Category Archives: Misadventures of a Genealogist

Kids by the Dozen: Nathan Mays edition

I have re-written this entry many times. I just can’t seem to grasp the scope of Nathan Mays and his big family without over complicating my narration. Usually when I decide to sit down and do genealogy research, I pick a random family and then I aggressively research that family through the census and any other documents that may be found online. Luckily for me there are a lot of Kentucky vital records on Ancestry.com and then Family Search has Ohio Death Records at my disposable.

The problem that usually pops up is I become limited by not being on site. Soon I hope to be able to start to take genealogy trips over the summer but that doesn’t help me today. When I inherited the information I have on the Mays family from my mother, Nathan Mays was listed with 19 children. Then when I started searching for death records, I discovered 2 more bring the total to 21. Oy!

The problem I eventually ran into was trying to line up all the different census years and compare the children listed. So I went to old school methods. I printed out blank census forms and I transcribed the family for each census.

Before my journey into this family this weekend, I had only found Nathan’s family in 1860 and 1870. However, I was able to find them all the way to 1900 on Saturday! I was excited to see Nathan’s wife in 1900 because it showed me something that immediately helped me.

Rachel is listed of being the mother to 15 children, with 9 still living. Obviously there has been some misunderstandings in the record taking process. Not by the census, they didn’t add relationships until the 1880 census. By whoever had taken an accounting of the children. One thing that I should have taking into consideration was the age of Nathan and Rachel’s older children. Now that I’ve realized it, I can’t believe i missed it. As long as I’ve been doing this, I should have realized that even though Nathan and Rachel were still producing children, that didn’t mean that their children were not. That’s not even taking into account when family members take in children of their family.

This is the 1880 census. As you can see, some of the children are actually Grandchildren. Now I just have to figure out who they belong to. However, this is going to take me longer than a weekend. I know that because it’s Monday and I still haven’t managed to track all those kids down. I’ll get there, but it hasn’t happened yet.

So here’s what Nathan’s family looks like in Family Tree Maker for me right now. I’m hesitant to move Molly and William anywhere until I know where to put them. I was already able to verify that one of the children (Mary I) was actually the daughter of Nathan’s daughter Mary J Mays-McClanahan. Mary J died of a ‘cold’ just 2 weeks after her 4 month old daughter died of an inflammation of the stomach. An incredibly sad story.

Edit: 5 hours after I posted this blog I was able to combine Celia Ellen and Emaline together after scouring the Kentucky records on Ancestry.com. This family is constantly changing. ;)

To Collect Spares or not to Collect Spares, that is the question

I was watching the latest episode of Ghost Hunters this morning. They investigated the Stephen Crane House in Asbury Park, New Jersey. It really got me thinking about those extra branches of the family tree. For the record, this isn’t a random subject. There is thought and a little documentation that Stephen Crane was related to the Thorwards through the Plume family. I even think the Cranes married into the Plumes. So it’s never going to be a blood relation for me. Does that really matter though? How interesting is it to see how we all connect together in these ways. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’d be cool to be related to someone who has their own Wikipedia page. Wikipedia pages are the scale in which I judge things if you didn’t notice. (^.^) I refuse to be caught into the trap of searching only for those things though. All of my ancestors are special and memorable in their own rights, I don’t value any over the others. Does that mean I should just stick to my main line and forget about all those beautiful branches?

Family File Statistics

Who do you leave out? Where do you draw your line? How can you make that decision and not regret it when the tree winds back around? How sad does a tree look when it’s not full and brimming with many leaves and branches? I just can’t imagine it. I’ve always been torn on this issue and I’ve even had to clean out my family file a few times because I did get a bit carried away. One day I got real ornery and told myself no one gets excluded! Everyone plays on this team! Since that day, I’ve made a point to note the families of people who marry into my related families. To compromise with the saner part of myself, I don’t go in depth on these families. I find the parents of the person who married in. Most times, I try to find their birth or death records and any census information I can find. I make sure to note all the siblings of the person who married in. That’s a practical thing though. If you’d ever seen my family file, you’d know how many brothers and sisters married the brothers and sisters of their in-law. (Mays, Slusher, Click, Whitt families; I’m looking at you).

