can find. One of the things that immediately make me think of the Thorward family is the Thorward Meat Market. This was one of the first things my Grandpa Moore shared with me.

The market was originally opened in 1856 my Frank Dobbins. He then sold it to George H Vanderhoof (a maybe relative of mine). Mr. Vanderhoof then sold it to my ancestor George Thorward and his partner Mr. Van Duyne. The market operated as Thorward and Van Duyne’s Market for many years. Among many other great things, it also owned the first telephone in Caldwell! Here are some pictures I have of the market then and now to share with you.

Thorward Market

Lewis Thorward is the second man from the left.

This photo is from Dec 2007. It was taken for me by John, a Find-a-Grave volunteer, who went above and beyond for me! He was just as excited to help me as I was to receive his help!

This photo is from Dec 2009. Brent Thorward took it when he recently visited Caldwell. He discovered all kinds of Thorward information at the local library. I’m so jealous! I need to go there for a longer visit next time!

Excuse me while I cry that I didn’t inherit that beautiful piece of architecture!

Last but not least, I have two newspaper clippings that were among Grandpa Moore’s treasures. Sadly they were just clippings so I don’t know the date or paper they are from!

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