I just don’t know if I’ll ever resolve myself to excluding people. Whether it be a first cousin, fifth cousin two times removed or someone who is the brother of the spouse of my 8th cousin; everyone is welcome in my tree. Someday I may even learn your story. Everyone deserves their story told, and I’m determined to find them. I’m realistic though, I know I can’t do this for everyone. That’s why many people stick to just their main line. I understand their thought process completely, I just don’t know if I could limit myself in that way. I’ve always been a collector. It just seems now I’m collecting people instead of toys and books! My only question is, How on earth will I manage when I get married? Even more people, I’ll need to have an office just for my genealogy for sure!

Favorite Things: Books, and more Books

I’m sure you’re all familiar with what we genealogists go through to find our family history. I was putting together a blog about a Duggar-sized family in my family tree, then I realized that it was going to take me longer than this afternoon to finish. So maybe by Monday, I’ll have my facts and funny repertoire together enough to actually finish that post. Now I’m going to talk to you about another favorite thing of mine. It just happens to be books.

When I say books, I of course mean all books. I read just about anything you put in front of me and I’ll devour it in one sitting if my family would let me. It’s just one of those things I can’t live without. I happen to have a small collection of genealogy books that I’ve been meaning to sit down and go through one by one. Some I’ve looked at and read, but didn’t really utilize what I’d learned. That’s a crying shame too, because these books are pretty awesome.

This is one I’ve really got to finish reading. It was actually this book that inspired me to make the blog! The book tells you to sit down and decide what type of family history you are trying to write. Do you want a collection of pure facts? Were you suckered in by the enjoyable, but not so well documented Roots? In the book there are 7 different types of family history genres they tell you to think about. When I thought about what type I would be interested in writing, I decided on number 5. It’s basically a Family History Memoir. Just the word memoir made me think how conceded I’d gotten, just by deciding to write a book! Who am I to have a memoir? Well, why shouldn’t I have a memoir! Thinking back to all the conversations I’ve ever had with relatives or even acquaintances I realized something big. More than the actual stories I was telling, I mostly enjoyed just sharing the experience. I also find that when I discuss the fun hijinks my research pushes me into, the people I am telling enjoy the story that much more. So that’s my goal for life. To write my Family History Memoir. I don’t know anything else about it, except I want to call it something that is a play on my last name. How can you have a last name like Moore and not use it for fun?

Oh how I wish I had the gusto and unlimited time to actually become an Accredited Genealogist. Someday I might even see about going back to school for History or even Family History. BYU offers that. I know because I looked. It’s just a thought. This book really outlines the process you should take if you are even thinking about becoming a professional genealogist. I know nothing about the professional side of things but I’m sure reading and following the advice in this book can’t hurt.

This book I have spent many an hour reading and pouring over the pages of pictures. If you know me, you know I have an unhealthy obsession with Ireland. If only my dream Irishman would come and sweep me off my feet already! In a close second to my Irish obsession is a love of all things Scottish. This is actually another one of the ‘coincidences’ that I don’t believe in. All my life I’ve been obsessed with Ireland, Scotland, and Brooklyn. Even before I knew where any of them (yes even Brooklyn) were on a map. When I started researching my Dad’s family, I found many ties to all the things I’d always loved and obsessed over. It’s scary sometimes with those ‘coincidences’!

This book feeds that love I have for all things Scotland. What I love about this book is it gives information about the clans in relation to Scottish historical events. I don’t know about you, but I certainly want to know when my ancestor’s clans were involved in history.

I won’t deny I got all kinds of excited to see Menzies in the book. Of course they were in the book as they are a clan, but for some reason I was worried I’d open it and they wouldn’t be there. I didn’t get a good picture of it, but it shows you all the different tartans of a lot of the clans. I was aware that there were different kinds of tartans for different reasons (Dress, War, Regular). What I wasn’t aware of was how different these tartans could look! It’s quite an experience to really delve deep into something you thought you understood.

Ahh, here are the MacKinnons! The Love family were a sept (basically another branch of the family) of the Clan MacKinnon. If you think I found that out, you’d be wrong. I did verify it later, but I actually learned that little nugget of information from my Aunt Lori. She was sitting on a bench in her hometown and a random stranger came up and gave her a family history lesson! That’s how we roll guys. Love it or hate it, we randomly collect relatives.

Yes please? I’d really love to break down my brick wall. William H. Moore left Ireland for America in the late 1850′s. He was a young man at the time, only a teenager if I have his age right. One day I will bridge that gap to Ireland, and then I will find an Irishman to sweep me off my feet. Sorry, it’s a sickness. It really is.

All joking aside, this book is going to be very helpful. This chart is great to show you how your Irish ancestors can be identified from Census information. Gosh do I love the Census. Thanks to the 1900 census I was able to find out William H Moore immigrated in 1857. Then in the 1910 census I discovered he was Naturalized in 1859. I really should start looking for that Naturalization record somewhere. I’ve been hoping to find his death record for a birth date though. It’s just the thought of finding William Moore, from Ireland, in Brooklyn… It doesn’t even need to be said, in fact I can’t even think about it right now. I was lucky to find him in all those census records so far!

This book is going to be so much fun to explore. In fact, if you don’t see me for 5 months it’s because I’ve devoured the book and my Irishman finally swept me off my feet.

Believe it or not this book was a gift. From my sister no less. I’m really proud that she would know that brick walls, burned courthouses, and those blasted same names (William Moore, William Mays, I’m looking at you), was something I would be in desperate need of. Maybe I’d actually have solved all those problems if I’d open this book! Why do I do that to my books?

Now this is just mean. All this time, I could have had organized research! The truth is, I read this book immediately and thoroughly. However when I thought about applying some of these methods, well it wasn’t pretty. They are quite helpful and I’m sure they’d work… If I had a complete office setup and a million dollars to devote to nothing but file cabinets and printer ink. The thought of printing out all the records I have saved on my computer makes me break out in hives. Eventually I’ll do it though. It’s going to be wonderful.

From Grandma’s Kitchen

Okay, so I told you before that when I was in eighth grade, my grandmother gave me a copy of her family tree. Well a few years after that, she also sent me a whole mess of recipes. They were in a big box and also in that box was a cookie press. I wish I still had that cookie press, but we probably lost it in the Great House Migration. Remind me to chronicle that sometime! This month the weather has been particularly nice on the weekends. I guess getting 2+ feet of snow dropped on you really clears the air so to speak. We’ve taken advantage of this weather and we’re rehabbing one of our old sheds. We’ve lived in this house for at least 20 years now (since I was 5 or so!), so we’ve collected some clutter.

I was momentarily enraptured by finding all the books I read in Elementary and Middle school. The Little House books, The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle, and The Moon Spinners. Gosh what memories those books have for me! Then as I dug deeper into the pile of ‘Kathleen Stuff’, I found it. The old binder that I had used to house those old recipes! They were by no means organized. I meant to computerize them, but alas high school got in my way. Then they somehow ended up packed away with all my old school mementos. The first thing any of us thought of when we found these recipes should have been joy at finding something you forgot you had. Instead we all piled around the binder and immediately leafed through it trying to find Grandma’s bread recipe! It’s got to be there somewhere!

There were plenty of recipes from the backs of ingredients and from magazines. I really treasure Grandma’s handwritten recipes though! We could have tried this during Thanksgiving!

I can’t even begin to tell you of the cookie recipes. I find it incredibly fate (I don’t believe in coincidence, not one bit) oriented that as I’m getting my baking love back, I find these. I was big into baking in high school. I used to bake brownies and cookies for everyone all the time. Then after high school, college classes and working full time took up all my extra energy. So I lost it. As I’ve been having some personal issues lately, I tried to get back into baking to see if it would relax me, and boy did it! So now I can throw out all those box mixes and really get into the nitty gritty!

Is anyone else getting hungry just thinking about this entry?

How hungry are you now that you’re thinking about these Triple Peanut Butter Cookies?

Back to the original point of my post, the bread recipe! We unfortunately couldn’t find it. I found a roll recipe that I think is probably what my Mom remembers as the bread recipe. I’m going to assume that’s it anyway. Unfortunately a lot of the handwritten recipes never actually said what they were! I guess I’ll have to make them to find out!

Don’t walk away disappointed! We did find Grandma’s Famous Fudge recipe. This recipe has been a bone of contention between Mom and her sisters for many years. They all try to make it but can’t quite remember how it goes. Aunt Melinda has her recipe that we all use now, but it’s not the same. So when we came across this little note, we were ecstatic!

Only to find out Grandma’s Famous Fudge was actually straight off the back of a Hershey’s Cocoa can! I’m still going to make it though! I have to know what the fuss is about. This goes to show, never be ashamed to use a recipe that’s not your own. I mean, in 50 years no one will know you took it off the back of the box!

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.

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